A few nights ago some friends and I put on a Medieval “Armor of God” evening for our boys. We used the talk by Sister Dalton called “Born To Lead” as our inspiration for the night. It took tons of hours to put on, and I definitely could not have done it on my own. The end result was amazing, the boys had a blast, the dad’s got to give advice to their kids, and us mom’s got the privilege of doing something to let those men our lives know they are special. I find that with so much going on, the man I married, often gets the leftovers of my time, attention, laughter and just of me. I served no leftovers on Saturday-giving them all the best I had. One of the gifts that the boys received upon being “Knighted” was a picture of the temple with the words “Semper Fidelis Ad Deum” which is latin for “Every Faithful To God”
I spent way too long on the poster, and probably could have spent my time better elsewhere, but the truth was, I was having so much fun creating these posters. I made a few before settling on the ‘perfect’ one for the evening.
Feel free to download and use any of them for your personal use.
Recently I have been working hard at going to bed earlier in hopes that I stay healthy and can be a more involved mother. So far it has worked pretty well (except for the nights I worked on my date kits for my husband) but last night I made an exception and can’t imagine making a better choice. Every year on Valentines Day for the last 6 years my husband has got together with a bunch of other husbands and made a Valentines dinner for their wives. This is a tradition that was started wholly by the men in a desire to honor their sweethearts, and it is by far one of my favorite date of the year.
Knowing the men involved, I am sure this idea was germinated by my two dear friends husbands who are both great cooks. I imagine them getting all excited about what they were going to cook, and then approaching my husband with all their enthusiasm. Mischievously I can imagine the look and delight turn to trepidation as my husband heard the plan. That he loves me is no question. That he relishes in making me feel special is not something I doubt. I only know, that among the lengthy list of accomplishments my husband has, cooking is not found there. I can easily picture his concern that he would have nothing to contribute. Thankfully, those two wise men did not let him back out. With some positive peer pressure they convinced him to get off work early and meet at one of their homes to ‘prepare’ for the ladies. When he got there, that first night, they kindly put him in charge of the decorations.
Dutifully he called his mother-in-law and asked her what he should do to make the table look pretty and romantic. Her advice was “Dip the glasses in water and then sugar so that the rims have an elegant sparkly line, put flowers on the table and hang pretty things from the chandelier, and finally take time to write a love note to each wife.” Little did she know how her advice would be used.
When all three of us girls walked through the door, we could not hold in the giggles. Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw. Hanging from the chandelier were pink streamers woven around a an extension cord. Boxing gloves were stuck on to part of the chandelier. Our elegant glasses were mason canning jars-sweetly dipped in sugar. I do believe there was a bouquet of dusty ugly fake flowers pulled out of a toy box somewhere in that room. The best were the poems that sat prettily at each of our three seats. Mine read “My wife, my wife, my wife, how I love my beautiful wife, my wife!” written thoughtfully by my friends 11 year old daughter!! The whole evening went up from there. The food was delicious, the conversation wonderful and we even played a few ‘theater sports’ games.
This tradition has been going on for four years and I love it. This years theme (my husband is now the designated decorator) was ‘super hero’s’. From the chandelier there hung different action figures, no extension cord this time or mason jars, but there was a pair of boxing gloves there. Our company of 6 ballooned to a group of 16, and the evening was delightfully fun!
About five years ago, my kids and some of their friends started a humanitarian club called “Kids Can Change The World”. Together they put on different fund raising events throughout the year.
To date they have raised over eight thousand dollars towards different humanitarian projects. While we are aware that that’s not really going to ‘change the world’, I think it is important that they learn to do what ever they can do to make the world a better place. To raise money they have put on garage sales, organized swap meets and craft fairs, put on dances and even hosted a hunger banquet. Everything has been so fun to be involved in, but our favorite event hands down is their annual DADDY-DAUGHTER dance.
With four daughters and a very involved husband, I was surprised with how sweet it was to watch Dads and daughters dance in a formal setting. There is something heartwarming about seeing dads and their kids spending time together.
In my post about fathers and camping I quoted Margaret Meeker, the author of a book called “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters“. She states “Daughters who perceive that their fathers care a lot about them, who feel connected to their fathers, have significantly fewer suicide attempts and fewer instances of body dissatisfaction, depression, low self-esteem, substance use, and unhealthy weight.” Being raised by a “strong father” I know that his influence is invaluable in my life. It was his absolute faith in me and my 10 siblings that helped me overcome some potentially traumatic experiences as a youth. I know it wasn’t easy, but somehow my father made each one of us feel uniquely loved and appreciated for who we were.
My father, a lawyer, always taught us to ask questions and seek truth. He was always reading everything under the moon on the church and encouraged us to do the same. The one thing I appreciated about him so much was knowing he would always do everything in his power to keep me safe-AND if he failed in his attempt, he would die trying to make things right. No boy ever dared to cross my Papa!
Ironically, while he made me feel valued, valuable, secure, safe, protected, and cared-for, he also helped me feel powerful, unconquerable, incredible, strong, smart, and I knew that anything I desired in my life I could accomplish. That sense of self-worth has carried me through many hard times. He truly ‘loved my mother‘ in this way as well-often commenting how she outshone him in every area. He complimented her frequently on her choice to stay home and raise all of us kids “With a brain like hers, she could have had any career she wanted, and instead she chose to stay home and raise all you kids. Aren’t you lucky?” (My mother was quick to tell us that she could imagine nothing better than being a stay-at-home mother. The way she said it, the way she played with us, the way she told us stories and created magic for us each day, made it impossible for me to disbelieve her. Now that I am a mother, I realize how honestly she spoke those words.) It is my father’s example and love that makes it easy for me to imagine a Heavenly Father that loves me.
I realize that my dad was special and that not all dad’s communicate their faith and love in their kids as well as my father was able to. I also know that some dad’s are abusive and that breaks my heart. The Doctrine and Covenants 121:22 strongly opposes men who use their influence unrighteously and hurt others, especially little ones.
It states “It had been abetter for them that a millstone had been hanged about their necks, and they drowned in the depth of the sea.” With warnings like this (and all the bad publicity society gives fathers) I think some dads are hesitant in engaging fully in their kids lives.
One of the reasons I love the Daddy-Daughter Dance is because it helps give hesitant fathers a chance to appropriately spend time showering attention on their daughters. The way those girls glow with this fatherly attention is a delight to behold. Here are two video’s of last years event. The first is for mothers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3YBJhqrlos (so they catch the vision of the event in a motherly way) the second is for dad’s so it captures the energy and fun of the evening.
It was merely coincidence that this year our Daddy-Daughter Dance was held so soon after our “Being Loyal To The Royal” evening. I know the boys are feeling slighted but I promised them soon I will do something to celebrate them (I am having a hard time thinking of something that they will like as much as the girls liked their evening) because one day hopefully they will be a ‘strong father’.
I know not all daughters or fathers like to dance. What kind of things did your dad do, or did you wish he did to help you feel special (girl or boy)???
All week I reminded him about the date, and even arranged for my sister to take my kids for the evening. He was definitely more excited to have me alone than to participate in a ‘literature date’. Little did he know what fun I had up my sleeves.
Around 3 o’clock I started cleaning the house-who wants a date in a messy, muddy house (my house get’s muddy once the weather starts getting nicer)? I got the girls to set the table, and was so pleased with myself by how things were looking when Steve came back from his temple
session at 6. That was when I remembered that I needed to make a dinner for us both 😦 As pretty as the table looked, it wouldn’t be very satisfying without food. Unfortunately we hadn’t gone shopping for a few days and there was no ‘instant’ foods in my cupboards. I was stumped until I remembered seeing a picture of a pretty sliced potato somewhere. Normally potato’s take a long time to cook, and we didn’t have a long time, so I decided to use the microwave. It worked great, I only had to cook them each for 5 minutes with a little bit of drizzled olive oil. I immediately sprinkled them with grated cheese the minute they came out of the microwave. They turned out so pretty I had to take a picture of them. Not bad for 10 minutes of work 🙂
The rest of the date went delightfully well. We ate our dinner by the light of candles and the warmth of our fireplace.
We chatted, laughed and just enjoyed being with each others. The Mad Lib we used was particularly funny because the first line opened up with a “I gazed across the table from him. He was so (adjective). . . .” The adjective that Steve picked was ‘sparkly’. Anyone who knows my husband, knows that he somehow attracts sparkles like a plague. If there is ever a sparkle to be found, it will be on his cheek. One day, when he was particularly sparkly, he mentioned to his co-worker that he just couldn’t get rid of the darn stuff. His co-worker laughed and said that he had noticed sparkles on my husbands face and didn’t want to say anything because he just didn’t know if my husband was experimenting with it or not 🙂
Our poems were equally funny to write and I truly felt like I was falling-in-love with my husband all over again (the chocolate he bought me didn’t hurt the process either ). I know why the leaders of our church always are encouraging us to not miss our weekly dates together. It is just plain fun being alone with my best friend. I love it and I love him. I dont’ know why I have been so casual with dating him in the past. Especially since he so clearly follows Sisters Daltons advice to “love [their] mother“.
I vow that in the future I will be much more diligent in letting this man of mine know how much I adore him. Sometimes I think I am immuned to the stresses that pull marriages apart, but that is so naive of me. As my brother-in-law told the girls at the “temple night” we just had for them, there is nothing that the adversary is more afraid of than a righteous young man marrying a righteous young woman forming an eternal family. The reason for the adversaries fear is, that he knows that that couple is going to do anything they can do to raise up righteous posterity unto the Lord. When my brother-in-law said that I had that ‘a hah’ moment. I could see so clearly why the adversary encourages the blurring of gender identity, undermining marriage and even calling the act of children as selfish (instead of selfless). He does it because he is afraid. No wonder he attacks the family in as many ways as he can. It is in a family, with a mother and father that children have the best chance to learning about our Heavenly Fathers plan for us. I know the adversary is afraid when I date and fall-in-love with my eternal companion and I want to keep him that way by doing everything I can do to build up, inspire and strengthen my marriage-even if it is only one silly poem at a time 🙂
My oldest daughter and a couple of cousins were turning 12 in just a few months. I struggled to come up with a unique way of celebrating this wonderful milestone. While going to the temple for the first time was undoubtably the most important thing about this birthday, I still wanted to do something to let her and her cousins know that they were special. Not only special, amazing, incredible and every good word I could think of. So, with the support of my sisters and the help of a few uncles (we come from a HUGE family of 11 kids-8 natural sibling and 3 adopted) This is what I came up with. I only put it together in a few days and was so pleased that so many of their other cousins (and a few friends) were willing to participate. A few weeks later we did something special for the boys too.
Under the celestial lights that twinkled in the crisp winter air, ten beautiful young royal princesses made their way to my home.
Their soft giggles and voices floated up to me as I lit the last candle in my library and my sister poured the last foot spa full of steaming water. Upon our cue, another mother made her way down to the waiting girls and handed them each their own sparkly invitation with their initials upon it. At the top of the steps, the curious princesses (for they had been told nothing except to dress in white and to meet in the basement of my home) each showed the guards their invitations, and then were escorted to the candle-lit library on the arm of a waiting father. Once all the girls were seated and their feet comfortably soaking in the waiting scented water (not as good as bringing them to a spa-but it was what I had), Uncle Erik spoke to these Daughter of God about what a privilege it was to be allowed to go to the temple. He told them that as Daughters of God, they were truly born of royal birth and needed to be “Loyal To The Royal” within them. Sometimes the world deals us a hard card, and gets really messy. It is especially important to know that even during those times, that they are special. This is a message I wish everyone, including me really believed.
Their pretty invitation represented the precious temple recommend each of them had or would shortly get. Uncle Erik lovingly spoke about the importance of being respectful and reverent when attending the temple, preparing themselves both spiritually and physically each time they go. After his talk, the girls were invited to dry their feet and put on a pair of warm fuzzy socks (I was going to get them big slippers but selfishly didn’t want to add slippers to the already too much stuff my family has. I find, with 7 kids, it is important to simplify things. I know my daughter would LOVE slippers, but I just couldn’t do it). They were then escorted to the Living Room.
The Living Room had been decorated with a canopy of sheer fabric and glittery white lights. Each took a seat and there their Aunty read a poem about their pre-existence that Grandma wrote for them. The poem talked about them being a princess from on high. The princesses were each given a key with the copy of the poem. The key to exaltation is “doing your duty“. So often, we think it is okay to not do our duty. We talked about what our world would be like if the bus drivers decided to ‘not do their duty’ and show up for work. Or the doctors decided to not ‘do their duty’ and make sure their diagnosis was correct. Or what if their parents decided one day that they were just ‘too tired’ to go to work? It is the fact that so many do their duty that our country runs as smoothly as it does. The girls were so respectful and delighted with their ornate keys.
After the keys were handed out, one of the mothers slipped a beautiful crystal bracelet on their daughters wrists, and I spoke to them about the importance of adorning themselves in beautiful and modest clothing and thoughts. I spoke honestly about my love for them and the virtue that shines from each of their faces. I expressed my desire that each of the girls would commit to being a ‘safe place’ for others to be around, a place that inspires virtue, specifically for boys. In this world full of immorality and immodesty, I know that the temptation to degrade one’s self is sometimes hard for everyone to resist, especially if the people around them are wearing things that distract one from godly thoughts and intents. As a mother of sons, I plead with them to help inspire all who they interact with, to keep true to the “royal inside of them”. It was clearly stated that just as we are each responsible for our own thoughts and actions, that it is naive of us to think that what we do has no effect on those around us. Just as it is up to me to be kind to those around me, it sure makes it alot easier to be christlike and kind when those around us are kind as well. Some people would like to think that their actions do not effect others. This is a fallacy. I showed them a movie I made for them celebrating their royalness. There were giggles as their faces appeared on screens, hopefully they felt the spirit of the movie as well 🙂 The movie ended with a reminder that their Once Upon A Time is Now. (Such a great talk)
Uncle Sim followed up the message with helping them realize that their bodies are truly a temple and they needed to treat it with respect, and consideration and to expect others to do the same. He hand them each a heart case filled with sweets and said to each one individually “Modesty is a matter of the heart.”
The climax of the evening was when each girl individually were escorted by their willing dads to the ‘throne’ and crowned a princess. Even the older girls seemed to enjoy this extra attention. What a sweet moment that was to look around the room and see such radiant virtuous faces staring back at me. What peace and awe filled my heart as I saw these royal, beautiful daughters of God being so open to hearing the words of counsel and love from their parents. It was a precious memory.
Heather talked to the girls about keeping their mind full of learning. She encouraged them to reach their dreams and never be afraid of the obstacles ahead of them, reminding them that learning and education should be a life long pursuit. She reminded them that they were born to succeed.
Since most of these girls have other girl cousins who have already accomplished much in their young life (traveled the world, delivered babies at 14, started university at 17, started a non-profit at 18 ect. . .) this message was well received. I am afraid that their willingness to listen to counsel encouraged too many parents to share their own final ‘advice’. The evening went a little too long, but they girls did not fidget nor did they complain. They just sat and soaked it all up. As we closed with prayer, and the princess’s mingled with one another over food, my heart was full.
Truly I was in the presence of pure beauty and goodness. There was no doubt in my mind that these girls were being “Loyal To The Royal” within them.
****If you think my life is a bit different (how many people get to be surrounded daily by such beautiful, strong-willed vibrant young ladies and men every day?) you should check out my SISTERS BLOG. Her family of 8 KIDS is SAILING AROUND THE WORLD IN A BOAT (bet you are glad I clarified that it was in a boat aren’t you 🙂
Here is one of my nieces blogs about helping kids out of poverty.
Here are some hand outs my sister made that would have gone great with this evening.
Uncle Erik fight human trafficking
For more Great Christian Family Devotional ideas go here
Be part of the change: Helping others become self-sufficient
I have been dying to write this post, I have just been waiting for the pictures. The wait was worth it!!!
This month as I was thinking about different devotionals to do with my kids I did a devotional on “Love in Marriage”. For the activity my kids and I put together some ‘Date Night Kits’ for their newly wed cousins. It was so fun researching fun date ideas and putting the kit together that I felt guilty. With seven kids, homeschooling, new babies, new house, and that re-occurring flu going around I realized that my ‘date nights’ have dwindled to almost non-existent. This should not be so. With so many pressures in the world, pulling my family apart, I know that the best thing a husband can do for his kids is “love their mother” and the best thing I can do for my kids it to love and care for their father. With that in mind, my sister and I got together and made ‘date kits’ for date night. THEY TURNED OUT SO STINKIN’ CUTE I AM DYING!!!! Seriously, I don’t really often make things that I am so excited about (usually too busy wiping noses and changing diapers to do more than the basic crafts with my kids). It was a good thing I left it for so late in the month because I got so excited that I could keep doing more and more. While my husband would definitely enjoy the outcome of me doing more and more, I don’t think he would appreciate the lack of attention my kids got while doing this project.
I can’t believe Valentines Day is only 2 days away. I had grand plans of doing a devotional on love for the two weeks before Valentines Day, take pictures and blog about it each day. Obviously that did not all happen. Such is life 🙂 I guess I need to not worry about what I didn’t do, and just ‘Enjoy the Journey‘ while I celebrate what I did do.
What I did do was do a devotional ALMOST every day, and took some pictures. I am not going to write out what I did for each of the devotionals because that takes too long, but I will post some of the pictures with links to some free Valentine downloads. Just wait till you see the Date Kit my sister and I made 🙂
I love knowing things. When I was a little girl I was always asking questions. Somewhere between the self-centered teen years and the sleep deprived years of motherhood, the joy of asking questions got lost. Now that I have a variety of children in my home, all different ages and stages of life, I have found that magical exciting art of asking and answering questions resides happily once more in my home. The wonderful thing is that often it is I asking the questions, and different ones of my children answering my questions recalling information they glean during their studies. With this thought in mind, I decided to learn about the history of Valentines Day.
I was surprised to find out that there are three known “St. Valentines” in history, and the actual facts behind the holiday is not exactly known. The most likely version of the origins of St.Valentines Day is probably the one about a priest named Valentine that lived during the reign of Claudius II. Apparently, Claudius felt that married men were a liability to his army. If you are married, you would be less likely to take risks, be brutal and content with living in foreign lands indefinitely. Due to this sentiment Claudius made it against the law to marry soldiers. This was a shock to the roman people because previously marriage and family were highly prized in their society.
Valentine, a Christian priest did not agree with this decree and secretly would marry soldiers on request. The emperor heard of this and immediately confined Valentine to jail. Claudius is said to have like Valentine and offer him his freedom if he renounced this practice. Valentine refused and was sentenced to death on February 14th. On the day of his death, he reportedly wrote a love letter to his own sweetheart and signed it “I will always be your Valentine”. The first martyr for marriage (that I know of 🙂
This lead me to thinking about my own efforts to stand up for truth no matter what the consequences are. Thus far, my efforts to stand up for truth have not been very dramatic or uncomfortable. I suspect that this will change as time goes on. I think we are going to be finding more and more people who are trying to destroy marriage and family as we know it. Just like the Proclamation to the family states-marriage between a husband and wife is vitally important to us and society. Without strong marriages, our society would crumble, and is crumbling as marriages are deteriorating. A great mormon message“Saving Your Marriage” talks about how important it is to protect our marriage.
Recently my kids and I put together some Valentine packages for some cousins. Three packages were “Date Kits” for our three newly wed cousins and one was a “Date/Valentines” box for our single new college cousin who is in Hawaii.
It was so delightful working with my kids on this project. They all chatted about their cousins, talked about how when they were just married or going to college how they wanted a package as well. Lots of giggles too as they tried to imagine the ‘date’ that would evolve with the random Valentine items we found (we are hoping they send us a picture of their date, or at least receiving the package). It was a great activity to remind us that because of my own parents marriage, we have a delightfully large extended family that we belong to.
Of utmost importance to the well-being of children is whether their parents were married, the nature and duration of the marriage, and, more broadly, the culture and expectations of marriage and child care where they live. Two scholars of the family explain: “Throughout history, marriage has first and foremost been an institution for procreation and raising children. It has provided the cultural tie that seeks to connect the father to his children by
binding him to the mother of his children. Yet in recent times, children have increasingly been pushed from center stage.”12
A Harvard law professor describes the current law and attitude toward marriage and divorce: “The [current] American story about marriage, as told in the law and in much popular literature, goes something like this: marriage is a relationship that exists primarily for the fulfillment of the individual spouses. If it ceases to perform this function, no one is to blame and either spouse may terminate it at will. … Children hardly appear in the story; at most they are rather shadowy characters in the background.”13.
. . . Summarizing decades of social science research, a careful scholar concluded that “the family structure that produces the best outcomes for children, on average, are two biological parents who remain married.”18 ANew York Times writer noted “the striking fact that even as traditional marriage has declined in the United States … the evidence has mounted for the institution’s importance to the well-being of children.”19
He goes on to quote statistics and studies that support the fact the importance of marriage. Being a ‘stat’ kind of girl, I appreciate science that backs up my beliefs. I was especially interested in reading a book called “A Case For Marriage-Why Married People Are Healthier, Happier, and Better off Financially“. In this book, the authors, makes an incredible ‘case for marriage’. They talks all about the health of the people involved, men, women and children. They talks about peoples satisfaction levels, backing each section up with research and statistics. One of the cool points they makes is that just having a piece of paper saying you are married tends to make both man and woman live longer. This is true, even if the marriage is described as ‘unhappy’. If the marriage is a happy one, the effects are even greater. I was glad to read this, because I find being a wife and mother so enjoyable that I am thrilled to know I can expect to do it for many more years to come 🙂