Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sacrament Meeting Talk {revisited}

Scott and I spoke in our old ward on Mother's Day.  We're speaking in our new ward tomorrow.  While I might attribute the timing to our move (it seems pretty common to ask people moving out or in to speak), the fact that the topics are so closely related causes me to think its more than that.  Since, this is a journal of sorts, and I'm trying to include more of my 'inner thoughts' into these Olson chronicles, I've decided to post my talk here (minus the introduction).  Its pretty long (for a blog-post), I was assigned to speak for 12-15 minutes on "The Role of Mothers in Encouraging and Nurturing the Testimonies of Children".  I basically took my first talk (assigned on Alma 56:44-48) and cut out some things and developed some ideas further.  The story of Helaman's stripling warriors has become very dear to me.  I know that the principles taught in that scriptural account apply to mothering daughters as well as sons.  Reading and thinking about the mothers of the stripling warriors reminds me of my responsibility to all my children to guide them properly.  Eden has such a strong will, I hope I can help her to focus it in the right direction as she grows. 

Sacrament Meeting
June 27, 2010

I was asked to speak on the role of mothers in developing and nurturing the testimonies of children. As a mother of three, I have learned that I am not an expert on the subject of motherhood. So, I will quote teachings from scripture and from current church leaders on the subject. They say it so much better than I could.

Literal mothers are not the only women who can fill this responsibility. I am so grateful for ALL the women in my life who have helped me along my way. Julie B. Beck, general president of the Relief Society, spoke about women with a “mother heart”. She said:

In my experience I have seen that some of the truest mother hearts beat in the breasts of women who will not rear their own children in this life, but they know that “all things must come to pass in their time” and that they “are laying the foundation of a great work” (D&C 64:32–33)…. What is a mother heart and how is one acquired? We learn about some of those qualities in the scriptures. To paraphrase Proverbs: “Who can find a … woman [with a mother heart]? for her price is far above rubies. … She … worketh willingly with her hands. … With the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. … She stretcheth out her hand to the poor. … Strength and honour are her clothing. … She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness” (Prov. 31:10, 13, 16, 20, 25–27). A woman with a mother heart has a testimony of the restored gospel, and she teaches the principles of the gospel without equivocation. She is keeping sacred covenants made in holy temples. Her talents and skills are shared unselfishly. She gains as much education as her circumstances will allow, improving her mind and spirit with the desire to teach what she learns to the generations who follow her.

When I first began thinking about this topic, I came up with the following list of basic things we do to encourage and nurture our children’s testimonies. It’s only a start:

-pray as a family and teach our children to pray

-read scriptures as a family. Now that Eden is reading and Andrew is learning to read, I occasionally find them reading their scriptures on their own.

-attend our church meetings. This is not always as easy as it sounds. Especially when you have a pre-nursery age noise-maker. Our youngest, Jake does go to nursery now, so we’re no longer in that stage, but I’ve been there. There have been times (usually when Scott is gone) that I have wondered why I bother. I struggle with restless kids, and spend most of the 3-hour block in the hall with a cranky, sleep-deprived toddler who really wants to go home. And ALWAYS the first thing that comes to my mind when I have these doubts is that my children need to be here, to attend primary, and most importantly, they need to know that attending church is important to me- important enough that we do it even when Daddy can’t be with us.

-pay our tithing and help the kids pay tithing when they receive money

-FHE lessons are a great time to bear testimony of specific gospel principles

I am grateful to my mother for teaching me, by her example, the importance of these basic practices. I strive to set the same example for my own children.

The story of Helamans’s stripling warriors shows how powerful a mothers influence is in the testimonies of her children. I found 3 places where Helaman describes the amazing faith of these young men (and faith is testimony in action), and 2 of them credit their mothers.

In Alma 56:47-48:

47 Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the aliberty of their bfathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their cmothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
48 And they rehearsed unto me the words of their amothers, saying: We bdo not doubt our mothers knew it.

Alma 57:21, 27

21 Yea, and they did aobey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their bmothers had taught them.

27 Now this was the afaith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are bfirm, and they do put their trust in God continually.

Alma 58:40

40 But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they astand fast in that bliberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come.

Growing up, I knew my parents had a testimony. They didn’t verbalize it often, but they lived it. It is said, “Actions speak louder than words.” I don’t mean to say that it is not important for a mother to verbally share her testimony, but I believe that setting an example leaves a stronger impression. I feel like Helaman’s young warriors when they said, “We do not doubt our mothers knew it.” I hope that my children will have that same firmness when they think of me.

In our home in South Dakota, I had a quote on my mirror from D&C 64:33: “Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.” It was a vinyl cut-out and although I tried to remove it carefully, so I could transfer it to our new home, it didn’t survive. I hope to replace it soon. This quote serves as a reminder and a booster at times when I wonder if I’m doing the right things for my children, or when I doubt my influence as their mother. The quote was given to me by my visiting teachers, and their message came from Elder Bednar’s talk in the October 2009 General Conference, entitled “More Diligent and Concerned at Home”. He related the following about their family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening experiences:

…Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.

Today if you could ask our adult sons what they remember about family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening, I believe I know how they would answer. They likely would not identify a particular prayer or a specific instance of scripture study or an especially meaningful family home evening lesson as the defining moment in their spiritual development. What they would say they remember is that as a family we were consistent.

…The consistency of our intent and work was perhaps the greatest lesson—a lesson we did not fully appreciate at the time.

….our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes.

In light of Elder Bednar’s words, it occurred to me that maybe, at times, the future stripling warriors were rowdy and boisterous and naughty, like my children sometimes are. Maybe it wasn’t all peaches and roses to be the mother of a future stripling warrior. Maybe these mothers’ success had a lot to do with their consistency.

Elder Bednar shared 3 tips for improving our families in that same Conference address. While his talk was addressed to parents and families together, each of these principles can be applied to motherhood specifically.

1) Express Love- and Show It; who gives more hugs, kisses and other nurturing, loving gestures than a mother?

2) Bear Testimony- and Live It; a mother is usually the first teacher a child has, we are in a prime position to bear testimony to our children and teach gospel principles to our children by our example.

3) Be Consistent; this is where D&C 64:33 comes in. “Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.”

I doubt those mothers knew their sons would become valiant, heroic warriors at such a young age. But they did not grow “weary in well-doing” and neither can we. We know our children will face adversity and temptation in the world and must do all we can to arm them and prepare them to meet their battles and conquer them.

In closing, I’d like to share the following quote from president Joseph F. Smith:

….sisters, you do not know how far your influence extends. A mother that is successful in raising a good boy, or girl, to imitate her example and to follow her precepts through life, sows the seeds of virtue, honor and integrity and of righteousness in their hearts that will be felt through all their career in life; and wherever that boy or girl goes, as man or woman, in whatever society they mingle, the good effects of the example of that mother upon them will be felt; and it will never die, because it will extend from them to their children from generation to generation.

I am grateful for my mother, who taught me by instruction and by example, most of things that make me who I am today. I know our Heavenly Father loves us, I know my Savior lives. I know we can be guided in our mothering efforts by the promptings and whisperings of the Holy Ghost. We truly are “laying the foundation of a great work.”

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sometimes I wonder a little boy's mind works.

I don't want to forget what Andrew told me today, while we were on our way to the other side of town to purchase a totally sweet pink vinylish reading chair for Eden's room (off Craigslist).  Maybe I'll take a picture once Scott moves it up to her room.

Andrew: "Did you know I wasn't even created yet when we lived in Texas?"  (Yes, he said 'we' even though he hadn't 'been created yet')  "Guess who created me, Mom."

Me:  "Who?"

Andrew:  "Jesus.  Jesus and Heavenly Father.  They did it together." 

Me:  "That's right, good job, Andrew."(At this point I'm thinking 1. where did this come from? we haven't discussed this topic recently; 2. maybe he actually listens in Primary, even though every week he tells me how much he doesn't want to go to church, becuase it is SO BORING; 3. we must be doing something right.)

----then a few seconds later----

Andrew:  "I think Jesus made this side [pointing to one leg], and Heavenly Father did this side [pointing to the other leg]." (pause) "Or maybe Heavenly Father made this side and Jesus did this side.  Yeah, I think that's it."

----then several minutes later----

Andrew:  "Do you think nerf guns are created in Texas?"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fun Run, Kids Mile

{Scott took care of the kids Saturday morning, while I ran a 10k- see  my sidebar.}

 After the 5k/10k, there was a kids race- an out & back 1 mile. It was lead by motorcycle cops, all the kids thought that was pretty cool. Scott ran with Eden (and had the camera), while Andrew and I started in back with Jake in the stroller. (Anyone else notice that lots of races now forbid baby joggers?!? Strollers were only allowed in the kids' race. How annoying!)
This first shot is blurry, but I love Eden's form- look at her drive! These girls were passing her, but she "completely toasted" {her words, influenced by her father, I think} the girl on the right during the back half.

The kids' post-race treat was a super-yummy popsicle. I was a little jeaolous, but then Eden decided she didn't want hers, so I ate it :). Andrew said, "That was super-fun Mom." But when I asked if they wanted to do another race in a couple weeks, Eden was excited, while Andrew just said, "Ummm, no thanks."

Andrew had a hard time pacing himself, but didn't walk very much. Scott happened to catch us on one of his walking breaks.

All the Olson racers after the races were over. It was a fun morning, I think we'll repeat it in a few weeks!
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Friday, June 11, 2010

Happy Yu-Yu Jake!

Jake got a slide for his birthday.  He found it a little intimidating at first, but now he loves it.  We set it up in the basement because we were having crazy weather that day- huge downpours and hail, interrupted by a few moments of sunshine.  Soon, it will go to the back yard where it belongs for the summer, but it we will bring it back to the basement in the winter for some inside fun.

We didn't do anything big for Jake's birthday, since he's turning 2 and still doesn't really get it.  But for the last few days, he's been pulling the air popper out of the cupboard while asking for "pa-cohn PEEZ", so we had popcorn for snack.  Eden and Andrew helped make cupcakes, and they had some of those for a snack later in the day.

We had pizza (one of Jake's favorites) for dinner, then had cupcakes and icecream for dessert.

I think he liked it.

When it came time to "open" the presents (they weren't really wrapped), Jake was busy crawling around and between my legs.  (I really didn't think he was getting the whole birthday thing, but the next morning he asked, "Happy Yu-Yu?"  I guess he was 'getting' it afterall!)

Finally, we got him to sit still long enough to hand him the bag. 

Eden and Andrew picked out a foam battle axe, a lego tiger and zoo keeper, and a T-ball set.  At first he was only interested in the legos.  But, after a few tries with Dad, I got this photo of Jake hitting all by himself- way to go!
**Because I got lost looking for Toys R Us the night before, Jake was with us when we bought all of the presents except the T-ball set (we actually had that a couple weeks earlier).  I made the mistake of letting him hold the little Legos box while we drove to get groceries.  By the time we got there, the box was torn to pieces and Jake was sharing the Legos with Eden and Andrew.  So, it wasn't exactly a surprise, but the slide came in a big box that he never really saw.  Besides, at his age, I can get away with it.**

Now for some quick facts about 2-year-old Jake:

  • He likes taking a bath now (usually), and will even stay in after getting all washed and scrubbed.  Yay!

  • He curls his tongue up out of the corner of his mouth, SO cute!  I haven't been able to catch it on the camera yet.

  • He loves spaghetti and pizza and anything you can use to dip- especially ranch and ketchup

  • He is starting to do OK in nursery (meaning we (Scott) has been able to leave him and the nursery workers haven't had to bring him to us before church is over).  Hopefully he'll start to actually like it in there someday.

  • He loves it when all of us are together.  If someone is missing, particularly if we are going somewhere, he calls for whoever is missing and wants them to come.

  • He has become a definite Daddy's-boy.  He's OK with Scott leaving the house in uniform to go to work, but if Scott leaves not in uniform, Jacob is so sad.

  • He loves to go outside, no matter the weather.  He loves to wander and explore.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Now its time to UNpack all our STUFF!

We were packed to the gills, and still left some things behind in an awesome friend's garage (thanks Heather!) to get later.

Back of the van was completely full (I love our easy-to-stow seating), plus the cargo carrier on top was full.  At least we didn't have to leave any family members behind! ;)
Pick-up fully loaded, including the cab, since no one was driving it.
Even stashed a few boxes in the cab of the moving truck.
Now, we just have to figure out where to put all our 'stuff'.

This little corner at the front of the house looks almost decent.  The bedroom furniture is also pretty well arranged now.

But, most of the house looks not-so-great yet, like this.

And I haven't hung a single thing on the walls yet.

Packing isn't much fun, but unpacking is even worse to me.  Even with more space, I have a really hard time deciding where to put things- I should have studied interior design, it would be so much more useful right now than my BS in Conservation Biology.  It seems like I never get our house arranged the way I like until its almost time to move again.  I welcome any and all tips, suggestions, I'll even take some constructive (or at least productive) criticism.
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