Daily Answers: Apply scripture story to my life

I knew my scripture study for today would be Mosiah 7 which is the story of the people of Limhi being in bondage to the Lamanites. Therefore I wasn’t surprised when the question that came to my mind and heart was, “What bondage am I in?” This is a great question, but I didn’t want to share publicly the answer I would receive. By the end of reading Mosiah 7 and taking notes, I decided I didn’t need to share specifics about my personal bondage. I could share the parallels between this scripture story and my life.

Before my scripture study this morning, I finished listening to a podcast, ConneXions by Jodi Hildebrandt Episode 115: Enabling (Controlling) vs. Surrender. I realized that I am trying to control/enable my children. Then as I read Mosiah 7 I could see the gospel basis for the episode I’d just finished. King Limhi tells his people, “lift up your heads and be comforted…we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies…yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made” (Mosiah 7:18). The people of king Limhi were in bondage because of their own iniquities and abominations. They were being controlled by the king of the Lamanites. When I try to control or enable my children and not allow them the consequences of their actions, I am in bondage and so is he. When I allow self doubt to control me, I am in bondage. Jodi Hildebrandt says when I feel pain I need to ask myself, “What is causing me pain or discomfort? Who is responsible for the pain or discomfort? Is it me?” Then she says, “You stop and you be thoughtful and before you do anything, make sure you are centered in truth.” The truth for king Limhi’s people was that their bondage was a result of their iniquity. They took responsibility, turned to God and repented. But that didn’t make the problem go away. I love the phrase, “I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made” (Mosiah 7:18). Getting out of bondage is hard work, but we have to put our trust in the Lord as king Limhi reminded his people. The Lord does not enable us in our transgression. King Limhi taught, “For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them” (Mosiah 7:29). The Lord lets us experience the consequences of our actions, but He is there when we are ready to repent. The answer is, “But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage” (Mosiah 7:33).

With my children and myself, I need to put my trust in the Lord, do the hard work or effectual struggle, and the Lord “according to his own will and pleasure, [will] deliver [me] out of bondage” (Mosiah 7:33).

I appreciate that for today I was able to see how a scripture story I’ve read and heard hundreds of times contains the truths of psychology and behavioral science and applies to my life.

Is Heavenly Father a Helicopter Parent? or What I’ve Learned So Far as a Grandma

I’m a grandma! My oldest daughter had her first baby. I was able to be there for the birth and to stay and help afterwards. During labor I gave suggestions to help with the pain and effectiveness of contractions. I rubbed her feet while her husband rubbed her back. I reminded her to breath in through her nose and out through her mouth. I asked the nurses questions. I held one hand and her husband held the other as she pushed. Out came a beautiful baby girl, a true miracle that I’m grateful to have witnessed.

 

After labor I took pictures of my daughter, her husband, and the new baby. I watched the nurse clean my new granddaughter. I tried to give suggestions on breastfeeding.

 

Then the baby had to be in the special nursery with IV antibiotics, because her white blood count was high, she gagged after eating, she couldn’t maintain her body temperature, and she wasn’t interested in eating. I reassured my daughter. I stayed overnight on the couch in my daughter’s room because her husband needed sleep so he could go back to work. I helped her to the bathroom. I reminded her to order food and to pump. And I wondered if I was doing too much to help her or not enough.

 

My daughter was discharged from the hospital but her baby was not. She didn’t want to leave her baby. The nurses let her stay in a small isolation room next to the nursery. There was a chair that folded out into a couch for her to sleep on, but there wasn’t a place for me or her husband to stay. So we left her at the hospital.

 

I didn’t want to leave her alone, but when we came back the next day, she was proud of the progress she’d made with pumping and that she’d held the baby as much as she could. She was starting to gain confidence as a mother.

 

When we brought my daughter and the baby home, I again tried to help as much as possible. Fixing food, doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, holding the baby, changing her diaper. But I couldn’t breastfeed the baby. For a couple of days the baby wouldn’t breastfeed. She got angry when my daughter tried. So my daughter kept pumping and feeding the baby from a bottle. But she was discouraged. I wanted to help her more, to give her advice, but my suggestions didn’t seem to help. I couldn’t do it for her. My daughter looked up suggestions on the internet. She prayed. She asked for a blessing from her husband. I went to bed and she set her alarm to get up every three hours to pump and try to breastfeed. In the middle of the night as the baby cried and my daughter fed her, I wanted to help but there was nothing I could do. The next morning my daughter tried again. The baby latched on and ate. She did it! Every day my daughter has gained more and more confidence as a mother.

 

So I’ve been thinking about how much our Heavenly Father helps us or lets us do things on our own.  He doesn’t hover, interfere or jump in to do things we can do ourselves. Elder Donald L. Hallstrom said, “He allows some earthly suffering because He knows it will bless us, like a refiner’s fire, to become like Him and to gain our eternal inheritance…” As my daughter stayed at the hospital and looked for her own answers, she learned and grew and gained confidence. As she prayed and searched for help including a blessing from her husband, she was able to receive the help she needed. Our Heavenly Father wants to help us, but he wants us to learn and grow too. He want us to turn to him for answers and especially for the healing power of the atonement.

 

In The Book of Mormon a prophet, Alma, teaches about what happens when we turn to Christ and when we don’t. “And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word” (Alma 12:34-35). We need to turn to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We will receive the help we need, and we will be allowed to learn and grow through our experiences.

 

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9). When my daughter asks me to change a dirty diaper or change the laundry, I’m happy to do it, but I’m trying to let her ask and not interfere too much except to ask to hold and kiss her more before I return home.

 

 

 

 

 

Grateful to miss my missionary

I’m going to share a story from my daughter’s letter to her dad this last week. My daughter is on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She will serve for 18 months. She can e-mail us once a week. She can also send letters which we usually get once a week. She can call or skype us two times a year: Christmas and Mother’s Day. I miss her and am more grateful for this opportunity for her than I ever imagined.

 

“The other day we were leaving an appointment to park at the church to go tracting. I went to turn the key in the truck and it wouldn’t turn! I remembered that the Hyundai used to do that and you told me to just turn the wheel and that would unlock it. Only it didn’t work. Sister S was upset at me, because she thought I broke the truck. I told her it wasn’t broken but we just needed to figure out the trick. She wasn’t impressed. I wanted so bad just to call you. I knew if I called you that you could fix it. We said a prayer. The wheel turning thing still didn’t work. We called three different people for help and no one answered. I wanted more than anything just to call you and you could help me. I thought of your phone number in my head and the phone was in my hand. But guess what, I didn’t call you. Just then Brother C (an 82 year-old man that I had called for help) called us back. He told us about the wheel turning trick. I tried and it didn’t work. He said he was getting in his truck to come get us, even though he lives twenty minutes away. I told him to walk us through it again, and all of a sudden, it worked. It was a miracle and he didn’t have to get us. I love you! Someday I will be able to call you for help with all my dumb problems.

Love,

Sister RH”

This story teaches me that:

  1. She loves her dad.
  2. She listened to her dad when she lived at home.
  3. She knows how to pray.
  4. She is obedient.
  5. The Lord lets us put in effort and use what we know before providing a way.
  6. The Lord often provides an answer to our prayers through someone else.
  7. She is a good story teller.

I look forward to the day when she can call us with all her dumb problems. But I’m willing to wait, because she is gaining skills, experience, and conversion that will be invaluable.

My job is the best!

This week my son-in-law started his first real life job after graduating from college in aviation technology. He repairs airplanes and helicopters for a living. He has inspired my youngest son to be interested in airplanes and jets of the future. My youngest son draws airplanes, creates airplanes out of Legos, dreams about airplanes, and experiments with folding paper airplanes. On his second day on the job, my son-in-law sent a group text with a picture of the airplane he was working on. The responses were “Cool!” “How fun!” A picture of a desk and a computer, another family member’s job, and then my son-in-law’s sister sent a picture of her and her two young children with the words, “My job is the best.”

 

I am inspired by her.

 

Moms, let’s go create, dream, and experiment. Our job is the best!

 

 

 

How to Survive and Thrive in the Holm Home or What really goes on in our home

We have an exchange student from Norway with us for the rest of the school year. She is brave to leave her country and family and come to a new country and go to a new school and especially to live with a new family and learn their ways. Her brother was an exchange student in North Carolina and before he came, the exchange family sent him a guide to their family. I’ve taken that suggestion and created:

 

The Exchange Student’s Guide to the Holm Home

or

How to Survive and Thrive in the Holm Home

or

How to Keep Mom Happy

 

Early to bed, early to rise

We get up early and go to bed early, especially Mom. We have scripture study on school days at 6:30 am. Children should be dressed by then and ready for school except for eating breakfast and making lunches. The high school students need to leave by about 7:10 am, so if you’re not attending family scripture study, you need to be up and ready to go with enough time to eat and make your lunch.

We go to bed around 9:00 pm.

Mom gets up between 5 and 5:30 am and goes to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 pm. If you want to talk to her, do it before 8:30 pm.

On weekends, we sleep in…until 9:00 am at the latest. If we have other plans, we’re up earlier. Teenagers may stay up later and Mom will set her alarm to be awake when you come home from a date or activity.

 

Work before play

Do your jobs first. Then relax or play. This means cleaning your room, making your bed, doing your homework, music practicing, your assigned room job. This also means doing your jobs before you use the computer to do homework or use your device.

Daily Personal jobs are:

Make bed

Clean room

Shower if needed

Clear own dishes and put in dishwasher

Clean up after snacks

Clean up personal belongings in kitchen, front room, family room

Do homework

Music practicing

Weekly Personal Jobs (usually done on Saturday):

Laundry—wash, dry, fold, and put away, wash sheets once a month

Super clean room (under bed, corners, closet, organize, change garbage, vacuum, dust if necessary)

 

Family job:

The children take turns doing dishes, either together or are assigned different nights.

Rotating jobs—there are four stations or sections.

Kitchen—Set table for every meal that week, feed and water the dog daily. Clean the patio door inside and out once a week, usually Saturday.

Front room/Family room—Have family members pick up their stuff once a day. Vacuum front room, family room, hallway, and stairs once a week, usually Saturday.

Laundry room—Straighten shoes and pick up fallen coats, backpacks daily. Sweep once a week, usually Saturday. Clean up the dog poop in the back yard once a week, usually Saturday.

Bathroom—Quick clean daily the upstairs bathroom. Weekly clean the bathroom on the level of your bedroom on Saturdays, sometimes Super clean as assigned by Mom.

 

Seasonal jobs: Children take turns mowing the front yard and back yard, weeding the garden, shoveling snow.

 

How it really works: Mom would like the jobs done every day. But…

When a child wants a privilege like doing the computer (even homework), the child needs to do jobs first and then let Mom know. Mom checks on jobs on Saturday or walks by room and sees it’s not done and gets mad at child.

 

The jobs and schedule are posted on the white board in the laundry room most of the time. They need to be done and marked off on Saturdays.

 

Good habits

Shower daily or as needed

Put on deodorant daily

Pray daily

Read scriptures daily

Brush teeth twice a day

Say please and thank you

 

Media Rules

  1. Personal devices in basket when at home. Personal devices in basket by 9 pm, then the basket is kept in Mom and Dad’s room at night.
  2. No internet after 9 pm.
  3. No devices in rooms or downstairs.
  4. Use devices after jobs, practicing, homework.
  5. Music, games, texting for 30 minutes after #4.
  6. Ask Mom if you need to text before #4 and for #5 and to use the computer and internet.

How it really works: The above rules are what Mom would really like. What really happens is that children and parents keep devices with them, but not downstairs, except teenage boy who doesn’t have a smartphone or ipod. He takes his phone downstairs sometimes. He also takes his Nook downstairs to play music, but no games. Mom and Dad use personal devices in their rooms, but not after 9 pm (hardly ever) and with the door open. Teenage boy sets timer to play games on Nook after jobs and homework are done. He plays music much more than 30 minutes, usually until Mom has a headache and tells him to turn it off.

 

These media rules help keep us safe from pornography, keep us from being isolated from one another, help us not waste time, and help us spend time on other worthwhile activities.

We want everyone in our family to be productive. That means limiting the time spent on the internet and personal devices.

 

We eat together.

We try to eat breakfast and dinner together every day.

Breakfast is at about 6:50 am.

The breakfast schedule looks like this:

Sunday-cold cereal

Monday-hot cereal like oatmeal or steel cut oats and toast

Tuesday-hot cereal and toast

Wednesday-cold cereal

Thursday-hot cereal and toast

Friday-muffins or eggs or pancakes or breakfast cake

Saturday-pancakes or waffles

 

Dinner is between 5:30 and 6:00 pm.

During tax season, January through April 15, we may eat earlier when Dad isn’t at home. We also can adjust dinner time depending on activities.

 

Lunch: Children make their own lunches. Mom will make a sandwich—peanut butter, tuna, or deli meat—if requested. There are chips and pretzels and fruit available. Bagels are available on Mondays.

 

Please don’t waste food. Don’t take what you won’t eat. Don’t make what you won’t eat. Don’t eat food in bedroom. Don’t leave dirty dishes in bedroom.

 

How it really works: Mom and Dad eat the hot cereal. Sometimes one or two of the other children will eat hot cereal. The children usually eat toast. Mom and Dad are constantly nagging the children to clean up their orange peels or apple cores in their rooms, downstairs, living room and popcorn bowls downstairs. Teenage boy is known to eat an entire box of whoppers in his room. But please don’t leave dirty dishes in your room.

 

We do church.

We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we do church, a lot of it. We worship Jesus Christ as the Son of God. We believe in His atoning sacrifice. We believe in modern prophets who teach us what God wants us to know to be happy in this life and to live with God in the next life. We believe the Bible to be the word of God. We believe The Book of Mormon to be the word of God. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe that Joseph Smith saw God, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ and that the gospel was restored through Joseph Smith and that he translated The Book of Mormon.
We “talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).

 

That means that we do church a lot. Here are some of the times.

Every weekday morning we study the scriptures at 6:30 am for about 15 minutes.

Every Sunday we have a gospel discussion.

Every Monday we have Family Home Evening and are taught a gospel subject by a member of the family.

Usually on Wednesdays at 7:00 pm, the teenagers attend a youth activity.

On Sundays we attend church meetings for 3 hours.

We have family prayer twice a day, before breakfast and dinner. We have a blessing on the food before lunch.

We have personal daily scripture study and prayer.

We attend other meetings like choir, planning meetings for serving others and conducting meetings. We visit members of our church often.

We attend the temple. Mom and Dad try to go together once a month. Mom tries to go one or two additional times a month. The teenagers can do baptisms for the dead at the temple.

Monthly church dances for teenagers.

Seasonal church basketball for teenage boy.

Ward activities like Christmas parties or annual musical. The ward is our church family. It is a group of people in a specified geographical area who look out for each other.

 

Family activities

See: We do church.

We also play ping pong, board games, card games, work together, occasionally see a movie together or go shopping. We like to watch movies together at home.

And read. We love to read.

 

If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.

Be kind. Don’t contend (that means don’t fight). Talk kindly to one another. Don’t make fun or criticize others.

One of Mom’s favorite scriptures:

 

“And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another” (Mosiah 4:14-15).

 

How it really works: We like to tease each other. Dad especially likes to tease and remembers things to tease you about for a long time. This can be fun but we also need to be careful.

 

Keep the Spirit in our home

The Spirit is the Holy Ghost or the level of love and good feelings we have in our home. We feel the Holy Ghost when we are making good choices and when we are choosing virtuous things. This means talking kindly, using clean language, listening to songs with clean lyrics, watching movies with good messages and not too much violence, sex, or bad language.

In our home we don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. That means we don’t say, “Oh, my God.” Or “Oh, God.” Or “Jesus Christ” in a blasphemous or irreverent way. We don’t use bad words or cuss words. We’re happy to tell you if a word is a bad word or cuss word.

 

“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things” (Article of Faith 13).

 

How it really works: Sometimes we watch movies or listen to music that have bad parts. We can all do better about turning something off that feels wrong.

 

We have standards.

Many of these standards are found in For the Strength of Youth.

They include things like waiting to date until you’re 16, dressing modestly, spending your time wisely, making good friends, being sexually pure, being grateful, creating a strong family. The standards in For the Strength of Youth are true principles. You have agency or the ability to be able to choose to follow those principles or not. You will be happier and get along in our family better if you follow those standards.

 

Do well in school.

Do your best and when you are having trouble, talk to your teachers, talk to us. Get help.

 

Follow directions.

What would make Mom the most happy is if the children promptly did their jobs and assignments as explained. Lying, deceiving, forgetting, and doing a part-way job are very annoying to the parents. If you have questions, please ask. If you can’t get a job or assignment done at the specified time, let’s talk about it.

 

Communicate

Please talk with us about your needs, desires, and scheduling activities. We will get to know you better and develop a stronger relationship as we communicate in meaningful ways. We know you are proud of your country and your family’s traditions. We want to hear about them and you. We are proud of our country and our traditions and culture too and yes, we are uninformed about a lot of things and biased as are you.

Mom likes to know the schedule. She doesn’t like surprises. If you need something from the store, please let her know ahead of time. If you want to schedule an activity, discuss it with the family to see if it will work in the schedule.

 

We want to have a great exchange experience with you. We want to learn from you and have you learn from us. Thank you for giving us the opportunity.

 

Love,

The Holm family

A mom’s battle to keep her children safe: Censoring the internet

At church we discussed strategies for protecting our children from pornography. While non-Mormons may think that we are strict, have many rules, and don’t allow our children to make choices, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a strong belief in agency or the ability to make choices. In trying to protect our children from pornography are we taking away their choice? A woman in our meeting gave a great analogy. She said that some people live on quiet streets and neighborhoods with very little car traffic and it’s safe to let their children play outside. But in other neighborhoods, cars drive by fast and often and parents don’t allow their children to play on the street. They set up restrictions and rules to keep their children safe. The internet is a place where we and our children work and play that has lots of traffic, much of which is unsafe and can cause harm.  I’ve come to believe that protecting our children from pornography is a constant battle with three stages or lines of defense.

 

Set up fortresses. These are tools to protect us and our children from exposure to pornography. Get an internet filter. I don’t have one to recommend, but there are many. Limit the access your child has on the internet through settings on their phones, tablets, or Ipods. On Android devices this is done through profiles and on Apple devices this is done through the settings with a password. We recently blocked Safari from our daughter’s Itouch. She can text, receive e-mails, and use apps we’ve approved that have access to the internet, but she can’t go to the internet to search or look up information. Limit the times and places your family uses the internet. We’ve had our computer in the kitchen for years now, but using the internet in the open needs to apply to our personal devices too. Have a basket in the kitchen where every member of the family puts their devices. Use them in the main area of the home. Have a time at night where there is no access so you can spend time together as a family and work on homework without being distracting. Then have a time when everyone is done with the internet for the evening. My parents used to say that I didn’t need to be out after midnight because nothing good happened after twelve. I would say that applies at an even earlier hour with the internet. You can either set a time with your router to have the internet shut off or you can have all the devices in a box or basket that is put away next to Mom’s bed at night. No child or adult should be using their personal internet connected devices in their rooms at night.

 

Keep those fortresses maintained. Teach your children very plainly about the effects of pornography. Teach them the importance of keeping their bodies clean and safe. Teach them that relationships should be long lasting and built on trust and real love. Teach them to recognize the conflict with pornography—-that it feels bad and good at the same time. Help them develop an internal filter because no matter how much you filter, set rules, and monitor, we each have to have develop our own defenses and the ability to walk away from viewing pornography. Then teach and talk to them some more. And not just about pornography. If you have a loving relationship with your children, they can come to you when they need help.

 

Repair damaged fortresses. I’ve heard this for years and didn’t believe it until recently. It’s not a matter of if but when our children will view and perhaps engage in long term pornography use. The Savior’s atonement can help overcome pornography use and addiction. But only when the pornography user is willing to change, willing to be humble and repent. Parents, other family members, and respected adults can help in this process.

 

The other day I was sweeping my kitchen floor and lamenting in my mind that Satan has an unfair advantage. I can’t compete with the draw of entertainment and pornography and the craftiness of those who seek to entrap us and our children. But then I went to the temple and was reminded in the initiatory ordinance of the power I have through keeping covenants. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are worthy can make covenants or promises in the temple between themselves and God. We promise to keep His commandments and dedicate our lives to Him, and He promises to help us overcome the evils of this world. Overcoming is not just something that will happen after we die. There are many resources and supports to help us. I will list some I’ve found at the end of this blog.

 

Mothers, be strong. Be the defenders of your home. Keep fighting. You are worth it. Your husband is worth, it and your children are worth it.

 

Good Pictures Bad Pictures: this is a book to read with children of all ages.
Four FHE lessons for families from lds.org about pornography.
Arm Your Kids for the Battle: an article from BYU magazine.
To Young Men Only by President Boyd K. Packer: a pamphlet about masturbation and thoughts.
A Parent’s Guide: a book published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of age appropriate teachings about sexuality.
Mormon Channel: For the Youth–lots of great episodes about thoughts, agency, sexual morality, and more.
Fight the New Drug:  a website which teaches about the harmful effects of pornography.

Censoring your children’s media: A Mormon writer’s perspective

Recently my sister-in-law asked my opinion on if she should allow her twelve year-old daughter to read The Hunger Games. Censoring children’s reading is one of my favorite topics so I was happy to give my opinion. Since I write young adult novels and read a lot, I am more liberal about what I feel like my children can read. I am also more conservative than much of the current young adult book industry. And therein is the trickiness of censoring. We all have different opinions. We all have different standards. We are each affected by media in different ways.

 

I believe parents are responsible for teaching their children and then facilitating independence and responsibility. A parent should always go with how the Spirit guides or your gut feeling concerning your children.

 

Teach your children to recognize how media makes them feel. Our thirteenth article of Faith, one of thirteen statements about our beliefs, says “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” Does the book you’re reading or the show you’re watching help you want to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous? Is it lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy? I’ve come to realize that some violence doesn’t affect me as much as sex, especially explicit, and I can’t stand torture. One of my daughters realized in high school that she could choose to leave the classroom during movies with violence or suffering even if they were  shown to enhance history or engender empathy.

 

Children need to learn how to monitor their own media. Recently there was a controversy in our high school over a book. One student wanted the book banned because she felt it was inappropriate. Another student felt like the book had value and shouldn’t be banned. What I thought was unfortunate is that many parents got upset and demanded the book be removed from the reading list without reading the book themselves. I had read the book a few years before and could see both sides of the issue. I could see how some of the material in the book might be inappropriate and also that the book had value. The ideal scenario for me would be for students to be given options for books to read and if they begin reading a book or watching a movie and feel uncomfortable, the student can approach the teacher and have the assignment modified. I do realize that there is social pressure and embarrassment and that some students say they don’t want to read a book just to get out of the assignment.

 

After this incident, a committee resolved that teachers would make parents more aware of what their children would be reading, so they could make an informed decision ahead of time. The truth is, even if a list like that is available, I’m not going to read everything my children read or watch every movie that they might see. But I can discuss with my children how they feel when reading or watching a movie and what it might feel like when they are prompted to shut the book or turn off the movie.

 

Now, having said all that, I do believe parents can set standards and expectations with their children and in their homes. I think it’s okay to say, “You can’t read The Hunger Games until you’re thirteen.” I would suggest if you’re going to make a statement like that, you should read them yourself before.  You know your children. You have a good idea of what affects them, but you also need to allow them independence and the ability to make their own decisions. I read a lot and still do read a lot. I don’t want someone telling me what I can and can’t read or watch. Help your children develop that empowerment themselves. There are books I’ve read or movies I’ve watched that I shouldn’t have finished. There is media now that I don’t participate in that I might have years ago. That’s the beauty of learning. As Joseph Smith, the prophet through whom the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in the latter days, said, “The nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker, and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p. 211).

 

Teaching children is a process, also not arrived at in a moment. We are all capable of being the teachers that our children need when we use the guidance of the Spirit and take time to talk with our children.

 

While I believe firmly in facilitating independence and an openness with literature, my opinion on censorship of social media and internet access is very conservative and will be addressed in my next post.

Do Mormons think they have all the answers?

Two years ago, I felt inspired to write a weekly blog about what Mormons believe. I thought it would be a good forum for helping my friends and others see that Mormons may do some things differently, but that we are like everyone else too. Maybe more than teaching others, writing the blog helped me to articulate what I know and believe and as I did that my testimony–my belief system about my religion–grew. But then within the last few months, I discovered that all was not well within my own home or my extended family. That going to church every week, having daily scripture study, weekly Family Home Evening, and personal prayer and scripture study, had not prevented our family from being affected by the very trials I feared. How could I write a weekly blog about Mormon beliefs when I didn’t have all the answers anymore? How could I give advice when I wasn’t perfect?

 

Times of trial and sorrow are the very times when I needed to test my beliefs. For a brief moment, I wondered, could this all be a lie? Why would a church profess something that is at conflict with the love I have for a family member? But then I remembered Jesus Christ. I remembered my testimony of the Savior. I remembered the times He’s given me comfort and guidance, and I remembered a few very real, personal experiences from which I cannot deny the existence of my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I then turned to the Lord in pleading prayer and dug deeper into the practices that will not prevent trials but will strengthen me through those trials.

 

This past Sunday I was asked to share my testimony in Relief Society, the women’s meeting during church. As I finished my testimony, my faith was stronger. I felt stronger. I realized that writing this weekly blog does not have to be about having all the answers. It is about sharing my beliefs and then my beliefs being strengthened by my sharing.

 

I do not have all the answers. I do not know the best way to be the parent of a married daughter. I do not know how to be the mom to a missionary. I do not know how to parent a teenage son or daughter and a precocious child. I do not understand why people are attracted to someone of the same gender. I do not understand why Heavenly Father’s eternal plan emphasizes marriage between a man and a woman, therefore excluding those who act on same gender attraction. I also can’t comprehend how our society has gotten to the point that same sex marriage is acceptable, but I also can’t relate to a desire other than what I have. I hate that pornography is too readily available and extremely addictive. I don’t know why some children choose to follow the gospel and others don’t. But there are many things I do know. I know Christ lives. I know the Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness includes coming to earth to gain a body, making choices, and that marriage between a man and a woman is part of God’s Plan of Happiness. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a current apostle, said, “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” Someday I hope to understand all that doesn’t make sense to me now. Until then I will continue to pray, study the scriptures, attend church, and serve. And when I’m unsure or waver, I will plead with my Savior and because He is real, because He lives, because of the Atonement, He will strengthen me.

 

 

 

 

Being the mom

I’m taking a break from the Articles of Faith discussion. This past Sunday was Mother’s Day so I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be the mom. My daughter asked me on Saturday if I like Mother’s Day. I like that my children and husband do the dishes and make the meals. I like the chocolates we received at church. I loved that when my husband asked the children to say something they appreciate about me, they were thoughtful and sincere. I especially loved when my husband said to the children, “No one loves you more than your mom.” What I don’t like about Mother’s Day is the perfection that is held up for being a mom–putting Moms on a pedestal. Shannon Hale said all of this much better than me in her Facebook post on Mother’s Day.

 

What makes me the mom is that I was lucky enough to give birth to five children. I didn’t know what I was doing. When the nurse left our first daughter on the hospital bed for us to take home, my husband and I both panicked realizing that we had no idea how to raise a child, let alone feed and keep her clean. But we did it. And we did it again and again and again and again. We learned that they all have different needs, wants, desires, and talents. I learned that the only way to be a good parent is to pray to my Heavenly Father and counsel with my husband a lot. And then pray and counsel again. I learned that a family is a messy, yet perfect way to learn. I learned and am learning that the best way for my Heavenly Father to teach me about love, forgiveness, repentance, agency, selflessness, and humility is for me to be a parent.

 

My second daughter gave a talk in church on Mother’s Day. She said, “Jesus loves Moms. I love my mom. My mom is the best mom for me.” How true. I am not the best mom. I’m the mom who God sent these five people to because he knew what I needed to learn and that if I prayed for guidance, I would be able to love and teach them. No one loves my children more than me, except for our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I’m grateful they gave me the opportunity to be the mom.

Lamentations of a mother whose children are growing up

When I was a mom of young children, older more experienced mothers would say, “Enjoy them. They grow up so fast.” I dismissed their advice because clearly they didn’t remember what it was like to have little children and be exhausted all the time and have no personal space and constantly clean up messes that would be made again. Well, guess what? I’m now one of those advice giving mothers. I chuckle at children in the store throwing tantrums. I want to reach out and touch a newborn baby to whom I am not related. The other day a pregnant woman complained about being tired and I laughed. In a public restroom I spoke to a young girl who was with her mother. The girl didn’t speak back to me, because I’m a stranger. I remembered wondering why older, strange women would think my child should be polite and gregarious with them.

 

Do you know what else women with teenagers do? They talk about how mothers of young children have it easy. Having teenagers is hard. It’s exhausting mentally. Once they are home from school, my mind is engrossed with their issues. And they leave their stuff in my space when they know better and are capable of putting it away. Then, they insist on making their own choices. About friends, homework, college, marriage.

 

The other day I cleaned some old spaghetti squash out of the fridge. I reached my hand into the container and plopped the left-overs it into the garbage. I was thinking how I try so hard to feed them healthy food. How they don’t appreciate all I do and how I was throwing away this disgusting spaghetti squash because I was the only one who would eat it. I thought about how being a mom is hard. Then a thought touched my heart, “But what a privilege.” Yes, what a privilege it’s been and still is to love these children. To see them grow and make their own choices. To see the people they are becoming. What a privilege it is to be their mom.