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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

WFMW - Niece/Nephew Birthdays

We have 20 nieces, nephews, step-nieces and step-nephews. I feel it's important for each of them to know that they are remembered and loved. I'm also on a quest to be the favorite aunt :)

When we first started having nieces and nephews, we didn't have children and both of us were working. So we were able to spend a little more on their birthdays and Christmas. But over the years, the numbers to buy for have grown and I stopped working outside of the home. Now that we are up to 20 (!) and have 2 of our own children, we were finding it very expensive to buy presents and ship them.

For several years, my husband's side of the family would gather in the summer. I would work hard before that gathering and send each family home with their Christmas presents during this gathering. Because the birthdays were all fall/winter birthdays, I would also get their birthday presents ready and send with them too. But as the kids get into school and money has gotten tighter, not everyone is coming every summer. Plus this last year, my life was so crazy I didn't get everything ready in time for those who did come to visit. So we had to come up with a new plan.

The plan - Generally, I have spent $5 - $10 on each niece/nephew (includes the steps) for each event. The exception is when they turn 8, I spend a little more because I make them a crocheted afghan. Love's job pays him twice each month so 24 times each year. With 20 nieces and nephews, we've added a birthdays budget. Each payday, I set aside a $5 bill into an envelope. Then when a birthday approaches, I go to Dollar General and buy a birthday card (I try to buy for the next month, not just the next birthday). I add a $5 bill, address the envelope and get it mailed.

I'm not perfect at sending the cards on time but getting better. Teenagers may not be happy at only getting $5 but it's more than $0 :) And it's what I can afford. Now my kids have 7 aunts and uncles so if even only half of them sent them $5, they'd be able go buy something very nice. Not that we expect others to follow our example and we've taught our daughters to not EXPECT any presents and to be THANKFUL for any and all presents they receive.

This $5 budget for birthdays Works for Me. Now I just have to figure out a less expensive way to send Christmas presents.

For more Works for Me Wednesday, join me at We Are THAT Family.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Meditation - D&C 88:41-44

One of the many focuses I plan for 2010 is studying the lessons for Sunday School and Relief Society. As I studied for the 2nd Sunday lesson in Relief Society, D&C 88:41-44 was a scripture referenced to learn the attributes on God.

The overall impression I get from this scripture and other scriptures is that Heavenly Father has a plan in all He does. Everything has a seaon, a timing, a purpose.

I don't believe that Heavenly Father controls everything in our lives as I believe He has gifted us each with free agency. This gives each of us choices and someone else's choices may impact our lives. So no, I don't believe that he causes something to happen to us. (On a side note, I do believe that anything that does happen to us by our choice or someone elses or by natural circumstances, CAN be used by Him to help us grow and CAN have a purpose.) I also believe that, actually make that I know that He knows us so well that He knows the choices we each are going to make and what those natural consequences will be. Anyway, back to my thoughts on this scripture.

Everything He does has a plan and a purpose. So as we strive to imitate him (remember this is the definition of worship), we should have a purpose and a plan for the things that we do.

So the choices I make today, what is their purpose? We went to a basketball game the other day. Did that have a plan and a purpose? Yes it did. The plan included when we would go and how we would get there. The purpose - to spend time having fun as a family. And we did.

Is to have fun a good reason to do something? First, The Family: A Proclamation to the World tells that we should have wholesome recreational activities as part of our family. Next, does Heavenly Father have fun? I believe He does because I've seen enough evidence of Him having a sense of humor. I also know that it's in our nature to have or desire fun and we are made in His image. All this leads me to say Yes, to have fun is a good reason to choose something as long as the choice is not detrimental to your spiritual or physical well being.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Meditation - Luke 11:24-26

There are scriptures that bother me, that I don't like. So I try to study them to better understand them so they don't bother me anymore or to figure out where a possible mistranslation has happened, so they don't bother me anymore.

Examples include when Jesus is teaching in a house and his mother is outside and asks to see him. His response is "who is my family? These are my family." I'm still working on this - I get his point but every time I read it, I think "honor thy mother", go see her.

Another example is the story of Mary and Martha when Mary isn't helping to get dinner ready and on the table. I so understand Martha's perspective. I'm actually getting a better understanding of this scripture and as that gets more solidified, I'll post it for a Monday Meditation. I will say that I know I'm a Martha more than a Mary.

But the point of today's post is Luke 11:24-26. Jesus Christ casts out evil spirits. In this scripture, He tells those listening that the evil spirit leaves and then comes back to find its home cleaned out so it invites more evil spirits to dwell there too. This makes the last state much worse than the first.

Whenever I've read this, the thought occurs to me then are we ever really cleaned from our sins? What's the point if it's just going to be worse later? Now I know this isn't truth - but that's my interpretation of those few verses. Isn't it wonderful that we don't just have 3 verses? We have all of the scriptures to help us truly understand the scriptures.

We Latter-day Saints are also blessed to have prophets on the earth! I found a great quote that made these scriptures an A-ha moment. Here's the quote...

President Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness
"The things which engaged him and caught his fancy and occupied his thoughts are gone and better substitutions have not filled the void. This is Satan's opportunity."

I get it now! As we remove what distracts us or leads us away from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, we need to replace it immediately with something good so that Satan is not given that opportunity.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Points System for 2010

I wanted to share how we have updated the Points System that we use for Princess1. Princess2 will be starting a Points System after she turns 3 next month. Her point values will be different.

Princess1 still earns points the same way. We haven't changed that. But during FHE one night, we were discussing Good, Better, Best. That evening as I was falling asleep (which is when I get a lot of my "revelations"), it occurred to me that maybe we weren't following that council when it came to Princess1's activities. It took less points for her to watch TV than to play with a friend. But which activity would I rather her do? So we started pondering how to revise our system.

We made a list of different activities that Princess1 likes to do and then assigned a point value for each activity. I then put it on a chart for her, sorted by # of points required to earn that privilege. Here's the list...

Free (0 points)
Read a book or the Friend magazine
Play games
Play with Princess2
write a letter

2 Points
Play dress up (requires room to be picked up)

4 Points
Play with a friend at our house
Bike Ride
Easy Bake Oven

5 Points
Play outside (requires a parent with her until we get a fence)
Swimming (we have access to an indoor pool so this is a year round activity)
Play at a friend's house

6 Points

7 Points

We've been doing this for just over a week. Results - Princess1 still does not want to earn points but the tv has been off and that works for me. The only time I wasn't happy was during the snow days last week because it was too cold for them to go anywhere and we all got cabin fever without even the tv to break it up.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Meditation - Entrusted Talents

Matthew 25:14-30 Parable of the Entrusted Talents

The lord entrusts one servant with 5 talents, one servant with 2 talents and to another 1 talent. He then travels away. When he returns, the first servant has increased his talents to 10. The second servant increased his to 4. The third servant decided to just hold onto his 1 talent and has no gain when the lord returns. The first and second servants were rewarded to be "ruler over many things" and to "enter thou into the joy of my lord." The third servant was chastised for not being like the lord who would "reap where I sowed now and gather where I have not strawed." This third servant's talent was taken away and he was cast into outer darkness.


In the past as I've read this parable, I've always applied it to the talents we are blessed with and that we need to use and develop them for the Lord's service.

But as I studied this recently, the thought occurred to me that it also applies to my children that the Lord has entrusted to me. If I cherish them, they will grow to be of benefit to His kingdom. They will also marry and raise their own children up to Him, thereby increasing what I was entrusted with. We also have the potential if we live righteously to have more children entrusted to us in the celestial kingdom.

As I pondered this more, I realized there are quite a few things that this applies to.

Revelation - if we don't use and cherish the revelations we receive, we won't be blessed with more and the ability to receive those revelations will be taken away.

Our Home - We would really like to have a home with a basement, which would be a bigger home. The thought occurs to me that if we don't take care of the home we have now, keeping it in order, and use it as we can for His service, then why would he entrust us with more?

Our Callings - We need to serve where He has placed us and try to magnify that calling. He will then bless us with more - of course, there is the "where much is given, much is required" saying too.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday Meditation - Moses 1:39

Moses 1:39 - Behold this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

"Hence we see the complete unselfishness of our Father in Heaven. His whole work and glory is to bring eternal life and happiness to his children. Should not our whole purpose in life, therefore, be made up of righteous service one to another? If not, how can we ever hope to be as he is?"
Marion G. Romney, General Conference, Oct 1981.

At TOFW in October, I made the note from S. Michael Wilcox "Worship is imitation - if we worship Christ, we will stive to imitate Him."

My thoughts/application -
Heavenly Father's efforts are to return us to Him. If we worship him and therefore are trying to imitate Him, everything we do should be in an effort to bring ourselves, our children, our families and the rest of His children back to Him.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 FHE Lesson Schedule

As I've mentioned before, we have a rotation for FHE lessons.
1st Monday = Love; 2nd Monday = Me; 3rd Monday = Princess1; 4th Monday = Primary Program songs; 5th Monday = Special Activity

In 2011 (can you believe that's in less than 1 year now?), Princess2 will become a Sunbeam. As a Sunbeam, she'll start giving talks in Primary. So we are going to add her to our FHE lesson rotation in 2010 so she gets used to presenting before she starts Sunbeams. We also decided we needed to be more organized, with a purpose for each FHE lesson.

The new 2010 FHE Lesson rotation is:
1st Monday = Love = 1st Presidency Message in Friend magazine
2nd Monday = Me = Monthly Theme from Primary Outline
3rd Monday = Princess1 = Scripture Story
4th Monday = Princess2 = Scripture Story
5th Monday = special lesson or practice Primary music

We have decided what those scripture story lessons will be for the whole year.

1/18 Adam and Eve
1/25 Enoch
2/15 Noah
2/22 Abraham
3/15 Isaac and Rebekah
3/22 Jacob
3/29 (5th Monday) Story of Easter
4/19 Joseph
4/26 Baby Moses
5/17 Moses and Pharaoh
5/24 Ten Commandments
6/21 Joshua
6/28 Samson
7/19 Ruth and Naomi
7/26 Samuel
8/16 David and Goliath
8/23 Solomon
9/20 Elijah
9/27 Elisha
10/18 Jonah
10/25 Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego
11/15 Daniel
11/22 Esther
12/20 Birth of Jesus
12/27 Job

2010 Posts

I've been wanting to do posts here for a while. Life just keeps getting in the way, including the death of my dad. I miss him a lot and I've been surprised at how I've reacted to him passing. Some of it has been a pleasant surprise - I'm not lying in my bed wracked with tears all day every day, although I do have my moments. But another surprise has been a lack of energy - mourning him seems to zap all my strength at times. So I'm tired a lot, but I'm not sleeping less (or more).

I have a great plan for 2010 - let's see if I can do it. The biggest thought that keeps coming is a Monday Meditation where I will share a scriptural thought/interpretation/application. Not sure if it will happen every Monday but that's my ideal. I'm going to test out creating my posts and having them appear at a later date so I don't restrict myself to having time and remembering what I wanted to say on Monday to only Mondays.

So keep checking the blog and PLEASE add your comments. I'm open to others sharing their ideas here - let me know you want to "guest post" and we'll get it set up to do that. We're working on defining our 2010 goals today so hopefully I'll be able to post my goals in the near future.

Happy 2010. Keep an eye out for my next post which will be our 2010 FHE Schedule. Yeah!