I love Fall. I love the Trees and the changing leaves, I love the colors and the crisp air. I love acorns and helicopters. But I love pinecones. I’m not sure what it is about them, but they bring me joy. I can remember being in grade school and we used plaster of paris in a mini foil pie pan and stuck a pinecone in it. Then we got to use glitter to decorate it and make them sparkle. Glitter runs in my veins so perhaps that’s why i love them so much. Pinecones have great potential. They start out small, but can turn into beautiful grand noble trees. Each small pinecone that drops from the Mother Tree has the opportunity to grow into it’s own straight and strong tree. When you cut down a tree and look at the rings the ones that are closer together are when they really had to work hard to grow and the ones when they are wider and further apart were times when growing was easier.
When I told the kids what my subject of my talk was McKay said, “Maybe we should write your talk for you Mom.” Then they proceeded to tell me how I teach them about the commandments.
1. Set a good Example
- Remind them to say their personal prayers at bedtime.
- Follow the Laws- like no texting while driving.
- Try to read scriptures and pray before school with the family
- Try to do FHE
- Scripture Study Texting Group
- Try to sing a song and learn a new article of faith and pray on our way to school.
I TRY. That’s it. I’m trying. Some days I try more than others. When Alaynee overheard me saying this part of my talk she started singing, “I'm trying to be like Jesus; I'm following in his ways. I'm trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.” and I thought, exactly! That’s exactly it. I’m trying.
We pay our kids for good grades and this year McKayla asked if she could have an extra $10 because she got all A+’s. Bryce responded do you want $10 less if you get an A-? But then he surprised her with an extra $10 and he told her that was not because she worked to get all A+’s, it was for her effort. I am trying to put forth more effort.
At the RS Conference last night Sister Linda K. Burton spoke about the 10 Virgins. As a 12 year old Beehive my Aunt Martha and my Mother were my leaders. I remember Aunt Martha taught us a lesson about the 10 virgins and gave each of us a little picture of them to stick in our scriptures, which I still have 25 years later. It has always been a favorite parable to me. As a young Beehive I don’t think I quite understood why the 5 wise virgins wouldn’t share with the 5 foolish virgins. Sister Burton clarified this point last night she said, “the oil of spiritual preparation cannot be shared. Drop by drop we add to our store of oil.” Sister Neill F. Marriott said “by simple, consistent, acts... such as prayer, scripture study, FHE, great things are brought to pass.”
Elder Uchtdorf spoke last night and said, “God knows each one of us. He LOVES you. He knows of your times you’ve fallen short. He knows when you were helping to reach out to others even as you’re struggling yourself.”
How do I reach out to my children and teach them of the commandments if I am not striving to keep them myself? It begins with me. I’m trying to add oil to my drops of awesome lamp so that I can then share my knowledge with my children. This past year I have not done well as well as I perhaps could have. I am trying to be kind with myself because I was growing a person and it’s a big job. There is a time and a season for everything they say and I have felt that now is the time for me to do more.
I am choosing one principle to work on and trying to make it a lasting change so that I can build upon it. How do I teach my children of the commandments? It begins with me.
I am part of a group of 4 sisters that started a scripture study group. It is unique in that we send each other a text message of what we are pondering that day. This has really helped me to be more consistent. It has been a gentle reminder to do it. On occasion my phone will start buzzing like crazy and I’m so happy that it does because we are trying. Each of us is trying.
Elder Uchtdorf said, “You are always a Child of God. You are a child of Heavenly Parents. Divine origin alone does not guarantee you a divine inheritance. The promised blessings of God to the faithful are glorious and inspiring. It takes more than a spiritual birth certificate or a Child of God Membership Card to qualify for these incomprehensible blessings. But how do we attain them? The Savior has answered this question in our time. He said, “Except ye abide my law, ye cannot attain this Glory for straight is the gate and narrow the way that leadeth unto exaltation. Receive ye therefore my law.” For this reason we speak on walking the path of discipleship. We speak of obedience to God’s Commandments. We speak of living the gospel joyfully, with all our heart, might, mind and soul. And yet for some of us, obedience to God’s commandments doesn’t always feel very joyful. Let’s face it. There may be some that may seem harder or less appealing, commandments that we approach with the enthusiasm of a child sitting in front of a plate of healthy, but hated vegetables. We grit our teeth and force ourselves to comply so that we can move on to more desirable activities. Perhaps at times we may be asking ourselves, do we really need to obey ALL of God’s commandments? My response to this question is simple, “I think God knows something we don’t.” Things that are beyond our capacity to comprehend. Our Father in Heaven is an Eternal being with a host of experience and knowledge infinitely greater than ours. He not only knows what is best for you, he also anxiously wants you to choose what is best for you.”
When I heard that, “our Father in Heaven is an Eternal Being with a host of experience and knowledge infinitely greater than ours”. It reminded me of my Grandpa Joe. He’s 85 and He is a Jack-of-all-trades. He has done every job it seems like.He can do electrical and plumbing, he knows how to milk cows and even won a contest for de-boning a goat in under 9 minutes. He worked in a rock quarry and had muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger. He owned his own Body Shop and a million other jobs. He has a host of experience and knowledge infinitely greater than ours. This past year my parents were falling a tree. Grandpa stood back and watched them as they attempted to do this on their own. Even though he perhaps knew the best way to do it. At some point they came to him and asked him how they should continue. Just like we need to do with our Heavenly Father.
Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time. They know that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily parenting is among the most powerful and sustaining forces for good in the world. The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home. (L. Tom Perry)
I don’t know about you, but doing everything I am supposed to do feels like a daunting task. If I try to do it all I have a mental breakdown. But I think about it like Dave Ramsey. Baby Steps. I work on doing better at one thing at a time.
Plan a day and time. Be flexible. But persistent.
I can’t tell you the number of times we have had to change family prayer. We had to work on that for months before we found something that would stick. Family Home Evening with an actual lesson seemed as thought it happened once a quarter, if that. We spend lots of time as a family doing things together, but it was lacking instruction. We are striving to do it weekly and now it’s happening about once or twice a month. I am trying to keep positive thoughts about this and not get down on myself because I am doing the best that I can. Not the best that someone else can. I try to read scriptures in the morning before school. Even if it’s just 1 verse it’s better than nothing. We are doing it. Another drop of awesome oil in my cruze.
I drive my children to school in the morning for two very important reasons. The first is that I don’t have to get up earlier than I absolutely have to and the second reason is so that I can have a set time everyday for 5 minutes of instruction. Sister Swertfeger said that she had her seminary students sing each morning and how it invited the spirit into their day. I thought that it was a great idea, but nothing seemed to work until we started to sing in the car on our way to school. We sing a practice song which is an article of Faith song. Then a song of choice. Followed by a quick prayer. It may not be the most reverent place to some, but we’re doing it. Sometimes, I would forget. Then we would drive by the Swertfeger’s house and I would remember. It has been a small act that is a big thing.
We are trying to be CONSISTENT. If I forget 3 days in a row does that mean I’m a terrible Mom and I should give up? nope. Just keep trying. Sometimes when we have FHE my boys are unruly. I have been known to kick them out of FHE so that we could have a lesson in peace. I’ve also been known to just want to give up in the middle of a lesson. Don’t Give Up! Take a break. Then come back and finish. It’s like exercise, sometimes you’re so happy to do it and it feels great. Other times it’s the LAST thing you want to do, but you force yourself to do it anyway and then you’re glad you did.
“A little bit steady, makes a lot.” Dave Ramsey
Times are very different today, but while times may change, a parent’s teaching must never be devalued. Many activities link the values of one generation to the next, but perhaps the most central of these activities is parents teaching children in the home. This is especially true when we consider the teaching of values, moral and ethical standards, and faith.
I try to teach our children the commandments in small and simple ways. Often this is on the go and I truly thank heaven for the gospel library apps!
Elder Uchtdorf said, “If you truly believe God knows best how to exalt and glorify his children does it make sense to embrace and follow his commandments? Even the ones that appear difficult? Should we not cherish the light posts he has given that guide us through the darkness and the trials of mortality. They mark the way back to our heavenly home. by choosing heavenly Father’s path You lay a divine foundation for your personal progress, that will bless you throughout your life.
Part of our challenge I think that we imagine that God has all of his blessings locked in a huge cloud up in heaven refusing to give them to us unless we comply with some strict paternalistic requirements he has set up. But the commandments aren’t like that at all. In reality heavenly father is constantly raining blessings upon us. It is our fear, doubt and sin that like an umbrella block these blessings from reaching us. His commandments are the loving instructions and the divine help for us to close the umbrella. So we can receive the shower of heavenly blessings. We need to accept that the commandments of God aren’t just a long list of good ideas. They aren’t “life hacks” from an internet blog or motivational quotes from a Pinterest board. They are divine counsel based on eternal truths given to bring peace in this world and Eternal life in the world to come.”
I know that as I have felt particularly stressed in the past couple of months that when I can’t seem to cope I have felt the desire to reach for my scriptures to help me feel calm and peaceful.
“So we have a choice. On the one hand there’s the opinion of the world with it’s ever changing theories and questionable motives. On the other hand there’s God’s words to his children his eternal wisdom, his certain promises and his loving instructions for returning to his presence in Glory, Love and majesty. The choice is yours. The Creator of the seas, sands and endless stars is reaching out to you this very day. He is offering the grand recipe for happiness, peace and eternal life. To qualify for these glorious blessings you must humble yourself, exercise faith, take upon you the name of Christ, seek him in word and deed and resolutely stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places. Once you understand the true nature of God and his commandments, you will also better understand yourselves and the divine purpose of your existence. With this, your motivation for following the commandments changes and it becomes your heart’s desire to live the gospel joyfully.
When we treat god’s commandments and our part in building the kingdom like something to check off on a to do list we miss the heart of true discipleship. We miss the growth that comes from joyfully living the commandments of our Father in Heaven. Walking in the path of discipleship does not need to be a bitter experience. It is sweet above all that is sweet it is not a burden that weighs us down. Discipleship lifts our spirits and lightens our hearts it inspires us with faith, hope and charity. It fills our spirits with light in times of darkness and serenity during times of sorrow. It gives us divine power and lasting joy. Whether you’re 8 or 108 there is one thing that I hope you truly understand and know... you are loved. You are dear to our heavenly parents. He knows you he is mindful of you. He’s not waiting to love you until you over come your bad habits.
He knows of the times you have held onto the fading light and believed even in the midst of growing darkness.
He knows of your remorse for the times you have fallen short.
He knows of your successes. He loves you.
Brothers and sisters, I am trying to teach my children the commandments one small drop at a time. I have a deep love for my children and I want them to succeed in this life and the pathway to get there is by following the lightposts of the commandments.