Monday, July 9, 2012

My talk on being a better Christian and a better Christian mom

I gave a talk in our sacrament (worship) meeting in church yesterday. Nobody is paid, so everything is done by volunteers. The clergy consists of an unpaid bishop and his counselors. There is a ward (congregation) council which consists of the auxiliary leaders of the different organizations within our ward. It is extremely organized and each ward is full of outstanding behind-the-scenes people. We call one another brothers and sisters, since in the whole scheme of things - that's exactly who we are. Jesus is our older brother and Heavenly Father is our Father who is in heaven. Anyway, I was asked to give part of the sermon. I was told there would be another person who would speak with me. When I asked what my topic was, the bishop told me that I could pick it. I re-asked and he said that I could talk about something like having a Christ-centered home, or on nurturing our testimonies of Christ, or I could continue last month's theme of our church's "The Family: A Proclamation To The World" which is all about our church's stance on the family. I had some thoughts already stirring in my mind before he asked me, and below is the talk I gave. Steven said it was about 10-15 minutes long.

 Last Sunday, when I was outside roaming the halls with a happy noisy toy-tossing wiggly baby Tyler, listening to your testimonies, I was considering going ahead and coming in to bear my (our) testimony as well. I figured, if I can't fight it, may as well join him since he clearly wanted to be heard! But since I didn't jump at that prompting, the bishop let me come up a week late. Thank you Bishop.

This summer,  I decided I should work on building my kids' little testimonies and understanding of the gospel. There is a good talk from last April's General Conference of ourchurch by Cheryl Esplin about teaching our children to understand the gospel. I'll refer to it since it is helping me. [hold up Ensign]
She starts with referring to D&C.
In a latter-day revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord instructs parents to teach their children to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Notice the Lord doesn’t just say we are to “teach the doctrine”; His instructions are to teach our children to “understand the doctrine.” (See D&C 68:25, 28; emphasis added.)
In Psalms we read, “Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart” (Psalm 119:34).
In summer evenings, I have more time to explain and help with this understanding process.
I also feel like a child myself sometimes so I need to be taught to understand gospel principles too. And since I don't live with my parents, I need to rely not only on what I've learned from them, but I still need constant reminders and am still learning to understand principals better myself. I often hum, "I need Thee every hour!" I need to nurture my relationship with my other father, my Heavenly Father so that I can, in turn, better help my children. 

One way  Heavenly Father helped me was when I was in my car; okay minivan. I drove by a different church's sign and it read something like "Got wants full custody, not just weekend visitation." I thought it was cleaver and thought about how now that I am a nursery leader, I really can sort of do all of my calling just on Sundays. Nobody is checking up on me to read my scriptures daily or notice if I do any worship or prayer or anything outside of church. I love that we are each accountable to our Heavenly Father who loves us, (and we love him.) That sign got me thinking about my summer family priorities and our summer to do list. Later that day, I opened my scriptures and happened to read about the ramiumptum [hold up BOM] while feeding Tyler to sleep. Those people went up just one day a week to show off how good they thought they were and had their weekend visit with their Heavenly Father. The story is clear that those people were not giving their Heavenly Father full custody, nor did they UNDERSTAND the principal of worship. Sad. That week, we read in my parents'  old Book of Mormon story book [hold up book] reader even more about that story of the Zoramites.  (Thanks mom and happy birthday today, I found and borrowed the book you used to read to us.) That was the 3rd time and the confirmation that I really needed to plan how to build a relationship with my Heavenly Father. My testimony grew 3 inches. I like hearing things from many different sources to better explain things to me to where I actually UNDERSTAND and then can better apply the principal. I actually texted myself, "blog testimony of custody, ramiumptum, Zoramites." Thank goodness the bishop cured my writer's block so I'm actually going to share my faith building experiences.
That was one (or three) examples of how my  Heavenly Father helped me to understand about being a Christian all of the time. Seeing that fist billboard gave me information to contemplate, but through further scripture study,  Heavenly Father helped me to embody the principal of doing things on more than just Sundays. (And one result was me blogging about an answered prayer when I lost my keys.)
Teaching our children to understand is more than just imparting information. It’s helping our children get the doctrine into their hearts in a way that it becomes part of their very being and is reflected in their attitudes and behavior throughout their lives.Nephi taught that the role of the Holy Ghost is to carry the truth “unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1). Our role as parents is to do all we can to create an atmosphere where our children can feel the influence of the Spirit and then help them recognize what they are feeling [every day].
In reading the scriptures the other evening, we read about being righteous. Dylan beamed "keeping the commandments" when I asked what it meant to be righteous. Then I asked him, what are some of the commandments? Dylan thought about it for a minute, puzzled that I would delve deeper into his answer of which had before seemed so clear and correct. Then he said "going to the temples a lot." This was a great opportunity to further feed Dylan's understanding of the Lord's commandments. Over my shoulder on the wall, hangs a print of the 10 Commandments that I had commissioned from my sister Julie. [hold up print] (I went on a kick thinking we'd memorize them.)  I looked up and did not see the word temple in that frame. But with a smile, I took the opportunity to spend some time discussing some of our Heavenly Father's rules with my kiddos. We also talked about how going often to the temple is another thing that  Heavenly Father would like.
Sometimes the most powerful way to teach our children to understand a doctrine is to teach in the context of what they are experiencing right at that moment. These moments are spontaneous and unplanned and happen in the normal flow of family life. They come and go quickly, so we need to be alert and recognize a teaching moment when our children come to us with a question or worry, when they have problems getting along with siblings or friends, when they need to control their anger, when they make a mistake, or when they need to make a decision. (See Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching [1999], 140–41; Marriage and Family Relations Instructor’s Manual [2000], 61.)
If we are ready and will let the Spirit guide in these situations, our children will be taught with greater effect and understanding.
We should create an invironment in which the Holy Ghost can be by our sides to teach with us. Reading in the scriptures and talking about the vocabulary proved to be a teaching moment that I pray helped with my boys' understanding. Had I been tired and cranky, that moment would have passed.
In every teaching situation all learning and all understanding are best nurtured in an atmosphere of warmth and love where the Spirit is present.
Taking our family INCLUDING the kids to the temple is on our summer to do list. Another teaching moment was when we saw pictures of Peyton's trip to the temple and sang "I love to see the temple, I'm going there someday" as we looked at his facebook pictures. We took that opportunity to get excited about the details of our trip and more about the special beautiful Orlando temple.
Teaching for understanding takes determined and consistent effort. It requires teaching by precept and by example and especially by helping our children live what they learn.President Harold B. Lee taught, “Without experiencing a gospel principle in action, it is … more difficult to believe in that principle” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee [2000], 121).
One principle that comes to mind is prayer. That's one that takes consistent effort. We remind the kids often about reverence, prayer language, sincere gratitude and requests, and respect.
Learning to fully understand the doctrines of the gospel is a process of a lifetime and comes “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30). As children learn and act upon what they learn, their understanding is expanded, which leads to more learning, more action, and an even greater and more enduring understanding.
It requires giving our Heavenly Father full custody. So this General Conference talk is the 4th resource that my Heavenly Father has given me to remind me to be a good Christian in all that I do. My testimony has grown even more. I know that my  Heavenly Father  loves me and wants me to be happy and will help me if I live in a way in which the Holy Ghost will always be with me. I also know that his son Jesus Christ lives and atoned for our sins and even for our mistakes. We can learn more about Christ through this true church and its gospel that was restored by Joseph Smith.  We have a modern day prophet today, Thomas S. Monson, and we can learn from him and others in General Conference. I am so grateful that my  Heavenly Father loves me, helps me to understand, and gives me the tools so that I can help my own children.

Then I closed in the name of Jesus Christ and said my own amen.


Kat Tilby said...

Like! :)

betsey said...

So great! I really enjoyed this. Summer is a great time for us mom's to slow down and really spend some great moments teaching our children. To think about what they are saying and to think about our replies. I love it. Thanks for reminding me of this. Sure love you, Tiffy!