Tag Archives: lifestyle

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?

Sharing My Faith: An Interview with Hunter Romano

Hunter Romano grew up in Woburn, Massachusetts. When he turned twelve and joined the deacons’ quorum he was on crutches with a broken leg that was still mending. That didn’t stop him from passing the sacrament. He and his quorum worked out a way for him to get the job done. Hunter is now a freshman at Brigham Young University.

What are some experiences you had talking with people at Woburn High about how you live and what you believe.

Once they hear I’m a Mormon, people always ask about multiple wives and polygamy. It’s the first thing to explain. Once you explain that then they ask, “What’s the deal with Mormons? What makes you a Mormon and not something else? I say we’re peculiar because of the Word of Wisdom and law of chastity, but it’s more than that. I also talk about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.

In the first month of my freshman year of high school, my history teacher brought up Mormons in a lesson but didn’t know that I was one. He made the comment that Mormon men currently still have multiple wives. I spoke up to clarify that we do not and then was asked if I would be comfortable getting in front of the class. I was, and I talked about my faith and answered questions for the rest of the class period.

I find people aren’t interested in the things you would think. When it comes to drinking, smoking, and sex before marriage, they say, “Yeah, those are good to avoid. My religion says the same thing, but in my religion they are overlooked.” They really are more interested in Joseph Smith and the Church’s origins.

Who was your best friend in high school who was not a member of the Church?

His name was John. He played lacrosse and was really busy. Pat was also a good friend. He played on our ward basketball team and attended church because this was a requirement to play. He’d also sleep over at our house. Pat became good friends with Jared, a Mormon friend of mine, and even went to his mission farewell. He came to seminary a couple of times and learned more about the Church that way. At one point, he and I went to a party out of town. I had my “Stormin’ Mormon” sweatshirt on and someone from the other town came up and commented on multiple wives and all the things Mormons can’t do. Pat spoke up first and started answering questions. Pat is now a sophomore at UMass Amherst. I hope one day the missionaries will knock on his door. I hope he’ll read this interview when I invite him.

You’ve talked about some wonderful experiences. In your high school years, did you have some bad experiences being a Mormon?

Yes. In high school kids drink and swear and do things that are not exactly aligned with the gospel. I got comments like, “Why aren’t you drinking? That sucks.” They steered clear of me, saying, “Why talk to the sober kids?” In the girl scene, some girls said, “He’s a goody two shoes.” Sometimes I was not accepted and people steered clear of me because they felt I wasn’t like them. If they can’t respect that, it’s not worth worrying about it.

But you were class president your senior year, right?

That was huge because it put me in a lot of positions where I had to be an example. When setting up certain activities, they would ask me if I was comfortable with this or that aspect. Everyone in the whole school knew I was a Mormon, and they found out that they could learn about my faith from a source other than the Internet.

You are just starting your freshman year at Brigham Young University. Did you always know you wanted to go to BYU?

It was always high on the list because my parents went there. And it’s very affordable! I grew up watching athletics. When I did well in football, I was recruited by Williams College, Middlebury College, and other small New England schools. I prayed about it. What it came down to was to meet more members of the Church, especially girls, and be around people who would put me on the right path to my mission. Going on a mission is such a big goal for me. Being in other environments could have affected my path to a mission, and after a mission it would have been hard to get to Church and hard to meet girls.

Do you feel any concerns about being at BYU?

I’ve gone from being one of the few to one of the many and not having to be the only example. I thought this would make me feel like I could waver. But, as it turns out, people at BYU are great and they help build each other up.

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.”

 

So… You’re pretty religious(?)

By Britta Hanson

It’s more a statement of fact than a question.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard this particular statement, well, I could at least buy myself a really nice dinner.  However, I never tire of the opportunity these moments afford me to pause and reflect on the life I have chosen as a disciple of Christ and as a Mormon.

As a grad student, time is an especially precious resource.  Given my tight schedule, the amount of time I dedicate each week to “religious” activities may appear to be borderline insane.  Allow me to illustrate:  In addition to weekly Sunday worship services, which last three hours, I generally attend at least one meeting per week for my church assignment.  Sometimes this assignment requires more time during the week, ranging from a few minutes to a few hours.  There are also activities every Monday evening and the occasional additional activity during the week.  Every Wednesday night there are classes which teach the scriptures, and I try to set aside time each day to study the Word of God.  It is also my privilege and responsibility to visit two of the women in my congregation each month to see to their spiritual and emotional needs.  Upon hearing this, most people, myself included, ask an important question: Why?

Each week is a complex balancing act between the religious, the social, and the scholarly.  At times, I feel the pieces of my life are spinning out of control and falling down around me.  Usually when I am brought to the brink of disaster, I realize that I have been neglecting some aspect of my “religious” life.  Maybe it’s been a day or two since I opened the scriptures.  Perhaps I haven’t been fulfilling my church assignment as fully as I could.  In these moments of clarity, the why is always answered.

While some draw a line between spirituality and religiosity, I have found in my life there is a cyclical relationship between the two.  As I attend to the various “religious” activities each week, they serve to constantly remind me of the things which matter most: Christ, my relationship with Him, and the people He has put in my life.  Being vitally involved in my church feeds my soul, it provides a quiet strength in me as I go about my various activities.  As I am consistently reminded of Christ and His love, my faith becomes the anchor of my life.  The dozens of moving parts I scramble for each week begin to revolve around Him, and there is order.

The ultimate answer to the why is that by striving to do all of these things, I find an assurance and a joy in my life that I have not found by doing anything else.  So yeah… I am pretty religious.

Guest Post: What do Mormons look like?

My boss sometimes asks me, “Is that person a Mormon? He looks like a Mormon!” I always agree with him. Mormons do not have any visible identifiers, yet somehow people recognize Mormons. What does a Mormon look like?

Mormons come in all shapes and sizes, but there are certain attributes most Mormons share. We are encouraged to dress modestly, be clean, and be well-groomed.  However, there is more to the Mormon look than external decoration. We embrace internal principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ that affect the way we look physically.

Mormons are obedient. We strive to follow all of God’s commandments. We are honest in all of our dealings and we endeavor to live what we believe all the time. It brings us happiness and helps us have the Holy Ghost in our lives. Mormons are also obedient to the laws of the land and try to be good citizens. People can see how Mormons look honest on the outside and can sense truth and goodness.

Mormons are givers. They give 10% of their income in tithing. They dedicate their time and resources to serve missions, serve in church callings, and serve their neighbors. We believe in doing good to all men. When you see a Mormon, they are respectful and even helpful to others.

Mormons are seekers.  “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, [Mormons] seek after these things [1].”  We seek after joy (2 Ne 2:25) in this life and eternally. Part of that joy is engaging in good activities and conversation. Not every Mormon likes the same activities, but the way we go about our activities usually gives us away in a crowd.

Mormons are repentant. No one is perfectly obedient but through the atonement of Jesus Christ we can be clean from our sins. This makes a huge difference in appearance as we are not weighed down by guilt or dulled by compromises with sin. It makes our appearance lighter and even happier. Mormons appear clean.

The outward appearance of Mormons is often described as the light of Christ that is apparent in everyone striving to live good, truth seeking lives. I believe that Mormons are recognizable because they carry this light by living gospel principles like obedience, repentance, and service. The attributes listed are some of my ideas. What do you think makes Mormons recognizable?

written by: Brooke, an adventurous newly wed Mormon from Utah living in Boston who loves videography and exploring New England.

Gay & Mormon

The congregation I grew up with in Chicago.

The Modern Mormon Men (MMM) blog has become a guilty pleasure of mine over the past couple of months. I feel there’s a good balance of entertainment and insight albeit at times with a frustratingly male perspective. 🙂 What was I expecting, right?  Point is – I think the blog is great.

Yesterday, blogger Scott Heff posted an interview with Mitch Mayne, an openly gay Mormon recently called to a church leadership position in San Francisco.  As Scott mentions, there’s been quite a bit of media attention around Mitch’s calling and understandably so given the church’s historical stance on homosexuality.

I suppose I’m a “straight ally” as Mitch calls them and I was struck by the love of his Bishop in San Francisco. Mitch says:

My Bishop’s direction is this: The doors of the church in San Francisco are open to any and all, regardless of where people are in their lives; partnered, single, monogamous, dating, celibate—there’s room for everyone in our congregation. Bishop Fletcher said the other day that he wants our biggest problem to be lack of seating in the chapel on Sunday, and a challenge in keeping people from talking to one another during Sacrament Meeting because they are so darned glad to see one another. What a great goal! How could I not want to be part of a team like that?

I agree. What a great goal!

I encourage you to read the full interview over at MMM and leave a few thoughts for discussion.

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?

Going to the Temple

While I was in Utah a few weeks ago for my sister’s wedding  I was able to be there when she went to the temple for the first time. In Mormon culture this is a pretty big deal. My whole family was there along with her fiancé, future in-laws and a few other close loved ones. Going to the temple for the first time signifies a lot to Mormons. It usually happens before a big event like going on a full time LDS mission, getting married, or before starting a new direction in life like beginning a full time career. It also signifies a willingness to have a deeper commitment to living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In preparation for going to the temple for the first time my sister (as well as myself and most other people that go) take a temple preparation class. Like I said, it’s a pretty big deal when someone goes for the first time. If you are baptized when you are older you have to be a baptized member of the church for a least a year before you go. If you are baptized when you are young you wait until you’re an adult to go to the temple. I used to think when I was younger that so much emphasis was placed on going to the temple for the first time because the person wouldn’t be able to handle it without all the family support and preparation. What happens in the temple isn’t really talked about that much, even within the church, so I didn’t really understand.

With my sister going to the temple and being able to be there for it has made me think a lot lately about going to the temple and I realized I was all wrong  about it before.  When we are baptized we make a commitment to God to follow his commandments and to live the gospel. Often when we are baptized we are young or have just recently learned about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Baptism is a real commitment and covenant with God but it is only the beginning and foundation of our commitment to God. Going to the temple is actually pretty similar to baptism in our commitments. In the temple we make commitments and covenants with God to follow his commandments and to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The reason for all the preparation and support and attention is because these covenants are no longer the basic covenants of baptism.

When I went to the temple for the first time, like most other people, I was an adult and I had learned the gospel for an extended amount of time and I understood it.  Because I was an adult and understood perfectly what I was doing I believe I am held 100% accountable for those commitments.  That is the reason for the preparation and attention, to make sure we are ready to take the next step in our commitment to God.

The temple has a bit of a reputation for being secretive. It’s really not. The words spoken in the temple are sacred so we don’t repeat them outside the temple but the main point of the temple is to covenant with God to keep his commandments that are found in the scriptures. After we make those covenants for ourselves we go to make them in the name of those that have passed on so if they choose to they can also have the blessings of making those covenants with God.

My personal experience with the temple has been wonderful and peaceful. When I promised to follow God’s commandments in the temple God promised to bless me, protect me and help me throughout my life. I love knowing that if I do my part to follow God’s commandments that I will not be alone and I will be helped. The temple is a beautiful place. If you live near a temple I would recommend just going to the grounds to walk around and take in the beauty of the area. It’s really a peaceful place to visit and think and come closer to God.

Mormons do have fun

I feel like I spend a decent amount of time defending my very conservative lifestyle as a Mormon and as well as trying to convince my co-workers that Mormons can and DO have fun. The interesting thing that I found is even though my peers perceive my lifestyle choices as odd, they respect me for it and even applaud the fact that I have been able to abstain from pre-marital sex and have never tasted alcohol in a culture where those two things are social norms.

As members of the Mormon church, we are asked to live the Word of Wisdom as well as keep the Law of Chastity. Those are the two main areas of lifestyle that I believe separate Mormons from main stream America.

So what do Mormon’s do to have fun? Personally, I love the outdoors and exploring the city I live in. My friends and I enjoy trying new restaurants, visiting museums, competing in races, taking road trips. We still go out to sports bars once in awhile, but instead get a non-alcoholic drink. Many of my friends enjoy dancing at the various clubs our city has to offer.

As each day goes by, I am more and more grateful for those standards that I have been asked to live by and expected to uphold. Although they seem restricting to others, I feel that they have given me more freedom in my life.

Does the religion you are a part of require you to stay away from certain aspects of the mainstream culture of your country?

Mormon Seminary

If you know a Mormon well, you may know about something called Seminary.  Seminary is a class that most Mormon teenagers take, that strengthens their knowledge about their church.  As a member of the Mormon Church, I have had the opportunity to attend a year of Seminary.  I have had many great experiences, and I hope to learn more the more I attend in the future.

In Seminary, we study the basic history of our religion, and mainly these three books: The Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, and another account called the Doctrine and Covenants.  As we learn more about the history of the early church, we learn of the great example of other people, in which gives us an example to follow, giving us motivation to be better people.

In my experience, Seminary hasn’t only given me knowledge, and made me a better person.  Blessings come after attending Seminary.  For me, Seminary required sacrifice.  I had to wake up early, at 6:00 am every day, on week days to attend.  I could have slept, or studied during that time.  The blessings that came were so much better then the sacrifice I had made.  During the school year, I found myself without my HW in my backpack, and I would not have gotten credit for it.  But, that day a teacher was not at school, so that class was cancelled.  The next day I brought it to school, and I got full credit.  Another example: I had not adequately studied for a test, but the material I didn’t study was not on the test.  Many more situations and experiences happened to me during the year.

At first I thought all these blessings were a huge coincidence.  But after a while I found that all those days I had gone to seminary without a doubt in my mind that it was more important.  I know that it was God blessing me in those experiences.  Because of that knowledge, I know that my priority is my religion and nothing else over it.  I’m thankful for it, and I hope to keep it up as well.

In the end, Seminary isn’t a burden.  It’s an opportunity for me to show God I’m willing to follow his amazing example.