Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Upside Down Family Tree

Mother Teresa
There is an old, outdated notion in society that the world is in danger of overpopulation-- that the world's resources are dwindling in a way that will not sustain human life much longer.

There's one thing that this notion has correct: the idea that human life may not be sustained much longer if we continue as we have for the last century or so. But these results will NOT, as we have been lead to believe,  come because of over-population. Instead, the math and statistics all point to UNDER-population being the cause.

From a very interesting new article in the National Review:
"The problem with the advanced West is not that it’s broke but that it’s old and barren. Which explains why it’s broke. Take Greece, which has now become the most convenient shorthand for sovereign insolvency — 'America’s heading for the same fate as Greece if we don’t change course,' etc. So Greece has a spending problem, a revenue problem, something along those lines, right? At a superficial level, yes. But the underlying issue is more primal: It has one of the lowest fertility rates on the planet. In Greece, 100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren — i.e., the family tree is upside down. In a social-democratic state where workers in “hazardous” professions (such as, er, hairdressing) retire at 50, there aren’t enough young people around to pay for your three-decade retirement. And there are unlikely ever to be again."
"Look at it another way: Banks are a mechanism by which old people with capital lend to young people with energy and ideas. The Western world has now inverted the concept. If 100 geezers run up a bazillion dollars’ worth of debt, is it likely that 42 youngsters will ever be able to pay it off?"
 The National Review is not the only source for this information. I know I've shared this before, but his video made by the German government to encourage its citizens to have children is telling of their demographic troubles:

And here are a couple of a series done by the Population research Institute:

We are literally facing a demographic crisis in our country that is already happening around the world. I want to state clearly here that I know not all women can have children. But we can ALL value, love and nurture the children that come into our lives, and do our best to make this world a better place for the future generations to come.

It sounds like they're going to need it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Divine Design

The following is a beautiful video on the majesty, wonder, and divinity that goes into the creation of human life. I love how this mathematician presenting the video sees the complexity of creation and the human form. I testify that Creation IS divine and that our Heavenly Father has a plan and a purpose for each and every life.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Giving Relief

This morning I was pondering about community. The pioneers of the frontier relied on their communities when they were far from extended families, times were hard, and unforeseen struggles overwhelmed. Neighbors helped farmers build barns, women helped each other with sewing and quilting, and everyone worked together to bring in the crops.

In these days of busyness and running hither and yon, we don't often get to know our neighbors and those who are a part of our local communities. It makes me sad when I think that many-- especially those who don't have a church family to connect with-- feel alone and disconnected from those around them.

While the Internet has made it easy to connect with people we can relate to from around the world, it also can sometimes add to the alienation we feel from those we live close to physically.

As I was thinking about these things, a soft voice reminded me that I belong to a beautiful community that strengthens and inspires me every day.

I belong to The Relief Society, a beautiful sisterhood that is spread over all the earth. We sisters of Relief Society all have similar goals like raising righteous families, growing closer to the Savior, and reaching out to those in need. We all believe in Jesus Christ and in His great atoning sacrifice for us. We have amazing opportunities to help and lift each other as we visit one another's homes each month in friendship and love as Visiting Teachers, called by God to serve his daughters. Each Sunday, all over the entire world, we know that we will be uplifted by our sisters in the Gospel as we learn and share together. And each year, we will gather to hear the inspired words of our Relief Society leaders.

What a beautiful, wonderful community we have as as LDS women! There is no other organization of women in the world so large, so organized, and so dedicated to bringing the Gospel to the world-- beginning in the homes and families of those we visit teach.

In this year's Relief Society broadcast, Sister Julie B. Beck, our General Relief Society President reaffirmed these truths in her wonderful talk, "What I Hope My Granddaughters (and Grandsons) Will Understand about Relief Society."

Because of my pondering this morning, I watched it again today and felt inspired to share it with my readers here. I hope you enjoy hearing it as much as I did.:

Whether LDS or not, it is in the divine nature of ALL women to serve, help, and lift one another up. We can share a smile, a hug, a warm loaf of bread, or a kind word.

We can show by our love and deeds whether or not we are disciples of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

We can ALL give relief.

With love,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Vintage verses Old-Fashioned

Christmas in the early 1950's

The world is becoming an interesting place!

When I was growing up in the 1980's, I often heard people use the word "old-fashioned" in a very derogatory tone. In fact, it was often flung at me by my brother and other peers as a way of trying to get me to change in order to fit in-- and for quite a long time, I tried to be what others thought I should be. But to me, old-fashioned ideals were something I loved!

My entire life, I have always felt like someone who was in the "wrong" time period. I used to wonder quite a lot about why the Lord saved me to come in this day and age of the world. (Now I have a clearer vision of His plans for my life!) I am and always have been highly sentimental, I admit! I read and re-read classic literature, watched costume dramas, and "dressed up" every chance I could. I reveled in wearing the "Gunne Sax" style that came and went all too quickly. And I have always stubbornly held to my ideals of being a traditional homemaker, a devoted mother, and a follower of Jesus Christ.

When I finally embraced who I am and stopped being ashamed of my old-fashioned nature, I was pleasantly surprised that there have always been many others who cherished the same things I do!

I love the word "old-fashioned," and though I am very thankful for the day and time in which I now live (blogging, e-mail, running water, electricity, transportation, convenience), I often have nagging thoughts about what we all have abandoned in favor of our modern lifestyle.

In the last few months, I discovered a very interesting blog that-- combined with other things my husband and I have been reading, watching, and discussing-- has me pondering on the past even more than I usually do.

The blog features a young married wife with no children, who decided to live a "vintage" lifestyle for two years, dressing the part of a 1950's homemaker, using old appliances, limiting modern media, and building homemaking skills. It is fascinating to read her thoughts along her journey, mostly because of the way it changed her heart. (See the blog button in the right hand column called "The Apron Revolution.") What began as a "cute" or "fun" vintage experiment, where she got to play dress up and shop for old stuff, ended up teaching her things she never imagined.

Here's an excerpt from one of her more inspiring posts:
"Well, I am coming to realize if I want to be, or any of us want to become, more like this or that person or to take on the qualities of vintage times that we admire, we have to work at it. We cannot just buy the product and ta-dah! there we are happy and transformed. I am finding that what I love and cherish of this generation, their community spirit, their ability to make do and to smile through hardship, cannot be bought. It has to happen. You have to not just wear their fashions, you have to go out and try to make a difference. In your own home and how you respond to things. How you shop. How you connect to your community and family. But, in doing it and failing along the way or being unhappy in it, now you are building character and a real life. I don’t know if I will ever live up to what I think those 1950’s homemakers were, and they probably never lived up to their predecessors either, but in trying, in being self-aware and caring for others, for people more than whether or not you ‘fit in’ or you are part of this or that group or you buy the right things or you wear the right clothes." 

 In the time I've spent online, I have found that anything "Vintage" is becoming really trendy-- very cool. But much of it is superficial and some of it is even revolting, such as the idea that pin-up girls from the 1930's, 40's and 50's being the new desirable fashions we now admire. (?) While I actually AM very excited to see more women dressing more femininely and embracing womanhood in way that has not been done in decades (YAY!!!), it's strange to me how so many view "vintage" through a modern lens. In the flurry of vintage hairstyle tutorial videos, reenactment photo shoots, and antique shopping, are the principles, the morals, the goals, any different than our broken society now holds? Or are these just "funny and cute" things that we laugh about and see as novelties?

Our fore-mothers knew something that we don't always grasp with our modern thinking: True homemaking and motherhood are not "trends." Femininity is not something we embrace because it's fashionable right now, and then we abandon when it's no longer "new."

Old-Fashioned Motherhood is about serving and nurturing our families. It is the dedicated work we do in our homes and in our relationships out of love for God, our husbands, and our children. The "old-fashioned" values we hold sacred mean so much more than any "vintage" trends we could follow. Our values are who we are, what we know is true and right.

By all means, we "old-fashioned" ladies can enjoy wearing skirts and dresses, curling our hair, sewing, crafting, cooking, and eschewing consumerism. But no matter how much we do these things, if our hearts are not turned to our children, our homes, and our God, none of those fun "vintage" things will be anything more than a fun trend we once followed.

May the Lord bless you and all those in your homes this week to have a truly "Old-Fashioned" Christmas. One focused on the love of God, and on His gift to us: the birth of His precious Son, Jesus Christ.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dealing with Loss

Each baby is a precious GIFT!

 As I'm sure any of my readers can guess, my children and I really admire the Duggar family. We love to watch their show on DVD, and I have learned many organizational and parenting lessons from Jim Bob and Michelle. As a mother of a large family, I am always trying to learn how to be a better homemaker and parent, and they are a great example to me!

I was so sad to hear that Michelle recently miscarried their twentieth baby-- especially so far along in her pregnancy! (She was due in April.) I have had SIX miscarriages, myself, and I know the heartache and disappointment that happens as a result. (Though mine were all in the first trimester.)

Though I have been sad and disappointed-- and sometimes even devastated-- by the loss of one of my babies, I have found great peace and comfort in my knowledge of the Restored Gospel. I know, through the witness of the Holy Ghost, that each one of the babies that haven't made it belong to me and my husband. And will for all eternity!

I also believe that our Heavenly Father is merciful, and that He has a plan for each one of us. I can trust in His plan, again through the peace that comes from the Holy Spirit.

I believe that all children are born innocent, and that they are not required to be baptized until they reach the age of accountability (about age 8). Little children who die before baptism are taken back to be with God, because the Atonement of Jesus Christ covers all of the mistakes they make in their little lives.

As it states in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Christ:
"And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins. But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!" Moroni 8:11-12
 In the LDS Doctrine and Covenants, discussing the writings of Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:14, it says:
"But little children are holy, being sanctified through the atonement of Jesus Christ;" Doctrine and Covenants 74:7
And in The New Testament:
"And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3-4, KJV

Some of my ancestors in Sweden felt the same way. In fact, the reason they were open to learning about the LDS Church way back in the 1800's was because of the loss of one of their children. Here is the story taken directly from my family history:
"One winter day little sister Emma came to brighten their home. When she was about two months old, Father took the baby to the minister who lived some distance away, to be baptized or sprinkled. The baby died of pneumonia resulting from the exposure. The couple readily listened to the Mormon missionaries who taught that babies need no baptism as they are without sin."

I also have a testimony that life begins at conception, so babies who are miscarried in their mothers' wombs of course need no baptism-- they are innocent-- alive in Christ. And I know that the Lord's Atonement is great enough to cover the lives of innocent children who are still learning the difference between right and wrong.

I have always found the doctrine above, and that of eternal families, to be of GREAT comfort to me when I lose an unborn baby. I have great hope that through the suffering and sacrifice of the Savior, I will again have those tiny ones that I have lost.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Duggar family at this difficult time, as they are with ANY who have lost a tiny one all too soon. The Lord will make up the difference and bring us hope and joy, even through such difficult times.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A True Artist

"Winding the Skein" by Frederick Leighton
“There is an art to being a homemaker. For ourselves and for our families, it is important that we have a sanctuary—a place of refuge away from the world where we feel comfortable and where, if others come, they, too, can feel comfortable.”  
~Barbara W. Winder, former LDS General Relief Society president

Have you ever had those days when you feel that none of your efforts matter; days when the house is a mess, the laundry piles have grown into mountains, the kids are fighting and complaining, you are facing the preparation of dinner with an empty pantry and fridge, and the baby's been playing in the mud and REALLY needs a bath? 


Then this blog post is probably not for you.

BUT, if you have ever had those kinds of days, it might help you to know (I know it helps me!) that I have NEVER met a woman who hasn't. 

(Though if you haven't ever had this kind of day, would you please share your blog address and tell us how you do it all? Thanks so much.)

By the way, my life feels like the day I described above-- MOST of the time. It is a rare occasion when I feel like homemaking is an "art."  Far too often I just feel like a big, fat mess-- and there is nothing "artistic" about that, I assure you!

So on those days when I feel that I can never, EVER create that lovely, comfortable sanctuary that I've read about, I take a deep breath, say a prayer, and re-read a heartwarming quote like this:
“Every mother should endeavor to be a true artist. I do not mean by this that every woman should be a painter, sculptor, musician, poet, or writer, but the artist who will write on the table of childish innocence thoughts she will not blush to see read in the light of eternity and printed amid the archives of heaven, that the young may learn to wear them as amulets around their hearts and throw them as bulwarks around their lives, and that in the hour of temptation and trial the voices from home may linger around their paths as angels of guidance, around their steps, and be incentives to deeds of high and holy worth.” ~Frances E. W. Harper
The actual artistry of motherhood and homemaking is not featured in magazines or re-pinned on Pinterest. It's not even found in creating adorable crafts, decorating beautiful homes, delicious meals, or scrubbing our homes until they gleam.

The TRUE artistry of motherhood lies in the hearts, minds, and souls of our children and our husbands. What are those "amulets around their hearts" made of? How do we build and reinforce the "bulwarks around their lives?"

We should all recognize that the sanctuaries we are making for our families do NOT have to be perfect in order to be a comfort and a strength to all who enter in. They only need to be a place where the Lord and our sincere, loving efforts reside, and where we are doing what we can, when we can.

Sometimes the "masterpieces" that we think we're building fall down around us, and we have to begin all over again. But EVERYONE make mistakes. We will all have days when we lose our patience, where the floors are never clean, and the meals are late. And thanks to a merciful and tender God, we can repent, start again. A new canvas is ready for us each morning, "with no mistakes in it," as Anne Shirley puts it.

Our "masterpieces" are not yet finished-- and may not be finished in this life. But every color we add, every stroke that we make adds to the beauty of the final work that the Savior, the Master, Himself, will finish.

And that IS "of high and holy worth."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Article: Big families are GOOD for the heart

(painting source unknown)

I adore the title of this article found in Britain's Mail Online. And the subject matter contains some good news for mothers!

Sadly, the Mail's website is also loaded with inappropriate images on different topics. :-(

So! I am posting most of the article here on the OFM blog, though you can read the entire article here. (Though you've been warned!)

Big families are GOOD for the heart: Four or more babies cuts risk of mother suffering cardiac disease by Claire Bates

Having a big family is good for a mother's heart, say scientists.
They found women who experience four or more pregnancies are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who never have a baby.
The study of nearly 1,300 post-menopausal women from south California found the key effect was prevention of stroke. Mothers of large families were half as likely to die from the condition.
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, said higher levels of pregnancy hormones may have lasting benefits on the blood vessels.
They added that women with more children may benefit from greater social support as a result when they get older.
Lead author Marni Jacobs, wrote in the journal Fertility and Sterility said: 'Women in this study had less CVD mortality risk if they had more than four pregnancies.'
'The mechanism by which this decreased risk occurs is unknown, however, it may reflect higher fertility in healthier women, the effect of prolonged exposure to higher levels of circulating oestrogen... or the added social support from a larger family.'

Monday, November 21, 2011

Movie on Parental Rights

This is such an important issue! The following video is around 30 minutes long, but is very well done and explains the need for a Parental Rights amendment. You'll be glad you know more about this important issue!

It's sad that we live in such a day and age when we have to be so explicit and specific with putting our government in check. But when the court system no longer recognizes "inalienable rights" that come from God, we have to keep laws and governments in check.

That's what the Constitution was for, anyway-- to LIMIT governmental rights, and preserve the liberties to which we have a fundamental right. I encourage everyone to watch, share, and post this video!


Friday, November 18, 2011

The Continuing Fight to Defend Marriage

"A Family Grouping" by James Hayllar

 Today, I got an e-mail announcement from Family Watch International that gives me hope! See the entire message below:

November 17, 2011
California Supreme Court Decision a Major Victory in the Fight to Defend Marriage 

Today the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Proposition 8 coalition, the group that pushed through the California constitutional marriage amendment, has legal standing to defend the amendment in court.

This is a huge victory in the fight to defend marriage. 

Since Judge Vaughn Walker held in a lower court that defining marriage in California as only the union of a man and a woman somehow violated the U. S. Constitution, had the California Supreme Court ruled the other way, it is likely that the ideologically-driven ruling of this activist judge would have stood.

We reported previously that the Proposition 8 coalition was forced to step in and defend the state’s constitution in court because then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and then California Attorney General Jerry Brown shirked their constitutional responsibilities by refusing to defend the state’s constitution in court.

Assuming that the federal Ninth Circuit Court accepts the ruling they had requested of the California Supreme Court, the case will move on to a decision. However, regardless of which way the circuit court rules the case will almost certainly go to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

There is still a long and expensive road ahead to defend Prop 8 from this legal assault, but this unanimous decision today, which allows Prop 8 proponents to defend man/women marriage in court, was a critical victory in that effort.

Sincerely, Sharon Slater

Attached below is an excellent summary and analysis of this decision by Andy Pugno, the general counsel of the Proposition 8 Legal Defense Fund.

Today the California Supreme Court ruled UNANIMOUSLY to uphold our right, as the official proponents of Proposition 8, to defend the vote of over seven million Californians to restore traditional marriage in 2008! This victory is an ENORMOUS boost for traditional marriage, as well as the integrity of the initiative process itself! 

The Court held: 
“[W]e conclude that when public officials decline to defend a voter-approved initiative or assert the state’s interest in the initiative’s validity, under California law the official proponents of an initiative measure are authorized to assert the state’s interest in the validity of the initiative and to appeal a judgment invalidating the measure.” 
The Court also exposed the obvious flaw in our opponents’ arguments, observing that denying us legal standing to defend Prop 8 would give politicians an illegal “veto” over the people’s initiative power: 
“Neither the Governor, the Attorney General, nor any other executive or legislative official has the authority to veto or invalidate an initiative measure that has been approved by the voters. It would exalt form over substance to interpret California law in a manner that would permit these public officials to indirectly achieve such a result by denying the official initiative proponents the authority to step in to assert the state’s interest in the validity of the measure or to appeal a lower court judgment invalidating the measure...” 
Meanwhile, this ruling is a HUGE disaster for the homosexual marriage extremists. The Supreme Court completely rejected our opponents’ demands that their lawsuit against Proposition 8 should proceed without any legal defense, and thus win by default! This is devastating for them because their entire legal strategy relied on finding a biased judge to rule in their favor, and then winning on appeal by keeping the voters completely unrepresented. Today that all crumbled before their eyes. 

Today’s decision is a critical milestone in our three-year battle to uphold marriage between a man and a woman in California after the passage of Proposition 8. Now we can return our focus to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and our appeal to reverse the lower court’s decision declaring Proposition 8 and traditional marriage itself “unconstitutional.”
 The fight for traditional marriage goes on, and I will do all I can to spread the word and pray. We will "Carry On!"

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Thoughts

Screenshot from "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"
 This holiday and I have had a love-hate relationship through the years, and since today is Halloween, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the subject. In my cursory research of All Hallows Eve, I have found that the religious observation of November 1st means different things to different groups. One source I found gives a much better explanation of the "whys" of the Catholic celebration, and others, like Wikipedia's, cover the day from a variety of viewpoints.

Because of Martin Luther and his Ninety-Five Theses, October 31st is an important day for those of Protestant faith.

 As a Mormon, I and others of my faith, do not celebrate Halloween as a religious holiday, though most do celebrate it in the secular way that most of society does today.

When we were first married, Russell and I both loved it! He liked the spooky, and I adored the dressing up, so we began our marriage doing Halloween up in "style." But as we continued on through the years, we both began to feel that our spooky decorations invited a feeling into our home that we didn't like. So I started removing more and more of the spooky and adding more and more harvest-type decor. That felt much better!

We continued Trick or Treating to family, dressing up with our kids, but we found we like to dress up as book or historical characters,or as something really fun, cute, and harmless. We've never allowed gore or really scary stuff. (Though the boys have dressed as "Death" a couple times, but in the most mild manner possible.)

In recent years, we have decided to forgo the neighborhood Trick or Treating in favor of our ward's (congregation's) celebrations. We love to participate in the chili cook-offs, the children's costume parades, and in the "Trunk or Treat".

Other than the gory, scary, violent turn that Halloween has taken (yuck), another of my objections to Halloween is the CANDY! I have been a big candy addict in the past, but I have never enjoyed seeing my children ingest gallons of the stuff, only to spend all of Autumn sick.

For the last few years, our kids have eaten 3-5 pieces after their "Trunk or Treat" rounds, and then have handed us their full bags. We then redistribute the candy, piece by piece, in exchange for the completion of their daily chores. (Can I just insert here that my kids have been soooo good about complying with our parental judgement on this issue!) It worked great for us! The jobs got done with less complaints, and we didn't have a glutton-filled candy extravaganza.

BUT, now that I have been off of sugar for months now, my objection to the inhalation of candy at our house is bigger than ever. We gathered the candy after our ward party the other night, but my husband and I are not sure what to do with it now. We'd love to do something nice like send it to the troops overseas, but we'll have to see what the night brings.

I have run into a couple of wonderful articles lately that have got me thinking more about why we chose to do what we do each year. They have inspired my husband and me to examine once again why we do what we do, and what we can do to make Halloween the kind of holiday that uplifts our family, and brings us closer to God.

Learning about the Reformation

Halloween: Two Ways To View the Holiday

Tonight, we have decided to watch a wonderful program about the Reformation produced by BYU-TV called "Fires of Faith."

Excuse me while I eat a yummy dinner made by my husband and a pumpkin pie to celebrate. And we'll thank our Father in Heaven for His blessings to us all-- especially for the gift of religious freedom-- as we learn more of the Reformation with our children.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Article on Declining Birth Rates

My oldest two children, 1995

This article made me so sad! To quote just a bit of it:

In an analysis of the 2010 Census, USA TODAY, found that 95 percent of U.S. counties have fewer children today than they did in 2000.
In fact, it's more common to have a dog (43 million homes) than a child under 18 (38 million).
The decline makes sense, when considering that more and more adults are getting married later in life, if at all, and then postponing children until they have finished their education, or until they feel financially secure or more emotionally ready.
In fact, recent Census data show that for the first time, fewer than half of households were headed by "traditional" married couples, in what the New York Times called "a milestone in the evolution of the American family toward less-traditional forms."
For more information on the census numbers, see this article in U.S. News and World Report.

In my opinion, this is a disturbing trend! And it makes me want to do more and be more to stand for the traditional family.

What can WE do-- today-- to help defend the traditional family and help other people understand the impact that a demographic winter could have on our society today and in future generations?


Saturday, October 1, 2011

My FAVORITE Talk Today

{Image courtesy of lds.org}
"But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
~Matthew 19:14 KJV~

I'm sure it will surprise no one who reads this blog which LDS General Conference talk was my favorite today.

You guessed it, it was given by Elder Neil Andersen. It was soooo refreshing to hear one of the Lord's Twelve Apostles repeat what our Church leaders have been saying for AGES, and what is clearly spelled out in "The Family: A Proclamation to the World."

As I listened to his inspired, uplifting words, (which I will post a link to as soon as the video of the talk is up on lds.org!) I received one more affirmation that all the sacrifices we've made to invite children into our home and family have been oh, so WORTH IT.

The Amazing and Wonderful Cocoa over at Chocolate on My Cranium pinned a link on Pinterest to the article Elder Andersen was quoting in his message this afternoon. It's a wonderful reminder, as well! Here's the link to the original article from the website "Desiring God", so that you can read the whole thing:

Motherhood Is A Calling

What a blessing it is to be a mother! And I am so grateful for each and every "blessing" the Lord has sent to join our family!!!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Strengthening Families

Dear OFM Friends,

This is a wonderful month to celebrate families! Way back in 1995, the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints issued an important statement to all the world. We LDS members refer to it simply as "The Proclamation on the Family". (The entire text can be found HERE.)

I know, with all my heart, that the family was ordained of God. It is central to His plan for His children. How grateful I am for mine!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Old-Fashioned Homemaking: The Clothesline

"Drying Clothes" by Helen Allingham

My sweet aunt shared this with me today, and I knew my readers would appreciate it! Enjoy!

(Author Unknown)

1. You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes--walk the entire lengths of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

2. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang "whites" with "whites," and hang them first.

3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders, always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?

4. Wash day on a Monday! Never hang clothes on the Weekend, or Sunday, for Heaven's sake!

5. Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so you could hide your "unmentionables" in the middle.

6. It didn't matter if it was sub zero weather....clothes would "freeze-dry."

7. Always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were "tacky!"

8. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.

9. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.

10. IRONED? Well, that's a whole other subject!

"Hanging the Washing" by Helen Allingham

(Author Unknown)

A clothesline was a news forecast
To neighbors passing by,
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link
For neighbors always knew,
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.

For then you'd see the "fancy sheets"
And towels upon the line;
You'd see the "company table cloths"
With intricate designs.

The line announced a baby's birth
From folks who lived inside -
As brand new infant clothes were hung,
So carefully with pride!

The ages of the children could
So readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed,
You'd know how much they'd grown!

It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.

It also said, "Gone on vacation now"
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged, with not an inch to spare!

New folks in town were scorned upon
If wash was dingy and gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their brows,
And looked the other way.

But clotheslines now are of the past,
For dryers make work much less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody's guess!

I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign.
When neighbors knew each other best
by what hung on the line.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A House of Order: "Establishing a House of Prayer and Faith."

Blessing the Food
 Since I've fallen off the bandwagon a few times in this series, I thought it would be good to give my readers a reminder about the "A House of Order" series I've been working on, based on the LDS scripture below:

"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, 
a house of glory, 
a house of order, a house of God;" 

Here are the previous articles in this series:

    What does the Lord mean when he says we need to "establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith"? This is an idea I've pondered and worked on since my first baby was born. When I think about establishing such a house, one of our inspiring LDS hymns always comes to my mind. It's called, "More Holiness Give Me".
    More holiness give me,
    More strivings within,
    More patience in suff’ring,
    More sorrow for sin,
    More faith in my Savior,
    More sense of his care,
    More joy in his service,
    More purpose in prayer.
    More gratitude give me,
    More trust in the Lord,
    More pride in his glory,
    More hope in his word,
    More tears for his sorrows,
    More pain at his grief,
    More meekness in trial,
    More praise for relief.
    More purity give me,
    More strength to o’ercome,
    More freedom from earth-stains,
    More longing for home.
    More fit for the kingdom,
    More used would I be,
    More blessed and holy—
    More, Savior, like thee.
    (Text and music: Philip Paul Bliss, 1838–1876)
    My personal goal is to make my home a spiritual haven from the noises and irreverence so easily found out in the world. I want our home to be different, to be a place where the Lord's Holy Spirit can easily be felt and nurtured. We are very selective about what we allow in our home, but I often need to revisit what kinds of things I am bringing into my home to create a more spiritual, holy atmosphere. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so I sometimes find that despite all my efforts to keep negative influences OUT, I am not being as careful as I should be to fill the void with the most important things we need in our home.

    Establishing a House 
    "Establishing a House" means more to me than simply moving in and unpacking our things. It's even more than two people getting married and inviting children to join their families. It's about creating a culture for our family. What are the books we value?-- not just in word, but in deed. What kind of music do we find worthwhile? How do we entertain ourselves? How do we spend the precious hours given to us each day? How do we treat those closest to us, as well as those outside our family circles? Do our children know we think learning is important simply based on what we say, or on how we act? 

    We establish our homes every day from the moment we wake, to the time we retire to bed. And our children, big and small, are always watching us.
    Deuteronomy 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
    That is quite a sobering thought that I know I need to stop thinking about, and begin changing through action!

    A House of Prayer 
    The scriptures have this advice about prayer:
    Alma 37:37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
    1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
    How often do we pray in our homes? Giving thanks for our food and blessing the meals served are simple acts that show the Lord our gratitude. This is a wonderful example to set for our children! Morning and evening family prayers are also important habits to establish, but they also bring our families together in inviting the Lord's presence to surround us. What a beautiful experience for our children to be a part of twice every day!

    Teaching our children to commune one-on-one with God every day, is a sacred privilege that the Lord has given to us, as parents. This is a skill that will bless our children for their entire lives, and it is so important for us to take the time to train them in this communication! I have had many tender and sweet experiences teaching little ones to pray, and then in listening to the prayers of my children. This is one of those "essentials" that we cannot afford for our children to learn elsewhere, even at church. It is a sacred stewardship that the Lord himself has placed upon parents.

    A House of Fasting
    Members of the LDS church are given the opportunity, with the other members of the church around the world, to fast for two meals once a month on every first Sunday of the month. We then take the money we would have spent buying food for those two meals, and give it to our bishop (the leader of each congregation) who then donates it to the poor. These are called "Fast Offerings." 

    On these "Fast Sundays", as they are called, the pulpit is open for any in the congregation to share their testimony of the Gospel-- in other words, they tell all those attending what they believe and know to be true. The Spirit in these meetings are made all the more touching and powerful due to the fact that most of the people in the audience have been fasting as a means of growing closer to God.

    When our children see us fasting, we are actively demonstrating our faith to them. Again, their little eyes are always watching, their little ears are always listening. Do we fast out of love and devotion? Or do we fast because that's what everyone else is doing? Do we enter into our fasting with a heart of gratitude and worship? Or do we grumble about being hungry? How we fast has a huge impact on our children and their faith.

    A House of Faith
    Are our homes "Houses of Faith"? The words we say, the choices we make, the respect we show one another, the time we spend in prayer, scripture study, and temple attendance, the consideration we show our spouses, and the way we speak of others inside and outside of our family circles are an indication of how much we love the Lord. 

    I pray that we remember that every day, in every way, we have the opportunity to "Establish a House" that brings our children closer to Christ.

    "More Holiness Give Me," indeed.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Guest Post: A Woman's Body Image

    Image courtesy of "The Graphics Fairy"

    Dear Friends: I am so thrilled to introduce OFM's very FIRST guest writer, Sherry. She has some very important things to say about a disturbing trend that is growing among LDS women.* Thank you, Sherry, for sharing your excellent thoughts on this important matter! Be sure to check out her lovely blog at My Heart ever Faithful.

    Recently, I have noticed a worrisome new trend among my fellow LDS sisters in the Gospel.   An ever increasing number are choosing to get breast implants.  I am very confused on why this is so and it concerns me. 

    It’s not as if these are quick, easy and painless.  Why would we sign up for surgery, spend a good amount of money, experience pain and down time it takes to recover?  And of course, there’s always the possibility of infection among a long list of other negative side effects and complications.  

    Why would we want to have something fake and unnatural put into our bodies?  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states:  "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 

    This is a procedure that is invasive and permanent.  Will implants really boost our confidence as some plastic surgery clinics and others claim?  Perhaps the desire for implants is partially the result of the increased problems and consequences that stem from pornography?  We may see our bodies as inadequate when comparing them to the images on TV, in movies and on magazine covers that we unavoidably run into every time we’re in the checkout line at the grocery store. 

    The “in” thing? 

    We all know media infiltrates us with the message that bigger is better and that what we are is never good enough.   Interestingly, in the first two decades of the twentieth century, it was popular to be flat chested.  (Article entitled “The Great British Bust -- A Century of Fashion Trends”)   Who’s to say that won’t be the “in” thing tomorrow? 

    I know being a woman myself, how terribly easy it is to compare ourselves to one another.  It almost feels automatic.  But, that is exactly what Satan wants us to do.  Compare ourselves and beat ourselves down over perceived failures that we cannot control, such as our body type.  The natural man kicks in and we feel the need to compete with each other until we feel we are as good as or better than one another.  We begin to feel self-conscious and for most of us, care too much what others think of us (me included).  It’s all too easy to get caught up in this way of thinking.  

    One of my favorite children’s stories is “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss.  I love it for the message it conveys and is every bit as applicable to adults as it is to children.  If you by chance don’t know this story, I’ll give a brief summary:
    There were Star-Belly Sneetches that had bellies with stars.  And there were Plain-Belly Sneetches that did not have bellies with stars.  The Sneetches with stars on their bellies thought they were better than the Plain-Bellies because of their stars.  They treated them badly and refused to let their children play with the Plain-Belly children.
    Then one day, along comes a stranger offering a solution.  For a price, he would give stars to the Plain- Bellied Sneetches with his Star-On Machine.  Well, the Plain-Bellies thought this was a wonderful idea!   They were all more than willing to pay money to get stars and to fit in with the Star-Bellies.  But, this was unacceptable to the Star-Bellies and they began to complain.  That’s when this same stranger offered yet another solution … he could remove the stars from the Star-Bellies, for a price of course, with his Star-Off Machine.  Then, the vicious cycle continued of one group thinking they were better than the other, all because of one small star on their bellies.
    The Star-On and Star-Off Machine was working at top speed and the stranger became richer and richer with the Sneetches continually getting stars on and then stars off.  It became such a mixed up mess that they forgot who was who.  Finally, these Sneetches wised up and decided that no Sneetch was better than the other.

    I think this story applies to breast implants.  Babylon (the world) says that more-endowed women are better than the less-endowed.  We know our worth in the sight of God is more than skin deep, yet it’s so easy to fall into Satan’s carefully laid trap.  I hope that pride and vanity are not widespread among us as with the Sneetches. 

    Most likely, we're not persecuting with physical actions but by our thoughts of one is better than the other, just as in times of old.   
    “Nephi’s younger brother Jacob chastised the Nephites for their vanity by saying, 'Ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel' (Jacob 2:13).  Jacob was not criticizing well-intentioned efforts to dress neatly but instead the haughty attitudes of those who become puffed up …  He implied that pride based on outward appearance created a rationalization which allowed the Nephites to persecute their brethren 'because ye suppose that ye are better than they' (Jacob 2:13)."  (Douglas Bassett, from the talk “Faces of Worldly Pride in the Book of Mormon”)

    Your Infinite Worth
    Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:
    “I plead with you young women to please be more accepting of yourselves, including your body shape and style, with a little less longing to look like someone else. We are all different. .. And almost everyone at some time or other wants to be something they are not!  But as one adviser to teenage girls said: ‘You can’t live your life worrying that the world is staring at you. When you let people’s opinions make you self-conscious you give away your power. … The key to feeling confident is to always listen to your inner self—the real you.’  And in the kingdom of God, the real you is ‘more precious than rubies.’  Every young woman is a child of destiny and every adult woman a powerful force for good.  I mention adult women because, sisters, you are our greatest examples and resource for these young women.  …In too many cases too much is being done to the human body to meet just such a fictional (to say nothing of superficial) standard. As one Hollywood actress is reported to have said recently: ‘We’ve become obsessed with beauty and the fountain of youth. … I’m really saddened by the way women mutilate themselves in search of that.’
    “In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children.  At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called ‘vain imaginations.’ … Yet at the end of the day there would still be those ‘in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers’ as Lehi saw, because however much one tries in the world of glamour and fashion, it will never be glamorous enough.” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, from his talk entitled “To Young Women”. Italics and bold added for emphasis.)
    Please know it is not my intent to condemn any who have chosen to get implants.  And I know there are cases where reconstruction is necessary.  My intent and hope is for those who may feel their bodies just don’t measure up, that it’s not necessary to have something as drastic as a surgery or any other invasive medical procedure to have confidence and be worthy of love and acceptance.  Our worth and confidence comes from knowing that we are daughters of God, of infinite worth in His sight.  And just as importantly, see each other the same.  I welcome your stories, comments and thoughts concerning this topic.

    About Sherry: Hi, my name is Sherry. Been shy and quiet my whole life.  Except for when you get to know me and then you'll probably tell me to please. stop. talking. I seem to communicate my thoughts and feelings better in writing though. I am a very non-confrontational person.  The main thing I hate about that trait is once I'm in a situation where I need to think quick, defend myself, or something of that nature ... I can NEVER think of what to say until about ten minutes later.  Then I'm kicking myself that I didn't say this, this, and this.  Maybe it's better that way, who knows. My favorite thing is to be with my family.  I have always wanted to be a mother.  I am so grateful for the opportunity and privilege I have of being the mother to five children, four boys and one girl.  This journey of Motherhood has been a lot harder than I ever expected.  But, isn't that usually the way it is?  Anything worthwhile takes work, sacrifice, love and faith. 
    I'm married to my best friend and sweetheart.  We'll be celebrating our eleventh wedding anniversary in August.  I am so grateful to have an amazing man at my side as my companion throughout this life and through eternity.  I have a strong testimony of my religion and am proud to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ and am forever indebted to Him.

    *For more statistics on this subject see the article here.

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Happy Independence Day!!!

     I'm presently on vacation with my family, so please forgive the gap in my posts. I do, however, want to wish all my readers a wonderful Independence Day today!!! I am so grateful for our Founding Fathers, and all they did to secure liberty and freedom for all of us who have come in the years after.

    May the Lord bless you and yours,

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Urgent Article for Wives

    It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.
    Proverbs 21:19

    Dear Friends,

    I know it's time for another "House of Order" post, but I just read an article for wives that I simply MUST share!!!

    Here are a few excerpts from this important, sometimes uncomfortable, article that I feel EVERY LDS wife NEEDS to read, ponder, pray over, and ACT on!

    From one desperate husband:
    “But what about us men whose wives treat them like slaves? I've been married 30+ years and have never had a breakfast or lunch made. She won't even wake up to see me off in the morning, and when I come home in the evening I'm expected to do my share of the housework, and somehow my share is the biggest share. Oh, my wife is a full-time homemaker."
    “I am allowed two pair of pants; anything else is a waste according to my wife who can fill two closets. I don't even own a pair of jeans to do yard work."
    “My wife has only said "thank you" twice in our marriage for me holding the door open for her."
    How his words just break my heart! None of us should shirk our important stewardship as wives and helpmeets!!!

    This article is not afraid to address how important intimacy is for husbands:
    President Spencer W. Kimball said, “There are many aspects to love in marriage, and sex is an important one.  Just as married partners are not for others they are for each other.” (Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 73)
    One husband was courageous in really telling the truth that is happening in WAAAY too many LDS homes!
    One disheartened husband wrote, “Like many good husbands, I work long hours at my job, hold responsibilities in the church, and also do my share of cooking meals, washing dishes, taking out trash, bathing young kids, and the rest of the household chores.  My wife works a part time job that allows her to be home with the children most of the time."
    “Here is what I have observed with my wife and many sisters in the church under 40.  They don't feel that running a house and taking care of children is rewarding or their primary responsibility.  They have many activities taking them away from the children and out of the home.  They have their TV shows that they watch religiously, no matter what impact that has on children's schedules, family scripture reading, and family prayer time.  Many seem proud that they can't cook, can't iron, and rarely do any housecleaning.  My wife and I have talked through these issues, and we are trying better to meet each others needs. . . ."
    “Several recent studies show that American men work about 10 hours more per week than their dads did, many have hour long commutes, and that American men spend more hours caring for children and doing housework than other men, or their fathers did."
    “The reality is that American LDS men are working longer, spending more time with children and housework than ever before, while American LDS women are doing less.  They have fewer children than before, they spend less time caring for the children and home.  My wife points out that she spends more time driving the kids to activities.  After a while, we both chose to limit the children's participation in sports and activities to make more time for the family.”
    Dear Sisters! Do we recognize ourselves in any of this? I am so ashamed to realize how much we sometimes fail our husbands, our brethren in the Gospel. I am so thankful for Sister Beck, and for her bravery in challenging us to DO BETTER!!!  

    We CAN do better, dear Sisters, and I pray that each of us will take a good, long look at our priorities and come face to face with our weaknesses, and then go to our Father in Heaven in prayer and beg for His forgiveness and help in becoming the women of God He knows we can be!!!

    Here's the link to the ENTIRE article:

    Wake Up Call for Wives

    I'd love to hear your comments and ideas on these difficult, though necessary, words!


    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    "A House of Order": Being Prepared

    Preparing together as a Family!

    I've shared several of my personal experiences with preparedness here on OFM before (September 2007; September and October 2008April 2009), but it is such an important topic in this day of economic and natural turmoil, that I feel compelled to say more on the matter.

    My husband and I are far from perfect in the "Being Prepared" department, but I CAN honestly say that we are constantly working on it! I know that it can feel overwhelming at times, but just keep in mind that preparedness is a PROCESS. We simply need to look at our family circumstances, and work on one thing at a time!

    To begin with, my husband and I sat down and talked about the areas where we're strong, and where we're weak. We examined everything: debts, water storage, food storage, preservation and storage of important documents, gardening supplies, fuel, and 72 hour kits.

    Then we budgeted some extra money he'd earned, and stocked up on some food storage that we've used up. We also bought a few things that we'd always planned to buy, but had not yet done so.

    Because I don't want to overwhelm and frustrate you, and I want you to finish reading today's post feeling that you CAN be prepared, I've decided to share some tips that have helped me in my efforts.

    1. Make paying off debts a higher priority.

    Not only does this help lighten the burden we feel when we owe others money, it also feels GREAT to fill our obligations and be free of guilt! We cannot ever have true liberty when we are plagued by debt and the negative effects of paying interest.

    One tip to getting started on the journey toward debt-freedom is the Snowball Effect: Pay off your smallest debts FIRST, and then roll the money you've been paying toward them into the bigger debts. This works well because we get the exhilaration of eliminating more debts, faster, and encourages us to continue the process.

    2. Make a Preparedness Plan

    If you had a home fire, where would you and your kids meet once you all got out of the house? If you and your family had to evacuate your home, where would you go, and would you be able to get everyone out and have what you needed to survive for at least 72 hours? If your husband lost his job, would you have enough food for your family to eat, and enough savings to pay utilities and other costs until a new job is found?

    These are questions to ponder over and discuss as a family. We have a "Family Night" once a week that facilitates this kind of  meeting, but do what works best for your family. However, PLEASE take some time and discuss this together with your husband and all your kids!!! The scriptures say "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear," and I know it is a true principle.

    Once you've discussed these kinds of questions, sit down together and make a plan. WRITE IT DOWN, and do something toward preparedness on a regular basis in your home. Whether it's practicing a fire drill, learning how to turn off the natural gas, learning where to go during a tornado, knowing where the 72 hour kits are stored, understanding how to prepare and eat food storage basics, or securing the water heater, these common sense, small things will be huge problems if people try to figure things out while in a panic during a disaster.

    Our children will have peace from the knowledge we share during these family discussions-- and so will we!

    3. Store Water

    I live in a VERY hot place, and water is profoundly important where I live-- but so it is wherever people live! We can live three weeks with no food, but only 3 days without water. Here's a FABULOUS website on being prepared, and this gentleman has excellent advice on storing water.

    4. Store the food your family eats!

    We should each have a goal of storing three months of "staples" to use in dire emergencies, BUT we should also constantly be adding to the food we keep in our pantries. In the stress of difficult times, it is comforting for all family members to have the things they usually eat on the shelves.

    The lady whose storage philosophies have helped our family-- and many of our friends!-- the most is Wendy DeWitt. I recently found that someone has fully recorded Wendy's AMAZING food storage presentation at this blog. Give yourself some time to sit and watch it-- you will be so glad you did! She teaches the most powerful preparedness principles I've ever heard! (And I've been taught to "Be Prepared" my whole life!)

    5. Put together and store 72 Hour Kits for all your family members
    The key to being successful in this effort, is to keep them updated and ready to go. My husband and I learned this the hard way when we left our kits too long without checking them. Melted hard candies, rancid granola bars, and clothes that were too small are just a few hiccups that could have been a pretty big deal is we had actually needed to use them!

    Again, I really like the "I Will Prepare" website. It contains a HUGE amount of information, in an easy to find and understand format. Here's another website with a straightforward list that looks good.

    Make Family Preparedness a Priority

    There are many, MANY things we can spend our money on, but when disasters or difficult times come, which will be more important to our family: vacations, extra toys, gym memberships, and other "extras"? OR the food, water, savings, emergency supplies, and family plans we need to make it through these difficult times?

    Every little bit we do to prepare our families helps us face the future with faith, rather than fear. More great information on being prepared can also be found here.

    I know we can each find even just ONE thing to do today that will help us on the path to preparedness.

    WE CAN DO IT!!!

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