Friday, January 31, 2014

Individual Worth #1 - Personal Progress

 The assigned scriptures for this value experience were Psalm 8:4-6, Jeremiah 1:5, John 13:34, D&C 8:10, Abraham 3:22-23, and then Joseph Smith history 1:1-20.  I enjoyed reading the Psalm that remindes us that we are little lower than the angels and crowned with Glory and Honor. The other scriptures are ones I have heard many times. Nothing seemed to strike me strongly until I read the Joseph Smith story. I know the story. I have taught the story many times but for some reason this time, with Individual worth in mind, it had new meaning.

Joseph Smith was just a 14 year old boy from a poor family in a rural town. He wasn't anything special in the eyes of the world. He had a question. He didn't know the answer to it but tried in many ways to find that answer. He read in the scriptures (James 1:5) that if any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.  For some reason that phrase "any man" stood out to me this time. Perhaps it was because I had just been preparing my Sunday School lesson which had a video about William Tyndale and the sacrifices he made to bring the bible to the people in their own language. He wanted the scriptures to be in the hands of the people and in the language they could understand so they could know the words of the lord for them. He didn't want the bishops or priest of the church to hold that monopoly on the words of God. So when I read that verse in James again it struck me that God isn't a respector of persons. He doesn't place any of this children is lower esteem. He loves all of us wether we are tall or short, fat or thin, quick witted or slow, introverted or extroverted. We are all worthy of talking to him. We are all welcome and invited to talk to him. We are all his children and he loves us. Any man who wants to ask something of or talk to God can.

Another thought I had as I read through that passage in Joseph Smith's history was that God knew Joseph's potential and what was in his heart.  The world saw him as just another son of a struggling farmer, another under educated boy, or just another number to add to their congregation. But God knew what Joseph had inside and that he could do a lot of good and withstand a lot of trials. He wasn't just another but he was special and important.

I know Heavenly Father knows me individualy. He listens to my heart felt prayers. He wants me to pray and talk with him. He wants to hear about my concerns and struggles. He also wants to share my happiness and joy as well. He will help me recognize my talents and gifts and guide me to what my Divine Mission may be.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Divine Nature #1 - Personal Progress

 What are some of the divine qualities of a daughter of God?

When I read through the Proclamation on the Family, 2 Peter 1, Alma 7:23-24 and D&C 121:45 I was a bit overwhelmed.  The qualities of a daughter of god are numerous.  I felt a bit like this poor woman trying to carry and ballance everything in her arms and life but getting tripped up on the way.

The list is rather daunting when looked at as a laundry list of the qualities you need to have. How can I be faithful, hopeful, virtuous, diligent, patient, gratious, temperate, full of knowledge and charity. It feels like a lot of things to be. I couldn't help but think I could be more patient, more hopeful. I certainly could show my gratitude more. And what about charity? I am not nearly as kind to others as I probably should be. I often get bogged down in the daily list of chores that I need to complete and don't abound in good works toward others as much as I should. 
What I need to remember is that God isn't asking us to be perfect at all these things. He knows I have challenges and limitations but I like to think all these qualities are in me somewhere. I am a daughter of God, I am made in his image, therefore I do have these godly qualities within me. My job is to develop them and help them come out and show themselves more.

This week Sophie's leadership class needed to write about success. Sophie had a really hard time coming up with any ideas. She doesn't feel she is a very successful person. She struggles with math, unlike her brother who flies through his. She says her reports aren't nearly as good as the other kids in her class produce and present. She was rather hard on herself and was in tears when we sat to discuss the topic of success so she could write. I tried to explain to her that we will never be successful when we compare ourselves to other people. We will always find someone who does "that thing" better than we can. We can only measure our success against ourself. Are we improving. Are we having favorable outcomes when we attempt things that are hard? Are we getting more math problems right than wrong? Are we getting less wrong each time?  Soon the tears stopped as she got excited as she thought of (with some help from her mom) about some of the small successes in her life. 

The assignment she was given was to tell the teacher what success looked like, what it felt like, what it smelled and sounded like. After our discussion she wrote a great essay about success. She described success as looking like a checklist with everything complete. Success felt like a kitten cuddled up with her that she takes the chief care. It smells like chocolate chip cookies that aren't burnt because she remembered to set the timer this time. And sounded like a new piano piece that she has practiced and can now hit the correct notes. It was a lovely essay and I hope she understands success in a different way now. 

When I read that long list of qualities that a virtuous woman is supposed to embody, rather than get discouraged that I don't already exhibit them all perfectly, I need to remember to not measure my success against perfection. I should see that I am improving and becoming more and more like the woman I want to see and that I know I have the potential to become.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I have a moment.. but just a moment.

I don't get to sit here at the computer much these days. I often read my email and such on my kindle because Sophie is almost constantly on the computer either for class or working on assignments for class. I think she spends a bit of time reading google+ things that she has recieved from friends too.  When I do get a chance to sit here at the computer it is usually to quickly print something out or upload another audiobook so it can be put onto an ipod. That is what I am currently doing. Each of the kids got an ipod (used off of ebay) for Christmas. They now are always asking me to put some new audio book on for them to listen to. They are all currently listening to Ender's Shadow. They made it through Ender's Game before Christmas and I didn't see my personal ipod for days and days because they were passing it back and forth between them.

So anyway..... here is my chance to sit and write something. Post pictures or share my latest personal progress work, or even talk about what we are doing for school. Where to start?

I guess we will start with a few pictures.
Ian had a birthday. He is officially double digits.
He of course had a chocolate cake and recieved lots of legos.
He is such a great kid!
Here are my cuties Molly and Henry waiting outside Sophie's Orthodontist's office. 
Our kitten Peezy has this facination with water. She doesn't get in but loves to watch whoever is in the tub or shower. It isn't often we can take a bath without an audience.
Everytime I go to upload photos I find a number of shots like this one. 
Molly sure loves to take pictures of herself.
We have had perfect weather here in CA. Not too chilly and certainly sunny. These kids may be wearing jackets in this picture but guess who was carrying them about 2 minutes after this shot was taken and carried them all the way to the park and back?
I say perfect weather but the lack of real winter is starting to worry us. Not much water last year and next to no water yet this year too. I sure hope we get some rain sometime soon or we may be really suffering for lack of moisture here shortly!
Ok... so now for school.

School is going pretty well. Two weeks into this latest semester and Sophie has turned in all her assignments for Williamsburg and has been getting math and piano practice in as well. The boys and I have been doing great with the Sassafrass Science.
This is our table after one of our science lessons.
They love learning about animals and they aren't fighting the written work I have them do for each habitat and animal the twins visit in the book. That has certainly been successful!

They also really love the One Minute Science Mysteries we have been working through. We tend to read through at least three of them everyday but often more. We are still working through the first book but I am sure we will make it though all three of these.

We aren't doing a whole lot for History. This is a big change for us. Usually it is science that takes a supporting role and History is at the forefront of our studies but I just haven't done much more than read aloud Justin Morgan Had A Horse by Margaritte Henry. The boys are enjoying me read to them and it does take place in American History right at the end of the revolutionary war so it is the correct time period but we aren't doing much more than reading this book. I guess I need to step up the history studies a bit.

Math is going pretty well and the boys are doing their spelling and writing more or less without complaining.  They even enjoy their new piano teacher and do their assigned theory exercise and practice that she asks of them. I have to remind them but that is what Moms do best right? They remind kids to do what they are supposed to do.

I still have yet to start anything with Molly. I just can't seem to fit it all in each day. I will really need to fit it in soon. She is ready to start reading I think.

We meet with our new Charter School's ES next week we will have to see what she says about our schooling. She seems like she is going to be much more hands on then our last Charter School's ES. I don't know if I am going to like that!

My moment is up and I need to move onto other things. Hopefully I will get another moment on the computer again soon.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Transitioning from picture books to chapter books - Great Read Alouds!

Before going to bed we almost always have story time. My husband reads a book to the kids. He has read through all the Fablehaven series and is now reading Eragon. Molly isn't usually interested in these stories so brings me a few picture books to read to her.  Lately we have been reading a few new books that are actually more like chapter books. She loves them! Usually each chapter is a tale on its own but they are part of a whole group of stories with the same characters the reappear throughout.

Jenny and the Cat Club was a favorite for a long while.  I need to get a few of the other books in this series. Evidently Jenny goes to sea, to school, stays at a hotel and has a birthday as well. I think the New York Review reprinted 7 of them for their collection. I have already reserved a few more at the library but they don't have all 7 so we may have to find some elsewhere as well.

For Christmas Molly was given a Raggedy Ann doll from her Grandma. Grandma fondly remembered playing and having the Raggedy Ann stories.  Molly wanted to know the tales of Raggedy Ann, but since I didn't know any I figured we better look for the books. So to the library website I went and sure enough there were three Raggedy Ann books in the system.  I put them all on hold thinking they would be picture books. When they arrived they turned out to be more like chapter books.

I didn't know how well Molly would do with this one since there was quite a bit of text on each page. There was usually a picture on every page so she got to at least see something while I read the long page of writing. I am surprised at how well she sits and listens to me read. She had me read a number of stories before she went to bed last night and then kept asking me to read her some more today. I finally was able to sit down and read to her and we made it through another 3 stories. We aren't even close to finishing the first book yet. 

I am glad she is so excited about these stories. These are vintage stories with old terms and excellent writing. I love finding these lovely books with great classic vocabulary. They don't make many books like these today. I am enjoying them and I caught my boys listening in while I read the stories to Molly today. Nobody can pass up a good read aloud!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Molly School

I have yet to really start doing any kind of school with Molly. She is now 4 1/2 and ready to do more than just cause distraction and havoc while I try to get the other kids to do school. At this age Sophie was already getting to Row FIAR books. I never could swing FIAR very well with the boys. And as much as I loved the FIAR program I just can't give it the effort I did with Sophie. I tried when the boys got to be that age but never could pull it off like I did the two years or so that I rowed books with Sophie.  Many of the books we used during our time with FIAR have become regular books in our read alouds and books before bed already so I know all the kids at least can say they know those great FIAR books.

I used Explode the code to teach the boys how to read.  Molly has already gone through the Ready, Set, Go for the code books. I could just continue to move through the books like I did with the boys but I decided to give something different a try.  I ordered the Primary Arts of Language sets for Reading and Writing from the Institute of Excellence in Writing. Thanks goodness for the 50% off Clearance items sale they had in Dec!  So I am going to give this program a try. I didn't get the all about Spelling but I know the reading and writing will be more than I can handle anyway.

I also ordered the Sassafras Science Adventure Volume1: Zoology for me to read aloud to her. At this age Sophie was all about animals and loved reading and doing projects about animals so I figured this would be a fun way to do that with Molly. I think I may just have the boys join us on this one and they can do more written work to go along with the study of animals and biomes since our Chemistry studies have really fizzled the last few months. This will be a fun change of pace. Who knows if we like it well enough there is another adventure into anatomy and hopefully yet another, biology to come out shortly.

I have also found a gymnastics class for Molly to attend. She attended ballet for one semester a year or so ago and has been asking and asking when she can have it again. So the community center in our new city has a class for preschool kids and I signed her up and added it to the schedule. We will see how it goes.

That will be school for Molly. Hopefully we will have her reading and participating more and having less of her whirlwind adventures that tend to disrupt our day.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Integrity #6 Fasting

Fasting is not one of my favorite things. I can honestly say most Fast Sundays I think I just go without food and don't really Fast. I think this is mainly because I don't really Fast with a purpose. I will have some generic thing in mind as I say my prayers on Fast Sundays but I can't really claim a real true fast. There have been times in my life where I felt the need to Fast to really show Heavenly Father that I am willing to sacrifice for a certain purpose. But most months Fast Sunday comes and goes with me skipping my meals and my kids being grumpy (me too I am sure!) but if I really looked at my heart I didn't really Fast. I was lacking a purpose for my Fast.

One of my roommates from college contacted me and several other girls from our old apartment the other day and told us that she had just finished her fourth round of chemo. I haven't heard from her in over a year and even then it was just a quick Facebook posting or something and not real communication. This friend has been going through cancer treatments without having told any of us. It made me sad for her. She lives on the east coast so it isn't like I could really do much for her exept listen to her or perhaps pray for her.  She sounded very possitive and hopeful but still, she has just been through hard times multiple times and was now finally able to tell us all and reach out for some emotional support from her long ago and far away friends.

I have had her in my thoughts and prayers the last few days and especially today as I Fasted. Even with my kids being grumpy and afternoon church I was able to make it through the 24 hours without really thinking about hunger or food. It is amazing what Fasting with a purpose will do.
This isn't the first time I have fasted with a specific objective or desire. I know how powerful Fasting can be when done with a reason and especially when a group Fasts together. I just need to be reminded sometimes to not just go through the motions.

I will keep this friend in my thoughts and prayers over the days, weeks and months ahead. I can't do much more for her. I will do a better job of keeping up with her and being her friend if to do nothing more than listen.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Mary a Novel by Sholem Asch

While staying at my parents house over Christmas I was able to sleep in the blue bedroom. This room isn't the usual room we stay in when we go to my childhood home. This room actually remains locked most of the time so I don't get to go into it very often. 

There are a few benefits to staying in this room. First, the glow in the dark sticker stars that my sister and I put up on the ceiling are still there and they still glow at night. It is like sleeping under the night sky. My kids wish to find stickers for their ceilings but I haven't put forth the effort to find them.  But the biggest benefit to staying in this room is the library of books that are housed in this room. My mom has 4 tall bookshelves full of books. The shelves are almost all double stacked. There are history and art books and some classic literature, but mainly there are religious books. I often just lay on the bed and read through all the titles. There are always new books or at least they seem new because either they get shuffled around or my mom adds on to her collection. In either case I always find something new to read. 

I guess because it was Christmas I was drawn to a book simply titled Mary. It was an older book but my mom had put it in a plastic library cover which she does for the really special hardback books she wants to preserve.  I think the fact that the author had a Jewish name also seemed interesting. What was a Jewish person doing writing about Mary? He knew the ins and outs of Jewish life and traditions.

So I started to read this novel about Mary. Actually the first part is about Joseph and his coming to Nazareth inorder to marry.  I was quickly captivated by the story and especially the insights into Jewish customs and history.  I loved that this is writen as a story, a novel, and not just facts. I really could see and feel what Mary and Jospeh were feeling within the context of the Jewish life, laws and customs. 

The author does a great job of creating personalities for Miriam (as Mary is called in the book) and Joseph that equally influence and yet allow Yeshua (Jesus) to become the man we read about in scripture. 
I have seen these characters from scripture in a more personal and real way and can more fully appreciate the rolls they played and how difficult it was for them and yet how blessed they felt. 
While at the temple in Jerusalem when Jesus is 12, Mary prays:
"I know not to what pass he shall be led, nor what road Thou hast paved for him. But I do see him, like a launched arrow, speedeing toward the target Thou didst set, and my heart trembles between joy and fear.  Father, I fear for him, for I see walls of fire in his path. He is too young, Father in Heaven; the thread of his life is too frail. For a little while yet, let him see the flowers, not the thorns. Leave him to me for a little while longer. And teach me what to do, Father in Heaven, for I am in awe of the power of his spirit and feel too weak to be his mother."

How hard it must have been to be His parent knowing, through the prophets words in scripture, what the future held for your child?  The desire to protect your son from what you knew would come would be hard to hold back. Letting things unfold as you watch would have been so difficult. 

This book was a great find! It has opened my eyes a bit to what life at that time period would have been like for the Jews but especially what amazing earthy parents Jesus was given. 

Evidently this is the third book in a series. I started at the end and now need to read the other two books. The Nazarene cronicles the life of the savior and The Apostle follows the life of Paul. Each of these will be very interesting. I didn't see them on the shelves in my Mom's locked library room. The lock isn't to keep the books from being read it is to keep a certain little sneeky thief emtpy the shelves of all these treasures. I will have to ask for the key the next time I am up to my parents so I can find Sholem Asch's other books. Maybe I will even get to sleep under the stars again. But then again..... having Doc and Marty (Back to the Future is my sister's favorite film and she turns it on first thing in the morning and she likes to watch her movies loud!) as your early morning wake up call isn't really high on my favorites. Perhaps the usual room at the other end of the house is a better choice for sleeping!