Celebration of Spring, Restoration, and Renewal Story #1

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Happy April everybody! This is the start of a series of me posting stories from the LDS Church magazines about springtime/renewal/restoration/ testimony and miracles. All of these are great themes for April for family devotionals or Family Home Evening. These stories are listed in my forthcoming ebook, The Celestial Guide to Family Devotionals. If you want to read the story right away, scroll down to the bottom of this post after the last photo. If you want to read my ramblings about General Conference for the LDS Church and Easter weekend, read on to the next paragraph.

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I hope you all had a lovely Easter and General Conference! I enjoyed it. It was a historic conference, that’s for sure, with a new president and two new apostles called and sustained. Elder Gerrit Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares. Elder Gong lived in our ward when we lived in Provo. He is a wonderful, humble man. This is a new era for him and his wife Susan. I am excited for them! Who would have thought when they moved into our ward (church congregation) that he would one day be called to be an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ! I am also excited about President Russell M. Nelson being our new president. I have so enjoyed learning from him, especially his CES speech to millenials, January 2016, and then his RootsTech talk last year. I found this cool website by the son of one of my long-time homeschooling friends. It has all of Pres. Nelson’s talks compiled in one place (except for the RootsTech talk and maybe others the compiler isn’t aware of.)

I know President Nelson has been called of God to hold all the keys of the priesthood of God today. It was so great to hear his announcement of seven new temples! Can I say I am so thrilled that finally the temple in north Davis County UT  was announced! Let’s hope it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke! I have been waiting years for that to happen after hearing about it from one of my sources. I used to live in Layton UT so I am excited for my former adopted hometown! We lived there for 11 years, most of my older kids’ formative years, so the older ones out of the nest consider it their home. My son who is on a mission whooped for joy when he heard the news.

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I got so many insights from Conference. I love listening to the talks over and over again on Gospel Library to feel the Spirit and hear the stories again. It’s always tricky when General Conference is the same day as Easter, to fit it all in. We started off the weekend early Thursday night by going to the Mesa AZ Easter Pageant, which is amazing, btw. Then the next day was play practice for my kids homeschool group and a temple trip for me. At the last minute I got word that my husband could meet me there. He had stayed home to attend to some business. I had an anxiety attack that day…long story…I won’t go into it. Then we had an Easter picnic that night for our ward (church congregation). I was rushing to finish reading Hero Education so I could participate in a discussion that night with the parents in our homeschool group. This is Oliver DeMille’s latest book. I liked it but have some major points about it I would love to discuss with anyone who wants to.

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Anyway, back to Easter/ General Conference…we had our traditional Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday, told the Easter Story with symbols (see very top photo), and also did our Plan of Salvation Treasure Hunt for Family Home Evening on Monday. (The hunt comes from the Christ-Centered Easter book by Janet Hales, and her husband Joe. Janet is my husband’s cousin.) I love to do this hunt every year the Monday after Easter because it teaches what Jesus was doing while his body lay in the tomb. See Doctrine and Covenants 138 if you don’t know. For treats on Easter weekend, I got somewhat healthy candy from the health foods store for the kids like I do every year. For me, I made some Easter candy to enjoy without raising my blood sugar using THM recipes. I told myself I wouldn’t eat any of theirs if I could make all the chocolate I wanted. Here are the sugar-free chocolates I made using molds I bought on Amazon years ago. Yep, it was dark chocolate. Next time I’m going to go for milk chocolate.

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and here are the sugar-free marshmallows:

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I’ve decided to start two new traditions for Easter. One is to buy a picture book about Easter so I can create a collection of Easter picture books just as big as my Christmas picture book collection. Ideally I would like to buy one for each kid, but maybe just one for the whole family will suffice. The other is to include some non-edible item in the Easter eggs for the hunt. This year I surprised the kids and my husband with these book darts from amazon. I got one tin and divided them up among the six of us. So each one of us got to find an egg that was filled with them. Just a little reminder that some treats are for the mind, not the mouth. I was thrilled to see that my 16 year old son used his to mark up Hero Education as he read it to prepare for his homeschool group’s discussion with other teens.

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I’m loving spring! I love to get out and go walking in the morning and feel my muscles awakening. We’ve got birds singing all around the house and green leaves on the trees again, although you can’t really tell in these pictures, haha. It looks like we live in a barren, dry desert, which we do, haha. No grass here! At the seminary building last week we saw a red bird. Sorry the picture above is a little blurry but you can at least see the red blob of a bird.

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A few weeks before Easter, my 16 year old son got his driver’s license so that means freedom for him and me! He’s been running errands, shopping, taking the younger kids to baseball or play practice for me. This has meant more time for me to wrap up the editing and art for my ebook, The Celestial Guide to Family Devotionals.

The ebook is a compilation of lists for each month of the year with themes according to traditional US holidays. Then I have listed songs from all the LDS Church magazines, clear back to 1971, plus many hymns and Primary songs, scriptures and stories from LDS Church magazines to go with the themes. This ebook will be released this month! It’s the book I wish I had had for all these child-raising years because it makes doing family devotionals a breeze! Everything is hyperlinked so if you have Internet access you click on the link and it takes you to the song, scripture, or story. Watch for my announcement of its publication this month.

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OK, so I am sharing stories on the blog this month of April that I have linked to in the ebook. April’s theme is Easter of course, along with miracles, restoration, renewal, first principles and ordinances of the gospel, and testimony. Here’s a great story that is listed in my ebook, called “Joining the Lord’s Army.” It appeared in the New Era in August 2013. In this story, a young man tells of how he transformed from being a directionless youth (perhaps homeless, the story is not ) to finding Jesus Christ. This discovery game him new life. He then trained to become a minister. Interestingly enough, that led him to joining the army. In the army, he found a fellow soldier who shared her conversion story to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So he found out that Jesus Christ’s true church has been restored to the earth and when he wrote the story, he was serving a mission in Alaska. Here is part of the story: (Read it and then go here to read the whole story.)

That time I took John, my training partner, with me to church. The first speaker was a woman who was graduating from basic combat training. She shared her conversion story and then sang the hymn “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” (Hymns, no. 29). I glanced at John and noticed tears forming in his eyes.

“What is this feeling?” he asked. “I’ve got the tingles.”

As I replied, “It’s called the Spirit,” it struck me that something special was going on—something about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was different.

John and I soon met with the missionaries, and they gave us copies of the Book of Mormon. John readily accepted his copy; I was more hesitant. In basic training our only free time was the four hours we had for sleep, and I did not feel like we could waste a precious minute doing anything other than sleep. But John felt differently.

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