Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunday Insights

So this last Sunday I attended my brother Morgan's ward in San Clemente. There were a couple of great comments in the lessons that I wanted to share and maybe add to a bit.

First, in Sunday School we were discussing the pride cycle. One man made the comment that it is human nature to compare ourselves to others. He noted how we measure how well we are doing financially, socially, or spiritually in comparison with our neighbors or friends or acquaintances. He noted that this is not the way we the Lord wants us to measure ourselves.

I want to further expound on his comment because I think it was profound and it helps me answer a comment that someone posted about feeling guilty after reading my blog posts. I completely agree that it is our nature to want to compare ourselves to others. This is not helpful. Whether we find ourselves falling short or doing better than our friend, neither is a good outcome. 

We must learn to only measure ourselves against our own benchmark. It is only important that we are growing learning and improving. It is only important that we are becoming more like Christ. It is far less important where we are on that path to becoming like Him than which direction we are facing and moving.

We are each given different kinds and numbers of talents when we come to this earth. We don't need to all reach a certain number of talents by the end to be found worthy. We only need to do the most with what we are given. Remember the parable of the talents?

No one but me has lived my life. Others know this trial of losing a child, but none of them has had exactly the same lessons taught to them before encountering this trial. So no one is going to be in exactly the same place as I am in my own journey through this life. The same is true for everyone. We must only measure ourselves by our own progress and not make it relative to anyone else. 

There is one good reason to investigate and analyze the lives of others. It is the same reason we read the scriptures. We look to others to find examples of how ways we can improve. We can see the ways others have reacted, good or bad, and try to learn from their experience. Then if we ever encounter a similar situation we can try to live according to what we learned from the other. 

So please, do not feel guilty after reading any of my posts. Those of you struggling with your children. I know how that feels. I am not in that place right now but I was 4 months ago. I was smack in the middle of it. I don't feel I was failing then. I was doing the best I could given my circumstances. Could I have been doing better? Yes. Of course. I could be doing better as a mother now. But I am learning and growing and trying. That is what counts. 

Now in line with those thoughts, a woman in Relief Society (the women's group) at church shared a comment about righteous traditions. I loved her comment. It was a tradition her family has for Sunday's. She noted before the comment that she didn't want people to feel overwhelmed by her comment because she often felt that way when others talked about things they do well that she did not. 

But I am so glad she shared her idea because I love a good idea and even if I can't do it perfectly, I want to try to incorporate some of it in our home. So here is her tradition in line with keeping the Sabbath day holy:

Each Sunday has a theme. Then her family spends that Sunday doing things centered around the theme. In her family they have chosen the following themes:

First Sunday = Fast and Testimony Sunday. They have a family fast and testimony meeting. I love this idea because Sabrina has started wanting to bear her testimony. This gives her the opportunity to bear her testimony without taking the valuable time in sacrament meeting. And I can also see how the testimony's of my children will grow over the years. It also gives a great opportunity to teach them what a real testimony is and how they can get it.

Second Sunday = Service Sunday. Mom and Dad set up or do visiting and home teaching appointments. The kids pick "secret service hearts" out of a hat with names of their siblings on them. Then they spend the day planning and doing the secret service they will do for that person during the week. I love this. Gets visiting teaching done early in the month and who doesn't love secret service pals?

Third Sunday = Family History Sunday. The family gathers to learn about an ancestor, a story about their parents or grandparents they don't know. For us it might include a visit to a grave. Then they take 10 minutes to write in their journal. I think knowing about your ancestors is vital. I am so glad my kids knew about my grandparents before Camille died. I had told them many stories about my grandmothers. It helped them understand her death better knowing that she was with Grandma Lucile. After all the wonderful stories I told them about how fun she was they knew she was in good hands.

Fourth Sunday = Missionary Sunday. This sunday they write letters to missionaries, hear a story about dad on his mission, or do a missionary minded activity. I think this would be easier with older kids. I haven't decided if I want to switch this out or not. I am open to ideas (missionary or other themes) for little kids on this sunday if anyone has any. 

Fifth Sunday = P.I.E. Sunday. Priesthood Interview for Everyone. This Sunday each kid has a one on one personal interview with Dad. Then after everyone is done they have a nice dessert together. I love this too. It puts a regular schedule on doing personal interviews. I think alone time with Dad is invaluable. Dad's are examples to young men and they give self esteem to young women. Your mom you expect to give time to you. You are her job (if she is a stay at home mom). But your dad, well it is just special when he takes time out to spend alone with you.

Lastly, my friend Karsen is in that ward. She has 4 girls all within months of mine. I so enjoyed watching her baby girl who was born within weeks of Camille. After Relief Society her little girl Emma let me carry her to nursery to pick up Lauren and Emma's sister Paige. When Lauren came out and saw me holding Emma she got a very serious look on her face.

"Why do you got that baby?" she asked.
"I am just holding her. Isn't she cute? She is the same age as Camille." I told Lauren.
Lauren still looked skeptical. "Is it a girl baby or a boy baby?" she asked. Emma has about as much hair as Camille would have had by now. 
"It is a girl baby." I told her. 
At this Lauren smiled and started jumping up and down in joy saying over and over "We bought a girl baby! We bought a girl baby!"
I hated having to tell her the baby was not ours but Paige's little sister. Her face was just so disappointed. But then Emma let Lauren give her a hug and Lauren felt better. And Lauren was thrilled to see Emma's face light up in smiles when Lauren played peek-a-boo with her. 

Oh if only it were so easy to get a child as to go to the store and buy one.
"Yes, I would like a potty trained 2 year old with no attitude and please make sure she is cute."


Kara Jayne said...

Stephanie, I don't always comment, but I always read with a warm heart. I am grateful for your posts and how they encourage me and make me think. I love the parable of the talents. I loved Elder Uchtdorf's talk. I needed it and this post greatly. Thank you.

Sue said...

Just emailed your post to my daughter-in-law. It's too late for me to do the Sunday tradition with my kids, but maybe she'll want to incorporate it. Sounds like a cool tradition to me!

Tim and Marcee said...

What a fabulous idea to have Sunday family traditions. I have 4little boys at home and this would be wonderful to do with them. Especially the interviews with dad. He is gone all week at work and this would be a great time to have one on one. Thanks!

mckenna said...

I love the Sabbath day theme idea!! We are living close to family right now, and meet each Sunday for a big family dinner. Next month we are moving out of state and will be the only ones missing the traditional family get togethers. I have been struggling with wondering what to do. I LOVE this idea!! Although, my children are also very young and I don't know about the missionary themed day. Can't wait to read other comments with any other suggestions!! :)

Stephanie said...

I'm so glad you posted this! After you told me I wrote it down, but I couldn't remember one of the Sundays. I am definitely starting this tradition at my house. How great it would be if this sister knew what a great inspiration she is to people she doesn't even know!

Also, thank you for the great reminder to not compare ourselves to others--it is so easy to do, but such a trap! You are indeed an example I look to of how I can improve--in faith, in courage, in love, in humility... THANK YOU!

Nikki said...

Missionary themed Sunday sounds like a great day to have the missionaries over and hear a littel about their missions & dad's mission. Our kids SO enjoys those Sunday dinners... and what a blessing it is to the whole family to have the missionaries in your home building relationships with all of you.

www.adorn-jewelry.blogspot.com said...

maybe you should have an extended family sunday...visit your parents and siblings, take cookies to them?

or a temple sunday...visit the temple grounds, talk about the temple, look at wedding pics of family and friends married in the temple, etc.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to comment about pride and humility. I have an interesting definition I've developed over the years:

Pride: understanding who you are in relation to other people (comparing, envy, coveting, not being good enough, etc.)

Humility: understanding who you are in relation to the Savior (of ourselves, less than the dust of the earth because we're not even that obedient; by coming to Him we can be our best selves, and have the potential to become like Him)

Melinda said...

I want to invite you to join a fun game of tag, and you are it. You can read the details on my blog.

P.S. I love your blog. I find so much hope and peace from your post. I am grieving a very deep loss as well and your words give me comfort.

Love, Melinda

Janae said...

Fabulous post Stephanie:)
I love the themed-Sundays...what a great way to keep ourselves remembering those things we should be doing.
The story about your little one and "buying the baby" really cute. I too would order the two-year old who was potty-trained, and no attitude;)

Carolyn said...

Love all of this Stephanie! I'm so glad you shared it, I'm totally going to do themed Sundays!

Marleen said...

I love that Lauren, she always can bring a smile to my face.

Thanks for sharing the Sunday themes. I love that. Growing up we always had a Sunday interview with the parents. I really actually appreciated it during the teenage years. I could vent my frustrations openly and have that undivided attention to help resolve concerns. Which was hard with 8 other siblings!

I love the missionary sunday. For younger kids, I imagine learning missionary songs, roll playing or helping the kids know how they can share the gospel to friends and neighbors now while they are young. Bring out mission photos and the globe and show where parent(s) went on their missions, make a dish from that region of the world or dessert. My mind is full of ideas...I must write them down while they are still there. Thanks for sharing the insight. It is so uplifting to all of us.

Shanan said...

I love this post. I love the insight and food for thought. Thanks for sharing.

Noorda Notebook said...

i love the fhe idea. i'm at such a good time with my family to start new traditions and that's one i think i'll try and see how it goes. thanks for realying it.

Sharron said...

The Sunday traditions are a wonderful idea. I would make one change. My husband had his walks in the "cow fence" (we were in the country and had an empty section behind our home that just had cattle grazing) each Fast Sunday. I think that could be value for you to pick a Sunday that would happen more often than 5th ones.

My kids really looked forward to it, even after they got older. It was an opportunity to bond with him and to vent, often about me. He traveled a great deal with his work and life got pretty tense with me handling everything most of the time while adding to our family. He could share issues with me, with the kids' permission, and it would give us all a chance to address problems more calmly when needed.

Heather said...

Thank you for sharing the idea about themed sundays. What a wonderful way to stay focused on the sabbath.

I appreciate your blog, your inspiring words and your ability to share. You are an example to me.

vocalise said...

Start to finish.....great post. Thank you.


I've never commented before. I usually just admire and learn from you, but I really liked the idea of a theme for each Sunday. I don't think you should change out missionary Sunday. My kids 8/5/2 LOVE playing missionaries. We let them go to the door with their scriptures and my husband and my old missionary name tags. They role play as if they were missionaries, and we are their investigators. It helps them share their testimony and you can ask basic gospel principles to see how much they understand. They get practice on how to invite someone to church and how to teach them to pray. I love to hear their insights-even at this young age.

Tawnie said...

Your comments remind me of Elder Uchtdorfs talk during the Relief Society meeting. http://www.lds.org/move/index.html?type=conference&event=178&lang=english
Thank you for sharing your story. It is inspirational. I almost lost my 4 year old in a hotel pool earlier this summer. I was very lucky and we still have him here. My sister in law found your blog and said I would enjoy it because I would somewhat understand.
Thank you.

Katie Webb said...

I love this post. Thank you so much for sharing. The first thing I thought of on Missionary Sunday was to have them over for dinner. Maybe the kids can make missionary badges or talk about how they can do missionary work by being a good example to their friends. I loved having the missionaries in my home as a kid. I looked up to them and I so wanted to serve a mission. Up until the day I met my soon-to-be husband I wanted to be a missionary. They can have such a great impact on young children.

Fowler family said...

Stephanie, I just recently came across your blog. It has touched my heart so much. You of course don't know me, but I thought I'd "poke my head in" and say hello and tell you thank you for all the beautiful bits of wisdom and insight you have shared with the rest of us in this world. It has been such an uplifting and learning experience for me to read your blog and relish your beautiful family. So thank you. Sincerely, Anna
PS, what fun Sunday ideas!!!

Heidi said...

I agree--what a great idea for the Sunday themes. Thank you for passing it on!

(Also, if I was in your ward, I wouldn't mind one bit to have Sabrina bear her testimony during Sacrament. In fact, I would love it!)

Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC ideas!! So glad you passed this on!

One thought for "Missionary Sunday" (we also have young children but my husband is Young Men's President so we are never lacking for missionaries to write to :)) However... what about "invite a friend to church day", have the missionaries over for dinner, or even better - invite friends AND the missionaries over for dinner!
You'd have to have a bigger house than we do though! lol

Thanks again for sharing this... very inspiring!

2 + 2 = 4 said...

Amen, sister!

My life was hard from the moment I was born. I decided that I was going to change it the day I was baptized at 17 years old.

It's been better, yes! But, I still have moments when I keeping telling myself that I am not good enough!

I just have really high expectations for myself and for the type of kids that I want my girls to become!

Keep teaching me, just keep teaching! I need it!

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie, I seem to have deleted your email address by mistake. We received the lovely cards from you and your girls - thank you! Charlotte has a photo to send to Sabrina, so could you email me at janeandnicholas@hotmail.com so I can email it back to you?!

Love to you all,


Liz H said...

Stephanie: I think your 4th Sunday should be "Plan of Salvation" Sunday. One of the Quorum of the 12 invited President's of a college to do this activity (Start a Plan of Salvation book) and told them it should take them the rest of their lives to fill it. You start with the pre-existance and follow it through to life after judgement in each kingdom.

I loved the thought to fill in the basics that we always talk about in church and in FHE, but then add scriptures, details (like who will be there, personalities, duties, etc) and thoughts on the subject from our priesthood authorities. It's also a great way to talk about patriarchal blessings (I grew up with a mother who sang every song from every musical ever performed, 40 years later - we read her blessing and it stated (at age 13) that she would raise her children to love music. To this day I sing musical numbers as I work, put my kids to bed, and to bring me out of a foul mood). This is a never ending project because as your testimony of different parts of the P of S develop your thoughts and understanding can give more insight into each area of the gospel. I know one family that did this in a fold out of a manilla folder (changed to fold out in thirds) and her young children started by gluing the three main parts of the plan on each section and then writing about each section and how it applies to them. I think someone could fill a small book on just the 1000 years of peace.

Anyway, good luck with this idea. It sounds great and I love how it helps to develop a strong sense of keeping the Sabbath Day Holy. I'll look forward to future posts of the successes and the improvements needed for this to work in your home.

Lenzi said...

Stephanie, just an idea about the "missionary Sunday" that you may change... Having young children myself, I always have a hard time taking ideas out of handbooks because so often they are not geared towards young children.. I was thinking that maybe you can keep the Missionary Sunday theme, and for that day, you can get together as a family and have each of your kids think of a friend at school, or in the neighborhood that does not participate in any church functions, and they could take that next week to make them feel welcome at church activities, or even invite them to church with them! My parents had us kids do that when I was little, and I loved the oppurtunity for my friends to come to church with me...Just a thought!

The Morris Fam said...

grrrrreat sunday idea! so glad she shared!

cute story lauren. could i buy a happy 11 yr old who loves playing little kids?? oh...it'd be nice if she LOVED folding laundry too.

Stacy said...

Thank you for the post!! I love the ideas! I wanted to share my thoughts with something you said. "I love this idea because Sabrina has started wanting to bear her testimony. This gives her the opportunity to bear her testimony without taking the valuable time in sacrament meeting." To me, hearing kids bear their testimonies is such a powerful spiritual experience. When they WANT to bare their testimony I say "Go for it!!!" No matter how young! It can help them fill so important. When I was young I always wanted to bear my testimony, and it has carried with me as I become older.
I like one of the other commentors thoughts about the Plan of Salvation idea! I do like the Missionary idea though too. I've been wanting to share with my daughter, even though she is so young, how to give service. Like taking cookies to a less active family in your neighborhood, or going to visit an old folks home, etc.! Whatever is right for your family! But thank you so much for sharing that ladies thoughts!

Jen Lee said...

For Missionary Sunday you could invite a different family over for dinner~ an active family, a less active family, a non-member family. I think it is good to establish good relationships with all of those around us. It also will get you out of your comfort zone to have someone over you don't know as well. And getting out of your comfort zone is what being a missionary is all about.

We are going to start doing the Sunday themes with our young kids. You continue to amaze and inspire me. Thank you for your strength and insight!

Karsen said...

Love you, Steph! Even if you can't buy her, you can borrow Emma any time you are getting a craving for Camille!

Olsens R Us said...

We implemented this idea in our family today, with a family counsel meeting with our kids explaining what we were going to do. I love the concept, and it brings the three missions of the church together in a new light for sabbath day worship. Thanks for sharing this, and for all you do to bless the lives of so many, even while coming through your own darkest hours.
As far as missionary ideas for the little ones we are including making cookies for our local missionaries or inviting them to dinner, taking a walk through the neighborhood to meet more of our neighbors, coloring pictures for our cousins that are on missions,or looking at pictures from my husband's mission. I'll probably peruse some old FHE missionary lessons for some other activity ideas too.

Hope these help,