Thursday, May 29, 2014

I will give away all my sins to know thee

With four littles in the home, family scripture study can be difficult.  My husband and I read three to five verses of scripture each night with the children and then say a family prayer before tucking the littles into bed.  It's going to take us a while to get through the Book of Mormon, but we are making progress and instilling the habit of daily scripture study.  We are currently in the book of Alma.

The other night, while my husband was reading aloud to us, a scripture jumped out at me and was embedded into my thoughts: "And I will give away all my sins to know thee."  It was Alma chapter 22 verse 18.  This is when Aaron teaches King Lamoni's father (Ammon had taught King Lamoni) about the reality of God and the atonement and being redeemed of one's sins, Lamoni's father is converted and is willing to, as he says: "I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy." Alma 22:15  (emphasis added)

I immediately thought of all the things in my life that distract me from the Savior, the small vices that won't necessarily keep me out of the temple, but don't help bring me closer to the Savior.

I know the Savior, I have felt His love and have felt His comfort blanket me during times of trials.  But I have also had moments where He felt distant, not from His doing but from mine.

I have vices, we all do.  I tend to think of sins as those huge heinous ones that are serious and will keep me out of the temple, but there are also the small ones that usually get overlooked, or maybe even rationalized.  For me it's usually music, movies, or television shows, and even how I spend my time; things that aren't always obvious but at times contain content that goes against my beliefs.    

I also thought of the young fellow in Mark Chapter 10, the one who ran to the Savior and knelt at His feet and asked what he could do to inherit eternal life, to which the Savior asked him if he had observed the commandments and the young man answered yes.  To this the Savior responds:

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me
 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.  (emphasis added)
The Rich Young Ruler
I'm not using this example to say that having possessions are a sin (though they are when we choose them over the Savior).  But the contrast between King Lamoni's father who was willing to give away all that he possessed and all of his sins to know God, compared to the young rich man who was already obedient to the commandments but couldn't give up the things he loved because they were more important than knowing God, that difference is what I'm pointing to.

Are there things in our lives that are "not so bad" and don't necessarily keep us out of the temple, but get in the way of knowing our Savior?  Are these things, things that we would participate in if He were in the same room with us?  Would we still watch that movie, that show, listen to that song, drink that energy drink, partake in that conversation or use that language?  Would we ignore His presence, His advice, His love as we sat attached to our mobile devices? 

My vices have been troubling me lately, especially since reading Alma 22:18,  my vices aren't things that most would consider to be bad habits, in fact, most would probably chuckle and say, "Oh it's really not that big of a deal." but for me they are distractions from feeling my Savior's presence and from getting to know Him better.

We are all at different stages in life, especially in spirituality; that's the beautiful thing about this life.  The things I feel the Spirit guiding me, telling me I need to improve on might be things others have already mastered, or things that others don't have trouble with.

So though I'm already doing my best at avoiding the "big sins",  I'm resolving to give away ALL my sins so that I can really know Him.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The cold never bothered me anyway

I found this picture of Elsa as a brunette
Isn't she just lovely?
Granted I live in southern California where the winters rarely drop below 50 degrees fahrenheit, so my version of cold is a lot milder than most folks in the United States.  But I love my SoCal cold.  Often times during winter, I'm walking around with short sleeve shirts, and yes I am cold and it does sting a bit, but I love that feeling.  Some people think I'm insane, but I love it.

That being said, I'm not a fan of summer.  No way José!  Let me tell you why.  First and foremost is the fact that skin cancer runs in my family.  One of my aunts passed away when she was 25 years old, leaving behind two young daughters.  A few of my other aunts have had cancers removed just before they became problems.  I've had pre-cancerous spots removed as well.  So while most women are looking forward to getting tan during the summer, I'm constantly slathering SPF 50 or greater on my skin in hopes of preventing any sort of burning; that's another thing, I burn easily.  My sunburns turn into nice tans, but another crazy thing about me, is I love being pale (I liked it before it was cool by the way, is it even cool still?)

I get hot quickly as well, I'm talking about heat stroke hot. I won't mention the fact that I also sweat a lot too. Maybe that was too much information, but being uncomfortably hot when it's only 80 degrees and melting as soon as I step outside, doesn't make for much fun.  I'm like Olaf from Frozen, I melt (sweat) at the slightest exposure to heat.
Me during summer LOL
I love the frigid cold of winter and the sweaters, scarves, and hot cocoa that come with it; the chili noses and rosy cheeks. The cold against my skin reminds me how alive I am. We have a swing set and my favorite time to sit and swing is at night when it's cold. When I get home from dropping off the babysitter after one of our date nights, I sit on one of the swings and feel the cold wind sting my cheeks as I swing back and forth and look up at the clear starry night (have you noticed that the winter night sky is much clearer than the summer night sky), alone, just me and the winter night.  I love it.  Now the days are getting longer and the nights stay warmer, so it's not as enjoyable for me.
Winter Love
If I could have my way, in my own little Lavinia world, my year would only consist of three months: October, November, and December.  But it's a good thing we all don't live in the Lavinia Universe.

I said I'm not a fan of summer, but that doesn't mean I hate it, it's just uncomfortable to me, very uncomfortable.  But I try not to ruin it for everyone else who LOVES summer.  There are many things I love about summer:
The beach
Playing in the sprinklers with my littles
Fresh fruits
Lazy days
Independence Day 
Independence Day Parades
Shave Ice

No, I don't hate summer, it's more unpleasant for me than for others, being with my family makes it so much more fun and enjoyable, the ones whom I love dearly.  After all,  as Olaf says, "Some people are worth melting for.

When summer is in full effect, I am secretly counting down the months until October arrives.  My kids and I were already just discussing Halloween costumes yesterday.  It's never too early to plan, right?
Halloween is in five months, just a friendly FYI ;) 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Service of Motherhood

I never thought of motherhood as service.  I guess because feeding my children and doing their laundry is something I'm supposed to do because if I don't do it, who will?

The season of life I'm in right now: a homeschooling mother of four young children doesn't allow me to do much service.  You know, the kind of service where the sisters in the ward get together to help clean someone's home during the day, or helping at the bishop's storehouse, temple service, etc.  I even hate to admit that I'm not a very good visiting teacher.  Needless to say, I often feel that I am lacking in the service department which makes me feel pretty horrible.

Today in Relief Society one sister said something that changed my point of view.  She shared an experience she had years ago as a mother of four young children herself, wondering why she even went to church (we've all had that thought cross our minds as we try to get to church on time and sit with little wiggle worms).  She said the lesson she was sitting through was on visiting teaching and service, she felt horrible because she wasn't able to serve the way the topic had been discussed.  Then her bishop got up to speak on the subject of service and she prepared herself to feel even more horrible as she anticipated hearing even more ideas of what she should be doing but wasn't.  To her surprise her bishop began by saying things like, "Service is getting a child a glass of milk or changing a diaper."  He said everything that mothers do in the home is service.  I have never looked at it that way.  Maybe I'm slow and the light just turned on for me while many other moms already got it.

Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying, I love motherhood and what I do for my children, I don't look at it as a burden but a blessing.  Sometimes we get caught up in the day to day and don't see the importance of what we do, the service we are giving to our children.

I shared my thoughts about how I never looked at motherhood as service because it's something I'm supposed to do.  Another sister responded with, "Lavinia, who else is going to love and nurture your children and teach them the way back home to Heavenly Father?"  The answer was no one--no one else will do that for my children but me.

Or you.  YOU.  All you other mothers out there who may or may not be stay at home moms, but are mothers none the less.  Who else is going to teach your children the gospel?  Who else is going to teach them love and kindness?  Who else will teach them to pray?  To read their scriptures? To follow the prophet?  Who?  Certainly not the world, have you seen the world today?  The world doesn't have much regard for motherhood, particularly stay at home mothers, or anything that is virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy.  The world is LOUD.  Sometimes we fall for the lies the world feeds us about what kinds of mothers and women we should be or that there are more important things to do than being a mother; because as I said, the world is loud.

But Heavenly Father is peace, He is quiet.  He speaks to us in the still small voice that we know as the Holy Ghost.  We need to escape the loud of the world so that we can listen and feel his peace, feel His comfort when the house is a mess, when our clothes are stained, and laundry is piled up.  We need to feel Him by our side as He supports us in our calling as mothers.  Those moments when we feel we are lacking and aren't doing much, but then look at our children and see their happy faces. We need to see what they see, not what we or what anyone else may see.   They see a mommy who is  available for help them; to teach them, and to love them, to answer questions about the Gospel; not a mountain of laundry or the piles of dishes in the sink.

What we do in the home is so important, it is a noble.  It's more important than any other career.  We may not get much recognition and are looked down upon by some, but our children see us for who we really are and what we really do, and that is all the reward we need.  We are also the only ones who can see them for who they really are, we can see their potential and all the wonderful that is in them.

Our efforts are seen by our Father in Heaven, who smiles down each time we stop what we are doing to wipe a nose, change a diaper, read a story, help a child with homework, or simply just sit and snuggle a child who is in need of a hug.  Sometimes this service is more important that any other service we can give to anyone else.

I now look at service and motherhood differently.  I will be more joyful about my service as a mother, about the four little miracles that are in my care, the calling that no one else can fulfill but me.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Youth of Today

The awesome youth of our ward invited friends to the activity

This past Wednesday we had the youth from our ward over for an activity of Human Battleship.  I should've taken pictures of the the tennis court so you could see how awesome it was.  Basically, it was two sides of the tennis court separated by a taller wall made from a sturdy tarp where the net is.  Then kids sit on either side and throw a ball over the net in hopes of making contact with someone on the other side.  If someone gets hit by the ball, he or she is out.

The purpose of my post is to mention how amazing the youth of the church is.  Sometimes I see or hear about things going on with youth in the world today and I am saddened by what has become of this world and the bad choices some kids are making at a younger age.  But then I see the youth of the church and the activities we have with them, fun wholesome activities that they participate in.  There is no swearing or bullying, everyone is kind and once again, the Spirit is there.

Not all youth are troubled, there are a lot of great kids out there, both members of the church and non members.  The negative is more focused on than the positive.  So I just want to focus on the positive in hopes of giving it more attention than the bad.

In a few years these kids will be going on their missions, but they are already missionaries now.  I am grateful for the hope and good example awesome youth are to the world.

Sweet Sabbath Day

Sundays are special because it's the day we go to church, but most Sunday mornings are hectic in our home.  My husband has meetings in morning so it's my job getting the littles ready for church and get us there on time.  I hate to admit that I tend to raise my voice at my children in frustration sometimes as I rush them to get ready so we are not late, but this has not worked out very well.

I do my best to prepare for Sunday on Saturday by getting the kids bathed and setting out their clothes, but I still allow my frustrations get the best of me when Sunday morning rolls around, which ruins the spirit of our home and the importance for the day.  Not to mention, it makes the adversary smile to see our family so out of harmony as we prepare for church.

Yesterday I decided that I was not going to get frustrated this morning as we got ready for church, no matter what happened, I was not going to raise my voice.  

The morning went well, we got off to a late start but I was not going to allow that to get me worked up.  If we were late, at least we'd still have the spirit with us.  I usually get the kids fed and dressed before I get ready, that way I know they are ready to go when I'm done because if I don't, then we are all getting ready at the same time and it usually means someone gets distracted or all of them get distracted.  There were a few moments when someone couldn't find a shoe or button a shirt and the child got frustrated but I calmly took care of these things and made sure the child knew that it was fine. This morning we all were fed, dressed, happy and we left well before we normally do.

The drive there was peaceful.  I chose to listen to Mercy River (I own all four of their albums, really uplifting and inspiring music; especially for women and mothers) which really set the tone and kept the Spirit present.  I noticed the children were listening, there was no fighting or bickering.  Trenton even asked if we were listening to songs about Jesus.   

We sat in an actual pew, usually my husband has us sit in the very back row of chairs so as not to disturb the meeting since we have four littles.  But I enjoy sitting in a pew so much more.  Before Sacrament meeting started, one of the Primary leaders asked me to sub in the CTR 8 class (I think it was that one) and of course I said yes.  I was excited because my boys are in Primary and I love being with them even if it's not in their class, I get to see them during sharing time.

The speakers were great; a youth speaker, a convert, and a returned sister missionary.

My lesson for the kids was on Joseph forgiving his brothers for selling him as a slave.  It was a great lesson and the children knew all the details of the story.  I was very impressed with how much of the scriptures they knew and for be so well behaved.

I feel Primary gets a bad wrap at times, I think some people cross their fingers and hope they can avoid a calling in Primary at all costs.  I used to be one of those, but that changed once I had children of my own.  Maybe we forget what it's like to be children and how fun and carefree it was, and mistake it for being too loud and rambunctious.

When I'm in Primary, I am reminded of the simple things of the Gospel, yet at the same time the most important ones as well; pray, read my scriptures, love, choose the right, and serve.  I see children in Primary and how they are sponges, taking it all in and knowing the Savior is real. The faith they have is so strong, they are not afraid to talk about their Savior and tell others about Him and how much He loves them.  I want to be like these children, my children.  

Speaking of my children, my boys sat so reverently during sharing time.  I was so proud of them. 

The spirit was so strong with me today.  I wept a little throughout the day, not because I was sad, but because I felt the spirit and I know my children did too.

I hope every Sunday is like this.  I know that I as the mother set the tone of what the day will be like, the day will only go well if I am in a good mood and have a welcoming spirit.

I've always loved this picture of the Savior blessing the Nephite children.
Look at the joy on that little girl's face, the excitement in her eyes.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Today was one if those days where my house looked as if it had been hit by a tornado - or four little ones to be precise.
If anyone were to have made a random visit, I am pretty sure the first thought to escape their mouth would've been, "Didn't do much today, huh?"  They may have even wondered if we did any lessons today, the answer is yes, yes we did. But we also had fun. 

It looked as though the kids just tossed toys into the air like confetti, and usually things like that bother me; the fact that my home usually looks like a toy aisle in Toys R Us at the end of a busy day. But today I didn't mind it, I was grateful for my four littles and the evidence they left behind of the adventures they shared today. 

Today is over and done with, NEVER to return again. And though tomorrow will most likely be another masterpiece of Legos, My Little Ponies, and a collage of other missing toy fragments to decorate my home; it will be one day closer to the days when the Legos and ponies will be long gone. 

Today I cherished the masterpiece, and chose to look at it differently.  I chose not to see the mess but to love every minute of it.

I will miss these messy chaotic days, I know that I will long for the happy laughter and the never ending adventures my children create everyday.