2013 in Review and 2014 Goals

I am obviously not great a posting very often on my blog. Oh well.

Honestly, life took over. Shortly after my last post, my husband started his new job as a choir teacher at a middle school. We spent much of our summer getting things ready for him to teach and studying our insurance options (Hooray!)

On the second week of the school year, my husband was in a car wreck on his way to work. This presented quite a few challenges for us for the rest of the year. The crash totaled our car and gave my husband some serious whiplash injuries – injuries he still struggles with from time to time. But, boy am I grateful it wasn’t any worse! We were forced into a car loan, but we are so fortunate to be able to afford car payments while still keeping our debt to income ratio pretty low. In hindsight, it was probably the only thing on our credit history that we didn’t have that would help us when purchasing our first home. Also, because of his injuries, my husband has been forced to take it easy and not overdo it at work. It was probably the only thing that would keep him from getting burned out as his first year as a teacher. Tender mercies.

Our little girl turned 2 in August. I always heard kids grew fast, I just didn’t realize how true that was until I had a child of my own! She loves princesses and Mickey Mouse. Her favorite game is Ring Around the Rosie and loves to have “The Gingerbread Man” read to her every night before bed.

ImageI participated in another Christmas season with the Sterling Singers and we did our performance in the Libby Gardner Hall at the University of Utah. We were also invited to sing with Jackie Evancho at the LDS Conference Center with the MuzArt World Foundation in November. I love being able to make music with other talented singers and I look forward to singing with them again this year. Rehearsal starts again in a few weeks and I can’t wait!

Overall, with all of its challenges, 2013 was a good year for us. We made it through our roughest spot financially (so far), and my husband was able to snag a job in his field of study within months of graduating. I am grateful I am still able to stay home with my daughter and learn and grow with her.

I can already tell 2014 will be a great year! Here are some things I hope to accomplish this year:

  • Establish a better habit of personal prayer and scripture study
  • Go to the temple once a month
  • Read more books
  • Buy our first home
  • Live a healthier lifestyle. (I could be cliche and say “lose 30 pounds,” but I don’t want to set myself up for failure. Living a more healthy lifestyle is a great place to start, I think.)
  • Date my husband (It is pretty pathetic how boring we have gotten)
  • Spend more time on Family History Work
  • Put the home to bed each night (leave it cleaner than I found it when I woke up…too high of a standard?)
  • Pay off at least one loan
  • Try my best at updating this blog on a more regular basis

Here’s to a great year!

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RS Lesson 12: Tithing, a Law for Our Protection and Advancement

From the Life of Lorenzo Snow 

Watch the 11 minute movie “The Windows of Heaven.” Ask the women to think about Lorenzo Snow’s willingness to travel to St. George and the people’s readiness to obey the law of tithing.

After the movie, ask the sisters what their thoughts are about the movie and what we can gain from the account.

President Snow had repeatedly assured the Saints that they would be blessed individually, both temporally and spiritually, as they obeyed the law of tithing. He also promised that obedience to the law of tithing would bring blessings to the Church as a whole. He felt certain that the tithes of the faithful would enable the Church to break free from its indebtedness, which had come largely as a result of persecution. This promise was fulfilled in 1906, five years after he died.

Quote 1:

In the April 1907 general conference, President Joseph F. Smith announced: “There never has been a time in the history of the Church, I believe, when the law of tithing was observed more universally and more honestly than it has been observed by the Latter-day Saints of late. The tithes of the people during the year 1906 have surpassed the tithing of any other year. This is a good indication that the Latter-day Saints are doing their duty, that they have faith in the Gospel, that they are willing to keep the commandments of God, and that they are working up to the line more faithfully perhaps than ever before. I want to say another thing to you, and I do so by way of congratulation, and that is, that we have, by the blessing of the Lord and the faithfulness of the Saints in paying their tithing been able to pay off our bonded indebtedness. Today the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owes not a dollar hat it cannot pay at once. At last we are in a position that we can pay as we go. We do not have to borrow anymore, and we won’t have to if the Latter-day Saints continue to live their religion and observe this law of tithing.

 

Earl C. Tingey said, “The Lord has established the law of tithing as the law of revenue of His Church. It is also a law by which we show our loyalty to the Lord.” (“The Law of Tithing,” Ensign, May 2002). I believe that the law of tithing goes hand in hand with the law of sacrifice, which is to test our obedience to the Lord and to help us come unto Christ. How can we come unto Christ by paying our tithing?

The law of tithing is easy to understand and can be obeyed by all. 

Quote 2

I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman and child…shall pay one-tenth of their income as tithing.

 

Tithing is not a difficult law…If a man receives ten dollars, his tithing is one dollar; if he receives one hundred, his tithing is ten…It is very easy to comprehend.

In what ways is tithing “not a difficult law?” Why might some people thing the law of tithing is difficult to obey?

Quote 3

A part of a tithing is no tithing at all, no more than immersing only half a person’s body in baptism.

 

Brethren and sisters, we want you to make this a matter a subject of prayer…instead of having such groveling ideas as some have in regard to money, we should pay our tithing…what the Lord requires of us is to pay our tithing now. And he expects every person in the future to pay his or her tithing. We know what one-tenth is; let us pay that to the Lord. Then we can go to the Bishop with an open face and ask him for a recommend to go to the temple.

President Snow went on to say, “I say to you in the name of the Lord God of Israel, if you will pay tithing from now on, the Lord will forgive you for all the past [nonpayment of tithing] and the blessings of the Almighty will be poured out upon this people.

I want to have this principle so fixed upon our hearts that we shall never forget it. As I have said more than once, I know that the Lord will forgive the Latter-day Saints for their past negligence in paying tithing, if they will now repent and pay a conscientious tithing from this time on.”

How might President Snow’s teachings help someone gain a testimony of paying a tithing?

When we pay tithing, we contribute to the work of the Church.

Quote 4

This Church could not go on unless there was revenue, and this revenue God has provided for [through the law of tithing]. Our temples, in which we receive the highest blessings ever conferred on mortal man, are built through revenue. We never could send the…Elders out into the world to preach the Gospel, as we are now doing, unless there was revenue to do it…Then there are a thousand other things constantly occurring for which means are required.

In order for the Church to grow and progress in its work, it requires faithful members to pay their tithing. President Snow explained that if some Latter-day Saints had not paid tithing, the four temples they had in 1899 never would have been erected. He taught, “The first principle of action to the Latter-day Saints is to sanctify the land by keeping this law of tithing and placing themselves in a position where they can receive the ordinances that pertain unto exaltation and glory of our dead.”

Paying tithing is a way to sanctify a land, which opens the door for the Lord to bless the people of that land with temples in which they can receive sacred ordinances.

My husband served his mission in Rome, Italy and has seen how tithing can affect the growth and progression of the Church. While he was there, he said the Italians had been praying and looking forward to a temple in Italy because they had to travel either by train or bus to Switzerland or by plane to Madrid. It was very costly and time consuming. But at the same time, there was concern about the Saints paying their tithing. Many had struggled with the law of tithing for a long time due to poor economies, and as a result, stakes were slow in being organized. Many districts had the population and the Melchizedek Priesthood members, but were unable to be organized because they struggled to pay their tithing. There were some areas that had as many as 12 branches, but no stakes.  This is what Brad observed on his mission when he came home Fall 2007. A year later, we met and started dating. We had discussed several times how awesome it would be to hear the church announce a temple in Rome. But I remember several times Brad saying that it would only be possible if more members were faithful in paying their tithing so that stakes could be organized and a temple could be built. Little did he know that the Saints in Italy had been working hard that year since he left the mission. To our surprise, (and I’m sure everyone else’s) It was only 4 days after we had this discussion that President Monson announced in 2008 that there would be a temple built in Rome. We have since learned that church membership and faithfulness has grown rapidly in Italy. More stakes have been organized and the members in Italy have become stronger in their faith and paying their tithing.

What are some blessings you and loved ones have received through the buildings and programs funded by tithing?

Why is it a privilege to pay tithing?

The Lord will bless us temporally and spiritually as we obey the law of tithing.

Quote 5

The law of tithing is one of the most important ever revealed to man…Through obeying this law the blessings of prosperity and success will be given unto the Saints.

 

If we will keep that law…the land will be sanctified and we shall be counted worthy to receive the blessings of the Lord and to be sustained and supported in our financial affairs and in everything we do, temporal as well as spiritual.

 

I believe truly if the Latter-day Saints will conform with this law we can claim deliverance from every evil that may come upon us.

President Snow testified that we will be blessed as we obey the law of tithing. What are some blessings the law of tithing has brought into your life? Into the lives of family members and friends?

Everything we have is a gift from God. Paying an honest tithe is a way to show gratitude to Him and help build His kingdom here on earth. Tithing on our increase is a test of obedience and our willingness to put aside the things of mortality for loftier, more spiritual pursuits. It doesn’t take money to pay tithing…it takes faith! We can tithe our time, in addition to money, as we live the principle of sacrifice. As with all commandments, we are blessed when we have an attitude of obedience. Tithing supports the many wonderful programs and facilities the Church offers us and our families. Brad and I often say that we can’t afford NOT to pay our tithing. We have found that we can do more with 90 percent of our money and the Lord’s help than we can with 100 percent of it on our own!

Bear testimony and close.

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There is a section about teaching children about the law of tithing, but there aren’t very many young members in Relief Society in our ward. I am the youngest Relief Society member in my ward (That’s saying something seeing as I’m closer to 30 than I am to 18 years old) and most of the ladies I teach are grandmothers and great-grandmothers. I just felt like we could spend more time discussing the other topics in this lesson.

As always, I would love to hear feedback and continue the discussion of tithing! Thank you to those who read through my lessons. I hope to be able to touch just a few more lives with what I have learned.

Relief Society Lesson 9: Sacred Family Relationships

As I was preparing this lesson, I realized I would be teaching this on Mother’s Day. How fitting it is to discuss building and strengthening sacred family relationships on this day!

From the Life of Lorenzo Snow

President Snow taught: “If we are faithful we will associate with each other in an immortal and glorious state…those connections formed here, that are of the most enduring character, shall exist in eternity.”

When I think of those that I want to be with most after this mortal life, I hope to be with my family most. I desire to be with my parents and siblings and their families, my husband and my children, and even my husband’s parents and his siblings and their families. It is when I am around these people that I feel the most loved. I am grateful for the blessing of eternal families so that I may always feel of that love.

For his 70th birthday, Lorenzo Snow invited all of his children and their families to a “grand re-union and anniversary celebration.”  He urged them to let nothing prevent their attendance “except the most serious and insurmountable obstacles.”

Quote 1

The Snow family gathered from May 7 to 9, 1884, and enjoyed music, theatrical productions, speeches, poetry, games, food, and throughout the event, he attended various meetings of the family, and in the capacity of Patriarch…engaged in conferring blessings upon members: and giving much fatherly counsel, instruction and admonition.” As the reunion drew to a close, all the family came together to hear him speak. According to Eliza’s record, he expressed “his pleasure and gratitude to God that he now enjoyed the happiness of beholding the pleasant and smiling faces of his large family, and the good he anticipated would result from this reunion.” Looking out over his family, President Snow exclaimed: “My heart is filled to overflowing with warmest feelings of gratitude to my Heavenly Father…Language is powerless to express the deep feelings of my heart for this holy and sacred opportunity on this the celebration of my seventieth birthday, of standing here and beholding this glorious and heavenly inspiring spectacle.

President Snow continued explaining that this would be the last family reunion they would expect on this side of the spirit world. He encouraged all of his family to live honorably, to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and to not deviate from the straight and narrow path so that they may all have a glorious reunion in the morning of the first resurrection.

As I read this story and thought back on some experiences this last week, I started wondering about the difference between the quality and quantity of time I spend with my various family members. My family growing up was not really one to spend a lot of quantitative time together. But as I reflected back on the time we have spent together, it was great quality time. They were times we were working together toward a common goal. It brought us together to make us stronger and spiritually fed. I am grateful for those experiences. 

Why should we bring our families together?

How can we bring about good results when we bring our family together?

How can we help our families stay united? 

Family relationships are sacred and can grow stronger in eternity. 

Quote 2

Encourage marriage…and impress upon [others] the sacredness of that relation and the obligation they are under to observe that great commandment which was given of God to our first parents, to multiply and replenish the earth. This is all the more necessary in view of the present tendency in the world to disregard that law and to dishonor the marriage covenant. It is saddening to note the frequency of divorces in the land and the growing inclination to look upon children as an encumbrance instead of as a precious heritage from the Lord.

President Snow gave this statement directly to the women in the Relief Society 112 years ago. In what ways is this statement relevant today?

He mentions the “frequency of divorce in the land.” Again, this statement was made over 100 years ago. I haven’t done any research, but I can almost say without a doubt, the number of divorces has increased much more since that time.

He also says “It is saddening to note…the growing inclination to look upon children as an encumbrance instead of as a precious heritage from the Lord.” If this was said 100 years ago, it must be much more relevant now.  There are so many people who choose not to have children or who treat children poorly because they find them annoying. Sometimes it just breaks my heart when I see children treated this way. But I will be the first to admit I sometimes have this same attitude. I totally understand why it is so easy to treat children this way. Raising children is hard! And sometimes as a stay at home mom, it is easy to forget how important and precious my little one is in the middle of all the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth all because [insert a reason only rational to a 2-year-old, but still lacks the communication skills here]. Thank goodness for the gift of the atonement and repentance!  I can walk away when I need to, say a prayer and start over.

Quote #3:

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for his children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between mand and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife…

Husband and Wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives – mothers and fathers – will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995)

What can we do to help the youth of the Church understand the sacredness of the marriage covenant?

What can we do to help them look forward to marriage and parenthood? 

Faithful Latter-day Saints who are unable to marry or raise children in this life will be able to receive all the blessings of exaltation in the life to come. 

Lorenzo Snow discusses the doctrine of eternal families will not punish the faithful single members of the church. He praised his sister Eliza R. Snow, who was single for much of her life and did not have children. Another Relief Society leader I admire who was also single was Sister Barbara Thompson, former second counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency. Both are great example of a faithful Latter-day Saint women who found other ways a woman can contribute to her faith and community.

Quote 4

People who have no opportunity of marrying in this life, if they die in the Lord, will have means furnished them by which they can secure all the blessings necessary for persons in the married condition. the Lord is merciful and kind, and He is not unjust. There is no injustice in Him; yet we could scarcely look upon it as being just when a woman or a man dies without having had the opportunity of marrying if it could not be remedied in the other life. There would be injustice in that, and we know that the Lord is not an unjust being. My sister Eliza R. Snow, I believe, was just as good a woman as any Latter-day Saint woman that ever lived, and she lived in an unmarried state until she was beyond the condition of raising a family…I cannot for one moment imagine that she will lose a single thing on that account. It will be made up to her in the other life, and she will have just as great a kingdom as she would have had if she had the opportunity in this life of raising a family.

In our family-centered church, how can we be more inclusive and appreciative of single members?

When husband and wife enjoy a oneness of feeling, they encourage love and kindess in the home. 

There was one line in this lesson that really stood out to me. President Snow taught: “See that the little trifling misunderstandings in domestic concerns do not poison your happiness.”

What are some specific ideas that can help us avoid this “poison?”

If for some reason we have been “poisoned by trifle misunderstandings,” what are some effective antidotes?

Quote #5

Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995).

I love President Snow’s advice to the women of the church: “Try to endure the unpleasantnesses which arise at times, and when you meet each other in the next life you will feel glad that you put up with those things.”

In other words, what this says to me is to pick your battles wisely. Is it really worth the argument or frustration when your husband always leaves his socks in the front room? NO! “Endure the unpleasantnesses which arise…and in the next life you will feel glad that you put up with those things.” Maybe socks won’t be necessary in the next life…just keep that in mind… 🙂 

Children learn the gospel best when their parents seek inspiration and set good examples.

 

Quote #6

This is not our work that we are engaged in, it is the work of God. We are directed in our movements by a superior intelligence…the future of this kingdom will rest on our offspring; and its power and ultimate triumph, on their education and proper training. If we wish to sway a proper influence over our families, we must show them good examples as well as give them good precepts. We should be able to say, do as I do, as well as to say do as I say.

Strive to teach your children in such a way, both by example and precept, that they will unhesitatingly follow in your footsteps and become as valiant for the truth as you have been.

Why do you think parent need to be able to say “do as I do” in addition to “do as I say?”

In what ways can parents teach by example?

Place a cup or bowl of colored water on the table and drop a dry sponge into it. Show the class how the sponge has soaked up the water. Explain the following:

Children literally soak up what is around them in their home: anger, love, gospel study, apathy, etc. We need to constantly expose our children to positive behaviors in order for them to absorb the gospel. 

Life is eternal. We come from heavenly parents who are waiting for us to return to them after we have learned the lessons of life and gained the characteristics they possess. To remind us of our heavenly home, we are given the opportunity to be parents her eon earth and raise a family of our own. Salvation is a family affair. We are placed here as families to learn how to care for one another so that we might all safely return home together. Temple marriage is a covenant partnership with the Lord that allows us to seal souls together as eternal families.

Heavenly Father has placed us here on earth in families so that we can learn to work together and help one another return to our heavenly home. If everyone – mothers, fathers, children, extended family – take responsibility for a happy family, they can all experience a little bit of heaven on earth. 

Close with Testimony

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I hope and pray this lesson will help the sisters in my ward and that it has uplifted you. If you would like to share any thoughts and comments, please feel free to leave a comment.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful ladies!