Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas FHE ~ Symbols of Christmas


     This year our family is celebrating Christmas the entire month of December ! We kicked off our celebration last night with THIS FHE on the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas time. It was great. 

Today we used a lesson from A Year of FHE and once again I am amazed at the lesson! This woman is so talented ! We use the blog a lot when we do FHE and I was just so excited to find this lesson because I think it compliments last nights lesson really well. 

The lesson is on the symbols of Christmas. You can find it HERE. It has a free printable of pictures of the different symbols with corresponding Scriptures. As always , it includes an opening and closing song, an activity ( a cute one!! ) and treat ideas. For free ! It's so cool! 

                                                       check it out HERE for the free printable! 

Also, I'm going to admit it here lol.... I didn't know that the colors Red, Green, and White had an actual symbolic meaning behind them! I just thought they kind of matched Christmas trees and all that ;) Hey, you learn something every day ! 

I will be trying to make sure and post the different lessons and activities we will be doing as a family this month. What are some traditions and activities that you do with your families at Christmas Time ? Comment below ! 

Happy Parenting! Love, JL~ 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas FHE ~ Tradition of Gift Giving

                                                    ( image from lds.org media library )

Tonight we began our Christmas Celebration! Each day during December we do a small Gospel lesson on Christ and why we celebrate Christmas. We also try to find lots of ways to serve. It really has helped us to keep our focus on Christ during this season and not on material things, etc.

Our kick off FHE for the season was about the traditions of gift giving at Christmas time. I found this amazing FHE lesson from HERE . It was so good!!!!! I loved how she tied together the first ever Christmas gift ~ the baby Jesus, the gifts from the three wise men ( and she explains each gift they brought) , and then goes right into the gifts that Christ has given us. She explains how to be a good gift giver and how to make sure that you are giving gifts that require time and love and sacrifice. It really made me think a lot about what gifts I give at Christmas. Such a great way to kick off our Christmas Celebration in our home.

What did you do for FHE tonight ? Comment below !

Happy Parenting! Love, JL~

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Helping Children to not Feel Afraid... REPOST

This is a post from 2013 when their were huge tornadoes ripping through the country.... I thought it might be important to repost this... as there are always more things happening that can make a child feel afraid... and make a parent feel afraid too. I will be writing a more detailed post on this in the near future, but for now, I want to share this again. Happy Parenting, Love, JL~


Monday, November 9, 2015

90 Day Book of Mormon Reading Challenge

                                                   ( from purposedrivemotherhood.com)

This summer I was blessed to join a great group started by Becky at www.purposedrivenmotherhood.com and we did a 90 day Book or Mormon Reading Challenge for summer. Here is the link to the great article that Becky wrote about it on her blog : HERE  It's a great article. I was so excited! I was on fire and ready !

There was a great facebook group to go along with it and everyone was so encouraging! I decided to do this on my own, instead of as a family. We read Scriptures daily as a family, even if it's just a couple verses, but I needed something to challenge me. I needed to feast on the Word. As a mommy, life can get so crazy and go by so fast... was I really feasting on the Scriptures ? This was perfect... something I could do for me.

June 1st came... and I read my Book of Mormon. Then there was a family emergency and my husband and I ended up driving from Missouri to Idaho and back to Missouri , all within 3 days.. non stop driving. We didn't even stop for a full hour when we got to Idaho.. we loaded up my aunt and headed right back! Then June was non stop caring for my aunt and I didn't even have a chance to go potty it felt like. That was a crazy month.

July came and I was still trying to read even just one verse a day... I was terribly behind on the challenge but I wasn't going to give up! Then I became struck down with a rare disease called Trigeminal Neuralgia. It's the worst pain a human can withstand, the doctors told me. Guess what... light and reading were two big triggers for me. So not only was I trying to learn to cope with this awful new disease... but doing something that calms me down.. reading my Scriptures... just made it even worse! At that point, I really felt like 'someone' wasn't wanting me to read my Scriptures! But I kept trying. Even just one verse a day.

August came and my medicines began to work for the trigeminal neuralgia. I was starting to be able to be in the light.. haha... as long as I wore sunglasses, and I was able to read little bits at a time! What a blessing! So I kept on trucking with my Book of Mormon reading, checking in with the facebook group, knowing that I was so incredibly behind , but not willing to even think of stopping! Around the middle of August I began to feel pretty crummy. Then I was suddenly at the doctor on oxygen, with full blown pneumonia. The worst I've ever had. What the heck was going on with me this summer ? I had pneumonia for 6 weeks and at times, I was fighting for my life, fighting to breathe. I still read the teeniest bit of my Book of Mormon each day.. it was my lifeline.

                                             ( lds.org - image )

All of September I had pneumonia. It was truly a huge trial. But I kept trying. October came along and with it came the gorgeous colors and smells of Fall. I knew that I obviously missed the deadline for finishing my Book of Mormon in 90 days.. but I wasn't going to give up! Then we got news that we were going to lose our home. My husband and I bought this home when we were both 19. We've lived here for almost 14 years and it is the only home our children have ever really known. So October came with fear, anxiety, hard work, sacrifices, lots of prayer and I read my Book of Mormon daily. Multiple times a day... there were days where I couldn't put it down. It saved me from going crazy I think! At the very last possible moment... our house was saved. It was such a huge blessing.

 Yesterday... over 150 days later... I finished the Book of Mormon. Now I've read the Book of Mormon many times. I love it. But this time was probably the best. I say that every time ! But, I think about how I had these massive trials this past summer and fall... non stop! The one thing that I could count on... was that I was going to read my Scriptures that evening. No matter what. Even if it was one verse. As I read, I felt like I was there, with everything happening in this fascinating, true story, I felt like I was right there in it. What a blessing and comfort it has been to me these past 150 days.

I truly encourage each parent to read the Book of Mormon each day. Yes, we need to be reading it with our families of course. We need to read all of the Scriptures, not just the BoM.... but sometimes, as parents, we need to do something special for ourselves. Reading the Book of Mormon each day was that something special for me. It got me through a lot this summer and fall. I will be starting it over again tonight. I can't wait.
If anyone wants to start the challenge with me... let me know! :)

What kinds of things do you do for yourself , as a parent, to feed your soul and spirit and keep you going ?
Let me know in the comments !
Happy Parenting! Love, JL~

Thursday, October 29, 2015

On a Personal Note ~ Go Be A Mother !

I've been thinking lately, I started this blog with the intention of researching and studying and praying and learning how to be a better parent. I wanted to make a community of LDS parents who could encourage each other and inspire each other. I still think that will happen one day with this blog and the accompanying Facebook page. But as I look at the blog, I realize that I haven't been personal on it very often. I have tried to research and write posts that are informative for all of us. But I want you guys to know me. To know that I'm not a perfect parent by any means. To know some of the trials I've been through and why this blog is so important to me. So today I'm going to write a bit, on a personal note, about a time in my life where I didn't know if I would be able to continue being a mother.

This is my precious family. We are doing Family Home Evening and my youngest daughter ( the one bending over in the lower left hand corner ) was in charge. The activity she chose was to build temples out of marshmallows and toothpicks :) We laughed a lot! See that handsome man looking at the camera ? That's my husband of 15 years. We've known each other since we were both 14. That's a long time. I've loved him for 20 years now. When we were both 25, and we had three gorgeous babies under the age of 4..... Keith began having terrible migraines. We were both scared, something like this had never happened to him before. He made an appointment with our doctor who said, just to be on the safe side, he wanted to do an MRI of Keith's brain. So on a friday, they did the MRI. We knew that we would get results monday or tuesday. For the weekend , Keith was just supposed to rest up and take the migraine medication that he had been prescribed.

Around 6 pm that night, Keith got a phone call. We were outside enjoying the beautiful evening in our backyard, pushing the kids in their little baby swings on the swing set. He walked away a bit and when he returned he had a look on his face that I will never forget. Something was very wrong. We took the kids inside, got their baths, lotion, jammies, bedtime stories, prayers and then put them in their beds. We sat on the front porch for a bit. Finally , he was ready to tell me about the phone call.
That was Dr Evans on the phone, he told me. Why would Dr Evans call us at 6 pm on a friday ????
They've found a large mass in my brain, I have to go to St Louis monday. Just like that, life changed.

To make a very long, scary story somewhat shorter ~ The mass they found was in a terrible spot. They gave Keith 2 weeks. 2 Weeks to live. They would attempt surgery in 2 weeks, they had much to discuss and prepare for, with multiple surgeons that they were calling in, and that is why it would be 2 weeks. They needed time to prepare. They weren't giving us much hope , even with the surgery. But for now, he had 2 weeks to live. Life just stops. All of the sudden, I couldn't get enough pictures of him with the kids. I started thinking about things like finances and how to support 3 babies , alone. We discussed funeral arrangements. I didn't cry. Not once. It was like I was in full on crisis mode. 2 weeks. It's not long enough when you are trying to figure out how to say goodbye.

We were blessed. After an emergency trip to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and lots of blessings and prayers, my husband is very alive. He's just fine. He's a miracle.

After that time in our lives, as soon as the doctors gave the OK , saying he was fine, he was safe, he would be around for a long time, I fell apart. I was so strong during the actual crisis, so very strong. As soon as they said he would live, I fell apart. I had a mental breakdown basically. Suddenly I was terrified to let him out of my sight. I would cry and cry when it was time for him to go to work. I felt like I couldn't survive. I fell into the deepest darkest depression and my anxiety was absolutely through the roof. Keith took ME to Dr. Evans this time... instead of the other way around. Dr Evans realized that I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It would take some time and a lot of work on my part, but I could get through it. I began taking medicine. I started seeing a counselor, sometimes every single day, when it got to the point where I didn't want to live with the fear and anxiety that racked my entire soul. I laid in bed 24 hours a day. Sleeping away my fears. I couldn't even handle having the kids in the room with me, I was so terrified that I might disappoint them, or make them sad, I didn't want them to see mommy like this! Keith was able to take FMLA from work and he became both mommy and daddy for 6 weeks. 6 weeks I was completely unable to function. I couldn't hardly even handle it if Keith went to the grocery store. I would cry and hang onto his legs and say, what if you die ? The thought of it paralyzed me.

One day, while laying in bed, sleeping, dreaming, I dreamt of heaven. I was sitting in a beautiful room ~ it looked like the celestial room in the Nauvoo Temple. I was sitting beside a beautiful older woman. She smiled at me, and said do you know who I am ? I looked in her eyes and said yes! It was Sister Marjorie Hinckley.

 Oh how I loved her! I had just finished reading one of her books, and I had fallen even more in love with her. In my dream I smiled, I laughed! Yes I know you! She patted my leg, and said, " well then go be a mother."  I woke up. It was like I was a new person. I knew that I couldn't live like that anymore. My children needed me. I needed to go be a mother. It wasn't magic, I still had to work hard, I still had times where I needed to lie down and pray and pray. I continued the medication, I am still on that medication to this day, because I don't want to take any chances! I had to work very hard, but I had a goal, I knew that Heavenly Father was thinking of me, loving me, and knowing that if anything in this entire world could bring me out of the anxiety ridden cycle I was in ~ it would be my children and my love of being a mother.

I know some people might say it's silly, but after reading her books, and struggling so much and praying so very hard, begging my Father in Heaven to help me somehow, having that dream, and the sweet cozy feelings that came with it, it was just so special. Do I feel like I saw a vision and that I was truly transported to heaven ? Not really, I feel like I had a lovely dream and it reminded me of my mission in this life, motherhood. It made me feel happy and that I was loved. That feeling can come from many things, a wonderful dream, a Scripture that jumps out at us and we know it is exactly what we needed, an answer to a prayer, or someone just smiling at us and reminding us to be happy. We can be that answer to a prayer to other people ! Just smile! :)

Now, I want to leave you with some of my favorite quotes from Sister Hinckley. But first, I want to tell you, please read her books. You will fall in love with her too. You will love her beautiful personality.

One of the quotes that really resonated with me, during that time, and after she told me ' Go Be a Mother!' was this one :

     " Whenever possible say yes! They are only children once."

Isn't that the truth ? I have tried that now, for the past 9 years. Yes it's been 9 long years since the whole brain tumor/ break down. Guess what... it works. My kids are amazing. I'm not saying they're amazing because I say yes whenever possible... but I know that it sure is a great thing. It really is. You should try it :)

Another quote that I love by Sister Hinckley is this one :

     " Be a mother who is committed to loving her children into standing on higher ground than the environment surrounding them."

First of all, that is the truth also! What a wonderful goal to have as parents! Secondly, I love how she says " Be a mother" ..... that is what she said to me... go be a mother! I love it. How I love her!!!! And how I love you. All of you reading this. I'm praying for you. We all go through trials, and sometimes we need some extra help getting through them. I pray that you get that help, and you will, if you just ask your Father in Heaven and have faith. ~ JL

                           ( aren't they darling ?? I just love them! Now, go be mothers and fathers! )

What kinds of neat spiritual experiences have you had, that made you want to be a better parent ?
Happy Parenting! Love, JL~

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Miracle Unfolding ~ Gardner Quad Squad ~ Interview

                                          Tyson and Ashley Gardner with their 4 daughters

One year ago, I saw the cutest picture on facebook, shared by a friend. It featured a cute couple who were announcing their pregnancy. Here is the pic :

Isn't it the cutest pregnancy announcement ever ? :) I love their shocked faces! Turns out, this couple had been praying for a child for more than 8 years. When they finally received an answer to their prayers, like the picture says, they wondered if maybe they prayed too hard ! All in good fun of course, for Ashley and Tyson Gardner, these four blessings are the ultimate answer to prayers, and they are loving every second of it!

I was blessed with the opportunity to interview Ashley and Tyson, the proud parents of Indie Mae, Esme Jane ( pronounced Ez-Me), Scarlett Elizabeth, and Evangeline Faith and I was so impressed with their faith and their joy in their children. You can follow them  HERE on facebook or go to their website HERE. Ashley will be speaking at A REASON TO STAND CONFERENCE which is linked. Follow them somehow, because their story is one of courage and endurance and those babies are the cutest things ever! Here is the interview :)


JL~ How did the Gospel help you through infertility, all of the shots, medicines, emotions, bills, sickness, heartache, and joy ?

Tyson~ The Gospel is the cornerstone of our marriage. Without the Gospel, our faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and our family, I don't know if we would have made it. There is something special about knowing that Jesus Christ understands and knows our struggles even better than we do. Having that knowledge, and putting our faith in Him and our Father in Heavens plan, we knew someday we would be blessed. That doesn't mean the shots, medicines, years of struggle didn't hurt; it just meant we learned more than we could have without those struggles.

JL~ Ashley, you wanted to be a mommy so badly,you put yourself through some awful medical procedures and meds and feeling pretty crappy for a long time- what was it that kept you going.... what was it about wanting to be a mommy that kept you strong ? How did you get through the hard days and then what did you do to celebrate the blessing of four babies ?? Did you dance ? Scream ? Eat lots of ice cream ? ;)

Ashley~ Going through infertility was so hard and there were days that I didn't know if it would ever happen for me. But I put my faith and trust in the Lord and kept pushing toward something. I didn't know what it was at the time, but I knew that He did have a plan for me and I needed to keep pushing forward to find out what it was that He wanted me to do. Faith without works is dead- I was going to do all the work I possibly could. I knew that somehow I would be a mommy. I knew that I had babies waiting for me on the other side. That is what kept me going. I wanted to be strong for these babies. I wanted to do everything I possibly could for them, even if it was painful and hard. Honestly, I would do it all over again for these babies.
Sometimes there were days that were so hard , I just couldn't hold strong any longer. I just fell to my knees and let the Lord take it from there. Sometimes I think you really have to be at the bottom to really learn how to give it all to Him. And once you do, He takes care of it all
When I found out I was being blessed with the blessing that I never knew I wanted, I was scared and happy all at once. I fell to my knees again, to thank the Lord and to also ask Him for His help thought this next part of carrying quadruplets, and He did.

JL~ What is your favorite quote or Scripture on parenting ? Tyson? Ashley ?

Tyson~ "A fathers calling is eternal, and its importance transcends time. It is a calling for both time and eternity." Ezra Taft Benson

Ashley~ "The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has for you." Jeffrey R. Holland

JL~ Tyson, your blog post titled : BEING A FATHER IN TODAYS WORLD really hit it out of the ballpark! It was fantastic. What a great way of telling people what being a father means to you. Was there anything you wish you had added ?

Tyson~ Those were my simple thoughts, and they remain the same. Keeping a steadfastness on Christ's teachings, and faith in our Heavenly Father's plan will bless our homes beyond any other method. Keeping these two practices burning and our examples will allow our children to reach their fullest potential.

JL~ Do you feel like Heavenly Father is using you in a big amazing way to spread the Gospel through your story and experiences? What do you hope people get from your experiences ?

Tyson~ Absolutely. We know that our story is a miracle, and we have seen God's hand too many times to name. He has always had a plan for us, we just didn't know what it was. Through our trials and long battles, we learned valuable lessons that wouldn't have come otherwise. We are grateful for them. Looking back, we know exactly why our Father in Heaven gave them to us. We are here today with our family and joy as a result of Faith. Faith in the Father, and Faith in His Son Jesus Christ. We have already seen a window opened that allowed us to share and help others. We are not alone in our struggles. Many share our trials, and relate with our path. We only hope that by opening up and sharing our trials and our triumphs, that we can inspire and give people the hope and faith they need. We are simply instruments and examples in the Lords hands. We give all glory to them.
One other thought is that our Heavenly Father is using these 4 miracles. Yes we are the parents and we take care of them, but they have a purpose of their own as well. We have seen it. Simply from them being here, we have been given missionary opportunities. Them being here has given many people who we have never met before, hope and inspiration. Through these tiny miracles that are only 9 months old, God has been able to reach out His hand and soften peoples hearts and focus them on something bigger than ourselves. The miracle that is our story, these babies, has everything to do with our Father in Heaven's plan.

JL~ What kinds of things do you do for FHE ? Do you still just do it as a couple or are you starting to incorporate the girls in with songs and stories ?

Tyson ~ We try and do things as a family, even though its early and the girls might not understand everything, we know they catch on to the little things. They love when Ashley reads to them. This is a special bonding moment between parent and children and also allows us to tell them things we want them to know. I am amazed at how well they respond to story time.

We also love family outings, although we don't take the girls out a ton, when we do it is such a delight. We recently visited Temple Square on a beautiful fall morning. We visited with the Sister missionaries and watched a video on the family. I couldn't help but cry through the short 15 minute movie as I realized just how blessed we were. As Scarlett and Evie squeezed my fingers, I felt God's love for Ashley and I. I knew that what we were doing that moment was perfect and right for us. The Spirit is so strong in family moments like those. I know I'm not the only one who feels that!

Both of our families come over often and help with bath time and feedings. These nights make for great family visiting and stories from those who have gone before us, and for those coming behind us looking for clues. We all enjoy sharing each others experiences.

JL~ What is your bedtime routine like ? Any sweet traditions that you are starting or continuing for your family ?

Tyson~ We have a pretty strict schedule for bedtime, as we like the girls to stay on the same schedule which makes life easier for all of us! Around 6:30-7 pm we start the feeding/bathing/pajama process. It usually takes the two of us 45 minutes to get through that. After that, Mom usually reads the girls a book as they expend their last bits of energy lighting up to her words. We then make their bottles, put them in their sleep sacks and get them tucked into bed. After they're fed, we take turns kissing them goodnight and telling them how much we love them. I don't think we've missed one night doing this that we've been home with them! My favorite tradition so far!

JL~ Where do you get all of your energy ?? ( This question is mostly for me hahaha! I only have three kids and I'm pooped out most of the time! ;)

Tyson~ Honestly, we don't even know! We say our prayers that everything will work out, and every day we seem to make it. Another truth is we've waited so long to have our family, I don't think anything could keep either one of us from simply enjoying the day taking care of our sweet miracles. They are honestly the sweetest babies and we know our Father in Heaven sent us 4 perfect angels.

JL~ Last question ! Any good laundry tips ? Us mamas need to know!

Tyson~ HAHAHAHA! Don't miss a cycle, that could be deadly! Other than that, keeping it going daily so we have fresh clothes, we don't really think too much further than that!

Aren't they amazing ? I have really enjoyed corresponding back and forth with them, I hope to meet them some day, maybe when they decide to come to Nauvoo and visit ;) One thing I want to add, is you can find lots of great vlogs and videos of them on their youtube channel HERE and the videos are just darling! They answer lots more questions, show you what daily life is like, and you get to ooooh and aaaah at the babies! :)

Happy Parenting! Love, JL~ www.ldsparenting.blogspot.com

Holy Tabbs Review ! Scripture Marking System

** The owner of Holy Tabbs just contacted me and said they wanted to offer our readers a ten percent off coupon code for this week only!!! Isn't that awesome ?? I told you they were super nice! The coupon code is : ldsparent10     Woohoo! Go get you one! You won't regret it! ;) JL~

My son just started seminary this year and my two daughters have been doing great with Scripture study and we decided to start looking around for a good Scripture marking system. I did some research and found www.holytabbs.com

Wow was I impressed! It looked perfect! I contacted the company to get some more info and they were so nice!  According to the website this is what Holy Tabbs is all about :

"HolyTabbs is a carefully designed kit that saves you time marking and finding, so you can spend more time studying and teaching. This kit is an invaluable tool for every member, bishop, seminary student, teacher, and missionary. With HolyTabbs you can organize your favorite scriptures into gospel topics that work with the lessons in Preach My Gospel."

Our tabbs arrived in the mail this week ( really fast shipping by the way!) and we got to work getting them set up in our Scriptures.

They have a great tutorial that shows how to set them up and so we watched that first and got to work! This is a pic of my 11 year old getting her Scriptures set up. She loves it ! I worked on mine last night before bed and I already know it is going to make my Scripture study so much more in depth. It really is everything they say it is ! The booklet that comes with it has over 495 Scripture suggestions for you! That's a lot of Scriptures to "ponderize" ( haha, a little joke from last conference).

Here is the tutorial that they have to show you how to set up your Holy Tabbs.

The reviews are good at my house! The kids and I are completely excited to continue using these in our personal Scripture study, our family Scripture Study and also during seminary. It is so worth it!

Let me know if you have questions! Go visit them at www.holytabbs.com and tell them LDS Parenting sent you! They are great people at the company and they have an excellent product!

Happy Parenting! Love, JL~