Monday, December 12, 2011

Sorrounding our Little Ones with the Spirit

"We cannot and we must not allow the school, community, television, or even Church organizations to establish our children’s values. The Lord has placed this duty with mothers and fathers. It is one from which we cannot escape and one that cannot be delegated. Others may help, but parents remain accountable. Therefore, we must guard the sanctity of our homes because that is where children develop their values, attitudes, and habits for everyday living." -M. Russell Ballard
I keep getting the thought that I need to share what I've been learning about motherhood lately.  It's what I was going to share in my last post, but my thoughts took me elsewhere.  I don't have a lot of time this morning so hopefully I can share my thoughts accurately.

I have a two year old.  He is so funny to watch.  His face expressions are so telling.  My friend pointed out that her child that was a late talker was the same way - they use their face a lot to express themselves since their words are not working well yet.  Anyway, I have noticed that he mirrors everything that is going on around him.  He watches for the mood of the people around him and then reflects it.  If someone is frustrated, he acts frustrated too.  If someone is happy, he is filled with joy.  If someone is sad, he feels it right along side them.  He absolutely absorbs everything in his environment.

It has really been impressed upon my mind how very much like sponges our little ones are.  Particularly those under the age of 8.  After the age of 8 they seem to have a little more control over what they let into their core, but before that age they just absorb it all.
I've been trying to teach my older children that they too have a responsibility
in the environment of their younger siblings. The little ones absorb their behaviors and moods.

I have been humbled by the great responsibility that is mine in immersing my little sponges in beauty and truth.  What they are surrounded with right now is what they will view as "normal".  It is what will become the standard in how they view the world.  My two year old never thought to hit in anger until he saw someone else exhibit this behavior and suddenly it became his to use.  He never thought to give someone a hug when they were sad until he saw someone else do it and it became his way to help.

We, as mothers, really are the gateway in which our little children experience the world.  If we expose them to sarcasm, violence, anger, enmity, crudeness, the unrefined, unpure, ungodly - they will absorb it all and they have no choice!  We have the responsibility to make the choice for them.  Do we realize that when we put our children in front of the TV, for example, we are delegating our teaching to that source for a time? Even if we are present - the TV is teaching them how to speak to others, what values are important, what feeling are normal (such as contention, silliness, and fast-paced stimulation, and many other subtle and important messages).  It is up to us to keep them safe from those influences until they have the choice to keep them out of their hearts themselves.  What an incredible responsibility!

It is also our great privilege to surround them with beautiful refined music, art, and media .  It is our privilege to share with them uplifting words and feelings; to keep their lives focused on the real - surrounding them with God's creations and His love.  They feel His Spirit through us.  What an incredible privilege.

I thought about being more specific about some of the prevalent things out there that I see so many children exposed to at such young ages by well meaning mothers, but I won't.  I think we can prayerfully look into our hearts and into our homes and figure those things out for ourselves.  The more I do this, the more I find that I can do a little better and improve my heart and home each day.

Please be careful what you immerse your precious little spirits in.
"Do you want a principle for successful motherhood? Make time to teach your children the gospel and principles of gospel living when they are young. It may be that you too will need to 'renounce the world' and 'devote above twenty years of the prime of life in hopes to save the souls of [your] children.'
No accomplishment transcends the building of the character of a son or a daughter of God." -Ezra Taft Benson

*Great articles about our responsiblity:
The Honored Place of Woman
Teach the Children

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Getting Out of the Way

I haven't felt the need to write much on my blog lately.  I suppose many of the things going through  my mind lately have been rather personal and have felt just fine staying my private journal.  I have learned some things lately, though, that I wanted to share.

I commented to a friend a few months ago that I tend to be a better mother when I am under stress - like when the toddler has splattered spaghetti sauce on the ceiling, the 5 year old has spilled the milk all over the floor, the 12 year old is mad at her brother who won't leave the dog alone, and things just seem out of control.  It is at these times that I am better able to just laugh and turn it all over to the Lord.  I can see Him smiling down on me and I reach up and we move on together.

I realized that I needed to do this a lot more often, not just when things are crazy all around me.  I needed to let Him take over and just follow along.  Interesting opportunities for growth have presented themselves to me and I have learned a few things as I've been trying to turn things over more.  I wanted to share some of them on here.
The pictures are from a skit Spice put together for her youth group.
She never presented it, but they had a great time acting it out.

Sometimes I get in the way
At times I think I am wise in my own eyes.  Heavenly Father gives me an idea about how to raise my children, for example, and I take it, make it my own, and then I get in the way.  I might come up with a system on how to implement the idea and then get so wrapped up in the system that I forget to keep seeking the guidance I need every step of the way.  I start to think I am in control instead of my Heavenly Father.

Cleopatra on a boat to see Julius Ceasar
For example, I may realize that I need to rid our home of contention.  I decide that if two children (it takes two) start to bring contention into the home, they both go to time-out (a system).  As I try to implement the system, one of my children starts to argue with me about how it is not fair.  Instead of seeking guidance about how to handle the situation (turning to God), I get caught up in the system and bring contention into the home by the way I demand that the system is followed.  Not that there is anything wrong with teaching children to obey the rules, but the problem comes when the peace in my heart is replaced by pride and the desire shifts from doing the Lord's will to carrying out my own will.

It's a subtle shift, but a perilous one.  I have recently learned that one way to keep myself out of the way is to accept opportunities to serve (seeking to know by the Spirit which opportunities to accept).  This unites our family in a common purpose as we all seek to bless those around us.  I'm not saying that all opportunities have to be "family service projects", but as individual members serve others - we share common goals and help each other draw closer to Heavenly Father.
Cleopatra in a rug being presented to Julius Ceasar :-)
I have recently been given the opportunity to serve in Spice's homeschool youth group.  My friend, who started the youth group and has created an amazing learning environment for my little girl, is moving.  She asked me to take her place.  I made it a matter of much, much prayer because I did not want to get involved in anything that would take my time away from my family.  I was blessed with the peaceful assurance that Heavenly Father approved of my helping build His kingdom in this way and that He would help me with my family.
Some of the youth group on a field trip, it was an amazing experience that I
wrote about elsewhere, but maybe I copy and paste it on this blog for my personal records.
It has been a great learning opportunity for all of us.  I am turning more to the Lord because it's quite impossible for me to do it on my own.  We are working together for a common purpose as a family (the kids all wanted me to do this and they are contributing to making it happen) and I am learning to follow the Spirit on a deeper level.  I can see this all going wrong if I loose sight of why we are doing it and I get caught up in the systems.  I have to stay close to the Spirit to make this work, or my family will suffer.  It's been quite a growing experience so far.  We'll see if we are up to it!  If not, I'll see disorder and disunity in my family, we'll let the youth group go, and I'll go back to getting my family in order.  So far so good (not perfect, but we're heading in the right direction together as before).

LOL, I planned to write more about the different lessons I have learned and I only got to one of them.  I'm out of time, but there is one more that I really want to get to, so hopefully I'll find the time to blog about it soon.  I miss my blogging friends that I don't see in person! I hope you are all doing well!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Catch-up with pictures

So, having a new baby hasn't left much time for blogging, but I do want to get some pictures up of our latest doings.  Putting the pictures up will make it seem like we've been out having adventures all summer.  In reality, we have mostly just stayed home, but I don't often think to take pictures when we're just doing normal family things.  There are a few though.   Here are some of the latest adventures:

Our little baby "Gem" is getting big so fast.
Photo by my friend, Jodi

My friend, Jodi, took some beautiful pictures of Gem at 3 weeks:

Getting bigger...

So is everyone else:

Ray loves to sing to his baby brother (can you tell what song?)

He also loves to sing to a pretend audience (the kids filmed this and there's not a lot of singing, but it's adorable still):

Bazinks explaining one of his "set-ups":

While I was home recuperating after having a baby, Rock took the kids on some outings:
Hiking with friends:

And camping:

Baby Gem and I got to go to camp Kiesel with Spice for an Activity Days activity.  Gem did really well and we had a good time.

Rock rode in a couple of century rides and we came and watched him finish one around Utah Lake:
My sister-in-law, Michelle, was in town for a month.  I got to have her at my house for a week!  It was so wonderful getting to talk and laugh with her.  I miss her and her little boys very much.  I also miss my brother who was also in and out of town during that time.  We did some fun things while they were here including letting her teach us how to paint.  Rock came home a couple of times to find painting supplies all over the table instead of dinner :-)  We also went to a few other places including several hikes like Cascade Springs:

We all had fun at the Tracy Aviary together too:

The day Michelle had to leave, we went to her mom's house and rode horses and ATVs.  Ray sort of half-giggled half-cried when he was on the horse with me, but he loved the ATV with his dad and grandpa.

Later that week, the kids had a piano recital:
Spice playing "Dreams Come True"

Bud singing and playing "Honeydew" (you can't really hear him singing though).

Bud playing a song he wrote that he titled "Bo, bo, bee, bop"

Spice playing a song she wrote that she titled "Arabian Dance"

Bud has been having fun going to the football games with his dad:

A couple of weeks ago we went to Yellowstone.  Here are a few of the hundreds of pictures we took there :-)
The cabin we stayed in.  It was a 30 min. drive to Yellowstone, but the cabin was perfect.

Waiting for Old Faithful:

Finally, it erupts:
Geyser walk:

Ranger-led tour of Black Basin:

Hike to a lake:

Eating s'mores outside our cabin:
The first time we saw a Bison, we stopped and pointed it out to Ray.  We got in the car and started driving and up ahead was a Bison on the road.  He walked next to our car right by Ray's window.  Ray looked perplexed and then said, "Huh." in an interested way.  He loved seeing the "Bi-tn" and the "Melk" (Bison and Elk).  All the kids loved the wildlife.  We watched a mole did a hole, saw a bald eagle flying overhead, spotted a coyote,  and, of course, saw Bison everywhere:

On the way to and at the falls:

Mud Basin (we called it the stinky hike):

Having a picnic (Ray stepped on some bear poop)
One of my favorite hikes was to the base of Tower Falls.  You can't quite go to the base anymore, but you can go to a river area by it.  The kids threw rocks into the river and played in the sand.  We got ice-cream when we got back to the top which also made it very nice.

We were exited to see a herd of Elk and one of them bugled.

The inside of our cabin as we were getting ready to leave:
Mammoth Hot Springs:

Norris Basin was another of my favorite hikes.  We had so much fun talking and laughing through this hike.  It even rained on us for a little bit which was nice because most people had deserted the trail and it felt pretty secluded and smelled wonderfully (except when you walked by the steaming pools ;-)  )  It felt so good to be together:

That pretty much catches up on things.  I'd like to write about more than what we've been doing, but I think I've ignored my kids enough for one Sunday.  Maybe I'll post again soon (although I don't foresee having much more time than I've had lately.  Babies sure do take a lot of time!  I'm loving it though).