Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- Dec 2019

One year down!!!!  Sorry this post is a little late, I’ve been busy on the blog lately with Christmas stuff.  Check out my Have a Merry Kondo Christmas and Light Your Family to Light the World posts, both are intended to help you simplify this season and focus on Christ.

I really hope your family has a wonderful Christmas season and am so excited to start studying the Book of Mormon together in the New Year!

 

Dec 2-8 God is Love

Song: Stars Were Gleaming pg. 37

Materials: Christmas light display

Take your kids into a room with only a small amount of light (maybe your Christmas tree).  Explain that Jesus and His love light the world.  But if we are mean to people then we end up in darkness- turn off the light or unplug the tree.  Talk about how dark it is, how sad it is, and how hard it is to move around without the light.  Then explain that when we show love to people it brings that light of Christ into our lives- turn the light back on.  Then if possible load up in the car and go for a drive to see Christmas lights in your neighborhood or other nice light displays.  While you drive talk about nice things you could do for people.

 

Dec 9-15 Glory, and Power be Unto the Lamb Forever

Song: Have a Very Merry Christmas pg. 51

Materials: Picture of Jesus knocking at the door, treats for neighbors

Show the kids the picture of Jesus standing at the door knocking (in the manual at the end of this week’s lesson) and read them the verse “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

Talk about how people need to wait until we open the door before they can come in our house, and we do the same when we go to other people’s houses.  Explain that Jesus is the same, he can’t come into our house and our lives unless we open the door for him.

Take turns knocking on the door and letting each other in.  Then take treats to neighbors and knock and wait for them to answer.  Carol to them if that’s something your family feels comfortable doing!!!  (Unfortunately my husband doesn’t sing and my kids don’t sing on command, and somehow it’s less cute for me to solo on a doorstep- but MAYBE I can convince them this year!!!)

 

Dec 16-22 Glad Tidings of Great Joy

Song: Picture a Christmas pg. 50

Materials: Christmas videos (see my list in my Light the World post)

Movie night!!!!  Sit back and watch a few Christmas videos!  You might want to include the newest video the Church produced this year.

 

Dec 23-29 He That Overcometh Shall Inherit All Things

Song: When I Am Baptized pg. 103 (emphasize vs. 2)

Materials- Goal Dice from Friend (scroll down),Goal setting sheet, Jesus Learned and Grew, Plan of Salvation Printable

Review the Plan of Salvation using the printable above or other pictures.  Explain that in the Book of Revelation, John tells us more about the Celestial Kingdom and how we get there.  John said, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things.”  Inherit all things means getting everything Heavenly Father and Jesus have in the Celestial Kingdom.  In order to get there we need to overcome, or always work to improve and do things better.  The best way to do that is by setting goals or resolutions.

Read Jesus Learned and Grew from the friend.  It leaves out wisdom, so explain that he also grew in wisdom which means he learned important things.

Roll the dice and set a goal for each area.  You could write the goals down on the charts that the church has recently created for the new Children and Youth program, or you can use the goal setting sheet I created- I like it better for little ones because…pictures!!!!  I also like to add a picture to correspond with each goal.

 

 

 

Image by monicore from Pixabay

 

 

Light your Family to Light the World

In my last post I talked about how a few years ago I had a Christmas breakdown when I got super overwhelmed by Christmas festivities and thought, “This isn’t about and Jesus and it’s not even fun.”

That post gave ideas on how to shop to avoid the overwhelm and keep the fun things actually fun.  This post is going to focus on how to keep the season about Jesus.

I’m by no means anti-Santa (or as my husband said it, “You’re not antee Santee.”)  But I feel very strongly that I need to make sure that Jesus is getting much more focus.  My kids will learn about Santa with no effort on my part, but learning about the real miracle we are celebrating is going to take some effort on my part.

The past few years I have been posting a daily activity count down and have tried to align it as much as possible with the Light the World campaign from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This year I decided to stray a little from that pattern because I’ve realized recently that I just can’t keep up that daily level of activity.  Between my current energy level, figuring out how to fit everything in with a kid in full day kindergarten, and my husband having a significantly longer commute than in the past, I’ll be honest, my daily Thanksgiving activity plans have kinda tanked and I’ve realized that I need to simplify more and more.

Also, this year’s Light the World suggestions are smaller and simpler and someone already did the work of creating one specifically for kids.  So if you are looking for a simple thing to do every day then I would definitely suggest checking out A Year of FHE.  She’s got a really great calendar going on!  Although admittedly I did chuckle a little when I saw that the activity on the church produced calendar was, “Think of someone for whom you’ve had negative feelings lately.  Try praying for them.”  And the corresponding kid activity is, “Pray for your parents or care-givers today.”

But, I did want to give some suggestions of a few larger activities to try and fit in, or how to take things you already do and tie them in to Christ, as well as a few of my own ideas for incorporating kids and this year’s Light the World campaign.

 

Activities:

Christmas parties– we’ll have at least two just for fun parties this year.  Explain that the scriptures say that we should have joy.  Also Heavenly Father and Jesus want us to have good relationships with our friends and family so having fun with them is a great way to prepare for Christmas.

 

Light displays– No Mesa Temple lights this year 😦 but we like to get over to Glendale Glitters- explain to the kids that Jesus is the Light of the World so when we see the Christmas lights we remember Him.

 

Live Nativity– Dec 6-7 at Grace Lutheran Church in Glendale, they do a hay ride that will pick you up from Glendale Glitters then take you back

Dec 13- we’ll have a live nativity and petting zoo at our church building at 325 W Coral Gables Dr. in Phoenix

Dec 13-15- First Baptist Church in Chandler has a huge event that sounds really neat

 

Movie Nights– there are tons of Christ-centered Christmas movies to enjoy together as a family this season.  Pop up some popcorn, make some hot cocoa, and sit back for a low energy but Christ-centered activity!  Here’s some faves:

  • Veggie Tales! (You can buy DVDs from their website, or most can be found digitally on Amazon)
    • Little Drummer Boy
    • Saint Nicholas
    • It’s a Meaningful Life
    • The Toy that Saved Christmas
    • The Star of Christmas
    • The Best Christmas Gift (haven’t actually seen this one yet, but I’ve never met a VeggieTales I didn’t like)
    • Beauty and the Beet (not specifically about Christmas, but winter themed and has Christmas music)
  • The Star
  • Joy to the World
  • So many short clips on the Church website!

 

Petting Zoo– if you can’t make it to a Live Nativity with a petting zoo, I definitely encourage you to seek out a petting zoo somewhere.  A couple years ago we started this tradition, I explained to my son that we would see some of the animals that were there when Jesus was born.  He hopped out of the car at the farm and immediately started calling out, “Jesus, where are you baby Jesus?!”  It was absolutely adorable.  I explained that we wouldn’t actually see baby Jesus, we would just see animals LIKE the ones that were there, but I think seeing the animals really helps make things more concrete for little ones.

 

Gingerbread Stables– this is a fun twist on gingerbread houses, and my kids love it.  We use sour patch kids for the people, a peach ring for the manger, and I get animal crackers for the animals.

 

Service Project– find a larger service project that your family can participate in together.  Here’s some ideas:

  • Treats and cards to the NICU or another group that is meaningful to your family (my 3 year old spent 10 days in the NICU so this is important to us)
  • Pick a Christmas tree angel or family to provide presents to.  Have the kids help pick out and wrap the gifts
  • Kits for asylum seekers and recently arrived refugees- my kids have loved helping to buy some of the items, putting them in a back pack and delivering them to a local assistance group.  We go through Gathering Humanity.
  • Food, coats, etc. to a homeless shelter

 

Christmas Eve– I like to make Middle Eastern food (lamb meat, goat cheese, pita bread or naan, olives, and baklava for dessert) and we eat by the light of an oil lamp similar to the ones they would have used in Christ’s time (admittedly I use a little tea light candle instead of oil).  Then we read and act out the Christmas Story from Luke 2.

 

Light the World activity ideas:

Here’s a few additional ideas to incorporate younger kids into the Light the World activities:

  • If you’re in an area with a Giving Machine– get over there!
  • Invite someone who might be lonely (like a widow, or someone living far away from family) over for dinner and/or one of your movie nights
  • Take treats and carol to some of your neighbors
  • Make cards for your primary teachers
  • Make cards and maybe a small gift* for school teachers
  • Set New Year’s Resolutions using the categories from Christ’s life- wisdom, stature, favor with God, and man.  I love this from the Friend to help younger kids set goals in these areas.

 

* I’m going to get on a little soap box about teacher gifts for a second- if you want more info on gift giving this time of year read my last post.  As a former teacher and the daughter of two current teachers, let me talk to you about teacher gifts.  As I said in the other post, I do not want this to come off as ungrateful, of course we are so grateful for students and their families thinking of us.  But at some point it can turn into a burden instead of a blessing.  So before you grab lotions, a candle, a knick knack, or a water bottle, etc. consider how well that would work if you got 30 of those a year every year.  For my mom, she can’t handle scented lotions or candles at all, so while it’s kind and sweet, she feels bad because she turns around and re-gifts, donates, or eventually just has to throw them away.  Candy, again, think 30 kids giving you sweets- ain’t nobody need that much sugar in their life.  Crafts made out of school supplies- I have heard unanimous agreement from teacher friends that rather than receiving a wreath made out of crayons, they would prefer just to receive the crayons.

So stick to a note from your kid, school supplies, and/or gift cards to places like Target or Amazon!  Because a note on gift cards, if you get small amounts to random places, you end up spending more of your own money, so at least with Target or Amazon, most people just shop there regularly anyway so even if it’s a small amount, it’s helping reduce their cost, but also they will probably get them from other people as well.

 

 

Photo by javier gonzalez from Pexels

Have a Merry Kondo Christmas: A guide to a clutter-free Christmas

Not gonna lie sometimes Christmas presents stress me out.  I’ve realized more and more that clutter drives me crazy.  I HATE cleaning.  So while of course I’m grateful for gifts for myself and the kids, there have been points where I have looked at the pile after the fact and thought, “Oh my gosh where am I going to put all of this???  How am I going to maintain this???”  And then unfortunately the kids tend to play with some toys for like a day or two and then never touch them again.

I know I’m not the only person that feels this way because I keep seeing post after post in various mom groups on Facebook with other women asking how to tell their relatives to back off on buying so much stuff.

Grandparents tend to be the biggest offenders in this regard.  Again, we LOVE you, and we love that you love our kids, and it’s beautiful that you want to be so generous.  It’s just that sometimes that generosity can inadvertently turn into a burden.

I spent some time thinking about WHY this is happening and WHY so many of us in the current parenting generation are feeling this way.  Here’s what I figured:

Our parents are Baby Boomers, raised by those who were impacted by the great depression.  Money was tighter, family sizes were larger, toys cost more relative to available dispensable income, and in general values were a bit different.

I feel like there’s this collective memory of when times were hard.  Of scrimping and saving to be able to afford a couple of presents for the kids.  For me growing up, there were nearly 20 grandchildren on one side of the family, my grandparents couldn’t very well spoil each of us.  We all got one small thing or a little bit of cash.  But flash forward to now, in general our parents are in a better situation than our grandparents were in, the cost of toys has reduced relative to the level of dispensable income, and family size has reduced.  My kids have one cousin on my side of the family, three on the other.  So there’s more available money divided by fewer people.

Admittedly, 3 years ago Christmas pushed me into some major anxiety attacks.  To be fair, I was only a few months post partum so that was certainly a factor in my heightened anxiety level.  We live close to both of our parents which is AWESOME but also means that we do Christmas on our own, with my parents, and with my in-laws.  So my kids open presents at least 3 different times.  My son was 2 at the time and on our second round of present opening he got through a couple presents and then it was taking forever, he quit caring, he just wanted to play outside, the baby needed to nap, and I just got incredibly overwhelmed.  My little brother took my son outside to play, and I disappeared to put the baby down and just thought, “This isn’t about Jesus, and it isn’t even fun anymore.”  And then we still had more presents to open that day AND the next day.

By the end of it we had this huge pile of stuff, that I was of course so grateful for, but also was looking at and dreading figuring out where on earth to put it in my cluttered house that I was already struggling to maintain.

So after that I started trying to figure out how we could make some changes to refocus Christmas.  It boiled down to spending the month of December focusing on Jesus and then significantly simplifying gifts.

While I try to find a Christ-centered tie in for everything we do around Christmas time, I’m certainly not opposed to doing things just for fun.  Family traditions are good and important.  One of the principles for a successful family outlined in the Family Proclamation is wholesome recreational activities.  But, when it gets to the point where it’s not about Jesus and it’s more stressful than fun, it has turned into commercialism at it’s worst.

Watch for my post upcoming post on kid friendly ways to focus on Jesus throughout the month.  But here’s some gift giving ideas to keep down the clutter!

If it has more than 5 pieces walk away!

That same anxiety ridden Christmas I mentioned earlier, a dear relative (may she now rest in peace) got us one of those magic trax cars.  The track is made of over 100 INDIVIDUAL pieces.  So if I turn my back for say 30 seconds, I now have over 100 little itty bitty pieces of track to clean up.  It looked really cool, and yes my kid loved it, but it is the bane of my existence.  The kids can’t put it together by themselves, put it away by themselves, or be trusted to play with it by themselves.

Consider how much time it would take to clean up if it got dumped, and if it will still work if pieces go missing.

If you’re not going to just walk away from it, at least ASK!  Are you up for more legos in your house?  Are you ok with this make up kit with over 30 pieces?  Does Barbie need a completely new wardrobe?

 

Pay attention to suggested ages

Here’s the thing- if you buy my kids a toy that is above their developmental level, then you have actually purchased ME a toy.  I’m gonna guarantee you that it wasn’t on my Christmas list.

 

Think fewer larger

Focus on fewer larger items.  Disclaimer- always ask first to make sure there is space!  Kids don’t need a million dolls, but a few dolls play well together in a doll house.  We don’t need any more legos, but a lego table would be awesome for storage and creating.  You can only play with a couple of hot wheels at a time, but having a cool track for them (that doesn’t rip apart into a million pieces) is awesome.

But larger doesn’t have to just be size or toys- which leads me to my next point

 

Focus on Experiences!!!

Memberships are amazing!  We get free entertainment, out of the house, and no TV.  Seriously the best.  And the thing is that so many places are a bit too expensive to justify paying the one time entry fee, especially if we can’t spend a ton of time.  But, most memberships pay for themselves in about 3 visits and then you can also just come and go without feeling like it has to be an all day excursion to get your money’s worth.  So while a one time visit is a bit much to budget in for the monthly entertainment budget, a membership is typically within a gift budget especially if you combine kid budgets.  Or even if the membership is still out of budget, one time visits as gifts are still awesome and create no clutter!

Here’s some memberships/experiences to research in your area:

  • zoos
  • museums
  • aquariums
  • indoor play places
  • amusement parks
  • State Parks Pass
  • National Parks Pass
  • Concerts, plays, and other performances
  • Pogo passes

 

The other thing I am seeing a lot of people do is use their Christmas budget to plan a family vacation.  Most don’t necessarily go at Christmas time, but make the announcement the present.  If you’re the grandparent you could definitely contribute towards the trip.  Most amusement parks sell gift cards, so you could just buy a gift card for the amount you would have spent.  Even if it’s not enough to cover a significant portion of the trip, every little bit helps, or it could be used for food/souvenirs.

Now experiences are all good and fine, but let’s be honest, membership cards and gift cards aren’t super exciting to open.  And a trip is not something physical that can be wrapped.

For starters, my kids have still been super excited when they open up a print out with fun animals announcing that they get to go to the zoo.  But, you can also find simple related items for unwrapping:

  • A little animal toy for a zoo or aquarium pass
  • I found fun color changing cups from the children’s museum to put the membership card in and wrapped those
  • For a trip give them something they will need for the trip:
    • a snorkel/ swimsuit/ towel
    • matching Disney shirts
    • something to do in the car for a road trip
    • a book about the place you will be visiting

Subscriptions- the gift that keeps on giving

This is a similar idea as experiences and another things that creates limited to no clutter.  Here’s some ideas:

  • Disney +- wrap up some dress up clothes for their favorite characters
  • Living Scriptures streaming, or another of the various Religious/ family friendly streaming services with VeggieTales, Owlegories, etc.- wrap a children’s scripture picture book
  • KiwiCo, Little Passports, or BookRoo subscription box- if you order in time you might be able to wrap up their first box!

For adults consider:

  • a streaming service
  • Audible*
  • Deseret Book plus
  • there’s seriously a subscription box for any and every interest from hot sauce to fashion and cheese to camping

*When I got my husband an Audible subscription I bought him a super random book from a thrift store for $1 and put the confirmation email about the subscription inside the book.  Then we re-donated the book, so it was fun to open but didn’t clutter the house!

Lessons and Clubs

Help pay for a few months of dues for sports, music lessons, or various clubs.  Or buy them equipment for their interest:

  • sports dues or equipment
  • music lessons or the next level of books/music for the lessons
  • accessories for their instrument (reeds, valve oil, etc.)
  • cub scouts/girl scouts dues, uniforms, etc.
  • Camps and other activities

 

Make Needs Fun

A month or so ago I saw a post in a mom group asking about Christmas presents for her toddler.  Here were her stipulations.  They already have too many books and toys to handle (I feel ya), she’s anti-screen time (good for you!), and they don’t live near any zoos or museums, etc.  I was like wait, no TV AND no zoo- WHAT DO YOU DO ALL DAY????  And you just destroyed my whole gift giving suggestion list!

So I thought about it and then came up with this suggestion- get them things they need, but make them more fun:

  • electric toothbrush with fun characters
  • a fun hair brush
  • Fun soap/ bubble bath bottles- you know that one with a character head on top that’s way overpriced.  Hint- you can refill it with cheap soap after it’s empty!
  • Fun socks/ underwear

 

Edibles

No- not that kind!  This is along the same lines as making needs fun.  If you want to fill out and have a few more fun things to open look into food items that you wouldn’t typically buy.  Stuff that is less cost effective, but more fun!

  • Target has Unicorn, Paw Patrol, and maybe one other specialty Mac and Cheese from Kraft
  • At another grocery store this week I spotted some Unicorn and Dragon pudding cups
  • Fruit snacks come in almost every shape and character imaginable
  • Popcornopolis has tons have specialty popcorn flavors
  • Then there’s also just normal but favorite treats and snacks

 

Less is More

Those last two categories can be nice to fill out a few more things to open, especially if you did put most of the budget towards a larger item.  But- don’t go crazy with filler things just for the sake of having lots of things to open.  There’s definitely a balance to find, but I think better to steer on the less side than on the too much side.  Leave them wanting more, rather than creating present opening burn out.

 

I’m sure there are some people out there, especially those that have gift giving/ receiving as one of their main love languages who do appreciate having lots of things to open, but for those of us that do not have gifts as a top love language, it can actually begin to cause stress and I know that no gift giver wants to do that.

 

Again, I hope I don’t come off as ungrateful.  Of course those of us that feel this way are very grateful, but we’re also practical and recognize our and our family’s needs and boundaries.  Best rule of thumb is to stick to a list and ask.

 

And finally, if you’re in a position to be very generous with your family, make sure you are also being generous with your time and resources to bless others who are not as fortunate.  Stay tuned for a post on keeping December a Christ centered month, and how to incorporate Light the World for young kids.

 

Image by Melissa Etheridge from Pixabay

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- November 2019

How is it already November???  I’m excited for the Holiday season approaching and for keeping FHE an integral part of our Holiday prep.  Be on the lookout for my Thanksgiving countdown for this month as well!

 

Nov 4-10 Jesus Christ, “the Author of Eternal Salvation”

Song: If I Listen With My Heart

Materials: sponge, rock, water

Cut out a heart from a sponge.  Try to find a rock or something else hard (and water proof) that is heart shaped.  Explain that Heavenly Father has asked us to have soft hearts.  That means that we are willing to listen to Him, do what he asks, and change things from how we want to do them.  Having a hard heart means you just want to do things your way, and you don’t want to let in what Heavenly Father has to say.  Pour water on the hearts to see which one soaks in and gets softer.  Talk about important ways you can have a soft heart (listening to parents, being kind and patient with siblings, listening to teachers at school and at church, reading the scriptures, etc.)

 

Nov 11-17 An High Priest of Good Things to Come

Song: Faith pg. 96

Materials: pictures from Gospel Art kit or online, props for Noah, Moses, and Jericho

Using pictures and/or props tell or act out some of the stories from Hebrews 11 about faith.

By faith we believe in the creation

Noah– this could be fun to act out with toys

Moses parting the Red Sea- this could also be acted out using sheets or towels to represent the water

Walls of Jericho- build a wall with legos or blocks, walk around it 7 times then shout at it while you knock it down

It could be fun to follow up with some scripture videos on these stories.  I like the VeggieTales for Noah and Jericho.

 

Nov 18-24 Be Ye Doers of the Word, and Not Hearers Only

Song: The Sacred Grove pg. 87

Materials: First Vision video

Ask your kids if they have ever been confused or had a question they couldn’t answer.  Talk about what they do when they have a question.  Talk about Joseph Smith’s question.  Think about ways he could find an answer to his question.  Read James 1:5 together.  Help break it down- if you lack wisdom that means you don’t know something.  Ask God- how do we ask God questions?  He gives to all men liberally and ubraideth not- that means he’ll give you an answer and he won’t be upset with you for asking.

Watch a video depicting the First Vision.  Depending on attention span there are a lot of options:

Ask of God: Joseph Smith’s First Vision– this one is a little over 6 minutes, live action, and very thorough.  The depiction of being overcome by Satan might be disturbing for little ones

Joseph Smith– 2 minutes, live action, video taken from the longer Restoration movie.

Joseph Smith’s First Vision– 2 minutes, taken from Doctrine and Covenants Scripture Stories book for kids, still illustrations turned into a video

Jesus Visited Joseph Smith– 1 minute, this is from the Young Readers collection, definitely the simplest one, still illustrations turned into a video

Living Scriptures The Joseph Smith Story Chapters 12 and 13– these clips are on YouTube, but if you happen to subscribe to the Living Scriptures you would have access to the whole video.  The two clips together come out to 3-4 minutes.  This is fully animated so probably the most entertaining, but the wording is not directly from the scriptural account.

 

Nov 25- Dec 1 Rejoice with Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory

Song: For Health and Strength pg. 21

Materials: Thankful leaves, Thankful Tree, pictures of Ancestors

With Thanksgiving this week talk about how being thankful can help us feel joy even when we are going through hard things.  Write down or color pictures of things you are thankful for on leaves, then cut them out and put them on a tree to make a Thankful tree.  I created a Thankful leaves printable with a few common “thankful for” items ready to color and some blank leaves so you can fill in your own.

I found a nice free-standing Thankful tree at Target a couple years ago.  If you’re one of “those” people who likes to pull out Christmas before Thanksgiving, then you could use your Christmas tree.  Or you could use butcher/construction paper to make one to put on your wall.  You might want to start this earlier in the month and add to it throughout the month and then look over everything you wrote down for this activity.

Then if you want to be a super-duper over-achiever, you could also add in some pictures of ancestors and make it a Thankful AND Family tree to discuss Peter teaching about Christ visiting the spirits in the Spirit World.

 

 

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

For The Beauty of the Earth- Thanksgiving Countdown 2019

Here we go for another round of Thanksgiving prep!  Confession time- I’m not like a real adult, I have never made the Thanksgiving feast.  I take charge of one dish and one dish only.  Candied yams.  No one else really likes them, but they are my FAVORITE!  It was my Grandma’s thing and this year that’s extra special because this will be our first Thanksgiving without her.  Looking back, I think I’ve spent far more Thanksgivings in my life WITH her than without.  Between losing my Grandma earlier this year and some other trials we’ve faced this year I’m holding on to Thanksgiving and focusing on blessings to help give me a pick me up to get me through.

  1. Day of the Dead- I love learning about different cultures and teaching my kids about how other people celebrate.  I think it’s really important to help them understand and respect diversity.  Watch Coco!  Here’s some free and simple masks to color and cut out!  Then take some time to talk about your ancestors and why we are grateful for them.  Tell stories, maybe make some foods that they liked (I’ll hold off on the candied yams until it’s actually Thanksgiving, but might have to make some Root Beer floats in honor of my other Grandma- and yes I did say with her Southern Utah accent!)
  2. Find a pumpkin patch/ corn maze or farmer’s market.  In Arizona I really like Tolmachoff Farms for the North Phoenix area, and Schnepf Farms for the opposite side of the Valley.  Talk about where our food comes from and how grateful we are to farmers who grow food for us.  Have fun and buy some farm fresh items!
  3. We are grateful for the Pilgrims who came to America for Religious Freedom.  Attend church.
  4. Teach more about the pilgrims.  Make some pilgrim hats and either make a Mayflower boat or just sail a toy boat around in the bath tub, sink, or water table.  Perk for living in AZ- it’s still warm enough to use an outdoor water table in November (downside- we had to get through summer to get to this point!)
  5. We are thankful for the sunshine!  Get outside and get some sun.  We’ll be going to play at the park!
  6. We are thankful for animals- zoo trip
  7. We are thankful for our home- do some extra chores to show respect to your home
  8.  Hand Turkeys
  9.  We are thankful for our potential to change and grow- We’ve got tickets to Butterfly Wonderland, so we’ll be heading there, but you could also just talk about and read books about butterflies and talk about how we can make changes and grow into spectacular things
  10.  We are thankful for Jesus Christ- discuss the Sacrament or Communion before, during, and after church
  11.  We are thankful for veterans- Color pictures/ write notes for Operation Gratitude
  12.  Beautiful World action poem
  13.  We are grateful for Daddy’s job- visit daddy at work for lunch
  14.  We are thankful for our food- share with others by donating to a food drive or provide a meal through Gathering Humanity
  15.  We are thankful for the temple- walk around the temple
  16.  We are thankful for cousins- color pictures to mail
  17.  We are thankful for friends- make a treat to take to a friend
  18.  We are thankful for our access to food- color pictures for the cashier
  19.  We are thankful for school- color pictures for teachers
  20.  We are thankful for our minds and our imagination- Children’s museum
  21. We can show our gratitude for the earth by picking up trash- go for a walk and find some trash to pick up
  22.  We are thankful for those who keep us safe- drop off treats to the police or firefighters (or both!)
  23.  We are thankful for Primary/Nursery- color pictures for teachers
  24.  Thankful tree
  25.  We are thankful for our bodies- go for a walk
  26.  We are thankful for Grandparents- color pictures for them
  27.  We are grateful for our toys- clean them up and choose a few to donate to a charity (get things cleared out and ready for Christmas!)
  28.  Thanksgiving feast!  Try to let the kids help make something
  29.  Visit Native American ruins- explain how the Native Americans assisted the Pilgrims

 

 

Image by Biljana Jovanovic from Pixabay

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- October 2019

Happy General Conference month!!!  I wonder what great and wonderful things are in store for us this round!

Because of General Conference, two weeks worth of Come Follow Me material is arranged in one lesson, but because we do FHE every week I’m giving two lessons for that block.

Sept. 30- Oct 13 For the Perfecting of the Saints

Song: The Priesthood is Restored pg 89

Materials: Jenga tower

Part 1:

Use a Jenga tower to teach about Christ’s church, the Apostasy, and the Restoration.

I used a different color marker for each set, mine has 48 pieces which I think is standard.

Label 12 pieces as Apostles- if you want to be an overachiever, cut out little pictures of the original Apostles and the current Apostles to glue on.

Label the next 9- Priesthood Authority/Offices, Deacons, Teachers, Priests, Elders, High Priests, Seventies, Pastors/ Bishops, Evangelists/ Patriarchs

Label the next 3- Perfect the saints, work of ministry, and edify

Next 6- Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost, Keep Covenants, Endure to the End

Next 3- Grace, Works, Faith

Last set (if yours has less than 48 this would be the best place to cut from)-

Doctrines, Atonement, Fall, Nature of God, Purpose of Life, 3 Kingdoms, Revelation, Sacrament, Commandments, Body is a Temple, Baptism by Immersion, Service, Scriptures, Miracles, Answers to Prayers.

Start building the tower with the Apostles on the bottom, talk about how Jesus built his church and called 12 Apostles.

He gave them Priesthood Authority and others helped in different roles- go through each of the offices/ callings.

Then explain that he did this for the perfecting of the Saints, the Work of the Ministry, and to edify (lift us up) (Ephesians 4:12)

The apostles taught that we would need to have faith (believe), works (do what Heavenly Father asks), and grace (help from Jesus) in order to return to Heavenly Father.

And they taught really important doctrines- go through each one until the tower is complete.

But, after Jesus died, his Apostles did their best to keep the church together, unfortunately they got spread out and also began to die.  Have the kids start taking out the apostles until the tower falls.

Remove all of the Apostle pieces and the Priesthood authority piece.

The church fell apart, but people still believed in Heavenly Father and Jesus and wanted to do the best they could.  So they started trying to build churches out of the pieces they still had.  Have everyone grab some pieces and build their own churches.  Point out that everyone has parts of the truth, and some good things, but they don’t look like Jesus’ church and they are missing pieces.

Then explain that Joseph Smith was called to restore the church so he called 12 Apostles, and was given the Priesthood Authority again, and now we have deacons, teachers….. you get the idea, go through and rebuild the church.

 

Part 2:

Song: I Will Be Valiant pg. 162

Materials: Armor

Put on the armor of God.

I bet you can guess where I’m going with this…

If you can find a suit of armor great, or make one out of cardboard.  Or if you want to keep it more simple then there is a paper doll suit of armor in the Primary Manual.

Here’s the different parts of the armor outlined in Ephesians 6.

Loins- truth

Breatplate- righteousness

Shoes- preparation of the Gospel of peace

Shield- faith

Helmet- salvation

Sword- spirit

 

Oct 14-20 I Can Do All Things Through Christ Which Strengthens Me

Song: I Feel My Savior’s Love pg. 74

Materials: items for difficult tasks

Come up with a few tasks that would be impossible for the kids to do on their own.  Lifting something really heavy, reaching something too high, reading a difficult book, or doing math that is beyond their level.  Ask them to try to do it on their own.  Then explain that they can ask Jesus to help them.  Ask them to try again but this time hold a picture of Jesus while they try.  As they hold the picture assist them so they can complete the task.  Talk about Phillipians 4:13 and explain that Jesus will strengthen us so that we can do anything he needs us to do.

 

Oct 21-27 Be Not Soon Shaken in Mind, or Be Troubled

Song: I Wonder When He Comes Again pg. 85

Materials: Suit cases, clothes, shoes, etc for trip, scriptures, pictures, etc. for Second Coming

Pull out two suit cases.  On one place a picture of their favorite place to visit (or place they really want to go) and on the other place a picture of Jesus.  For the first one talk about what we would need to do to prepare to go on a trip to.  Let the kids grab some things they think they would need.  For the second talk about the things we need to do to prepare for Jesus’ second coming.  Place things like scriptures, a picture of a family praying, something that reminds them of church, a picture of the temple, etc. in the bag.

 

Oct 28- Nov 3 Be Thou an Example of the Believers

Song: Our Bishop pg. 135

Materials: Art supplies

Talk to your kids about the Bishop in your ward.  Make sure they know his name.  Explain some of the things that Bishops do.  Have the kids draw pictures to say thank you to the Bishop for all his hard work.

 

Image by Gerhard Janson from Pixabay

Stinky Armpits- An Awkward Look at the Church as a Body

Recently in our Come Follow Me studies we read 1 Corinthians 12 in which the church and its members are likened to the body of Christ.  It goes through the hands and the feet, the eyes and the ears, etc.  About a year ago in Relief Society we discussed this same passage, as we discussed it I had a humorous (albeit sarcastic and perhaps slightly irreverent) thought- “I wonder who is the stinky armpit?!?”

I chuckled to myself for a moment, and leaned over and shared it with a good friend who also tends to have a slightly irreverent since of humor.  But then the spirit taught me some things about the church and stinky armpits.

All of us come to the table with different talents, blessings, and opportunities to contribute.  Some members are great at the administering side of things, they thrive on accountability and reports.  Others are quick to observe and minister to needs but may be lacking on the paperwork side of things.  Some have amazing gospel knowledge, while others may not be on top of scripture references but have a heart full of pure charity.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to be the fingers of the church through sharing my talents on the piano and the feet of the church when I was a missionary.  I’ve been the hands of the church when I have made meals for new moms and newly arriving refugees.  I’ve seen others be the arms of the church when someone needed a blessing or simply a hug.  Recently the same friend I mentioned earlier was the ears of the church as she listened to me express some pain and frustrations.  I’ve watched Relief Society Presidents and Bishops be the shoulders of the church as they bear the burdens of stewardship over their flock.

But have you ever been around someone who it seemed their main contribution was to be bothersome, overly needy, or perhaps just rude; like their whole purpose was to annoy you.  I’ve known a few, and I’m sure I’ve probably been that person at times.  Like that mom who just can’t seem to get her kids under control (guilty!!!), or the person making rude comments about political parties or other groups during Sunday School.  Perhaps they’re spreading gossip, or just constantly taking more resources than they contribute.

These are the stinky armpits.  And yes, they are a part of the body of Christ as well.  While stinky and perhaps awkward, armpits do fulfill an important function in the body.  They connect the arms that reach out to the shoulders bearing burdens.  Our job is to be diligent in our care, attention, and respect for them so at the very least they can be less stinky.  And if someone’s only contribution is to help us learn patience, love, and sacrifice then good for them for helping us draw closer to the Head of the Church- Jesus Christ.

 

 

Photo cred: https://flic.kr/p/Df9TCM

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- September 2019

Welcome back!  I hope August went well for everyone and if your kids started school that everything is going well.  I now have a kindergartner and a preschooler which means 3 days a week I have almost 2 hours to myself.  It’s AMAZING!!!!

Funny story from last month.  I guess it was the end of July when we did the story about the snake biting Paul, but Paul wasn’t hurt.  The kids have LOVED playing this over and over and over again.  They were playing it together and my son said to his little sister, “I’ll be Paul, and you can be…John.”  She responded, “No, I’m Mary!”  And then they proceeded to bite each other with a snake toy and shout, “Ahh….go away snake!”  As they shake it off their arm unharmed.  We’ve had a few discussion about how we need to make sure we are still safe and careful around snakes in the wild, but it’s so great to see that this is actually sinking in- even though they frequently grump about getting started!

I stopped adding the section with corresponding children’s scriptures.  Sorry about that.  There’s just nothing available 😦  We’ve started just reading either a Book of Mormon scripture story at night, or reading from the friend, or just whatever the kids request.  There is a Friend Jr. story on Paul’s letters in the September Friend so definitely check that one out.

September 2-8 God Is Not the Author of Confusion, but of Peace

Song: I Lived in Heaven pg. 4

Materials:  Plan of Salvation Printable

Explain the plan of Salvation using drawings.  There are a lot of examples online, you can draw as you go, or I’ve created a very simple printable for you.  Emphasize the degrees of glory described in 1 Cor 15:40-41.

Before you get started, have them draw clothes on the blank (physical body) person, and consider putting their picture on the face.

Pre-earth life- Put the little spirit character on the Pre-Earth cloud, explain that we were spirits living with our Heavenly Father, but in order to become like him we would need to gain a body and make good choices.

Earth- Heavenly Father and Jesus created the earth for us so that we could gain a body, put the physical body on top of the spirit character, then explain that while we are here we need to make good choices.  Talk about a few good choices you need to make (baptism, going to church, hands to self, listening to parents, etc.)

Death- Some day we will die and our body will stay in the ground (put the grave next to the earth and the body there) but our spirit will go to the Spirit world (move the spirit to the spirit world) where we will wait to be resurrected.

Resurrection- move the body and spirit back together and explain that when we are resurrected our bodies will be PERFECT!  No more sickness or pain.

Judgement- explain that Heavenly Father and Jesus will ask us how we did listening to them, following them, and fixing things when we make mistakes.  That will determine where we go.

Celestial- if we do the best we can do with Jesus helping us then we can go to the Celestial Kingdom to be with Heavenly Father and our families FOREVER!  It’s so beautiful Paul said it was like the sun.

Terrestrial- this is for people that were very nice but didn’t follow Jesus all the way.  It’s still really lovely there, but not the best.  Paul related it to the moon.

Telestial- this is for people who made bad choices and didn’t try to fix them.  They will still be happy, but not as much as the other two.  Paul said it was like the stars.  Talk about how the Sun, Moon, and Stars give off different amounts of light.

Side note- you can help kids remember the order with Sea Turtle- C Ter Tel

 

September 9-15 Be Ye Reconciled to God

Song: Faith pg. 96

Materials: Blindfold, objects such as toys, treats, scriptures, picture of Christ

Hide a few items around a room- some things just for fun and some things like scriptures, picture of Christ, etc.  Take turns being blindfolded and having the other family members tell the person blindfolded where to go to find the objects.  Explain that while we are on earth we can’t see Heavenly Father or Jesus, but if we listen to the Spirit, and the words of the Prophets then we can find our way back.

 

September 16-22 God Loveth a Cheerful Giver

Song: Army of Helaman pg. 172

Materials: Fort building materials (couch cushions, chairs, blankets, sheets, etc.), Nerf guns and/or other soft ammo (pillows, paper airplanes, crumbled paper rocks, etc.) Righteous ammo printable

Explain that we are in a war against wickedness.  Wickedness is making choices that go against what Heavenly Father wants for us like taking bad things into our bodies, using our bodies to hurt people, hurting our own bodies, not listening to our parents, making things more important than Heavenly Father, etc.  Talk about what we can do to combat the bad things.  Reading scriptures, going to church, serving people, listening, watching good shows, etc.  You can either just show the Righteous ammo printable or cut out the pictures and tape them to your ammo. Build a fort together and talk about how we want to make our home like a fort against bad things in the world.  Gather in the fort together but leave one parent out to be the opposing side.  Use your righteous ammo to defend your fort and take down the “bad guy.”

Additional Activity: To go along with the ammo of helping people, think of someone you can serve CHEERFULLY!  This could be as simple as coloring a picture for someone in the ward who is sick, lonely, new, etc.  Or taking some donations somewhere.  Always good to find a simple service project for the kids!

September 23-29 Walk in the Spirit

Song: The Holy Ghost pg. 105

Materials: 9 pieces of Fruit (try to get a good variety, but you might want to go ahead and double up on some favorites), other ingredients for your fruit salad/pizza/smoothie, Fruits of the Spirit

Use the Fruits of the Spirit printable to label fruit with the different fruits of the spirit discussed in Galatians 5:22-23

Talk through the different fruits and what they mean:

Love- we feel and show love for others when we are kind to them and serve them.  What makes you feel loved?

Joy- joy is happiness and a good attitude when things don’t go your way

Peace- we use kind words without yelling, we listen to others when it is their turn to talk

Longsuffering- we are patient, we wait our turn

Gentleness- we use our hands for helping not for hurting, if you or someone else makes a mistake we let them fix it

Goodness- we keep the commandments from Heavenly Father and follow the rules at home and school

Faith- we believe in Jesus and keep learning about him

Meekness- we are willing to listen and fix things when Mom or Dad or a teacher tells us how things need to be done, even if it’s different than how you want to do it

Temperance- we take good care of our bodies

Now use the fruit to make something yummy like a fruit salad, a fruit pizza, or a smoothie.

 

September 30- October 13 For the Perfecting of the Saints

I’m going to actually post the specifics of this with October, especially since this covers 2 weeks because of General conference.  But you’re going to need some supplies so you might want to start thinking about that now.

This chunk will cover the Apostasy and Restoration- you’re going to need a Jenga tower that you don’t mind writing on.  I found an adorable miniature one at the dollar store a couple weeks ago in the toy section.  So be on the look out, it’s probably something you can find at a thrift store as well.

It will also cover the Armor of God.  I’m really hoping to find a suit of armor to use, which might be easy with Halloween coming up!

 

Consolidated Materials List:

Plan of Salvation Printable

Blindfold

objects such as toys, treats, scriptures, picture of Christ

Fort building materials (couch cushions, chairs, blankets, sheets, etc.)

Nerf guns and/or other soft ammo (pillows, paper airplanes, crumbled paper rocks, etc.)

Righteous ammo printable

9 pieces of Fruit

other ingredients for your fruit salad/pizza/smoothie

Fruits of the Spirit printable

 

Be on the look out for a Jenga tower and suit of armor!

 

 

Image by HeVoLi from Pixabay

 

Here Lies an Elect Lady

There is a scripture that uses the phrase elect lady to describe a woman who, despite all odds and terrible trials, rose above, faced the trials with grace, contributed in meaningful ways using her education and talents, and continued to serve and love others.

I can’t think of a better title to describe my grandmother who rose above terrible odds and faced many trials in her life.

Descending from Scotch-Irish horse thieves who settled in the hill country of Kentucky (some might call them Hill Billies) Patricia Ann Beatty, alongside her 12 siblings, was raised by a single mother after her father died when she was 5.  Two years after her father’s tragic accident her baby sister died, and at the age of 10 tragedy struck again when her twin brother fell ill and passed away as well.  Her twin brother was her best friend as a child.

Despite the difficult circumstances of her childhood, she thrived in school.  Truly rising above the neighborhood and the odds stacked against her.

While her parents had been baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1921, after her father’s death, her family fell away from church attendance.  But when Grandma was about 12 a good Home Teacher began to come around followed by some missionaries.  Grandma reflected on how important the timing was because she was old enough to ride the city bus by herself to get to church but still young enough to have not gotten distracted by other teen age cares.  She was baptized at 13.

Just a few a years later a young Elder Lowe was assigned to her ward in Columbus, Ohio.  While speaking in church he looked down and saw a young sister beaming up at him, hanging on his every word.  He looked back at her and winked.  He claims it was the spirit, but there might have been a dose of hormones impacting the wink as well.  They kept in contact and upon him finishing his mission and her graduating high school they both headed to Brigham Young University.  They were married in the Salt Lake temple in December of 1949, a few months before Grandma turned 19.

She had her first child just shortly after turning 20 followed by 4 more children.  This was also the start of several “adventures” with Grandpa, moving here and there for jobs, which eventually landed them in Holbrook, Arizona.  Never been to Holbrook or never heard of it?  Well to be frank you’re not missing much, and at the same time, you’re missing everything.

In 1973 tragedy struck again when my grandparents lost a child.  My uncle Allen was killed in a car accident at the age of 19.  After losing her father, a baby sister, and her twin brother, now she had to bury a son.

The subsequent decades were filled with beauty and pain as she watched her children marry, but some of them divorce.  She watched grandchildren be born, but one of them die.  She traveled, and read, but also faced difficult health struggles.  Eventually she and my grandpa had to say good bye to the silly town they loved and impacted greatly to move into the casita or “cottage” at my parents’ house.  Grandma lived there for almost 14 years.  She had beautiful service opportunities and made some wonderful new friends, but it’s also where she had to say good bye to her husband and later to my other grandmother who had become her room mate and friend.

Grandma was an elect lady.  Despite the difficulties of her childhood and never completing her degree, she had a love for learning.  She was well read.  She knew ALL the words- and might fight you on how they were pronounced.

She valued the importance of education, and while not finishing her own formal education, she instilled that importance in her children.  And she also contributed so much to her community as a long time substitute teacher.

She put teaching in our blood.  Three of her children ended up as teachers and multiple grandchildren are also in the education field in one way or another.

Grandma was an elect lady.  Despite not spending her formative years attending church, she more than made up for it in her personal study and devotion to the Gospel.  As her vision declined she had her visiting teacher come over and read to her from Saints, a newly published history of the church.

Grandma was an elect lady.  Despite all of the deep personal loss she faced in life, she moved forward with love.  She was a faithful visiting teacher.  And spent several years as a service missionary in the Family History center.

Grandma was an elect lady.  She was so full of passion.  She was passionate about music- another things she put in our blood.  She was the biggest cheer leader for the arts.  Living close to her meant that she attended most all of my choir concerts, and if you ever needed to feel amazing about yourself you just needed to look down at her in the audience and the look on her face, beaming with pride and joy- I wonder if that’s the look that Grandpa saw and couldn’t help but wink.  She was passionate about politics and opinions.  I don’t hold all the same political opinions she had, but I’m grateful she gave me that example of a strong and passionate woman.

Grandma was an elect lady.  She was also vain.  In fact, she was so vain, she probably thinks this blog post’s about her.  At one point she had been in the hospital due to some heart problems.  The day after she was released my mom went in to check on her and grandma made a comment about needing to get dressed for the day and put on her lipstick.  My mom told her she didn’t need to get dressed, I mean she had just gotten out of the hospital and was supposed to take it easy.  Grandma’s response, “Well, I’m not going to just sit around like some slovenly slut!”  For the record, as I’m typing this I am wearing a house dress and have not done my hair, and I don’t even own lipstick.  And while some of her vanity made me chuckle, or groan, here’s the thing I’ve learned and admire about it.  She always wanted to put her best foot forward and while she was most vocal about it in appearances, you can also see that in many other aspects of her life.  So while I am known to hang out in comfy clothes all day and don’t own lipstick, I certainly try to put my best foot forward in many other ways.

Grandma was an elect lady.  She was a comforting presence.  She was home.  She was always there.  Living close for almost seven years before she died meant that she was a staple in our family.  I had the privilege of building memories with her as an adult and sharing my children with her.  While I was pregnant with my second child, my little girl, I struggled with chronic pain and depression. There were days when I couldn’t handle being alone with a toddler.  While everyone else was working, having her be home and available was a life saver. In particular, the day before I gave birth, I was overdue and completely miserable. I couldn’t handle being alone, but I also didn’t want to have to interact with a friend. I needed somewhere that I could talk if I wanted, or sleep if I wanted, or watch TV, and jump back and forth through all of those as needed.  But mostly just not be alone but not be expected to entertain. So I headed over to her house and she got me through that very difficult day. She didn’t really do anything, she was just there and she was just the home and comforting presence that I needed. And to have lost that person hurts so deeply at times it is overwhelming.

 

She died only 13 months after my other grandma passed away.  Their passings were very different and impacted me in very different ways.  Last year when my Grandma Ramsey passed I wrote a tribute to her entitled Come, Sweet Death.  In it I reflected on the difficulty of watching her linger, becoming a shell of herself.  When she finally passed, it was more relieving than anything.  The pain I felt was not at her leaving, it was because she had stayed for so long.  I didn’t miss her, because I had already been missing her for a very long time.

This was not the case with Grandma Lowe.

Yes, she had been slowing down for a few years.  She suffered from macular degeneration and was primarily blind by the end.  She was certainly having some physical ailments and was beginning to have some mental slips- especially dealing with numbers.

But at the beginning of December she was there for our Christmas concert.  Beaming with her fluffy hairstyle she had been wearing for as long as I can remember, and probably years before that.

Mid-December she attended my brother’s Wind Quintet concert and reveled in the beauty of the music he created.

She was an active participant in our Christmas festivities.  But she was also tired and started to exhibit some strange symptoms.

She lost several pounds in a week then gained more back all in fluid.  My mom was working on getting her in to the doctor, but with the holidays it took a few weeks.

New Year’s Eve!  She came and celebrated at my house.  We made cheap personalized pizzas which she thought were wonderful.  My mom said it was the most she had seen her eat in weeks.  She couldn’t see to play games with us, but we were playing Bananagrams, which is a word game, so she certainly gave her input.  And she was happy, and very very alive.

The weeks following New Years began the doctors’ appointments.  They discovered she had cirrhosis of the liver.  They drained fluid, which gave her comfort, but it just came back.  She became weaker and started sleeping more than not.  The only times she left the house were for her doctors’ appointments.

But when she was awake she was lucid and able to carry on a conversation.  I remember telling people when they asked how she was that I was fairly confident she would be around for her birthday in March, but doubted she’d make it to summer.

Here’s my twinge of regret.  We had had a very busy holiday season and were coming up on an out of state wedding at the beginning of February.  So in an effort to keep things a little more simplified, we didn’t drive the 45 minutes over to visit.  I just had my mom keep me in the loop.

She had another appointment to drain fluid.  It didn’t go well.  Her vitals took a pretty hard crash during the procedure.

Finally President’s day weekend, we headed over for Sunday dinner.  My mom had warned me that she had become very skinny, but it was hard to picture my previously voluptuous Grandma as frighteningly skinny.  It was certainly startling to see how hollow her cheeks were after not seeing her for several weeks.  Her arms reminded me of pictures of Holocaust survivors.  She was beginning to look like death.

That Sunday evening was a beautiful experience.  We gathered together in her little living room.  My little family, my parents, my younger brother, and my aunt.  We had a little Come Follow Me family home evening together.  That week we had studied John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Begotten Son.”  Being so close to Valentine’s Day I had created Valentines for the kids from Heavenly Father with a picture of Jesus and then the kids created Valentines for Heavenly Father, which we of course shared with Grandma.  She wasn’t able to talk much anymore, but she still contributed in a quiet way.  The promise from President Nelson about unleashing the power of the family kept running through my mind.  What could be more powerful than having four generations of extended family, including two so young and new to the earth and one about to leave, together rejoicing in the love of our Heavenly Father and the gift of His Son?

That was the last time I saw her alive.  And while I have dealt with regret at not getting over there to see her again, I am also so grateful to have that as my final memory with her.  My final memory is one of those elect moments, and one of the most cherished and elect traits she has passed on to me- a love of the Gospel and gospel learning.

That Friday my mom took her to another appointment to get fluid drained.  However upon arriving it was determined that the procedure would do more harm than good.  They gave her the information for hospice and sent them home.

When my mom informed us of the decision I remember feeling sad that it gave some finality, but also feeling more afraid of it not being the end.  After watching Grandpa Lowe and Grandma Ramsey linger for an extended time, slowly losing their faculties, barely living by the end, I couldn’t bare the idea of watching her do that.  Selfishly I didn’t think I could handle the emotional drain of it.  But also I knew she didn’t want to.  Back in November before she passed, she had told me if she got to the point of not being aware, not being able to enjoy things, then she just wanted to go.  So while I was sad, I did hope that she would pass quickly.  But I was not at all prepared for how quickly she would go.

Saturday hospice came over and created a care plan.  The plan included twice weekly visits from staff to assist with bathing and weekly appointments with different doctors.  They made arrangements to bring in various medical equipment.  The plans sounded like they were planning for weeks.  Although much less confident, I still had hope that she would make it to her birthday, it was only 3 weeks away at that point.

Reports were varied- she’s not great but she’s hanging in there.  Nothing that made me feel the need to drop everything and run over.

Monday night after choir, my brother, who had seen her Sunday, did give me more urgency.  He said that it was almost certainly going to happen that week- she might not even last the night.  I still didn’t think there was any way it would happen THAT quickly, but made plans to drive out the next day after my son finished preschool.

My uncle and his wife had flown out Sunday, they were going to fly back Monday but decided to stay through Tuesday.  My mom debated on whether or not she should go to work Tuesday morning.  She went in to check on Grandma early in the morning.  She was able to be roused and could talk.  My aunt offered to sit with her while my mom went ahead and went to work because she seemed stable enough.  My mom said goodbye about 7:15, Grandma was able to respond.  But by 7:45 she was gone.  She passed away holding the hand of her lovely daughter-in-law.  I am so grateful she was there to help her in those final moments.

My mom called shortly after my husband left for work.  Knowing that my mom should have been at work, I knew it couldn’t be good news.  Blessedly my husband was able to turn right around and take the day off to be with me.  We headed out as a family to see her before they came to take her body.

Seeing her there so frail and so still when I had been planning to come over and spend the day with her as a last good bye was so hard and so painful.  While I had selfishly hoped that she would not linger, again, selfishly I wasn’t ready.  But she was.  So while it felt like whiplash to go from Christmas and New Years functional and together to just after Valentine’s and President’s Day gone, I am grateful that she was not made to linger.

But I miss her.  I miss her presence.  I miss her mannerisms.  I miss her trademark comments.  I miss her vanity.  I miss her love.  I miss her snack cupboard.  I miss her TV watching (even if I don’t like Fox News).  I miss her hugs.  I miss her softness.  I miss her boldness.  I miss the way she would “ooo” and “ahh” over fireworks.  I miss watching her interact with my kids.  I miss her smile.  I miss the way she would crinkle her whole face up when she laughed.  I miss seeing her beam.

Just two days after she passed we had another concert.  They always talk about how hard “firsts” are, well we got to have a “first” right there in the middle of all the raw emotions.  My choir typically sits in the last few pews of the church we perform in while we wait for our turn.  I was in the habit of looking for Grandma’s hair to spot where she and the rest of my family were sitting.  I kept catching myself looking for her hair.  And when I spotted a woman with similar hair I just about lost it.  But I had to keep it together!  I had a substantial solo during one of our pieces.  It was the type of thing that would have made Grandma beam even brighter (if that were possible).  And maybe for the sake of my own ego (see that vanity she passed down!), I wanted her to hear it.  I was nervous about becoming emotional during the song but somehow I got through, and not to toot my own horn (or sing my own solo as it were) but it went the best it had ever gone. I got the distinct impression that Grandma had indeed heard it.  I almost fell apart right after that song, but managed to keep it together until the concert finished and my mom found me, and then we stood there on the steps of the church and held each other while we sobbed.  Just a couple of ladies standing there ugly crying in a church, nothing to see here folks.

 

And now 6 months later, I still have moments where I just miss her.  But I see her.  Because she’s a part of me in some wonderful (and maybe a few less wonderful) ways.  I got the ball on the end of my nose from her.  And she’s probably partially to blame for my thyroid disorder.  The moles…errr…beauty marks.  And the other day I got home from the store to discover that I had bought butter when I already had a full pack in the freezer (upon her death she had about 16 pounds of butter in her freezer).  She also gave me a love for the Gospel, education, music, glass figurines, language, teaching, Holbrook on the 4th of July, self reliance, family history, learning, and Texas sheet cake.  (Just kidding on the sheet cake, it’s not my fave, but I probably inherited my sweet tooth from Grandma as well.)

So if you find yourself driving through Holbrook, AZ and think to yourself, what is this place?  Why does it even exist?  I’m right there with you.  But then, I hope your next thought will be to have some reverence for the town and think, “Here lies an elect lady.”

 

 

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones August 2019 (part 2)

August 19-25 Be Perfectly Joined Together

Song: I Love to See the Temple pg. 95

Materials: red, yellow, and green construction paper, pictures of foods and drinks, pictures of the temple, picture of kid in swimsuit, Friend Activity

I feel so strongly about focusing on 1 Corinthians 6:19. It’s related both to physical care of our bodies as well as the law of chastity. I would suggest splitting these activities up into two sessions.

Word of Wisdom/ Physical Care

Find pictures of a variety of foods and drinks from grocery store ads and/or print your own. Also include pictures for bathing, washing hands, brushing teeth, exercising, etc. Use the green, yellow, and red construction paper like a traffic signal. Explain that green means we can have a lot of it, yellow means we should be careful about how much we have, and red are things that we do not touch. Go through the pictures and glue them on the respective sheets.

Law of Chastity/ Consent/ Physical Safety

Explain the difference between secrets, surprises, and sacred or private things.

Secrets can hurt people, we don’t tell or keep secrets. If someone tells you something or does something to you and tells you not to tell mom or dad tell that person that we don’t keep secrets and make sure to tell mom or dad or another grown up what happened.

Surprises are when we don’t tell someone something right away because it will be more fun if we wait. This is like when we buy someone a present, we don’t tell them what it is until they open it.

Sacred or Private are things that we only share with a few people. Show a picture of the temple. Explain that the temple is sacred so you have to have a temple recommend to go there. Show them your recommend if you have one and explain what you have to do to get one and that it is permission from Heavenly Father to enter his house. Our bodies are temples and someone has to have permission to touch your body. If someone wants to give you a hug or a high five and you don’t want to you can say no thank you, if they don’t listen then you can move away from them. If someone uses their body to hurt you, tell them no, get away, and tell a grown up. We have parts of our body that are private. Use correct names and/or explain that private places are where a swim suit covers. We keep our private places covered, we don’t talk about them unless we need to tell mom, dad, or a doctor about something, we don’t show them to people, we don’t look at them on other people, and no one has permission to touch them unless mom or dad is helping you in the bathroom or a bath, or if a doctor needs to check and make sure everything is healthy. If anyone tries to touch you in a private place you yell at them, “No, don’t touch my_____,” you run away, and you tell a grown up right away. If anyone tries to show you their private places or a picture of someone with their privates showing, do the same thing- Yell no, run away, tell a grown up right away.

(Depending on the age and maturity level of your kids you may explain that when you are an adult and married then you may also share your private places with your spouse.)

This month’s Friend magazine is a great resource if you need more help thinking how you will explain this to your kids, there is also a great game!

Aug 26- Sept 1 Ye Are the Body of Christ

Song: Two Little Eyes pg 268

Materials: Body of Christ puzzle

Talk about how our bodies work together to do important things.  Play a game coming up with silly things that your body can’t do without all of it working together.  Try to get across the room without using your feet, try to eat a snack with your hands tied behind your back, try to sing a song with your mouth closed, etc.  Explain that in the scriptures it says that we are the body of Christ.  That means that we all have different responsibilities or things that we are good at, but when we all work together following Jesus we can do great things.  Use the body of Christ printable to show this with your family and with the church (the blank copy is so you can add pictures of your own family).  Cut along the lines to create a “puzzle” and help the kids put it together to create the body.  Talk about how your family can work together and how we can work together at church.