Thursday, June 28, 2018

Weekend Plans

I don't have a lot going on this weekend. In fact, two of my kiddos are out of town and that means things are pretty quiet around here. However, I finished teaching my summer class today, and I am really looking forward to my REAL summer break now. I'm thinking a movie, swimming, and shopping fun are well deserved. Too bad the Fourth of July is in the middle of the week... seems like it doesn't really count as a holiday if it isn't a long weekend. But I am going to make it fun anyway.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

TLC Strategy #4: Mirror Class Member Behavior

Each Sunday this summer I will be posting a discussion-based teaching strategy that can be used at church (such as in LDS teacher councils) or school. Hope a few readers find these helpful! Read earlier strategies by clicking on the linked label at the end of this post.

Strategy #4: Mirror Class Member Behavior

A powerful method to build rapport is to match and mirror the behavior of those in the group. This includes a variety of behaviors, such as tone of voice, facial expressions, formality of body posture, and eye contact. By assuming the behaviors and attitudes of those being taught, discussion leaders show they are listening and present. On a psychological level the class members feel a sense of acceptance and recognition. #teachleadcollaborate

Friday, June 22, 2018

Great Reviews

I was excited to read a new five-star review for Improving Family Communication posted on Amazon today. I took a screen shot of it because it makes me so happy. (Yes, I'm a touch weird.) I have been busy getting the print version of it ready while the ebook is available. I hope that it will be for sale soon!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I Need to Laugh More

I'm feeling the need to laugh. Life has been too serious and even a little stressful. Time to smile and take a time out. One of my favorite things to do is watch Brian Regan videos on YouTube. It always makes me laugh. Here are a few of my favorites. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

TLC Strategy #3: Series of 3 Questions

Each Sunday this summer I will be posting a discussion-based teaching strategy that can be used at church (such as in LDS teacher councils) or school. Hope a few readers find these helpful! Read Strategy #1 here and Strategy #2 here.

Strategy #3: Series of 3 Questions

"To help class members discuss how a gospel concept relates to their lives, you can ask three different types of questions in a series:
"1. A fact question: 'Whom does the Lord require us to forgive?'
"2. An application question: 'How does forgiving someone affect us?'
"3. An experience question: 'What is a positive experience you have had with forgiving someone?'” (President Monson, Ensign, April 2010)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

5 Fun Ways to Minister Through Text

“I challenge you to strengthen your efforts to spiritually minister to one another. To minister spiritually can begin with baking cookies or playing a basketball game, but eventually this holier way of ministering requires opening your heart and your faith, taking courage in encouraging the positive growth you are seeing in a friend or in expressing concerns about things you see and feel that are not consistent with discipleship" (Neil L. Andersen, April 2018)

Sometimes having a little fun together can go a long way to building a relationship with those you are ministering to. Here are five fun ideas to help get to know each other and have fun via texting.

Text #1: Get to Know You Questions

Send a text that asks questions to get to know each other better, such as:

"In the spirit of ministering and getting to know you better, how would you answer the following?
"1. Which would you rather do, go white water rafting or sky diving?
"2. What is something others are totally into, but you just don't get it?
"3. What were your favorite past times as a 5 year old?
"4. Where is the farthest place you have traveled from home?
"5. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Plain or sugar cone?"

Be sure to provide your own answers after you get a response!

Text #2: Hymn Lyrics Game

This is a great texting game that also includes a spiritual thought or two. The game is played by sending a quote of hymn lyrics via text. The other person has to guess which hymn it is from. This can be fun if you are both into music, and can be broadened to include lyrics from other songs. You might send a text that reads something like this:

"A ministering thought for you that doubles as a trivia game: Can you tell which hymn these lyrics are from? 'And though this world, with devils filled,/ Should threaten to undo us,/ We will not fear, for God hath willed/ His truth to triumph through us.'
"A. How Firm a Foundation
"B. A Mighty Fortress is Our God
"C. All Creatures of Our God and King"

After their guess you can text a brief thought or testimony of the truthfulness of the lyrics.

Text #3: Hangman

This fun childhood favorite can be adapted to texting. Instead of using a drawing, the player gets 8 points that are counted down if their letter guess is wrong. To get started the first player sends a text with a series of underscores (I use 2 adjacent underscores followed by a space), each representing a letter of the chosen word. The other player makes a guess of a letter they think might be in the word. If he/she guesses the correct letter, the first player applies the letter in one of the underscores and fills the slot in a return text. However, if the letter guessed is incorrect, the player loses a point. Here is a recent sample game I played with my daughter.

#4 Who said it?

Who Said It? is an amusing but simple guessing game. Text a series of quotes that can easily be attributed to a church leader or a well-known pop culture icon. Then see if your ministering friend can guess the right answer. Here is an example (based on this 2014 article):

"Can you guess who said the following quotes? Dieter F. Uchtdorf or Dumbledore?
"Quote 1: 'Never give up on anyone. And that includes not giving up on yourself.'"
([Wait for guess and then reveal answer] Dieter F. Uchtdorf)
"Quote 2: 'It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.'" (Dumbledore)
"Quote 3: 'Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.'"
"Quote 4: 'I invite you to rise to the great potential within you.'"
(Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

After this little game, be sure to text an uplifting comment about one of the quotes or having leaders who inspire and share good advice.

P.S., Here are two other sources you could use for Who Said It?:

#5 Sharing a Humorous Meme

Sometimes just sending a funny meme or GIF to make your ministering friend smile is enough to let them know you are thinking of them. When texting a meme you are essentially adding a picture to a text message. If you can download the picture, you can then attach it to the message. Try to find the image you want, long press on it, and then select copy. Next, when you're in the text message, long press and select paste.

Alternatively, you could also send a meme of a conference quote or scripture.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Teens and Social Media

Just a few ramblings in response to a recent article published in Deseret News, which gives in-depth information on teens and media usage. The article reports, "Today, 95 percent of teens have a smartphone, and 88 percent have a desktop or laptop computer." These numbers are huge! And the end result is a varied, but widespread, impact on the rising generation.

Here are some of the problems that are often associated with the usage of social media:

1. Poor time management skills - Who hasn't been sucked into the never ending world of surfing Instagram or Facebook? It is addicting and an excellent way to waste time.

2. Mental health issues - Those who post to social media tend to put forth their best life. I get it--I would not want anyone to see the muckiness of my life either. However, the end result is that users of social media constantly see and compare themselves to other's best (but incomplete) lives. Ultimately this has a negative impact on the self, self-worth, and self-concept.

3. Fake news - Unfortunately, Russians aren't the only ones out there writing fake news articles, posting links to click bait, or trying to mislead users. The amount of false information on the internet is pretty astounding. And it can be challenging to be sure what we are reading is true.

4. Bullying - The disconnect and anonymity of posting on the internet somehow makes some users feel that civility isn't needed. Others purposefully post flaming comments intended to be rude and to rile up the emotions of readers. The ensuing bullying has been painful, not to mention deadly, to many users.

Seeing these statistics, and the negative results of too much social media usage, it is no wonder President Nelson asked LDS teens to do a seven day social media fast. Their world seems to be immersed in technology! Taking time away from social media, even just a week, has its benefits.

My daughters both participated in the fast. My younger daughter said she has realized there is no reason to be continuously checking her Instagram account--there are other things to do that are a better use of her time. She read more, hung out with friends (many of whom were also doing the fast), painted, and played games.

My older daughter noted that she also found other more productive things to do. "I check it a lot less now," she responded when asked. Hopefully the change will be lasting!


If you are interested in helping your family improve their communication skills because you have seen the negative impact of too much social media or screen time, check out my latest book Improving Family Communication. Available on Amazon!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

TLC Strategy #2: Balancing Participation

Each Sunday this summer I will be posting a discussion-based teaching strategy that can be used at church (such as in LDS teacher councils) or school. Hope a few readers find these helpful! Read Strategy #1 here.

Strategy #2: Balancing Participation

You must be prepared to be bossy (in a nice way) if you want to stay on point all of the time. Strive to encourage quiet/shy people to participate and tell those “over-enthusiastic” people to pipe down. Of course, we need to do this in a way that doesn’t appear to single-out anyone and offend them ("I love what you have to say--I just wish we had more time." or "Thank you for sharing. Let's hear what others think.") Balance participation by asking, “Who else has something to say?” or “I would like to hear more from this side of the room.” #teachleadcollaborate

Friday, June 8, 2018

Book Review: The Scandal in Honor

The Scandal in Honor is Heidi Ashworth's new book! Yay for summer reads! 

The Scandal in Honor is the second book of the Lord Trevelin Mysteries. Lord Trevelin, whose mouth is scarred from an earlier duel over a married woman, has had his reputation damaged in the eyes of the ton several times. In the first book, the murder of a neighbor's son results in sleuthing and the discovery of a gruesome plot. In the current book, the now-engaged Trevelin feels compelled to help a penniless young woman (not his fiancé, Jane), whose father is deceased, so she can have a season. Unfortunately, her mother is murdered and Trevelin's sleuthing skills are called upon.

I particularly enjoy Trevelin's character. He has many strengths, but his flaws offer layers of insight into his personality. In TSIH Trevelin repeatedly sees Willy, the ghost of a deceased friend, and the reader is left to wonder if it's real or if it is a mental breakdown. I have an opinion on this, but since Heidi doesn't reveal the truth (at least not yet), I am waiting for the third book in this series to know for sure.

I love Heidi's ability to keep me guessing until the very end. Lord Trevelin is a great character--multifaceted, smart, empathic, and definitely heroic. And the supporting cast of characters have unique voices, making the plot all the more interesting. I experienced a wide range of emotions reading this book (laughed at Mrs. S., swooned at Trev's romance, and was so sad when his reputation was again demolished). Ashworth writes regency era better than 9 in 10 authors out there. Her style is reminiscent of Georgette Heyer. If you are a fan of regency era books or mysteries, I highly recommend the Lord Trevelin Mysteries.

From the back of the book:

"What is the price one must pay to protect ones honor? Or that of another? It has been two years since the duel that changed Julian "Trev" Silvester's life. He is now happily betrothed to Miss Jane Leavitt whose influence has helped to restore his reputation among Society. Her father, however, has not allowed the connection to be made public. He is not happy about Trev's penchant for looking into unsavory matters such as missing diamond necklaces and dead downstairs maids. He will allow the couple to set a date for their wedding when he is satisfied that Trev will look to his own reputation with the same care as does Jane. Meanwhile, Trev is taken with the tale of a young lady new to Town. Her military father was said to have done away with himself in order to escape censure over his decision to flee a battle with his wife and child. Trev can't resist attempting to set the man's reputation to rights. He is helped by a "ghostly" Willy and the boot boy cum valet, Jack. When several more "accidents" occur, Trev's list of suspects grows. And then his cousin Eve threatens him with ruin if he does not release Jane to his clutches. The Scandal in Honor is book two in The Lord Trevelin Mysteries. Be sure to read the first book in this captivating Regency-era mystery series about one man's journey to redemption, told through the eyes of the one whose absolution he longs for the most: his own."

Goodreads link
Amazon link
Heidi's Blog, Dunhaven Place

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Favorite Authors: LM Montgomery

I remember starting sixth grade without the desire to read. My teacher that year was Mrs. Werner. In an effort to get me reading Mrs. Werner suggested I try Anne of Green Gables. I looked at the cover, then looked at Mrs. Werner, and thought, "Saying 'no' is not an option." So I took the book home and struggled for a week to get through the first chapter. Anne's forever-long diatribe on her ride home from the railroad station with Matthew was hard to get through.

But then I had a breakthrough. Anne's arrival at Green Gables was much more interesting. I so hoped Marilla and Matthew would keep her. And especially after she became friends with Diana, I could not put the book down. Later, as I read the sequels, I fell in love with Gilbert Blythe as much as Anne did. The whole Anne series is still a favorite to this day. I wish I could thank Mrs. Werner.

Lucy Maude Montgomery's mother died when she was just 21 months old. For the most part her grandparents raised her on Prince Edward Island in Canada. She was first published at about age 16 when a poem she wrote was printed in the newspaper. After she finished school she studied to get a teacher's license. She taught in various schools on Prince Edward Island. Although she did not enjoy the work, it provided plenty of time to write. "Beginning in 1897, her short stories were published in magazines and newspapers. A prolific writer, Montgomery published over 100 stories between 1897 and 1907" (source). Her first book, Anne of Green Gables, was published in 1908 and was an immediate success. In 1911 Lucy married Ewen McDonald, a Presbyterian preacher; shortly thereafter they moved to Ontario for his work. The couple had three sons (although the second was stillborn), but the marriage was difficult due to Ewen's mental health and temperament issues. Lucy's writing became prolific during this time of her life, partially because she used writing as a coping mechanism to deal with her challenges. She spent many years caring for her husband and struggled with depression as a result. During her lifetime, Montgomery had published twenty novels, over 500 short stories, an autobiography, and a book of poetry. She died in 1942.

Project Gutenberg has numerous L.M. Montgomery books available for free as ebook downloads. Follow this link and pick your favorite. I recommend Rilla of Ingleside in addition to any of the Anne books.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

TLC Strategy #1: Warm-Ups

Each Sunday this summer I will be posting a discussion-based teaching strategy that can be used at church or school. Hope a few readers find these helpful!
Strategy #1: Warm-Ups
Word, imagery, and personification associations are a fun way to get people talking at the beginning of class. The discussion leader uses a set of pictures or phrases and asks the class members to choose which one they think best describes or relates to the topic at hand. Go around the room and let individuals share. Follow-up questions on how the choice of association relates can give further insight to thoughts and feelings. Works well as an attention-getter and to get feedback from individuals. Can also be done with class members placed in teams or small groups.

Friday, June 1, 2018

NEW RELEASE! Improving Family Communication

I am exited to announce the release my fifth book, Improving Family Communication: 16 FHE Lessons on Christlike Communication. I had such a positive response to some FHE lessons I posted here on my blog about basic communication skills, I decided to expand on that idea and put them all in a book. There are lessons on eye contact, conflict management, listening, verbal communication, mental health, and more.

Don't you love the cover? The artwork is by a friend, Jeff Byrd. He did a fabulous job!

Currently Improving Family Communication is an ebook, but will soon be available in hard copy. The publishing of this book is a goal I have been working on for the past year, so I am excited to see it come to fruition.

Michaela Stephens of Scriptorium Bloggorium recently posted a great review, so if you are interested in learning more follow the link!