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When Mom is happy, kids know they are lovedAs a mom, we have a lot of responsibilities and can feel like we are being pulled in many different directions. And it is hard… really hard to know if you are doing everything you need to for your kids.

We do everything we can for them because we love them and want them to learn all that they can at our hands before they are out in the world on their own.  When they are young it feels like we will be caring for them forever.  People always tell you it goes by fast, but when you’re in the middle of it, that just doesn’t even compute as reality.  How many days go by where you just don’t get enough sleep, and you just long for some adult conversation again?

When my kids were little, I remember feeling like I just needed to be filled up myself. I could give and give to my kids, to the neighbors, to my church calling, to the classrooms that I volunteered at, but eventually, I needed a re-fill of my own.  Spending time with friends helped, but what really gave me the extra jolt that I needed was going to Women’s Conference or Time Out for Women about once a year.  I often learned new techniques for being a better mom, but I also had time with other women doing something for me.  I was able to re-fill my spiritual and emotional bank so that I could give in a better way to my own kids.

I think that of all the things that we teach our kids, the most important thing that they can learn is to feel that they are loved and they are worthwhile.  If we give and give to the kids, but never take time for ourselves, they will notice.  Kids are way more observant than we give them credit for.  If we become run down, it won’t matter how many books you read to them, meals you cook, or times you tell them you love them.  If you’re not happy or content with your life, because you are not taking care of yourself, they will know. And think about how that may make them feel about themselves? My greatest fear is that they will think “If caring for me makes Mom unhappy, then I must not be worth much.”

It’s definitely a tricky balance. You can’t just take care of your own needs at the expense of your kids, but you can’t just care for the family at the expense of yourself either.  Give yourself permission to be happy, and do a few things for yourself each day, and let the kids be a part of it.  Either let them know that you need a few minutes of quiet time to read or study or just to take a bath, or you can let them know that you want to do something fun, and see if they want to join you.

I think each of us have to come up with plans that work with our own family’s needs.  For me, it helps to make sure to do something fun with the kids that I enjoy, so they can see me having fun and being happy to spend time with them.  But at other times, I need to have a little time just to myself, and come back happy to be with them again.

Think about how filling some of your own needs may be of benefit to your kids.  Make that a part of your parenting plans. By taking care of yourself, you teach your kids that you are important too, and give them permission to do the same when they are grown.

ps: our friends at “the Power of Moms” have put together a video training on this topic that you may want to check out here

 

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Our dear Father wrote the following message of a spiritual experience he had recently. Today we are happy to share his words with you of how the Lord hears and answers our prayers.

Guest post by Arnold Miller

I have always loved our hymns and the messages they convey. Some are prayers to our Heavenly Father. Some are His messages to us. Some are more appropriately sung in Sacrament Meetings. Some are meant for special occasions, while others are especially good to sing in our Family Home Evenings.

I have learned to pay particularly close attention to the words in scriptures as well as those of our hymns.  Especially if a word no longer has common usage in our language, I try to understand its meaning in the context of the hymn or passage.  For example, I recently ran across the word “succor” and learned that it means: to help, to nurture.

I began losing my hearing a few years ago. As a result, I came to the realization that it is very important to be able to hear sufficiently to be able to intonate well and properly balance and blend with those singing in my section of the choir.  It was about then that, as much as I love Music, I realized that it was time to ask to be released from the our fine Stake Choir.  Elder Quentin L. Cook gave a particular message in the October 2011 General Conference that seemed to be aimed directly at me in which he said: A line from a beloved hymn provides comfort, solace, and the clear lens: ‘And Jesus listening can hear the songs I cannot sing.’

Last Saturday night as I was saying my prayers before going to sleep, I found myself praying for the Lord to give me the strength and health I will need for the upcoming mission my wife and I have been called to serve in just two short months.

As I have aged it has become apparent that my legs aren’t as strong as they used to be. I even went through some physical therapy to strengthen my ability to walk and stand for extended periods of time. I was concerned that I might not have the ability to walk and stand as might be required for our mission.  We had also paid for a tour of early church history sites including Independence Missouri, Far West, Liberty, Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Nauvoo, Carthage, Mt. Pisgah, and Winter Quarters as well as other important locations. It goes without saying that this tour would involve a good deal of walking. To prepare ourselves for the expected rigors of this tour, we began walking in our neighborhood in the early mornings. Starting with a half block, we extended our walks to a full block and finally to two full blocks. Then the hot weather hit so we changed our walks to inside various shopping centers. We also enrolled in the YMCA so I could get involved in an exercise regimen to strengthen my legs.

The date for our trip rolled around and we found ourselves on a plane bound for Kansas City, Missouri where we met up with our tour bus, some fellow traveling companions and tour guides. Without going into too much detail of the actual tour, we were totally thrilled with the experience and the wonderful spirit we felt.  It strengthened our testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and built an appreciation of the sacrifices those early saints made to establish Zion.

The greatest disappointment for me personally was how out of shape I physically felt.  It became readily apparent that I could not stand for extended periods when, at the Independence Temple Lot while listening to the lecture on the significance of that Sacred and Holy place, I was unable to stand long enough to hear the entire presentation.  After that I learned to pace myself, seeking places and opportunities to sit and rest.

So on Saturday, as I was thinking about this and considering the mission to which we are called to serve in The Family and Church History Headquarters Mission, I prayed earnestly that the Lord would bless me with the strength and stamina to serve Him as the date for our mission rapidly approaches. As I was waking up Sunday morning there were the words to a hymn running through my head.  I kept hearing over and over again: “I’ll strengthen thee, help thee and cause thee to stand.”  In those early hours I kept thinking about that phrase, I couldn’t get the rest of the hymn straight. I couldn’t even recall what hymn it was. So I put the music with the words. All I came up with was “Fear not I am with thee, Oh be not dismayed.  For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.”  I wracked my brain trying to remember the rest of the hymn.  When I should have been paying more attention to the message it was conveying to me. Then as I was sitting reading the scriptures before going to church, it hit me. There is a message here especially for me. The Holy Ghost was speaking to my heart in a way that only I could understand. I am going to be all right serving this mission.  The Lord will uphold me with “his omnipotent hand.” Then the rest of that verse came to me, “I’ll strengthen thee, help thee and cause thee to stand, Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.”  I was beginning to get that this is the Lord’s message to me. Yet I still couldn’t think of the name of that hymn, not even what verse of the hymn I was humming in my head.

Then at Sacrament meeting, we began to sing the opening hymn “How Firm a Foundation.”  While we were singing the first verse, I said to myself. Could this be it?  Then when we got to the third verse, it hit me, that’s it!   I then knew the Lord was revealing the answer to the question that had been plaguing me all morning.

When we got home from church, I opened the hymn book and looked up the rest of the words to that glorious hymn.  I realized that the 3rd verse as well as most other verses are addressed in the second person singular i.e. thy, thee instead of the second person plural ye, you, and your.  Until recently, I wouldn’t have picked up on that subtle difference but it is apparent from languages such as French, that by using the singular noun the Lord is speaking to us individually.

Imagine my feelings, if you will, when they announced the opening hymn the following Tuesday evening at our Stake High Priest Quorum Meeting: “How Firm a Foundation.”

As I have read and pondered the other verses, particularly verses 2, 3, 4, and 6, it becomes clear, to me at least, that this hymn is addressed to Senior Missionaries, especially verse 6:

E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove

My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;

And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,

Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

 

Note: For sake of message clarity, I stripped out sections where there are repeats of the same phrase.

How Firm a Foundation #85

How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!

What more can he say than to you he hath said,

Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

 

In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,

In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,

At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—

As thy days may demand so thy succor shall be.

 

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,

For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.

 

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,

For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

 

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,

My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design

Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

 

E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove

My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;

And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,

Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

 

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose

I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

 

– Arnold A. Miller

 

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3 steps to finding peaceDoes it often feel like the world is just pulling you to pieces, in all different directions?

We live in a busy world, with lots of expectations, people who want our attention, companies who want our business, and all those voices can become just a bit overwhelming sometimes.

I’d like to suggest 3 steps to help create some order or simplicity to a busy life.

Step 1 – Figure out what is really important, and order your life from there.  I know, it seems so simple, but to really have it help you out, you have to put some work into it.  Grab a journal or a notebook and get ready to write. Time to brainstorm.  It doesn’t have to be pretty or even very organized.   Don’t worry what this page looks like after you have written in it.  You can tear out the page later once the thoughts are reorganized.   Start by listing the things in your life that are important or have deep meaning to you.  Next make a list of all of the things that you feel that need to be done.  Ask yourself if the items on these list are in line with your personal or spiritual beliefs. Add more to the list if you need to at this point, don’t let it overwhelm you, because this is not a “to do” list.

Now examine the lists together and look for the items that line up, or compliment each other.  Now you can tear out this sheet (if you want to) and use it as a reference.

If you only had 15 minutes at the end of a day, what on your to do list would you not want to go to bed without doing? If you can’t have all of it, what would you miss the most?  Now re-write the list according to your priorities. Only the most important items with the most meaning get to be at the top of the list.

Step 2 – Be true to your beliefs, in your actions and words. Don’t let the busyness of the day, take the place of the things you believe in. True peace comes from living in a way that your outside actions and your inside feelings get along with each other.  When you start to feel distress, ask yourself if what you’re doing is really important.  Can you get someone else to help you?  Can you call a time out from outside demands to meet a need that your heart is telling you is more important at this moment?  Now that you have made a list of what is important in step 1, remember to let that list guide you, especially when life gets hard.

 

Knowing what we believe and living a life that shows others that we know what we believe, will bring a greater sense of peace.

Step 3 – Find a friend or family member that you can trust, and share with them your plans or beliefs or dreams.  You can always ask for help making dinner, or help with a project, but having someone on your side to understand while you seek peace can be magically invaluable.  For those extroverts  out there, this is probably something you already do, but it can be harder for us introverts, but oh so incredibly valuable.  Let your friend share your triumphs and your failures.  You can pick each other up, cry with each other and celebrate with each other.  By sharing your plans, you have also created greater accountability for yourself, and a greater chance for success.

You do so much each day, and you undoubtedly touch so many lives for good.  You deserve to have peace as you go, and as you strive to live a life of peace and integrity, you will inevitably find the things you do will make even more of a difference to you, your family and those whose lives you touch.

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Now that the kids are back in school, I decided it was time for a revamp of our family economy and behavior chart.

Several years ago I attended a power of moms retreat and I instantly fell in love with the family economy system they presented, as well as a behavior chart April used in her home. You can read more about the family economy  here. I started out using the system as the Eyres described, but I have adapted it to fit my family’s needs, and I made it a little easier for me to follow through with.  

Each child has a clip board (I spray painted them gold to match my house) assigned to them. On the clipboard is a laminated chart for them to mark off what they have completed for the day.


On the back of the chart is a more detailed list detailing exactly what is expected of them in order for the job to be considered complete.

Every Monday they have an accounting and get paid. For every check mark they get a certain amount of money. In our house you can make a maximum amount of $1 per year you have been alive. My oldest is 17 so we divided $17 by 24 (they don’t get paid for Sunday) so each box he has checked off he earns $.71. My six-year-old gets $.25 per box. The catch is they must have a minimum of 80% done in order to get that price. If they have less than 80% they only get paid half of the would be total. And if they have less than 50% they don’t get any allowance.
The money they earn is to pay for anything extra they might want. Snacks at a ball game. Special pencils or art supplies. Books. Toys. Fancy socks. Fast food. Bowling with friends. We require them to put 20% of their money into savings and 10% goes to tithing for our church.

The funny thing is I have some kids who are really good about doing their jobs but completely forget to mark off their charts. And so they have lost out on pay. I do let them go back one day to mark off what they forgot to mark off but anymore than that and they are out of luck.  We have not been using the system for a little while and I know my kids are excited to start earning money again.

I have 6 children so we have 6 different jobs or zones. The youngest two switch back and forth between picking up the upstairs and unloading and loading the dish washer. The other 4 cycle through these 4 jobs. Helping with dinner, dishes, counters, and sweeping the downstairs.

In connection with the economy we use this behavior chart.  (Free printables)    I use two now that I have teenagers and they care about different things. I spray painted clothes pins gold and then wrote their names on one. Everyone begins the day on Behavior Chart. If we catch them doing something extra special they move up the chart. If by the end of the day they are still there they get to pick any reward at or below where they ended up for the next day or for the weekend. On the above chart I have a place for consequences. If they earn something they write it there. Once it is used up they erase it.

My kids only play videos games on Friday or Saturday. They have one hour each. So losing or gaining extra time is super exciting for them. My son Joseph has offered to help make the whole family breakfast the last two mornings so he has now earned an extra 30 minutes which he will use on the weekends.

Having the behavior chart takes the guess-work out of discipline. When they misbehave I give them one verbal warning and then they have to move their clip. If they refuse to move it I will move it for them but it will be moved down twice instead of once. If they argue about it they have to move it twice.

I have a couple of very stubborn children and I have found when we use the clip chart they respond really well. I think that is because they know what to expect. As opposed to me giving them some ridiculous consequence because I don’t know what else to do.

 

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The moment I realize I want to be better seems to be the exact moment opposition begins.

My mothering has not been as I have wanted it to be lately and so I have decided to make some changes. I want to be more present when they are here. I have the day to myself to get all the chores done, so I have decided to make sure when school gets out I’m available for them. Yesterday was the start to a new week and I was pumped.

I worked during today to update our chore system and behavior chart (I’ll share that tomorrow) and then when I went to print I was out of ink. Ugh. In my excitement to get it all done and finished I now “had” to take the kids to the store to get ink. Once we got home and got on homework, I ran to the computer to print real quick the charts, only to discover my printer is actually broken.

Naturally I feel I can fix it, it will only take a second. The kids are coming in and the more problems the printer is having the more frustrated I’m feeling and my fuse became very short. It’s almost dinner time and I had not spent the time I had wanted with them.

I never successfully fixed it but I did end up grumpy with kids who were now also grumpy because I wasn’t available when they needed me. I quickly realized that I had given in to distractions which I believe satan put in my path. And I fell for it.

At first I was really beating myself up, wondering why I gave in so quickly. Could I ever figure things out and be the mother I want to be?

And then I read these lines to the song “The Time Is Far Spent”

Be fixed in your purpose, for Satan will try you; The weight of your calling he perfectly knows. Your path may be thorny, but Jesus is nigh you; His arm is sufficient, tho demons oppose.

Yes Satan is aware of my purpose but Jesus’s arm is sufficient. He will guide me when I stay fixed on my mothering purpose. I may stumble from time to time but when I allow my Savior to, He will be what I cannot. He will make up the difference. I simply have to continue diligently trying.