Gratitude Exercises for Kids – Daily Exercises That Help Our Kids Be Thankful

how to teach your kids to be grateful

It was one of those crazy hard times. A lot was going on. Are you ready for the list that kept running through my head? Here goes, in chronological order: my husband was laid off, he found another job out of state, we moved, we became pregnant with our third child, which came with some pretty nasty morning sickness, and my grandmother’s physical and mental health declined dramatically, (she died about four months later).

grandma

It was a lot of change, really fast, and to top it all off the holidays were starting.

I felt overwhelmed. I hardly had time to cope with everything that had happened. I was down, who wouldn’t be? But I couldn’t show it. I needed to be there for my husband, my children, and especially my mother, who was the only surviving child of my grandmother, and dealing with enormous stressors of her own.

Then, my husband’s aunt issued a challenge.

She gave everyone in the family a small notebook and asked us to use it as a gratitude journal. At Thanksgiving, we would take turns reading excerpts from our days of thanks.

gratitude exercises 2

As I sat down to fill out my first entry,  I had many things to be grateful for, but I had spent so much time counting the things that were going wrong in my life, it was hard to feel the gratitude.

I wrote anyway. I wrote about how blessed we were to find work so soon after my husband was laid off. I wrote about how happy we were to be expecting another baby. I wrote about how good it was to move close to our family just when they needed us the most.

In the midst of turbulence, so many things were right. In the midst of the tears and the trials, the Lord was still in charge. He had a plan.

We only needed to see the beauty and to give thanks. Since that time, I’ve made an effort to teach my kids to be thankful.

Over and over, studies show that being thankful and being happy are linked. So, at our house, we treat gratitude like a muscle, and we exercise it.

Every morning, while we’re eating breakfast, I ask the kids gratitude questions.

These are questions designed to help their little minds make the connection between happiness and gratitude. Often, children will say the same things over and over when asked what they are grateful for, and that’s OK, but these questions are designed to help kids find deeper answers, to understand what it means to be thankful. I try to bring each discussion back to the topic of gratitude.

For example, this is an actual conversation with my daughter,

What is your favorite thing to do outside?

run

What do you need to run?

“My legs and my feet, and I need energy to run.”

So, what are you grateful for?

“My energy? And you know mom, I am crazy to tell you this, but I can have energy for sixty hundred million years!”

That’s a lot of energy!

“Yeah!”

Are you grateful for all that energy?

“Yeah! My energy can never end!”

Since starting gratitude exercises, I’ve seen a better attitude in myself and my kids. It’s working! I hope you’ll consider trying it out. I’m convinced it will help your families too.gratitude exercises

  1. What is your favorite thing to do outside? What allows you to do that thing?
  2. Name someone who loves you.
  3. Name someone you love. Why? Have you told them that?
  4. What is your favorite game to play? Why?
  5. What is the weather like today? What fun can come from, cloudy, sunny, windy, snowy, rainy, etc. weather?
  6.  Imagine if we didn’t have a house, what would that be like?
  7. What is your favorite animal?
  8. Name two things that make you happy.
  9. What is your favorite body part?
  10. What is the yummiest thing you’ve ever smelled?
  11. What is the softest thing you’ve ever felt?
  12. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
  13. Name something you’re really good at.
  14. Tell us about a happy memory.
  15. What is your favorite thing about mom, dad, brother, sister, etc?

These questions have started some hilarious conversations around our house, and we notice if we miss a day. What do you do at your house to foster gratitude? Let me know in the comments! Who knows, your tradition could change someone’s life :)

The One Day at Church That Changed the Way I Mother Forever

The One Day At Church That Changed the Way I Mother Forever

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Like there’s just too much to do, and no way to do it, let alone do it all with a smile?

I do. It’s those days that make me think I might be failing at motherhood. It’s those days that make me feel like I’m alone. The days that lead me to question, what am I doing wrong? How will I make it through this?

But, often, those are also the days when I receive mercy. They are the days when I receive reminders. I’m not alone. I can do this. Everything will be Okay.

On one particular day like that, I received more than just mercy. I received a change of perspective that I hope to never forget, because it changed the way I mother forever.

It was a Sunday, and my husband had worked the night before, so I got up early to get the kids ready for church by myself.

At the time, I had a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a nursing infant.

We were having particular trouble with the two-year-old. He is a naturally sweet boy with a wild and silly side. His silly side didn’t know when to turn off and getting him ready for church could take as long as an hour. I must confess, at times like this, I often got frustrated and resorted with threatening, punishment, and raised tones in order to reach our destination.

This Sunday was particularly bad, still, I somehow managed to get the kids in the car, out of the car, and into church before the meeting began. We even found a bench to sit on.

Things were going okay. I took a deep breathe as the baby fell asleep on my chest. That’s when my two-year-old started to act up again.

“Shhh, It’s time to be reverent.” I whispered.

I don’t remember his exact response, just that it was loud and inappropriate. I continued to whisper to him, trying my hardest to wrangle him without disturbing the baby. It wasn’t working. 

I felt stuck. If I moved, I would wake the sleeping baby, who probably hadn’t slept well the night before (knowing the sleeping patterns of this particular child). If I didn’t move, the entire congregation would be subjected to my two-year-old’s distracting chatter.

I said a silent prayer, “Lord, please help me. Please tell me what to do.”

I got an immediate answer. A thought came to my mind.

“Love him.”

“What?”

“Just Love him.”

“What do you mean? How do I just love him. I do love him, but how does that help me right now?”

I started to cry. I was sleep deprived, confused, and so inadequate.

That’s when my little boy took my face in his hands.

“Mommy? What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”

And I knew I had an opportunity to love him, to explain to him with love, not threats, not punishments, but with love, why I needed him to behave.

“Because, sweetie, mommy loves church and mommy wants to listen, but she can’t do that when you’re noisy.”

“You need me to whisper?” He said in the loudest whisper imaginable.

“Yes. I love you so much honey. Can you be reverent for me?”

I got a great big kiss, a great big hug, and a wiggly, but trying to whisper two-year-old.

We made it through the meeting. We made it through, and I knew that I wasn’t really alone. The Lord would help make up for my inadequacies, and when I parent with love I get much better results than when I allow my stress to parent for me.

The story doesn’t end there. Later, when they asked for parenting experiences in a women’s meeting, I shared what had happened. So many of my sweet sister’s came up to me after and expressed regret that they didn’t know I was often at church by myself.

Since that day, when I’m at church without my husband, I have always had offers of help. The two single sisters who are happy to hold the baby for me, or the teenager who will play with my daughter, or even the older gentlemen who will make eye contact and smile at my son. These people have further reminded me that I’m not alone, and shown me that if I need help, I need only make it known.

I wish I could say that my parenting changed over night, but as with all things, it takes time. I’m still working on it, but in the back of my mind, when I’m faced with a challenging situation with my kids, I already know the answer to my question. What should I do? Love them, just love them.

 

Preparing For General Conference – October 2015

Hubby and I were talking about how to prepare our family for general conference. We mainly focused on ways to keep the kids calm so we can hear what’s going on. Hubby suggested a snack for every apostle. I thought it was a great idea and came up with some fun stuff. The plan is to put different snacks in different bags with the apostles pictures on them. Then, when that person speaks it’s time to pull out that bag and eat or make that snack. For the three new ones, we’ll just have some surprise snacks. I also prepared some stories about the apostles and prophet that I found at LDS.org on their bio pages.

Thomas S Monson

Story:

As a boy President Monson was fascinated by pigeons and began to raise them at home. Eventually he would raise prize-winning birds. When he was president of the teachers quorum in his ward, his adviser asked, “How would you like me to give you a pair of purebred Birmingham Roller pigeons?” The female of the pair was special, the adviser explained; she had only one eye, the other eye having been damaged by a cat. On his adviser’s instructions, he kept them in his own pigeon loft for about 10 days, then let them fly free to see if they would return.

The male came back, but the female flew away—back to the adviser’s home. When Tom went to retrieve her, the adviser talked with him about a boy in the quorum who was not active. Tom replied, “I’ll have him at quorum meeting this week.” He took the pigeon home, but the next time he released the pair, she flew once again to the adviser’s home. When Tom retrieved the pigeon this time, the adviser talked about another boy who had not been coming to quorum meetings. Each time the pigeon was released, she returned to the adviser’s home, and each time Tom went to retrieve her, there would be a conversation about another boy.

“I was a grown man,” President Monson recalls, “before I fully realized that, indeed, Harold, my adviser, had given me a special pigeon, the only bird in his loft he knew would return every time she was released. It was his inspired way of having an ideal personal priesthood interview with the teachers quorum president every two weeks. Because of those interviews and that old one-eyed pigeon, every boy in that teachers quorum became active.”

Snack: A bird made of fruit (let the kids build the nest)

birdfruit

Henry B Eyring

Story:

As Hal was enjoying tenure at Stanford and serving as a bishop, Kathleen asked him two questions: “Are you sure you are doing the right thing with your life? Couldn’t you be doing studies for Neal Maxwell?”

Kathleen asked Hal to pray about it, and Hal listened to his wife’s counsel. Less than a week later, Neal A. Maxwell—as Commissioner of the Church Educational System—called and invited Hal to a meeting in Salt Lake City. Hal flew out the next day. The first words out of Commissioner Maxwell’s mouth were “I’d like to ask you to be the president of Ricks College.”

Hal told Commissioner Maxwell he would need to pray about it. The next morning he met with the First Presidency and upon his return to California, Hal continued to pray fervently. The answer came. “I heard a voice so faint that I hadn’t paid attention to it,” he recalled. “The voice said, ‘It’s my school.’ ” He called Commissioner Maxwell and said, “I’m coming.”

It was a considerable change to go from one of the nation’s premier universities located in a large metropolitan area to being the president of a small, private, two-year school in the rural farm town of Rexburg, Idaho. But it was a wonderful time for the Eyrings. It provided an opportunity for the family to grow closer to each other.

Snack: A teacher “apple” (Click the picture for instructions)

applepretzel

Dieter F Uchtdorf

Story:

During his teenage years, President Uchtdorf’s love for flying “took flight.” At about age 14 he started riding his bicycle to the Frankfurt Airport, where he would gaze in awe at the planes. Occasionally he would be permitted to climb up to look into the cockpit and dream of the day when he might fly into the freedom of the skies. Little did he know that he would eventually master the handling of a dozen major airplanes. Furthermore, he could not have known then that he would be perhaps the most readily recognized and honored commercial pilot to walk through the gates of the very airport he now visited as a young boy.

Snack:

Banana  Airplane Plane with whipped cream or cottage cheese cloudsfood-creative-art-11

Russel M Nelson

Story:

Russell M Nelson was a heart surgeon. This is what he says about the power to heal.

“Men can do very little of themselves to heal sick or broken bodies,” Elder Nelson said. “With an education they can do a little more; with advanced medical degrees and training, a little more yet can be done. The real power to heal, however, is a gift from God. He has deigned that some of that power may be harnessed via the authority of His priesthood to benefit and bless mankind when all man can do for himself may not be sufficient.”

Snack:

Heart apples. You could also have heart stickers or cut hearts out of watermelon.

apple hearts

Dallin H Oaks

Story:

When Brother Sonnenberg was called as president of the Chicago South Stake in 1970, he chose Dallin Oaks as his first counselor. A year later Dallin Oaks was asked to be the president of BYU. He served there for nine years, and was then appointed to the Utah Supreme Court. He preferred this post to any other office in government. “I can’t think of anything in public life I’d rather do than be an appellate judge,” he said.

Elder Oaks planned to serve in that position for 20 years, retire, and serve a mission. But, in three and a half years, those plans changed when he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in April of 1984. He resigned from the Utah Supreme Court and dedicated himself to his duties as an Apostle.

Snack: Fruit roll up scrollscrolls done_crop

M Russell Ballard

Story:

Professionally, Elder Ballard became involved in several enterprises, including automotive, real estate, and investment businesses. He was the top-selling salesman for his father’s car dealership when he left it in the early 1950s to pursue other business interests. In 1956 he returned and took over the Ballard Motor Company from his father.

In the late 1950s, he won the right to be the Edsel car dealer for Salt Lake City. His dealership became the most successful in the country. But in the end the Edsel failed and the motor company, and dealers around the country, lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

“It was a devastating experience,” he said. “The first part of my business career it seemed like everything worked. I was a little intolerant, I think, of those who were having trouble in business. But then I had trouble, and that helped me gain an empathy and understanding for people who struggle similarly.

“To me, failure is only when you quit trying,” he said. “If you keep working at a task and try to do what’s right and honest, ultimately it works out.”

Snack: Apple Cars! My son will LOVE theseAppleCars-BentOnBetterLunches

Robert D Hales

Story:

As a high school freshman, Bob Hales was the starting pitcher for the school’s baseball team. One time when he was in a pitching slump, he caused the team to lose three games in a row, each by a score of 1–0. The headline in the school paper read, “Hard-Luck Hales Loses Again.” He took his uniform and went to tell his coach he was going to quit. When he got to the coach’s office, his coach said, “Do you know why you’re losing? Your pitching arm is tired at the end of the game because before the game when you’re supposed to be warming up, you’re out there impressing everybody with your fastball and curveball. You probably pitch [the equivalent of] two or three innings doing that. [Stop] showing off and you won’t wear out your arm.” Robert listened, and the next game he pitched a shutout.

Snack: Baseball fruit cup (just a fruit cup and a sharpie, doesn’t get any easier!)FruitCphoto

Jeffrey R Holland

Story:

Elder and Sister Holland have three children. Their son Matt recalls that spiritual training was a part of everyday family life. On an outing when Matt was 12, he had his first experience with personal revelation.

Returning from an exploring trip on backcountry roads, he and his father came to an unexpected fork and could not remember which road to take. It was late in the day, and darkness would soon be enveloping them. Seizing a teaching moment, Jeffrey Holland asked his son to pray for direction. Afterward, he asked his son what he felt, and Matt replied that he felt strongly they should go left. Replying that he had felt the same way, his father turned the truck to the left. Ten minutes later, they came to a dead end and returned to take the other route.

Matt thought for a time and then asked his father why they would get that kind of answer to a prayer. His father replied that with the sun going down, that was undoubtedly the quickest way for the Lord to give them information—in this case, which one was the wrong road. Now, though the other road might not be familiar and could be difficult in places, they could proceed confidently, knowing it was the right one.

Throughout the years the Holland children felt that their father was available when needed, and that association became even more cherished when Elder Holland was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy on April 1, 1989.

Snack: Give the kids some pretzel sticks and encourage them to build a road with them

David A Bednar

Story:

As a leader he has tried to encourage that desire in others. He remembers a time in 1987 when he was the bishop in Fayetteville, Arkansas. “I went into Primary one Sunday,” he says. “They had invited me. I decided to wear red suspenders. I thought that I would somehow use them as an object lesson. So I got in the Primary room, took off my coat, and said, ‘Now, boys and girls, the bishop has these red suspenders. How are the scriptures like my red suspenders?’ And one little boy raised his hand and said, ‘The scriptures hold up our faith in Jesus the same way your suspenders hold up your pants.’ I said, ‘That is exactly right.’”

Snack: give the kids red licorice and bread – cut the bread into the shape of pants and use the licorice to make red suspenders

Quentin L Cook

Story:

It was fire drill day at an elementary school in Logan, Utah. Fire drill captain Joe Cook, a stalwart sixth-grade student leader, was determined to post a good time. He was pleased when, at the ringing of the alarm, students rapidly evacuated the building. Then, just as a record-breaking time seemed likely, Joe heard the announcement: “Someone is still in the building. The building is not clear.”

As the clock ticked on, Joe finally saw his first-grade brother, Quentin, walk out of the building.

Fuming, Joe barked, “What on earth were you doing?”

Quentin held up a pair of large, worn boots and said, “Joe, you know that [and he mentioned a friend’s name] sometimes has to wear hand-me-down shoes that are too big for him. When the fire drill rang, he took off running and ran right out of these. He didn’t want to ruin the drill, so he left them and ran outside barefoot. I went back to get his boots for him because I didn’t want his feet to be cold in the snow.”

Snack: Give the kids a piece of bread and ask them if they can bite it into the shape of a boot. OR if you still have a lot of energy butter the bread in the shape of a boot and then sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the boot shape

Elder D Todd Christofferson

Story:

“[Elder Christofferson was] an exceptionally outstanding missionary whose devotion and capacities were evidence that he would have a life of unusual significance,” said Elder Scott.

Elder Scott also recalled a particular incident when he saw Elder Christofferson have a bicycle accident in which he damaged his suit and slightly injured his hands. But he was undaunted. Elder Scott says, “He brushed himself off, climbed onto the bicycle, and headed off for an appointment with his companion.”

Snack: Dip chocolate and make oreo pretzel bikes (Unfortunately I don’t have detailed instructions on this one. I wish I could give credit but the photo doesn’t link to the right place on pinterest. Still, if my efforts don’t look perfect I know my kids won’t mind. It’s not often I give them oreos!)

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Neil L Andersen

Neil was five when his parents, Lyle and Kathryn Andersen, moved their family to a dairy farm in Pocatello, Idaho. On the farm he learned the principle of hard work. “I milked a lot of cows and moved a lot of irrigation pipe,” he said. “I can remember that on Christmas morning before we opened our presents, we had cows to milk. Looking back, I realize how valuable it was to learn that part of life is just hard work.”

Snack: It’s an easy one! Cheese sticks

So that’s all, if you have any other ideas I would love to hear them! Good luck to all the conference listeners with young kids. I know it’s hard, seriously I do, but I also know that we will be blessed by our efforts!

All the stories were taken from here if you want to read more on the modern leadership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

And I pinned all the snack ideas from other websites on THIS pinterest board.

 

 

DIY nursing shawl

A lot has happened in my life in the last little while, you probably don’t want to hear about it, but in summary, we moved back to Utah, sold our home, and we’re over halfway through pregnancy with baby number three! Surprise! In prep for new baby I made a new nursing cover, I can’t find the one I used for little jaguar so I found the old tutorial and started over.

so, the original tutorial is here: http://www.thecoterieblog.com/2012/05/dyi-modern-nursing-shawl-sew-one-line.html

and I love the idea but it’s a really confusing tutorial, no offense meant I’ve made a few of those myself, but I was shocked to find that I had the same issues making it as I did the last time I made it. After all, it’s been two years and countless sewing projects later. Last time I made it I had zero expertise on a sewing machine. Seriously, this was like my first project, so I assumed my problems were just that, my problems, this time I wasn’t so sure. After a quick internet search I found I’m not alone in my confusion and I don’t need to fret because someone much smarter than me figured out what was going on and made a clear version of the original tut. Thank you!

follow these instructions for a pain free super easy project: http://www.mintdesignblog.com/2013/07/easy-diy-nursing-cover/

DIY nursing shawl

Here I am pretending to nurse, this is silly but I got all excited just holding something the way you do when you nurse a baby. Aw… I love babies!

 

DIY nursing cover, nursing shawl, modern nursing cover, knit nursing cover, cute nursing cover

Congratulations! It’s a… pillow pet!

DIY nursing cover, nursing shawl, modern nursing cover, knit nursing cover, cute nursing cover

Bathroom Selfie!

 

The Savior Taught us to Love – Free printable

the savior taught us to love - Elder Neil L Andersen

Ah general conference. The time when we can assemble together (whether physically or technologically) and renew our faith. I love it! Here’s one of my favorite quotes so far. It’s from Elder Andersen’s talk: “The Savior taught us to love not only our friends but also those who disagree with us.”

I pray that I can remember this next time I find myself feeling defensive or angry. I think the more we act out of love the more we can open the doors of understanding and combat the closing doors of ignorance or hate.

God bless, and please feel free to use this printable for noncommercial use.

Christ-centered Easter traditions

10 Christ centered Easter traditionsWe love bunnies at my house. We have nothing against bunnies, eggs, candy, and brightly colored wicker baskets, but we also love Christ. We know that because he died we can live. We know that he is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Therefore, when we celebrate Easter at our house we want to make sure our kids know that while bunnies are fun, Easter is about Christ.

We try to fill the season with Christ-centered traditions and since our family is still young our traditions are still evolving. The following is a list of Christ centered Easter traditions I found while researching new traditions for my family. I hope it can help you and your family the same way it helped mine! This list is particularly good for young families, but could easily be adapted for different ages :)

1. Easter Wreath: We came up with this on our own last year and we still love it. Obtain a plain stick wreath that is about the circumference of a man’s head. Tell the story of Christ’s death and liken the wreath to the crown of thorns. Talk about how Christ died and was reborn after three days in the tomb, then hot glue spring flowers to the wreath, likening them to rebirth and resurrection. Give everyone a turn to glue a flower on and express gratitude for Christ’s life and death.

2. Resurrection Rolls: A delicious (and non-scary) way to teach about the resurrection. You take canned biscuits, wrap them around marshmallows, dip them in butter and cinnamon and then bake according to the biscuit instructions. When they come out of the oven the marshmallow has melted away into the biscuit dough. Make them with your kids explaining to them that the biscuits represent the tomb, the marshmallow represents Christ, and the butter and oil represent the embalming oils and spices that were rubbed into Christs body. Talk about how after three days Christ rose again, leaving the tomb empty just like your “empty” biscuit.

3. Kite Flying: On the Island of Bermuda it’s traditional to fly kites on Good Friday in remembrance that Christ is risen. Bermuda doesn’t have a monopoly on kites you know! Make and decorate kites and then go kite flying. We plan on doing this one for our Easter family home evening, complete with an educational discussion about the symbolism behind the activity.

4. Spring flowers are often associated with Easter. One fun Easter tradition is to give Easter flowers to grandparents or the elderly. I love the idea of using Easter as a time to serve others. I think it’s exactly what Christ wants us to do to celebrate him.

5. Resurrection Eggs: send the kids on an Easter egg hunt, but instead of candy the eggs hold symbols of the story of Christmas. Click the link for more details.

6. He took our sins upon Him carnation experiment: The week before Easter put a white carnation in water, then place 20 drops of red food coloring in the water. Over the next week watch as the carnation turns red. Compare the carnation taking the red food coloring to Christ taking our sins. This is a good visual explanation of the atonement.

7. Read the Easter story in the bible: self-explanatory :)

8. Easter Music: Take time to sing everyone’s favorite Easter songs. Follow the link for some music ideas.

9. Watch an Easter movie, this links to the ones on the you tube Mormon Channel, all wonderful, take your pick :)

10. Dip Easter eggs in glow in the dark paint and then do an Easter egg hunt in the dark. Talk about how Christ is the light of the world and think of ways to “search” for him in the darkness. Read John 8:12.

Man, I can’t wait to get started! What about you? Do you have any Christ centered Easter traditions? Please share, I can’t wait to read about them :)

 

March 2014 Visiting Teaching Message printable

visiting teaching message March 2014 free printable

Free for personal noncommercial use, this is a free printable with a quote taken from the March 2014 visiting teaching message. I love this message. I have met many many beautiful “lights” in my life and I love the idea of being a light to others as well. Isn’t it neat that we have that in us? We have the ability to influence others in such a way that we can be a reflection of Christ’s light. It makes me so excited to keep working to be like Christ. I hope that everyone has great visiting teaching experiences this month :) God bless!

– Amber Mae

My Expectations vs. Heavenly Father’s

best parent you can be quote from Jeffrey R Holland

This is a photo I snapped when our oldest was sick and refusing to sleep.

I had an overwhelming week… well, if I’m honest it was an overwhelming couple of weeks. I’m always really prideful and I hate to admit it when it gets hard but I’m admitting it right now. Sometimes it’s hard.

I have all of these expectations for myself as a mother. I’m supposed to keep my house perfectly clean, feed my family three nutritious meals a day plus healthy snacks, teach my children important life and educational skills, be a good wife to my husband, and never ever lose my temper because studies show that if you yell you will damage your kiddos for life, they will be hashing out your faults on some therapists couch for years to come!

On top of that I ran across some stupid crap online where a bunch of working mothers bashed stay-at-home mommies who aren’t really working you know. It was like someone was putting rocks in my pockets…. guilt… expectations… accusations… I was ready to explode. I did explode, well more like I melted. I’m one of those people who is more likely to have a crying fit than a screaming one.

It all climaxed on Valentine’s day. I was wrangling my babies, feeding them some not exciting or overly nutritious cereal, and thinking about last years Valentine’s french toast. As I recall it was heart-shaped and topped with strawberries and Nutella. Hubby came home to me crying and feeling SO inadequate. He didn’t judge. He didn’t scold. And thankfully he didn’t laugh. He just told me it was OK, told me that the things I was worrying about didn’t really matter, and that I was doing a good job. He then took the kids and entertained them so I could have a break.

Not long after this I was listening to a podcast called Keeping Your Sanity in a Home of Little Ones. I missed half of the podcast because I was simultaneously cleaning the kitchen and entertaining a toddler, but I got snippets here and there and the basic feeling that the things I’ve been stressing so much over don’t matter, as long as I’m doing my best and relying on my Heavenly Father when things get tough.

What drove it all home was this quote from Elder Jeffrey R Holland who said, “If you try your best to be the best parent you can be, you will have done all that a human being can do and all that God expects you to do.” Wow, so are my expectations of myself really in line with my Heavenly Father’s expectations of me? It’s worth thinking about because it’s the kind of question that gives comfort but doesn’t just give you a pass, “Oh your child is running naked down the street while you text your BFF from high school? It’s OK you’re doing your best.” No, it’s more like, “Yeah, I’m feeding my kid cereal, but I’m also talking to her and playing with her and you know what, even though the kids screamed through it we still prayed on that cereal complete with the plea that those Lucky Charms give us the health and strength we need!”

I’m sure this won’t be the last time I will get overwhelmed with life, but I hope I’ll remember this quote and take solace that as long as I’m doing my best I’m not letting anyone down. In fact, as long as I’m doing my best it doesn’t matter if someone else disapproves because my Heavenly Father doesn’t. He’s proud of me and right there cheering me on Lucky Charms and all.

A mother’s influence – my take on women and the priesthood

In all events a mother can exert an influence unequaled by any other person in any other relationship.I remember the day very well. I was sitting in young women’s listening to a lesson about the priesthood. I was fourteen, and while I was a very thoughtful fourteen-year-old I didn’t really have a firm handle on what life was all about.

I was listening to the teacher talk about  a man’s role in the church and I wondered why women are given such a different role. I wondered why women don’t hold the priesthood or high leadership positions. I felt troubled and confused.

For the next couple of weeks I thought and prayed about my questions, hoping for an answer. One day, while I was sitting on the bus a friend who was a member of another church asked me why women didn’t hold the priesthood. He wasn’t being antagonistic, and he was genuinely concerned for me as a woman. I told him I didn’t really know, but that women have a special place in the church, that they hold many leadership positions in the church, and that I never felt treated like I was less than the men in church. I believed what I told him, and as we talked, I knew what I was telling him was true, but I still didn’t feel completely at peace with my questions.

I went home and sat in the living room where I prayed again about my question. I felt like I should look in the scriptures. I picked up the large, ornate Book of Mormon my parents keep on their coffee table and began to flip the pages. Something caught my eye, and I stopped and began to read Alma 56 and 57, the stripling warriors. I stopped on 56:48

“And they rehearsed unto me the words of their amothers, saying: We bdo not doubt our mothers knew it.”

And that’s when it hit me. I don’t need to hold the priesthood. As a woman I have the ability to influence others in a motherly way, and I can do miracles. When I tap into the divine nature planted in me by my Heavenly Father I can make a huge difference at church, at home, and in the world. I didn’t know the details of everything but I finally felt peace, a powerful peace that I still feel when I think about the order of the church today. I knew, and still know that the Lord is at the head of this church and it’s set up how he wants it at this time.

I was only fourteen, I didn’t know where my life would go, I didn’t know that I would have the opportunity to marry and have children, but I knew that I would have the opportunity to mother (for are we not all mothers?), and that was enough for me.

I’m not suggesting that this answer will satisfy everyone’s questions, but I write this post hoping that it can help someone. Elder D Todd Christofferson said, “In all events,  a mother can exert  an influence  unequaled  by any other person in any other relationship,”. Wow. That’s powerful. And as a woman, I feel like I am powerful… just as powerful as my wonderful priesthood holding husband. I have the power to teach, to feed (literally and spiritually), to kiss boo-boos, to build others confidence, to notice when someone needs a motherly hug or phone call.

We have different roles and responsibilities but we’re on the same side. We use our different gifts with the same goals in mind, to create and strengthen families, to exert our power for whatever is virtuous and lovely and good. This is not meant to be THE answer for anyone. This is just MY answer to peace on the subject. I hope and pray that other women can find that same peace and feel as powerful as I do.

Disclaimer: I’m not an official representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Everything here is my opinion. I’m just a normal Mormon mommy hoping what I post can help myself and others as we seek to reach our potential :)

Elder Holland quote – printable

So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend.

I loved this talk from conference and I know it touched a lot of people. Here’s a printable – free for noncommercial use. Enjoy :)