Father’s Day Story #1: Awakening to the Lion Within Us

I didn’t get more than one Memorial Day story up here on my the blog from my ebook, like I had hoped. Oh well, I will get those up another time! On to Fathers’ Day, which is this Sunday, June 17! I have collected a bunch of stories about the power of fathers and fatherhood. Here’s a cute story from Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita of the Seventy. 

It goes with what I wrote yesterday. God gives us lions when pray for courage, because he knows we are part lion can learn the courage he knows is in us by taming the lions he gives us.

This is an example of the stories I have curated for you in my ebook. You can get your own copy by going here and clicking the button to pay $9.99 at the bottom of the page.  I love to read these stories to my kids every morning after we do family scripture study, journal writing, and family prayer, to help us feel fired up with faith in God to go about our day.

He refers to the above cartoon from Disney. Here’s my favorite part of what he says:

You are a child of God, and He loves you. Before we were born on earth, each one of us was a beloved spirit son or daughter in our Heavenly Father’s family. But many of us don’t realize this. If we know who we are, we can be like the lion and fight off bad things so that we can protect others and not lose our way.

I am thankful for the wonderful gifts of the gospel and the plan of salvation. I am thankful that we know who we are so we can be strong—just like Lambert.

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I Feel So Blessed by Pres. and Sister Nelson

I have to come to know for myself just how blessed we are to have Pres. Nelson as the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. God has put him in this place for this time of the earth’s history. Perhaps it is because of his extensive knowledge and his scientific background. Perhaps because of his love for the Chinese people and his ability to speak Mandarin. Perhaps for some reason none of us know. I can’t help but think that part of the reason for this is because of Sister Wendy Nelson, his wife. She is a modern-day Esther, who surely has been raised for “such a time as this.”  This husband and wife team display a wonderful example of true partnership in marriage.

Over a week ago they spoke together to the youth of the worldwide church. This was a historic moment. According to this press release, this was the second time a prophet has called a meeting to specifically address all the youth of the church. The first one was with Pres. Hinckley in November 2000. As far as I know, it is the first time the president of the church and his wife have spoken together to a worldwide audience. We have seen “dress rehearsals” of these gem-filled events with the Nelsons speaking together in past years, from previous CES Devotionals in the Januarys of 2016 and 2017.

These are from the CES (Church Educational System) Devotional Archives. The Nelsons did these for college-age young adults. They are amazing in themselves. If you missed them, go watch, read, and ponder.

Sister Nelson’s talk, “Love and Marriage” from January 2017, is here.

Pres. Nelson’s talk, “Prophets, Leadership, and Divine Law,” from January 2017, is here.

Sister Nelson’s talk, “Becoming the Person You Were Born to Be,” January 2016, is here.

Pres. Nelson’s talk, “Becoming True Millennials,” January 2016, is here.

In his most recent address, on June 3, 2018, Pres. Nelson gave these challenges to the youth of the church, ages 12 to 18:

1. Hold a seven-day fast from social media.

2. For three weeks in a row, make a weekly sacrifice of time to the Lord.

3. Keep on the covenant path.

4. Pray daily that all of God’s children might receive the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

5. Stand out and be different from the world.

I am excited to use these challenges as a topic for mentor meetings with each of my three Mutual age youth, to talk with each of them on what their plan is to accept these challenges.

Over a year ago, I listened to these words at the RootsTech 2017 conference from Pres. and Sister Nelson, back when Pres. Nelson was Elder Nelson.

At the time I was feeling bereft of my friends  I left in Utah when I  moved. I missed all the meetings I had been a part of that kept me intellectually stimulated: the book discussions, the homeschool conferences, the once-a-week family school I was a part of, and my girlfriend lunches. Missing all of these boiled down to one thing: I missed deep, meaningful conversations. So my ears perked up when I heard Sis. Nelson say these words in her 2017 RootsTech presentation:

Sister Nelson: It is my testimony that however fabulous your life is right now, or however discouraging and heartbreaking it may be, your involvement in temple and family history work will make it better. What do you need in your life right now? More love? More joy? More self-mastery? More peace? More meaningful moments? More of a feeling that you’re making a difference? More fun? More answers to your soul-searching questions? More heart-to-heart connections with others? More understanding of what you are reading in the scriptures? More ability to love and to forgive? More ability to pray with power? More inspiration and creative ideas for your work and other projects? More time for what really matters?

She then made a promise that if we sacrifice time to do family history research, and then the subsequent temple work for our own family names, we will get the “more” of whatever we want. This was somewhat of an echo of her words from the 2016 RootsTech conference when she spoke with Sister Sheri Dew. In that presentation she said she gave up digital Scrabble time to do with research and temple work.  So I put those words to the test. I had become a little slack on my regular habit of researching names and taking them to the temple to do the ordinance work. I redoubled my efforts to be consistent on a near daily basis.

I have seen this promise come true. After I started doing the work regularly again, I got the blessings of the “more” that I wanted.  I do have more meaningful conversation in my life. I was blessed with a family school to attend with my kiddos like the one I had in Utah, with the monthly book discussions that go with that. I was blessed to rekindle connections with old friends I’ve had for over 20 years, where we meet weekly via video chat. I also felt inspired to create my movie discussions club. I feel much more socially fulfilled! So I can see blessings come from following the words that God inspires through his servants. I am looking forward to seeing what new blessings will come in my youth’s lives as they follow the challenge and as I do too.

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Fiesta Grub, Easy THM E Meal

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This is an adaptation of the Cowboy Grub recipe in the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) Cookbook. I call it Fiesta Grub. My recipe is more budget friendly because you use shredded cabbage instead of ground beef. I also leave out the rice in the mix and cook it separately for those who want more carbs. If you are wanting to lose weight, eat this as a strict E topping on a big bed of salad greens. If you don’t want to lose weight, eat it with lots of sour cream and grated cheese on top of chips or stuffed in a tortilla, which would be a Crossover (XO) as they say in THM lingo. Crossovers are for people who don’t want to lose weight. Serve it that way as well to your family members who don’t need to lose weight.

4 c shredded cabbage

3 c seasoning blend (find in the frozen veggie aisle, it’s a mix of diced celery, peppers, and onions) or 3 diced bell peppers and 2 large diced onions

3 (10 oz) cans spicy diced tomatoes (Rotel brand or the equivalent store-brand of diced tomatoes mixed with jalapenos or chili peppers)

1 1/2 c cooked pinto or black beans, or 1 15 oz can of beans

1 1/2 c frozen corn kernels

1 1/2 T chili powder

1 1/2 t garlic powder

1 1/2 t cumin

1 1/2 t mineral salt

1/4 t pepper

1/4 t cayenne pepper (may want to leave out if you used the spicy diced tomatoes, if you used plain diced tomatoes, then maybe add the cayenne pepper)

Cook all the veggies except tomatoes and corn until tender in a little bit of water that covers the bottom of a large skillet. Add in the spices and stir up to mix them in. Add in the beans, corn, and tomatoes, mixing in and cooking until the corn is cooked through. Then dig in! Use lots of non-starchy veggies, like salad greens, as an E meal to fill up on it.

 

 

 

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Sew a Cute Streamer for Independence Day

Yesterday was National Sewing Machine Day! How did I miss it? In honor of that, I want to sew the streamer above and the felt streamer and fabric banner in the videos below with red, white, and blue colors for upcoming Independence Day. I love these ideas because they are so quick and I can adapt them for different holidays or seasons with different colors.

 

Aren’t these ideas cute? You can get more ideas from Dana of MADE Everyday under my tab of “Fun to Make and Do.”

 

 

 

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When God Answers a Prayer the Way We Didn’t Want

I recently finished the above book, Receiving Answers to Prayer by Elder Gene R. Cook, during my “Summer Fun in the Sun” time. Elder Cook is so full of wisdom. I recommend this book to all who are searching for truth. By reading this book you will receive tutoring on how to pray from one of God’s devoted servants. He gives you an exact formula on how to pray, straight from the scriptures. (Here is a link to overdrive where you can get the book. Ask your public library how to access that.) This blog post over here has a summary of what Elder Cook teaches, called Elder Cook’s Prayer Challenge.

At the end of the book, Elder Cook teaches the principle that God always answers prayers, but it’s not always in the way we expect. He says we may pray for courage, and the answer may come in the form of a lion. Does that mean our prayer wasn’t answered because we didn’t get exactly what we asked for? No! It means our prayer was answered! Yes, God may send a lion when we ask for courage, to help us develop the thing we asked for. In other words, he might give us something to help us develop the thing we asked for, because in the long run, that development is longer-lasting than just the thing we ask for.


The above video shows a young Elder Cook introduced by a young Elder Oaks, before Elder Oaks was Elder Oaks, and BYU’s president.

So that leads me to a Book of Mormon principle for the week. My son is on a mission to Argentina. Every week when I write to him I like to tell him a Book of Mormon principle and testify of it, in hopes that he will gain a testimony of it and share it throughout his mission. The principle for last week comes from 2 Nephi 5. The principle is that God’s answer to our prayers may be in the form of a lion. In other words, His answer may be to make us do work and move out of our comfort zone, but in the end, this is better for us, because we get huge joyful blessings we may never had dreamed of in that previous comfort zone.


What lion is God sending to you?

Shortly after I read the above statement about the lion in the Elder Cook book, I read 2 Nephi 5. 2 Nephi 5 shows us this principle in action. Nephi knew his brothers were angry at him. In fact, they were so mad they wanted to kill him (vs. 2). He prayed for help. Perhaps he pleaded with God, saying something like, “God, please bless my brothers to stop being angry at me. Please show them the light. Please take them out of my life. Please strike them with lightning or make them move thousands of miles away. Please cause something to happen to them so they stop bugging me. Please shock them again. Please send them an angel again to convince them of the errors of their ways.”
Did God answer Nephi’s prayer? Well, yes and no. No in the sense that he didn’t answer it in any of the ways I just imagined and described.
Instead of any of these answers, what was the answer? It was that God told Nephi that Nephi was the one to take action, that God wanted him to move to a new place (2 Nephi 5:5-7). That was probably soooo what Nephi did not want to do. “What?!? Pack up all of my things, and go travel in a tent for days, even months, on end and move to a completely new place and start all over again? Not just me, but my wife and children and whoever believes in Thine revelations?” But yes, that was the answer. Can you imagine the logistics of that operation? In the end, it was a huge blessing. They were much better off than before. They got something they didn’t have in the old place, as far as I can tell. Because guess what? This new place had such an abundance of precious things, that they were able to  build a temple, after the manner of Solomon (2 Nephi 5:15-16). In this new place, they had precious metals like gold and silver in “great abundance.”
I hope to always remember this! I want to always remember that God’s answer to my prayer may cause me to move out of my comfort zone. May I always remember that God asking me to move out of my comfort zone has the promise of a new zone, a land of “great abundance” where I can have a figurative temple! A temple symbolizes having a heaven on earth where I can be as close to heaven as possible. I can claim this blessing only be being obedient. It is a joy to be in the temple, feeling the love of family, of God, of kindred spirits, of life, love, light, and learning! This is what I want, even if I have to tame, or be tamed by a lion, to get to it!
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Heroic Baseball Moment!

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We’ve had a lot of baseball around here lately, what with two practices and two games a week for one of my boys since the beginning of May. Last year, we had two boys doing ball. We’ve had some years where four kids do it (plus Shakespeare play practice, dance recitals, and soccer, yikes!).  Dutifully, I go and watch to support my child, but I have to admit, it’s not something I really like. At least it’s not watching bowling. Baseball has its moments, but most of it is boring.

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A rare, non-boring baseball moment.

It’s not constantly fast and zippy like basketball. So, I bring a book and have a private party, just me and a book. I’ve read a lot of books this way. One spring/summer of baseball games I read this pair of books about Louisa May Alcott and her mother, both by Eve LaPlante, an award-winning author who is related to the Alcotts.

Now that was a wonderful baseball season! I felt like I was transported back to Transcendental New England in the 1800s. I was amazed at how much Louisa was influenced by her mother’s mentoring. I was blown away by how strong and determined and wise Louisa’s mother was. I was also mad at how lazy and insensitive to his wife that the dad, Bronson, was. Mr. March from Little Women he was not. No wonder Louisa did not have the dad at home in Little Women, she didn’t know what it’s like to have a model male father figure working productively while living at home. She shipped him off to the Civil War for the book.

OK, enough of the Alcotts’ dysfunctional family wounds and back to this summer. Recently, I read Julie Andrews wax eloquently about baseball in her poetry collection, pictured below:

Gushingly unabashedly, she describes a grandson who loves baseball. This love has spread to her whole family as they support him in games and umping all through spring and summer. In true Julie/Maria/Mary Poppins fashion, her cheery enthusiasm has infected me. I’ve decided to let the sport grow on me. Here’s the poem she shares in the book, called Analysis of Baseball by May Swenson.

I have to admit that as a mom of five boys, I haven’t always shared their passions for things that I’m not wild about. Like for Boy Scouts, or baseball. I won’t go into all the details. Let’s just say two things. First, it has never seemed fair to me since I first got the crushing news at age 8 that scouting through the LDS church was just for boys. Why not? I can hardly contain a daily happy dance after decades of “Why not?” and almost 13 years of monthly Pack Meetings (because of 5 boys). This announcement here has me giddy. It could not have come sooner! Second, baseball is sooooo s-l-o-w. I’ve sat through A LOT of ball games, for both my sons and daughters. As I said before, I always make sure to bring a few great books to read when my kid’s not up to bat.

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We had this great moment in baseball, however, a few weeks ago at my son’s game. Here’s my husband’s description of it:

In the bottom of the last inning, we are behind by four points. We score four points and tie the score. There is a runner on third base. There are two outs. S. approaches home plate. He was up to bat once before during this game, but struck out. He takes his place in the batter’s box, and raises his bat over his shoulder.
Pitch after pitch speed past him. Finally the count is full, three balls and two strikes. It looks like another strike-out in the making. As the last pitch approaches, S. begins to swing. Because his swing is late, the ball is destined for right field. A line drive! The ball drops to the ground between the first baseman and the right fielder. As S. runs toward first base, his teammate runs toward home plate. S. is safe on first!
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When his teammate steps on home plate, his coach shouts, “We won the game!” His team rushes out of the dugout and jumps up and down hugging each other. S. doesn’t understand what just happened. He is so surprised to have hit a ball and to be safe at first his brain doesn’t process anything else. His whole team rushes S. and piles on top of him. L. carries him off the field!. One of his teammate’s grandmother gives S. a ten dollar bill!
I tell you, it’s the stuff of a Julie Andrews movie! Mary Poppins could not have made it any better! So here’s to baseball (books), summer, and sports! (I wonder if she will find a poem about scouting for her next anthology that will make me like it before the announced split?)
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Best Books for Boys, And Girls, Too, if They Like Adventure, Blood and Gore!

I have found the best books for boys, and even girls who are into adventure, blood and gore. Especially if any of them are reluctant readers. These books are the Hazardous Tales Series from Nathan Hale. The one pictured above is about WWI. All of these books are graphic novels, a fancy name for comic books.

 

What I love about these books is that the author and illustrator, Nathan Hale, has such a knack for visual storytelling. He is so ingeniously creative! So as you read, you are painlessly learning history at the same time. In the WWI book above he uses a different animal to represent each nation involved in the war. So, Britons are bulldogs, Serbians are wolves, Russians are bears, Austrian-Hungarians are griffins, Germans are eagles, and Americans are…bunnies! (That’s right, not bald eagles!) That innovative feature, combined with the cool maps that Nathan includes in the book has allowed me to remember how the war got started and who was on which side. Even though I’ve taught a class about it, and passed the AP History Exam, I would get confused by all the nations involved and who was on which side. Since I am a visual learner I will remember from now on that the Serbs were against the Germans and Austria-Hungarians, because of the animals and the maps in the book.

I highly recommend this book, along with the other books Nathan has written and illustrated, featured below. They all have 4.5 to 5 stars on Amazon, and I give them 5 stars too! If you care about going in order when reading a book series, you will want to read the book below first. It sets the stage of the three main characters who appear in each book: Nathan Hale (the real person who was caught spying in the Revolutionary War, who coincidentally has the same name as the author, although they are not related), the Hangman, and the Provost.

After that, it doesn’t really matter what order you read them in, unless you want to go in historical order, of course. I have had so much fun coming up with different voices for these characters as I read One Dead Spy aloud to the kids. Trying out British, German, and Russian accents for the WWI book has also been delightful.

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This one is about the Revolutionary War, called One Dead Spy, about Nathan Hale. Again, the maps have helped me better understand the history I’ve heard over and over through the years since my public school classes.

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This one is about the War Between the States, aka the U.S. Civil War, called Big Bad Ironclads. I was disappointed it only covers navy battles. It’s still great though! I guess I will have to wait for Nathan to do one about the land battles.

This one above is about the Donner-Reed Party. Nathan managed to pull off his balance of mixing tragedy with comedy without being offensive. We are talking about cannibals here, after all. He is such a gifted storyteller!

The one pictured above is about WWII and Jimmy Dolittle’s Raid. We haven’t read it yet but I’m confident it’s just as grand as the others.

Then this one is about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. It is heart wrenching to see all of the abuse she underwent, yet inspiring to see her rise above it as a hero. I didn’t know she had fainting spells from being hit in the head until I read this book.

We are reading this one about Texas history and the Alamo. I had no idea so many people were involved in the early history of Texas. Now I understand the Six Flags thing. Santa Anna, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, Stephen Austin, there are all here.

The newest one, due out October 2018, is also about the Revolutionary War. Feauring the Marquis de Lafayette, the French nobleman who was Washington’s buddy in training the colonial soldiers, it’s sure to be another hit. I can’t wait!

You can read one interview here and another with him here.  Then here is his blog. He hasn’t added to it in over a year, hopefully that means he is hard at work!

Enjoy these books! They are especially great for reluctant readers, like my 13 year  old son, back when he was 9. I started reading Big Bad Ironclad for bedtime. He snuck off with it the next day to read it in secret and finished the book! That was probably the fourth chapter book he was been motivated to read on his own. Hooray! Show your kids that history is not boring with the Hazardous Tales. Get your kids reading these books and they will get hooked on history and want to know more! He also does other books, as shown below:

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