Sunday, May 28, 2017

FHE: Christlike Attributes #2

Note: This month I am highlighting some of the Christlike Attributes lessons from my book MTC at Home. Although this book is primarily designed to help prepare future missionaries for service, the lessons--all based on Preach My Gospel (PMG)--work really well for FHE. Want to receive notification of future lessons to be posted in this series? Like my Facebook page.


Christlike Attribute #2: Hope

Purpose: To demonstrate the importance of living life with the optimism of hope.

Scripture: “Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4).

Hymns: “The Light Divine” (Hymns no. 305), “Hope of Israel” (Hymns no. 259).

PMG Quote: “Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance” (p. 117).

Key Term: Hope – “The confident expectation of and longing for the promised blessings of righteousness. The scriptures often speak of hope as anticipation of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.”[1]

Lesson: In 1859, the British ship Alacrity encountered dense fog while transporting Latter-day Saint pioneers between South Africa and Boston. Visibility was extremely low, and the Saints, fearing for their lives, prayed and fasted for divine assistance. Because he was unable to navigate the ship by the stars, the captain climbed to the top of the mast to search for an opening in the fog. Suddenly the mist cleared long enough for him to see sandbars off of Nantucket, straight ahead. He had just enough time to change the ship’s course and avoid disaster.

The miracle experienced by the Saints on the Alacrity is one of many inspiring stories of those who crossed oceans and plains in their hope to reach Zion. Despite tremendous afflictions, including sickness, malnutrition, exposure, and exhaustion, most pioneers remained optimistic and determined. This type of attitude is what Nephi described as “having a perfect brightness of hope.”

Hope, a trait deeply entwined with faith and charity, is what helps us to look past our daily difficulties toward a happier future. Hope increases with the nearness of the spirit and is important because it helps us trust in the Lord while enduring to the end. Those without hope struggle through trials and often give up. President Ezra Taft Benson taught that hope is an anchor to the souls of men. Those with deep and abiding hope will see “divine pattern and purpose”[2] no matter what trials or blessings life may bring.

Exercises: Prayerfully select one or more of the following exercises to supplement the lesson.

Ñ Teach: Explain the principle of hope and why it is important.

˜ Testify: Describe a personal experience or feelings you have about having hope in Christ.

? Invite: Practice inviting those you teach to make commitments related to having hope (i.e., repenting).

® Role Play: Use the following question to role play a gospel discussion with a friend or family member. “Why is it important to have hope?” 

Open Your Mouth: In the upcoming week, start a gospel conversation with someone by asking them, “How do you maintain hope with all the bad things happening in the world?” Probe to learn what specific behaviors they feel are necessary to build hope in Christ.

Activity: Place several household objects (e.g. key, pencil, small toy, etc.) inside separate socks. Tie a knot in the top of each sock or secure with a twist tie. Give each family member a pen and paper. Pass the socks around, allowing each person to feel the contents. The player writes his/her guess of what is in each sock. Show the contents of the socks after everyone has written down their guesses. Remind family members the scriptures tell us to have “hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:32).[3]

Additional Resources: 1. There are numerous conference talks on hope, including “The Infinite Power of Hope” by Dieter F. Uchtdorf (October 2008), “The Joy of Hope Fulfilled” by M. Russell Ballard (October 1992), and “Brightness of Hope” by Neal A. Maxwell (October 1994). 2. A poem, “Hope”, was published in the September 2010 Friend magazine. 3. “Good Things to Come” is a Mormon Channel video based on a personal story about hope told by Jeffrey R. Holland.



[1] “Hope,” The Guide to the Scriptures, lds.org
[2] Neal A. Maxwell, “‘Brightness of Hope’,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 34
[3] Gibby, Shauna, "FHE: Hope," LDS Living, October 1, 2010

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Mini Car Memories

One of the most memorable Christmas gifts given to my family growing up was a mini car. It was a black roadster convertible with orange and red flames along the sides. It sat just one person and ran on a lawn mower type engine. I think it must have driven as fast as 10 mph, so it was a fun time to ride in it.

The mini car was given to us by my mom's boss, Dean Jensen. I think it must have been about 1980. He brought it over on Christmas Eve, but my parents kept it hidden until Christmas morning. When they told us to go look on the front porch for a fun surprise, I remember at first I didn't see it and was confused by the instruction. But after seeing it and getting to drive in it, the mini car easily became a family favorite.

When we first learned to drive it, we took it to a nearby parking lot to practice. My dad started the practice of standing in front of the car while the driver stepped out and a new one stepped in. Since no one was holding down the brake pedal to keep the car in place, my dad's position helped keep the mini car from moving.

Of course, those watching would often get impatient for their turn. One time Jeff impatiently called to James that his time was up; but he went ignored. So on one lap Jeff decided to block the path of the mini car, kind of like dad did, in hopes of ending James's turn. But James didn't slow down to end his turn. He just ran right over Jeff and kept driving. Luckily poor Jeff was not seriously injured.

After having the mini car for a while my mom signed us up to drive it (and a few other mini cars belonging to the Jensens) in a parade. We dressed up like clowns and drove along throwing candy to the children in the crowds. Sometimes I would ride on the back of the roadster throwing candy and waving while Jeff would drive. Another time I have a big bouquet of heart-shaped balloons.

While doing a double wave with my hands I blocked my face... oh, well.

My mom often made us costumes and made these clown ones (even the wigs!), too.

I think we were in three or four parades doing this; we would borrow two of the Jensen's mini cars and have some friends help us. Fred Crum is sitting behind Jeff in the black truck. I am not sure who the Raggedy Ann is to James's Raggedy Andy... maybe a ward member.



We owned the mini car for at least five years. Apparently, it was ruined when Jeff and a friend ran it into a light pole. Still, having the mini car was one of the fun memories of my childhood.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Five Phrases to Help Diffuse an Argument

In relationships conflicts can pop up at any time; however, handling conflict in public, or in front of children, generally leads to poor outcomes. As a result, there are times when it is important to diffuse an argument long enough to handle it more effectively in private. Here are five things you can say to help keep harsh words at bay:


 
1. "You've got a point."
Say this when someone has a complaint or is critical, especially of your behavior. Even if you do not feel their opinion is 100% accurate, you could likely honestly concede there is some truth to it. Remember, we all have blind spots. Similarly, you could also use the phrase, "I could be wrong."

2. "Ouch."
Sounds silly, I know. But really, if someone makes a particularly personal, hurtful comment, saying, "Ouch," is a great way to respond without attacking them back.

3. "I need some time to think about that."
If someone is asking you a question (or for permission) you don't want to answer in public, this is an ideal response. It buys time, is tactful, and helps the other person see they need to give you some space.

4. "What do you think about _________?"
Ask questions about the issue they are concerned about, use good eye contact, and rephrase back what they are saying to be sure you understand. Showing an interest in the other person's thoughts and opinions is often enough in itself to help diffuse arguments. When people feel heard--truly listened to--they are generally calmer.

5. "Let's Google it."
So many arguments can be solved by finding reliable information or research. Even if it is a relationship issue (or something opinion-based), professional opinions are all over the internet and can be helpful. And, by saying "let's" you remind the other person of your desire to work with them, rather than against.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

FHE: Christlike Attributes #1

Note: In the upcoming month I thought I would highlight some of the Christlike Attributes lessons from my book MTC at Home. Although this book is primarily designed to help prepare future missionaries for service, the lessons--all based on Preach My Gospel (PMG)--work really well for FHE. Want to receive notification of future lessons to be posted in this series? Like my Facebook page.


Faith in Jesus Christ

Purpose: To review fundamental principles required for having faith in Christ.

Scripture: His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21).

PMG Quote: “When you have faith in Christ, you believe in Him as the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. You accept Him as your Savior and Redeemer and follow His teachings. You believe that your sins can be forgiven through His Atonement” (p. 116).

Key Term: Faithful – To live in a manner that is steadfast in love and loyalty to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Lesson: When the people of Israel began to worship idols, the prophet Elijah went to King Ahab and declared there would be no rain or dew on the land until the people repented. During the long drought Elijah was commanded by the Lord to hide by a brook off of the river Jordan. Elijah was told he would be able to drink from the brook, and that ravens had been commanded to bring him food so he could survive. The scriptures indicate Elijah simply “went and did according to the word of the Lord” (1 Kings 17:5). Elijah’s profound faith in the Lord helped him survive and stands as an example to follow.

As demonstrated by Elijah, living with faith brings great blessings. Having faith in Christ helps us to trust in Him, utilize the Atonement, and be more obedient. Those who live by faith are inspired to action based on promptings from the spirit. The faithful are led to accomplish great things in their own lives and to bring good to others.

Heavenly Father encourages His children to increase their faith. We can do this by first, choosing to believe in the Savior and His love. Second, asking for His help through regular, daily prayer. And third, thinking about Him and regularly studying the scriptures.[1] Elder Theodore Tuttle taught, "We're not going to survive in this world, temporally or spiritually, without increased faith in the Lord-and I don't mean a positive mental attitude-I mean downright solid faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”[2]

Exercises: Prayerfully select one or more of the following exercises to supplement the lesson.

Ñ Teach: Explain the doctrine associated with the principle of faith.

˜ Testify: Describe a personal experience or feelings you have about exercising faith in Christ.

? Invite: Practice inviting those you teach to make commitments related to having faith (i.e., praying or paying tithing).

® Role Play: Use the following question to role play a gospel discussion with a friend or family member. “How can I increase my faith in Christ?” 

Open Your Mouth: In the upcoming week, start a gospel conversation with someone by asking them, “How do you define faith?” Probe to learn what specific behaviors they feel help increase faith.

Activities: Make a simple birdfeeder to attract ravens. Tie a piece of string around the top third of a pinecone to hang from a tree branch. Coat the outside of the pinecone with peanut butter and then roll in birdseed. Press small pieces of dried fruit (e.g., cranberries or raisins) into the openings of the pinecone. Be sure to hang it where it is easy to see from a window.

Additional Resources: 1. For smaller children, use the Sunbeam manual lesson 13 and it’s coordinating picture to tell the story of Elijah in more detail. 2. Mormon.org has a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page, including member contributions, dedicated to the topic of faith. 3. Finding Faith in Christ is a feature film about doubting Thomas; it is available to watch online in the media library of lds.org. 4. Relevant musical selections include “Go Forth with Faith” (Hymns no. 263) and “Faith” (CS 96).



[1] Patricia P. Pinegar, “Increase in Faith,” Ensign, May 1994, 94
[2] A. Theodore Tuttle, "Developing Faith", Ensign, Nov. 1986, 72

Saturday, May 20, 2017

How to Communicate Well


Relationships are hard. No surprise in that, right? Sometimes figuring out how to maneuver through relationships means dialing in on the basics of communication.

Several years ago a co-worker taught me a formula (based on James 1:19) for improving communication. Ever since I have taught it to my students each semester as a way to summarize a semester of learning. The formula reads like this:

Q2L + S2S + S2A = GR8 COMMS
 
Translated: Quick to Listen + Slow to Speak + Slow To Anger = Great Communication
 

Q2L: Stop talking, or trying to decide what you will say next, and listen to others. Listen with your eyes, your ears, and your heart. Listen with empathy. Be in the moment.



S2S: Rushing to speak often gets us in trouble. Slow down and think about the impact your words might have on others. Choose wisely and choose to speak with compassion.



S2A: Anger overrides most other emotions. When we let anger take over, we stop listening and forget to have empathy. Recognizing our triggers and learning to stay in control can eliminate numerous relationship problems.

So that's the formula. If you are having a relationship problem, it could very well be one of these components is missing in your communication style. Focus on what you can control or change about yourself, rather than on the behavior of others. As you work to improve your own skill level, communication and interpersonal relationships will improve.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ask the Editor

Ages ago I used to post now and again about how much I enjoy the Merriam-Webster series Ask the Editor? Never heard of them? These are fun ~2 minute videos discussing etymology, definitions, and punctuation issues. A favorite one is on the plural of the word 'octopus'; I use this video at school on occasion.



I also enjoy the clear description of the serial/Oxford comma in this video. I will have to use this in my PR writing class next go around.



And this 'biweekly/bimonthly' video confirmed a pet peeve I have of using those terms.



These fun videos come out only about once a month, but are usually informative and interesting. So many people could benefit from watching these. There are a lot of them on YouTube, or you can find them using the link at the top of this page--go check them out!


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Family Night: Improving Family Communication 4

Note: May is Mental Health Month. To help increase awareness of mental health and mental illness, I thought a family night discussion might be beneficial. Like so many other families out there, mental illness has had a direct impact on me and my loved ones. This lesson is part of a series written to promote improvement of communication in the home. You can see an earlier lesson here and here. Want to receive notification of future lessons to be posted in this series? Like my Facebook page.

 
Mental Health Awareness

Purpose: To help family members be aware of and better understand the impact of mental health on communication at home.

Scripture: “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people” (Alma 7:11; emphasis added).

Thought: “When conditions affect functioning in school, employment, church, or relationships it is time to seek help” (Dean E. Barley).[1]

Key Term: Mental Health – “Emotional and spiritual resilience that enables us to enjoy life and survive pain, disappointment, and sadness. It is a positive sense of well-being and an underlying belief in our own and other’s self-worth.”[2]

Lesson: In 1971 poet Emma Lou Thayne and composer Joleen Meredith were asked to write a closing musical number for a Young Women’s conference. Emma Lou called Joleen and over the phone the hymn “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” came together. “We determined this was a mental illness hymn,” Joleen noted. “Emma . . . was struggling with the mental illness of one of her daughters at the time this was written, and I was struggling myself personally with mental illness. And so we lovingly call it ‘The Mental Illness Hymn.’” Sisters Thayne and Meredith themselves found comfort in knowing the Savior, “He, only one,” understood their challenges.[3]

Mental illness occurs in approximately one in four individuals and can take many forms, including depression, ADHD, anxiety, eating disorders, and schizophrenia, among others. Because mental illness often impacts perception, it can significantly complicate our ability to communicate with others. Working to develop patient listening and verbal communication skills in the home can help to improve interpersonal relationships. Specifically, controlling tone of voice, making good word choices, and practicing self-care can enhance are essential.

Often those who struggle with mental health have difficulty finding inner peace. “Of greatest assurance in God’s plan is that a Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father who sent Him and the Son who came,” taught Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. “It is only an appreciation of this divine love that will make our own lesser suffering first bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive.”[4]

Activity: Hand out the lyrics to “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” and sing the hymn to open family night. After introducing the lesson, show a video of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing the same hymn. After the video, ask family members to share parts of the lyrics they like. Note: if needed, define the word ‘solace’ as meaning comfort or consolation.

For Little Ones: Gather together items (bandages, tongue depressor, sling, etc.) that can be used to play a pretend game of doctor. Have little ones pretend to have a broken arm, a bad cut, or some other obvious sickness, while a parent or older child plays the role of doctor. After “treating” these pretend obvious illnesses, explain that some people have disabilities that cannot be seen. Mental (explain this means in the brain) illnesses, although less obvious, still have symptoms causing pain, distress, and sadness.

Challenge: Many mental illnesses begin to manifest at a young age. As with all serious illnesses, the sooner people get help and treatment, the better the outcome. Use a reliable reference guide to look up common symptoms of various mental illnesses and review these as a family.

Suggested Music: “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” (Hymns no. 129) or “I Feel My Savior’s Love” (CS p. 74).




[1] As quoted in: Lisa Ann Jackson Thomson, “Know the Signs,” BYU Magazine, Spring 2017, 24
[2] Health Education Authority, UK, 1997.
[3] “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” History of Hymns, Episode 18, http://broadcast.lds.org/ldsradio/pdf/history-of-hymns/history-of-hymns-ep-18.pdf.
[4] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Like a Broken Vessel,” Ensign, Nov. 2013, 41

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mother's Day

Although I don't have a lot of extra time to do crafts, I definitely enjoy making them. I recently stumbled across this graphic (originally posted here) from the Children’s Friend, May 1936. I think it would make a nice card for Mother's Day, or maybe a coloring page for Primary.


I love the three generations on it and the idea of maternal heritage. I have great admiration for my maternal grandmother, Donna Kelson Morgan. She worked hard to raise six children, one of whom was disabled. Often she was alone because her husband travelled for work. And to supplement the family income she (along with a sister and sister-in-law) started their own business--unusual for the 1950s. Although I have no personal memories of her, I feel a deep connection to my maternal grandmother because of the memories shared of her by my own mother.

Donna Hannah Kelson Morgan

My own dear mother inherited a lot of the strength from her mom. She works hard owning her own business, graduated from college while raising three crazy teenagers, and constantly planned for fun, memory-making activities we could do as a family. Remarkable in so many ways, including being a wonderful grandmother to seven grandkids.

Patricia Jane Morgan Spiers

And then there are my own two beautiful daughters. I see amazing potential in both of their unique, individual natures. I pray they inherit the strength and talents of their grandmother and great-grandmother, and build on those characteristics they can pass on to their own daughters and granddaughters in a never-ending chain of maternal love and heritage.

 
Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Summers with Aunt Kay

Note: Tomorrow I have to teach a lesson at church for the Family History Committee on writing family stories or memories. In preparation for this I thought I would practice a little. This is a third rough draft effort. Read an earlier effort about Easter memories here.

I am blessed to be named after an amazing woman, Kay Messerly. Aunt Kay is my mother’s elder sister, a talented, funny, and resourceful lady. She worked for many years as a nurse for Southern Utah State College (now SUU). She was married to Grant, who was a journalist and sheep farmer. Together they had four kids, all older than my brothers and me.
 
 
My parents would send my brothers and I to visit Aunt Kay for two weeks each summer. At the time Aunt Kay lived on a farm outside of Beryl Junction, Utah. Beryl is literally the junction of two state highways, SR-18 and SR-56, in the southwestern part of Iron County, near Newscastle and Enterprise. The 2010 census shows a population of fewer than 200, so it is a slow, country lifestyle. There are lots of jack rabbits, vermin and flies in the scrub brush covered terrain.

When we visited, Aunt Kay and Uncle Grant lived in a home built for a Mormon polygamist family. It was two separate houses that had been converted for use by one family. One house was the kitchen, living room, and laundry/bathroom. Immediately next door, just a few paces away, was a house with bedrooms, a sitting area, and another bathroom. Later in life, Aunt Kay had the bedroom house torn down and installed a doublewide trailer.
 
Aunt Kay with her daughter's horse (cousin Ron to the left).
I believe this is the back of the bedroom house.
 
In addition to the two houses, there was a big spud cellar on the property. A spud cellar is a structure built to store things needing to stay cooler, such as fruits and vegetables. The Messerly spud cellar was partially underground and quite large. It was no longer used to store food, but did have other boxes furniture items inside. My brothers and I enjoyed sliding down the slope of the asphalt shingle covered roof for entertainment. One time I slid so many times I wore through the seat of my red pants.
 
Vejo, Utah Pool
 
Aunt Kay kept us busy playing outside, mostly because back home it was too hot to do so. Sometimes she would take us to picnic and swim in a community pool in Veyo (south of Enterprise). Back at the farm, we made forts out of old pallets, dug caves into the dunes, helped in her garden, and took walks down the dirt roads. I remember making forts connected by a plastic cup “telephone-string” system and curtains made out of scrap fabric. I believe we also had a few old doll dishes found in the spud cellar.

A few times when visiting Aunt Kay it was during July and we would get to go to the Pioneer Day celebration near Enterprise. There was good food and a rodeo to watch. My favorite though was the crash up derby. Watching the cars crash into one another until only one was left running was lots of fun. One summer my cousin Ron was in the derby, but I don’t think he won.

Ron (Aunt Kay’s youngest son), who was a good five years older than my older brother James, was lots of fun to be around. He was adventurous, funny, and creative. I believe he was the one who showed Jeff and James about digging down into the sand dunes to create a cave-like dugout. Ron took me out to shoot rabbits once; I had expressed the desire for a lucky rabbit’s foot. But after getting a real rabbit’s foot I just felt sick knowing how it was obtained.  
 
Aunt Kay (front left), Uncle Grant, and their four kids (1980s?).

The clearest memory I have of Ron was when he had bottle rockets to shoot off. He and a friend set them up on the back lawn. When one appeared to be a dud and fizzled out instead of taking off, Ron went to see what was wrong. Unfortunately, when he picked it up to check, the bottle rocket exploded and burned the palm of his hand quite badly. He ended up with a nasty, giant three inch blister on that palm. Luckily, with Aunt Kay being a nurse, he had excellent care and was not permanently injured.

As I reflect back on these experiences I realize the love and bonds that were forged during these summer trips. I will forever feel grateful for the relationship I have had with my Aunt Kay. Her warmth and humor made the summers of my youth memorable.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Family Night: Improving Family Communication 3

Note: Many of you know I teach communication classes at two local colleges. I love my subject matter and have greatly benefitted personally from it. I believe there are many families who could use the information I teach to better improve their relationships at home. In response to this belief, I have created a series of family night lessons that focus on various aspects of communication. The following lesson focuses on civility. You can see an earlier lesson here and here. Want to receive notification of future lessons to be posted in this series? Like my Facebook page.


Civility

Purpose: To encourage family members to treat one another with love and civility.

Scripture: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:31–32).

Thought: “Imagine the cumulative effect if we treated each other with respect and acceptance, if we willingly provided support. Such interactions practiced on a small scale would surely have a rippling effect throughout our homes and communities” (Gordon B. Hinckley).[1]

Key Term: Civility – Polite, reasonable, and respectful behavior and speech.

Lesson: Christlike communication uses both kindness and confidence. In other words, we need to communicate with civility—with compassion, respect, and humility. President Gordon B. Hinckley learned the necessity of civility as a child when he and some friends once made rude remarks to an African American family passing down the street. President Hinckley’s mother overheard the comments and immediately began to lecture them. “She gave us to understand, in no uncertain terms, that among the peoples of the earth there is neither inferiority nor superiority; that we are all sons and daughters of God and therefore sisters and brothers with each other; and that we have an obligation to respect and help one another.”[2]

As the root of the word “civilization,” to treat others with civility is to invoke the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (see Matt. 7:12). The scriptures counsel us to “let all bitterness, … and anger, … and evil speaking, be put away” (Ephesians 4:31). This would include vulgarity, criticism, blame, and dishonesty—all of which are uncivil. There may be need at times for correction and counsel of other’s words; however, this should always be tempered by love. Christlike communication in the home will help us to develop loving, eternal relationships that are a reflection of heaven on earth.

Activity: Blow up five balloons, draw faces on them, and assign names to each. Inside the balloons include a note of what the person is really like on the inside. Present the balloon people and have family members describe how they appear on the outside. Pop the balloons and read the inside note. Discuss what assumptions we might have made about each. Would we have treated them with greater civility had we known?[3]

For Little Ones: Play a game of Mother May I. Use the game to teach your little ones to use please and thank you, and to treat people with kindness (even if they lose the game).

Challenge: Watch the four-minute video “The Civility Experiment[4] and discuss the woman’s experience with the homeless man. Ask, “Where does civility come from?” and “How can we learn to look at people in a way that promotes civility?” Set a goal to treat others with greater civility in the upcoming week.

Suggested Music: “Have I Done Any Good?” (Hymns no. 223) or “Kindness Begins with Me” (CS p. 145).


[1] Hinckley, Gordon B., Standing for Something: Ten Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes. New York: Times, 2000, 50.
[2] Ibid., 47.
[3] Thompson, Shauna. "A ‘popping’ Back-to-school Family Home Evening." Sugardoodle.net, 7 Aug. 2010. Web. 20 July 2016.
[4] https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-04-008-the-civility-experiment

Monday, May 1, 2017

Summer Reading List 2017

May has officially arrived, and I may be both excited and sad. I love the end of the semester, but it is hard to know I have three months ahead with no paycheck. That is the way of adjunct faculty members.

Over the summer I get to spend a lot more time writing and reading. I have started compiling my summer reading list (I always buy Amazon gift cards during the spring semester to have on hand to afford my reading habit) and am beginning to look forward to the page-turners I have ahead of me.
Image result for handmaid's tale

The Handmaid's Tale - by: Margaret Atwood

I'm reading this one for fun - plus it is coming out as a Hulu movie, so I want to read it before watching.

Promo Blurb: Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population. The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment's calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid's Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour de force.


 
J. Golden Kimball - by: Kathryn Jenkins Gordon
 
 I love Kathy Gordon's ability to tell a story, so this one should be great. I may also have to pick up a copy for my dad for Father's Day.  

Promo Blurb: LDS Church history is comprised of the accounts of multitudes of men and women who set the groundwork for the Church. And while there are plenty of ordinary individuals woven into that patchwork of history, there are also a handful of unique individuals who enliven the past and provide inspiration for the future. Known as the “swearing Apostle,” J. Golden Kimball is just such a character, one whose legacy of colorful language is surpassed only by his fierce loyalty to the gospel.

In J. Golden Kimball: The Remarkable Man Behind the Colorful Stories, readers are invited to come to better know this legendary man made famous by his unique humor and powerful testimony. From a chronicle of Kimball’s youthful adventures to the legacy he forged in his more than forty years as a General Authority, gear up for a rollicking ride through the life of one of the liveliest servants of the Lord.


 
Writing the Memoir - by: Judith Barrington

I want to learn to write memoir so I can write some family history things. This book will be a little self-education before attending a class or two at the ANWA conference in September.

Promo Blurb: Since Writing the Memoir came out in early 1997 it has sold roughly 80,000 copies and is consistently praised as "the best book on memoir out there." It is thought-provoking, explanatory, and practical: each chapter ends with writing exercises. It covers everything from questions of truth and ethics to questions of craft and the crucial retrospective voice. An appendix provides information on legal issues.

Judith Barrington, an award-winning memoir writer and acclaimed writing teacher, is attuned to the forces, both external and internal, that work to stop a writer; her tone is respectful of the difficulties and encouraging of taking risks. Her nimble prose, her deep belief in the importance of this genre, and her delight in the rich array of memoirists writing today make this book more than the typical "how-to" creative writing book. In this second edition the author has added new material and reflects on issues raised since Writing the Memoir was written, early in the memoir boom.


 
Romancing Daphne - by: Sarah Eden

Sarah Eden is an amazing writer. I read everything she writes, so I am looking forward to the release of this historical romance in June.  

Promo Blurb: As her first London Season looms before her, the thought of the impending social whirl fills Daphne Lancaster’s timid heart with dread. She hasn’t her sisters’ beauty nor their talent for conversing easily. Even her family’s enviable connections may not be enough to prevent disaster. But Daphne’s misery turns to surprised delight when the first event of her Season brings an unexpected visitor to her door—James Tilburn, whose tender kindness stole her heart in her youth. When the handsome young gentleman expresses his desire to court her, Daphne is elated. Their feelings for each other quickly grow, and it appears that, much to Daphne’s disbelief, her happily ever after is within reach.

Yet nothing is as it seems. The couple finds themselves caught in a tangled web of greed and deceit, leaving James and Daphne to determine whether they are willing to risk everything for true love. “Sarah M. Eden has a knack for just the right pacing in her books while endearing the characters to us and showcasing a more universal human dilemma.”

What books will you be reading this summer? Anything you recommend for me?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Family Night: Improving Family Communication 2

Note: Many of you know I teach communication classes at two local colleges. I love my subject matter and have greatly benefitted personally from it. I believe there are many families who could use the information I teach to better improve their relationships at home. In response to this belief, I have created a series of family night lessons that focus on various aspects of communication. The following lesson focuses on building a positive self-concept. You can see an earlier lesson here. Want to receive notification of future lessons to be posted in this series? Like my Facebook page.




Building a Positive Self-Concept

Purpose: To help individuals understand the importance and influence of self-concept on communication.

Scripture: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16).

Thought: “The dignity of self is greatly enhanced by looking upward in the search for holiness. Like the giant trees, we should reach up for the light. The most important source of light we can come to know is the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is the source of inner strength and peace” (James E. Faust).[2]

Key Term: Self-concept – Idea or mental image one has of their own strengths, weaknesses, characteristics, and personality.

Lesson: Heavenly Father wants us to understand we are His children; it is one of the most fundamental doctrines of His gospel. The scriptures teach, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; . . . For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:28). A true understanding of our heavenly heritage is not only essential to our eternal salvation, but it also helps us to develop an accurate, healthy self-concept.
The self-concept is built during our younger, formative years and is relatively stable thereafter. It is influenced by a number of factors, including:
·         Other’s opinions of you (as expressed verbally and non-verbally).
·         Comparisons we make with others (including what is seen in media).
·         Cultural teachings.
·         Self-evaluations of our own behavior.[1]
Jesus said that we should love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39), implying the need for a healthy self-image. When we feel positive about ourselves, it is reflected in our communication with others; we are more upbeat, encouraging, and helpful. We are better able to love and serve those around us. Conversely, those with a negative self-concept are not only critical of their own actions, but often exhibit pessimistic, off-putting behavior toward others.
The self-concept can be strengthened by: 1.) Get to know yourself better; understand your strengths, weaknesses, talents, and potential; 2.) Set and work toward realistic goals to track progression and growth; 3.) Make home a warm, comfortable environment where love, appreciation, and affirmation take priority; and 4.)  Take time to learn and study gospel principles related to our divine nature. President James E. Faust stated, “May we all have a feeling of personal worth and dignity born of the knowledge that each of us is a child of God, and be strengthened by looking upwards in the pursuit of holiness.”[2]

Activity: Use scratch paper or note cards to write down a wide variety of words often used to describe personalities (about five per person; this website has a list of over 600). Before giving the lesson, spread the note cards out for everyone to see. Have each family member choose and share three they feel best describes themselves. Explain that this image we each have of ourselves is called the self-concept.

For Little Ones: Every child loves to hear the story of how they were born or came into the family. Take time to retell each child’s birth/adoption story, including how their name was chosen. Look at a few photographs of each newborn. Emphasize the positive feelings of love and excitement of welcoming a new member of the family, as well as the eternal nature of their existence.

Challenge: Emory University researchers have found family stories provide a sense of identity through time, and help individuals understand who they are in the world. As a result, learning more about family history can strengthen self-concept and increase our ability to achieve desired goals.[3] Take time this week to tell favorite family stories. Be sure to include both those from current and past family members. You may also choose to browse through family photographs or other mementos as a way to share family history and values.

Suggested Music: “O My Father” (Hymns no. 292) or “I Am a Child of God” (Hymns no. 301).



[1] McCornack and Ortiz, Choices and Connections: An Introduction to Communication, Bedford/St. Martin's, 2014.
[2] James E. Faust, “The Dignity of Self,” Ensign, May 1981, 10.
[3] Robyn Fivush et al, “Do You Know? The power of family history in adolescent identity and well-being,” Journal of Family Life, 23 Feb. 2010.