Children, Devotional, Family Fun, Stories that Teach

The King and His Hawk

THE KING AND HIS HAWK

Once upon a time a great king was crossing the sultry desert. He had been hunting and now was lost. On his shoulder perched his trusted Hawk. Thirsty the King yearned for a drink, desperately he looked for a stream. After much searching he chanced upon a fountain of clear water. Kneeling down he was about to drink the water, when out of the sky the hawk swooped down and pecked his hand. The King was shocked at his hawks behavior but intent on getting a drink that he once again kneeled down to drink the water. Again, the hawk pecked at his hand. In a fit of rage, the thirsty king drew his sword and when the hawk came down the third time to knock the freshly dipped cup from his hand, the King killed the bird. With the dead bird laying on the ground the King bent one final time to get a glass of cool water to sooth his thrist. Just as he was about to drink the water the King noticed something in the water. It was a very poisonous dead snake. Instantly the King understood his hawks actions. A single sip of that water would have killed him. He sat beside the dead hawk and moaned, “I have lost you because of my blinding rage. All you were trying to do was to save my life!”

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Stories that Teach

Be Guardians of Virtue-by Sister Dalton

sword shield knightBe Guardians of Virtue-by Sister Dalton

In order to do this, each of us must be guardians of virtue. Young women, guard your personal virtue. It really is, as Mormon described, “most dear and precious above all things” (Moroni 9:9), and so are you. You are daughters of God. You carry within yourselves the sacred power to create mortal life and to become mothers of Heavenly Father’s choice and pure spirits. It is one of God’s greatest gifts to His precious daughters. Safeguard that power by living the standards, dressing and acting modestly, and remaining virtuous. Safeguard your power through purity of thought and action. Do not allow anyone to tamper with your God-given gifts. By so doing, you, your family, and the generations that follow will be strengthened and blessed.

Young men, you too are guardians of virtue. You hold priesthood power—the power to bless and to act for God here on the earth. The Lord has said to all priesthood holders, “Practise virtue and holiness before me” (D&C 38:24). Guard your personal virtue, your thoughts, what you view, what you say, and your actions. Do not allow pornography to diminish your personal power. Remain pure so that you can exercise the power of the priesthood with which God has entrusted you. Moroni summarized the ancient prophetic teaching about virtue when he told us, “Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God” (Mormon 9:28).

Several years ago I was running early in the morning on the day before Thanksgiving with a group of women. We called it our Thanksgiving run, and as we ran we called out things for which we were thankful. I had just finished saying that I was thankful for a strong, healthy body when I slipped and fell on a patch of black ice on the road. As I tried to get up, I realized that I was badly hurt. I knew I had broken my leg just above the ankle—and I won’t say how I knew or I could faint right here on the spot. My husband said that if I had been an NFL football player, I would have made the highlight films that night.

As I lay there in the road in the shadows of the early morning light, waiting for help to arrive, I saw the lights of a car come speeding down the road right toward where I lay. The car screeched to a stop, and a man jumped out. He said he had thought I was a garbage bag in the road and almost kept going. I asked if he were a member of the Church, and he replied that he was. I asked if he could give me a blessing because the pain was so severe I didn’t know how long I could stay in that condition. He paused and then said: “I can’t. You better wait for your husband to do that.” Then he got in his car and drove away.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was wheeled into a little cubicle in the emergency room where I waited to be taken into surgery. As they moved the curtains to the side, there were my husband and all five of our sons. As they encircled me and laid their hands on my head, I felt their purity, their power, and their strength. Young men, priesthood men, keep yourselves pure so that you may be able to use your priesthood power at a moment’s notice. That day I was blessed by their priesthood power, which they exercised in virtue and holiness.

Children, Stories that Teach

The Race-A story about charity

A picture take my dad’s running partner on his mission-click to read the post about him-I am so blessed to have such a man in my life

Recently I was thinking about my Dad.  He is such an amazing man and has done so many great things in his life.  If you were to ask him what the greatest joy in his life is he would say “The Gospel and My family”.  I know this because I have heard him say it over and over throughout my life.  I love him for this.  In my mind, my Dad and my Mom are my hero’s.  They have both gone through so much heartache, and yet have come out of that heartache smiling and as faithful as ever.

One day when I was thinking about my Dad and some of the struggles he has had throughout his life I wondered why so many people had to deal with so much pain, while others did not.  It didn’t seem fair.  As I contemplated this, a story formed in my mind.  I have shared this story many times to my kids.  It has helped them show love and empathy in situations they otherwise might not have.

Once upon a time in a beautiful kingdom called Himaya, a wise ruler, King Balzac, lived out his life serving his people.  For many years he taught them how to be prosperous and live in peace, but now he was growing old.  Realizing that his end was nearing, King Balzac sent proclamations throughout the land that all were to meet in the capital city for an important announcement.

On the appointed day,  citizens of Himaya gathered to hear the king’s words.

“My beloved people,” the king began, “my days on earth are coming to an end. Soon I’ll not be here to guide and rule over you.  Even now, I feel the pains of old age upon my body.  For this purpose I have assembled you to announce that the kingdom will be conferred upon my first-born son, Prince Sandrival, upon my death”

A low wail rippled through the crowd.  The people loved King Balzac and already they mourned his passage.  Hundreds of eyes swung from the king to the Crown Prince.  In looks and actions, he was almost an exact copy of King Balzac.  It helped ease some of their sorrow to know he would carry on in the role of his father.

King Balzac gazed at his people with tenderness. “It is not good for my son to rule alone. He will need the help of trusted servants and wise advisors.  With this in mind, I have decided to hold a contest, to help us choose the members of the new king’s court.”

The response was deafening as neighbor turned to question neighbor.  What kind of contest would the king hold?  King Balzac raised his hand for silence.  In the descending hush, he continued, “There will be a meeting held tonight in the great hall for all those who wish to be considered.  Prince Sandrival will address you then.  Remember that there are many positions available and people of all talents and skills should attend this meeting if they feel they have something to offer their king.”  Sunlight caught the glint of moisture in the old king’s eyes and his hands shook as he grasped the arm of a nearby guard.  Slowly the two men returned to the the king’s chambers, followed by the remainder of the royal party.

As dusk turned to dark, curious onlookers crammed into the great hall.  What kind of contest would be held? What were the qualities that the king would be looking for?  Which of all the contestants would have a place in the royal courts?  Each person strained to hear  Prince Sandrival’s words.

“I will need much help in running this kingdom.  It would be foolish for me to appoint an unproven advisor, so any who wish to serve their king must be tested.  To confirm the worthiness of each contestant, we will hold a race.  Those desiring to participate in the the race will be required to journey to an isolated land, away from all they know.  There they will prepare for the race, separated from their loved ones, until the day my father dies.  On the day of his death, I will send an envoy to transport the contestants home to our kingdom.  When they are back among us, the contest will be held and the winners of the race will be chosen to help rule the kingdom.  For those interested, the place you will be taken to train is Tyloma.”

Consternation silenced the room.  Tyloma was far away, and the way was treacherous.  Ancient legends told of dark mists that had the ability to suck away one’s memories.  A sudden movement broke the stillness.  First individuals, then groups headed toward the doors of the great hall.  The test had become a great risk – one they no longer desired.  Only a meager portion of the hopefuls stayed to receive instructionsAt the time appointed for departure,  the royal docks were crowded by those bidding farewell to contestants who had accepted the king’s challenge.

“Remember,” Prince Sandrival counseled, “all who board the royal ship have committed to follow through with the testing.  Once the ship has set sail, you cannot change your mind.”  Deliberately he met each set of eyes, then nodded to the ship’s captain.  With a grating screech, the gang plank was lowered and passengers boarded the ship.  The crowd erupted with cheers and throwing of flowers.  Frangi-pani and jasmine still scented the air as the boat grew small in the distance.

The trip to Tyloma was long and frightening.  At times the ocean seemed to swallow the tiny ship whole but, thankfully, the captain had the skill and courage to see them through the ordeal.  When at last they reached their destination, crew and passengers alike heaved a collective sigh of relief.

Tyloma was bewilderingly beautiful.  Everyone had heard so many whispered accounts of the horrors they would encounter in this unknown land that when they looked around, they were  confused.  Instead of dark grey skies and unfriendly weather, the skies were blue and the air  fragrant.  There were no wild beasts ready to eat them or dangerous natives to avoid.  Instead, they were greeted warmly by friendly servants who led them to a beautiful castle where each new arrival was ushered to a private room.

After a good night’s rest and breakfast of fresh fruit,  a stern faced man in dark uniform addressed them:  “I am the Headmaster, Prince Sandrival’s representative here. Welcome to our island where you will be training for the greatest race of your life. Today you will be given a pair of training shoes that you are to use throughout the remainder of your stay.  You may never take them off, even in your sleep. If you take them off you will be punished, perhaps even disqualified from the contest.  Each day, when the first bell in the morning rings, you are to report immediately to the training grounds.  It is expected that you will spend the whole day on the training field, leaving only when the evening bell rings.  Each day you are to run around the race track as many times as you can.  You will continue doing this until the day that King Balzac dies and the Crown Prince sends a ship for you.”

He paused to let the weight of his words sink in.  Many of the contestants exchanged apprehensive glances.  “You will notice that there are refreshment booths placed around the track: you can stop at them whenever you need to.  However, you are cautioned not to waste your time there as this test will require your best at all times.  You may now all follow me to receive your shoes.”

It did not take long for everyone to fall into a pattern of training.  Each morning after breakfast, the competitors gathered at the training field.  There they warmed up and started down the track.  After only a few days, it became obvious that some runners were more suited to this challenge than others.  They would take off rat a furious pace, passing the finish line more than once a day.  Others could barely make a few steps, discovering their task to be much more difficult than they anticipated.  For these, discouragement soon grew.

“What is the point?” a young girl asked the servant who came to encourage them. “No matter how hard I try, there are so many faster than me”.   Others agreed with her.  With feelings of hopelessness they dragged their feet until the evening bell rang, spending their time chatting to others near them, or withdrawing more into themselves.  As time went on, many even forgot why they were there on that island.  Prince Sandrival, their families, their former occupations – all seemed like a distant dream.   And so the first year passed.  And the second.  And the third.

By the fourth year,  many contestants spent the majority of their time in the refreshment booths, staying out of the hot sun while they ate, drank and gossiped.  Often the king’s servants would walk among the contestants to remind them of their purpose, and to encourage them to use their time wisely.  Some would listen and believe, re-entering the training field with fresh energy.  Others would laugh and say that they did not need to practice to win.  “I’m already faster than most of those people out there,”  bragged a gangly lad lounging on the ground.

Just then a poorly dressed contestant stopped at the refreshment booth and asked if he could have something to drink.  “Oh, go away,” the braggart said. “There are lots of booths along the field, go find one for people like you.”  The thirsty runner left to seek refuge elsewhere.

In the group there were two contestants, Almon and Caleb, who stood out from the rest.  Almon was young when he first came to the island, barely ten years old.  Life had been hard for Almon in Himaya, and he was familiar with hard work.  He chose to join the race in hopes of providing for his aging grandmother and setting an example for his younger brothers.  Caleb, a few years older than Almon, showed himself from the start to be one of the fastest runners in the group.  He was from a privileged home, and came to Tyloma to ‘fulfill his destiny’ as he was pleased to announce frequently.  There was no doubt Caleb had been born with the gift of speed.  Even as a child he would race and win against those who were older than him.  When the King announced the contest, everyone who knew Caleb knew that he would definitely be one of those chosen to counsel the king.  His mother cried when he boarded the ship, but his father stood straight and proud. He always knew his son was born to greatness.

Every morning Caleb and Almon were the first to reach the field.  By the time the rest of the contestants made their way to the training grounds, the two young men had completed their warm-ups and Caleb was already far around the track.  Some days he would run as fast as he could, passing the finish line two or three times, but most days he would do one fast run around the track and then spend the rest of the day resting in the shade of the refreshment booths that lined the track.  Caleb knew that some of the occupants of the booths were contestants who had taken off their shoes, and no longer had a desire to run the race.  This did not matter to him.  He would not be influenced by them and their easy ways.  He would join them for a time and then go on his way and practice.  During the time Caleb sat drinking in the booths with the others, he watched Almon carefully.  There was something about Almon that fascinated Caleb.

Caleb had seen Almon run once before coming to Tyloma and he was fast – not as swift as Caleb, but fast enough to be chosen as one of the rulers.  When they first came to the island, Caleb tried to talk Almon into becoming his running partner, but it didn’t work out.  Instead of just focusing on his running, Almon would often slow down to compliment a runner on his style, or give encouragement to another.  When someone stumbled, he was often the first one there to help them up and tend to their wounds or sore ego.  Many times he reminded a weary contestant about Prince Sandrival and the reason they were in training.  As time sped by, some of those in training had almost forgotten Himaya and were annoyed with this talk, but most appreciated his help and tried harder to reach the finish line.

Often, as Almon stopped to drink, he conversed with those lounging at the refreshment booths, reminding them of the importance of their practice.  Caleb felt especially embarrassed when Almon talked to those who had taken off their shoes.  He told them that they could join the practice if they just went to the Headmaster, confessed their mistake and paid the required price.  Caleb thought Almon should just worry about himself and not bother other people.  He was careful not to mention the crown prince.  He did not want to offend those around him. Plus, if others started practicing hard, there would be less of a chance of him winning.

When a runner had the courage to talk to the Headmaster and report his error,  Almon was always the first to welcome him or her back to the track, often assisting the first few times around.

Layla was one of those Almon reminded about their homeland.  The first time he spoke to her at the refreshment booth, her memory of Himaya was dim and she had taken off her shoes a long time before.   But Almon’s talk of Prince Shalimar woke up something inside her and she gathered courage to do what was necessary to return to the practice field.  On the first day back, her steps were so heavy she broke down crying.  “I can’t do this,” she cried. “I can’t take another step in this hot sun. Please let me take off these shoes and return to the shade.”

Almon reached out his hand. “You can make it, Layla.  I remember how you were on the ship.  You were full of life and hope.  You can do it.  Just lean on me.”  Layla searched his face then struggled to stand, and with Almon half-carrying her, they stumbled along.  Each day seemed a little easier, but there were many days that the only way Layla could cross the finish line was by leaning on her friend.

One day, as Almon and Caleb whizzed around the track, they spied a short, chubby youth hunched against a refreshment booth, holding his head in his hands.  Almon motioned for Caleb to continue running while he squatted beside the young man and slipped an arm around his shoulders.  Almon discovered the boy’s name was Timo.  He spent the rest of the day reminding Timo about the purpose of their training on Tyloma, and the great things they had to look forward to if they only kept practicing.  Timo was so discouraged that at first he barely listened, but, after many hours, he lifted his head and tried to stand.  Almon offered to carry Timo around the track, but Timo refused.  Almon stayed by his side, encouraging him with words and love.  Partway along the course, Timo faltered and wanted to stop .

“You can do this, Timo.”  Almon said.  “Look how far you’ve come already.  Not much longer now and you’ll be there.  I know you can do this.”  Timo drew a great breath then continued to push one foot in front of the other until they saw the finish line.  After he crossed it, tears filled his eyes and he hugged Almon in gratitude.

“Don’t you realize,” Caleb once pointed out to Almon, “that if you spent less time helping others make it to the finish line, you would have way more time practicing for the race, or sitting in the shade enjoying yourself?  You work too hard with these people.  I mean, look at Layla.  I doubt she will have a chance in the real race since she can barely make it here, plus she is so ill dressed that it reflects poorly on you.  I am sure the servants are keeping track of who passes the finish line the most so you better start passing it more often.”

Almon smiled and said, “Layla’s my friend,.  She’ll do great on the day of the race if she just keeps trying.”

One day a trumpet blare bugled over the field where runners were warming up.  “A ship,” Caleb yelled, “I see a ship!”  He leaped from his vantage point on a hill and raced toward the docks, the other contestants streaming after him. Sure enough, a large ship bearing the king’s crest had just landed at the docks.  Runners barely waited till the lines were secure before storming the vessel.  As they settled in their berths,  the crew cast off the lines and the captain sailed out to sea again.

This time, brisk winds made the return voyage short and uneventful. Soon, the passengers were being given a hero’s welcome on the shores of Himaya.  Friends and family joyfully greeted them, crying and laughing at the same time.   Almon was grateful to see that his grandmother was doing well, and had been treated kindly by the king in his absence.

After a short reunion, the contestants were whisked away to the track where they were given a royal racing robe and brand new racing shoes.  The royal robes suited Caleb well, and with the new shoes on his feet, Caleb knew he was ready for his finest moment.  Soon the whole world would know how fast he was and his true greatness would be recognized.  He tested his shoes out and was amazed at how comfortable they felt.  This race was going to be better than he had even imagined.

Through the crowd, Caleb noticed Layla. He was surprised to see how beautiful she looked in her robes.  She stood tall and carried herself with dignity.

Before he could wonder at this transformation, an announcement was given for all runners to advance to the starting line.  Caleb tensed his muscles and listened carefully. The signal to begin sounded and Caleb pushed hard.  He was off.  He could feel the wind through his hair, and his muscles work as they had never worked before.  Truly this was the best he had to offer, and he had great confidence that his place in the royal court was assured

Something caught his eye as he ran.  Turning slightly he saw Layla, but she was not languishing behind as she always had.  She was running swiftly.  So swiftly that in a moment the impossible had happened and she had passed Caleb.  In a panic, Caleb pushed himself harder – it was to no avail.  Layla had long passed him and there was no way he would ever be able to catch up with her.  Soon Almon passed Caleb, along with a dozen other people, some he recognized, and some he did not.  Before he could understand what was going on, he heard a loud, “Huzzah” at the finish line.  Layla had come in first, with Almon close behind her.  By the time Caleb and some of his friends from the refreshment booths finally reached the finish line, the crowd was nearly gone.  Layla, Almon and eight others had been named the new royal advisors and were on their way to the celebration feast.

“I don’t understand,” Caleb cried to the only judge still on the field.

“What is it that you don’t understand, Caleb?”  Caleb recognized the judge immediately as King Sandrival, their new ruler.  Humbled, he mumbled an apology for speaking so brashly.  The judge waved his apology away and asked again, “What is it that you don’t understand?”

Caleb began slowly. “How did Layla win the race?  I could see that Almon had it in him, though I do not know how he was able to run as fast as he did, but Layla, Your Highness, she could hardly make it to the finish line in Tyloma. How could she run so fast now?”

The new king gazed at Caleb kindly. “The answer lies in the shoes”.

“The shoes?”  Caleb questioned. “You mean the new ones we got here?’

“No, the shoes you were given in Tyloma,” the king explained, pointing to the pile of shoes they had worn while in training.  He reached into the pile and pulled out a pair that Caleb recognized as Layla’s. “Put these on and take a few steps in them.”

Bewildered, Caleb tried the shoes on.  They felt strange and heavy.  He attempted to lift his leg but could hardly budge.  His brow wrinkled.  “That’s how Layla first felt wearing them,” the king said.  “She’d never worn such heavy shoes, and it discouraged her so much that she gave up right at the beginning.  Remember how she was always at the refreshment booths?”  Caleb nodded.  “It wasn’t because she was lazy – it was because her shoes were too heavy.  It wasn’t until she’d been there some time that she had the courage to try again, and this time she didn’t give up.  Every day her legs got stronger and stronger until she was able to make it to the finish line by herself.  When she came here, she was given a pair of shoes just like everyone else’s, perfectly weightless.  All those hours of walking and sleeping in her heavy shoes helped her form incredible muscles.  Her courage helped her train to be one of the best advisors I could ask for.”

Understanding gradually lightened Caleb’s mind. He thought of all the rude comments he had made about Layla.  In Tyloma, he would have been ashamed to be seen with her, but here in Himaya that had all changed.

“What about Almon, were his shoes heavy, too?  Is that why he could run so fast?” Caleb asked.  He wondered if he should launch a complaint that he had not been given heavy shoes to practice in.

The king raised an eyebrow. “Why don’t you try them on and see for yourself.”

Caleb found Ammon’s shoes easily (they were by far the most worn-out pair in the pile) and put them on.  Lifting his leg he was surprised to see how light the shoes were compared to Layla’s.  This confused him deeply. “How did he run so fast if his training shoes weren’t any heavier than mine?”  Before the question was complete, an image flashed through his mind, an image of Almon carrying Layla and many others across the finish line.  With a deep sense of shame, Caleb hung his head.  He thought of the rewards he had lost through his own choices.  Removing Almon’s shoes, he placed them reverently on the pile and walked slowly home.

Stories that Teach, Uncategorized

The North Wind and The Sun-Kindness

The wind and the sun argued one day over which one was the stronger. Spotting a man man traveling on the road, they sported a challenge to see which one could remove the coat from the man’s back the quickest.
The wind began. He blew strong gusts of air, so strong that the man could barely walk against them. But the man clutched his coat tight against him. The wind blew harder and longer, and the harder the wind blew, the tighter the man held his coat against him.The wind blew until he was exhausted, but he could not remove the coat from the man’s back.
It was now the sun’s turn. He gently sent his beams upon the traveler. The sun did very little, but quietly shone upon his head and back until the man became so warm that he took off his coat and headed for the nearest shade tree.

Family Fun, Stories that Teach

Increasing Love in Family

The Proclamation To The World states “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”  With seven kids, it is important that they learn to be kind to each other and work together.

One of my favorite stories to share with my kids is  “The Wind and The Sun“.

Together Forever
Together Forever

This story is about the wind who challenges the sun to a test to see who is strongest.  The task is to see who can get a man’s coat off him first.  The sun graciously agrees and allows the wind to go first.  The proud wind blows hard cold wind at the man in an attempt to blow the jacket off.  The man feels the wind and pulls the coat close to himself trying to block out the cold.  The wind tries some more, each time getting stronger and cold, the man reacts by hugging his coat even tighter to himself.  Finally the wind gives up and allows the sun to try.  With a smile, the sun shines and the man immediately starts to loosen his arms around his coat.  The sun continues to shine up on the man below  and eventually he can not stand the heat any longer and takes his coat off on his own accord.

This is one of my favorite stories and I remind my kids of it often when they are frustrated, or being demanding.  I like to use this story to illustrate that we are all on the same team.  We are all trying to go the same way and the easiest way to accomplish our goals is to work together.  When we are all pulling in the same direction, whatever it is that we are trying to accomplish will be far easier to do so. While we are all on the same team, we do not all have the same abilities and skills or even desire to work towards our goals.  It is important that the younger kids learn to ask kindly for help, and listen to instruction.  It is also important that the older kids direct with gentle persuasion and are happy to guide and be guided.  Just as everyone is happier when the sun is shining, so is our home happier when people are showing kindness.  In this environment, we are not so concerned about protecting ourselves from a cold cruel world, but instead gratefully basking in loving sunshine.  It is when our home rings with laughter that the spirit of Christ can really be felt.

Team Love :)
Team Love 🙂

The master example of teaching with kindness is our Saviour.  He bore ingratitude, meanness, threats on his life and ridicule with love and patience.  He taught with such a kind open heart full of the vital ingredient “LOVE”.  Truly the Saviour was full of love for all, and just as the Saviour was able to bring hundreds to salvation, as we fill ourselves with love, we too will be able to effect a multitude of people.  This learning to be patient, kind and loving begins at home.  If we succeed in producing an environment of safety, our children are more likely to protect each other and protect one another from spiritual and physical danger.

In the story “The King and His Hawk” we read about a hawk who died trying to protect his King.  The hawk was the Kings trusted friend.  The King took the hawk on many adventures, and depended on him to see things he could not see.  One day the King got lost and was bitterly thirsty.  After my time, the King came upon a small spring.  Exhausted he stooped down to catch some water in his cup to drink.  Before he could drink his water however, the hawk dove down and knocked the cup out of the Kings hand.  Three times the hawk did this and finally in anger the King killed the hawk.  It wasn’t until then that the king noticed a dead poisonous snake rotting just above where he was collecting his water.  The hawk saw this and knew that had the King drank of the water he would have died.  The King had not seen the snake because he was too low down, the Hawk on the other hand had a better vantage point and was able to see things that the King could not.  This story always disturbed me when I first heard it but I have come to appreciate the message it contains.  (To watch an animated version “The King and His Hawk”)

Daddy-Daughter Dance
We need to be each others best friends

This story  illustrates the fact that each member of our family will be that Hawk at one time or another.  It doesn’t matter what our ages are, Heavenly Father has planted in each of us, our own special gift.  This gift will allow us to be able to see things that perhaps those around us can not.  It is important that we, as a family learn to work together and trust each other, so that when that time comes, we will listen to those who have a higher vantage point than us.  It is also vital that we work at strengthening our relationships now, so that when that time comes to lead others to safety, those we are leading feel confident that they can trust us.  Had the hawk had words, he could have explained his actions to the King, but he did not.  We need to acquire the words needed to help others.

baby tears
baby tears

The Saviour was a perfect example of this.  Long before the Saviour asked his disciples to die for him, he lived with them, taught them and loved them.  For three years the Saviour was by the side of these great men, and loved them despite their imperfections and unbelief at times.  The Saviour understood those he taught and gave them time to learn to love and trust him.  Only after that trust was firmly established, did the Saviour call them to on a mission that would eventually take all of their lives.  As families, we need to follow the Saviours example and do whatever we can to fill our families up with love.  If we do this in times of relative peace, I firmly believe that the Lord with magnify our efforts and help us rise to the trials placed before us so that our families can truly be “Together Forever”.

Family Fun, Holidays, Stories that Teach

Origins Of St.Valentines Day

Marriage quote

The most common traditional story of why we celebrate St.Valentines Day took place during the reign of Claudius II of Rome. Tradition states that Claudius felt that married men were a liability to the armies of Rome and so he made a law that Roman soldiers were not allowed to get married. Valentine, a Christian priest, knew that marriage was ordained of God and thereby vital to mankind. Realizing that he put himself at great risk, he continued to marry young couples privately. This continued until the Roman government heard of Valentines defiance. It was not long before Valentine was imprisoned and sentenced to death unless he promised to stop marrying soldiers. Valentine refused to stop, feeling it was his obligation to stand up for marriage not matter the consequence. Valentine was ordered to be put to death on February 14th. This courageous story ends with the added piece of romantic information. Apparently, Valentine had a sweetheart himself. On the day of his execution  he to his sweetheart and signed his letter “I will always be your Valentine”.

Stories that Teach

The Ripple Effect Of Love- The Lonely Road Story

Today I came across this quote:

“Love is the motivating principle by which the Lord leads us along the way towards becoming like Him, our perfect example. Our way of life, hour by hour, must be filled with the love of God and love for others.”
― Henry B. Eyring

Unselfish Acts Of Kindness Movie
Unselfish Acts Of Kindness Movie

It reminded me of my brother-in-law who is notorious for ‘looking’ for people to serve.  Often, on when he embarks on a long road trip with his five young kids, he prays that he might be able to help someone on the way.  Being a mother of 7 young kids, I appreciate the inconvenience that stopping to help someone while on a long road trip can cause.  And it has caused much inconvenience in the past but he continues to do so.  My sister, his wife has occasionally wished that he wasn’t so ‘kind’ I am sure, as he pulls over one more time and offers assistance to someone in need.  A few years ago something happened that changed her perspective incredibly.  Her experience was reminiscent of the story below.

Movie on ripple effect of kindness
Movie on ripple effect of kindness

This sweet story I once read where someone followed the ripple effect of one man’s kindness.  We are often taught the it is through others that God answers our prayers (spoon story)

-in this story that is definitely true-but in a sense it was very much the mans doing that his prayers were answered.

The Lonely Road

Change For A Dollar Movie
Change For A Dollar-Inspirational Movie

A man was driving home one evening, on a two-lane country road. Work
in this small mid-western community, was almost as slow as his beat-up
Pontiac. But he never quit looking.

Ever since the factory closed, he’d been unemployed, and with winter raging on, the chill had finally hit home.

It was a lonely road. Not very many people had a reason to be on it, unless they were leaving. Most of his friends had already left. They had families to feed and dreams to fulfill. But he stayed on.

After all, this was where he buried his mother and father. He was born here and he knew the country. He could go down this road blind, and tell you what was on either side, and with his headlights not working, which came in handy.

It was starting to get dark and light snow flurries were coming down. He’d better get a move on. You know, he almost didn’t see the old lady, stranded on the side of the road. But even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. He pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her. Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so.

Love One Another Movie
Love One Another Movie

Was he going to hurt her? He didn’t look safe, he looked poor and hungry. He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you.

“I’m here to help you ma’am. Why don’t you wait in the car where it’s warm? By the way, my name is Bryan.”

Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough.

Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt. As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn’t thank him enough for coming to her aid. Bryan just smiled as he closed her trunk.

She asked him how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She had already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped.

Bryan never thought twice about the money. This was not a job to him.

This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past… He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way.

He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance that they needed, and Bryan added “…and think of me”.

He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight.

A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps.
The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The cash register was like the telephone of an out of work actor-it didn’t ring much. Her waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair.

She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn’t erase. The lady noticed that the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude.

The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan.

After the lady finished her meal, and the waitress went to get change for her hundred dollar bill, the lady slipped right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. She wondered where the lady could be, then she noticed something written on the napkin under which was four $100 bills. There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote.

It said: “You don’t owe me anything, I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you.”

Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard.

She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, “Everything’s gonna be all right; I love you, Bryan.”

Stories that Teach

Kindness Saves

RASPBERRY VANILLA FRUIT LEATHER Recipe
RASPBERRY VANILLA FRUIT LEATHER Recipe

A while ago I came across a quote stating “If you are not actively looking for and fulfilling your mission here on life then it doesn’t really matter what else you are doing”.  This idea is played out well in the following story about two wonderfully talented boys.  One uses his talents and skills to bring him money and fame, the other uses his equally brilliant skills to serve and benefit those around him.

Persimmon Fruit Leather
Persimmon Fruit Leather

I love preserving the fruits of other labors (I would rather have them be the fruits of my labor but have yet to produce anything worth speaking of) but I am  hopelessly uncreative in my attempts.  For this cause, I am grateful for the many people willing to share their talents and skills to help bless my life.  I have come to realize that the best life, is one that is lived around a community of people who love to share their talents to bless those around them and in tun bless themselves.  As someone once said “when you hand out flowers, you can’t help but to have the scent linger upon yourself”  I often wonder what my life would be like if everyone was more concerned about their own selves more than the world in general.

Berry Fruit Leather
Berry Fruit Leather

Below are two different stories that help illustrate this point

Long Spoons in Heaven and Hell

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, “Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.” The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in.

Spoons of Inspiration
Spoons of Inspiration

In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, “You have seen Hell”.

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man’s mouth water.

Inspirational Spoons
Inspirational Spoons

The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, “I don’t understand.” “It is simple,” said the Lord, “it requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.” When Jesus died on the cross he was thinking of you!

Two Equally Talented Boys, Two Differently Lived Lives

Once upon a time there were two incredibly intelligent and capable boys. Their wonderful talents were obvious from an early age, and they easily outdid everyone around. They had always known they were special, and they harboured inside them a desire that, in the future, everyone would come to admit how exceptional they were.

Another Yummy Fruit Leather Recipe-
Another Yummy Fruit Leather Recipe-
Enjoy The Fruits Of Anothers Labor

Each of them developed in a different way. The first used all his talent and intelligence to have a successful career and show everyone his superiority. He took part in all kinds of competitions, visited all the most important people and places, and was great at making friends in high places. Even when still very young, no one doubted that some day he would be the wisest and most important person in the land.
The second boy, equally aware of his own capabilities, never stopped feeling a heavy responsibility. He would do almost any task better than those around him, and he would feel obliged to help them. This didn’t leave him enough time to follow his own dreams of greatness. He was always busy looking for ways to more effectively help others. As a result, he was a much-loved and well-known person, but only in his own small circle.

Wonderfully Fun Poka-Dot Fruit Leather
Wonderfully Fun Poka-Dot Fruit Leather

Destiny was such that a great disaster struck that land, spreading problems and misery far and wide. The first of those brilliant young men had never come across anything like this, but his brilliant ideas worked successfully throughout the land, and they managed to slightly improve the situation. But the second young man was so used to solving all kinds of problems, and had such useful know-how in certain subjects, that the disaster hardly affected the people in his region at all. His admirable methods were then adopted across the land, and the fame of this good and wise man spread even more than had that of the first young man. Indeed, he was soon elected governor of the whole nation.

Yummy Banana and Strawberry Recipe
Yummy Banana and Strawberry Recipe

The first young man then understood that the greatest fame and wisdom is that which is born from the very things we do in life, from the impact they have on others, and from the need to improve ourselves every day. He never again took part in competitions or vain shows, and from then on, whenever he travelled, he took his books along with him, so he would be ready always to offer a helping hand to all.

Stories that Teach

Buddha’s Gift- Story

Beautiful Gift Wrapping Tutorial
Beautiful Gift Wrapping Tutorial

THE Blessed One observed the ways of society and noticed how much misery came from malignity and foolish offenses done only to gratify vanity and self-seeking pride. And the Buddha said: “If a man foolishly does me wrong, I will return to him the protection of my ungrudging love; the more evil comes from him, the more good shall go from me; the fragrance of goodness always comes to me, and the harmful air of evil goes to him.”

A foolish man learning that the Buddha observed the principle of great love which commends the return of good for evil, came and abused him. The Buddha was silent, pitying his folly. When the man had finished his abuse, the Buddha asked him, saying: “Son, if a man declined to accept a present made to him, to whom would it belong?” And he answered: “In that case it would belong to the man who offered it.”

Gift Wrapping Personalized Tutorial
Gift Wrapping Personalized Tutorial

“My son,” said the Buddha thou hast railed at me, but I decline to accept thy abuse, and request thee to keep it thyself. Will it not be a source of misery to thee? As the echo belongs to the sound, and the shadow to the substance, so misery will overtake the evil-doer without fail.”

The abuser made no reply, and Buddha continued: “A wicked man who reproaches a virtuous one is like one who looks up and spits at heaven; the spittle soils not the heaven, but comes back and defiles his own person. The slanderer is like one who flings dust at another when the wind is contrary; the dust does but return on him who threw it. The virtuous man cannot be hurt and the misery that the other would inflict comes back on himself.”

Etsy Gift Wrapping From Old Music Sheets
Etsy Gift Wrapping From Old Music Sheets

The abuser went away ashamed, but he came again and took refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

Stories that Teach

Butterfly Story

Paper Butterfly origami tutorial
Paper Butterfly origami tutorial

A young boy found a butterfly cocoon one day and was delighted to see that it was still alive, wiggling around as it tried to break free from the cocoon.  A small opening appeared, and the boy sat quietly to watch this miracle happen before his eyes.  For several hours the boy waited as the butterfly worked.  Impatient to see the butterfly emerge, and worried that the butterfly would be unable to break free from the cocoon itself, the boy gently ripped the cocoon a little bit. Gratefully the butterfly emerged quite easily, but something was wrong.  Instead of a beautiful creature of the air, the butterflies head seemed swollen and the wings were shrivelled.

Worried the boy ran to his mother, butterfly in hand.  As he tearfully told his mother what happened he showed her the butterfly.  The wise mother looked at the butterfly and listened carefully to his story.  Gently she put her hand on her little boys shoulders.  “Oh my son” she told him “you were trying to be kind to the butterfly I know, when you helped it come out of the cocoon.  What you did not know was that as a butterfly struggles to get out of it’s cocoon, the fluids in the butterflies body gets pumped into its wings.  Only through making it through the hole by itself, does it have the strength and ability to fly on it’s own.”

3-D Paper Butterfly Tutorial
3-D Paper Butterfly Tutorial

Like the young trees which grows strong from being blown about by the wind, in life we all need to struggle sometimes to make us strong.

When we teach and teach others it is wise to recognize when people need to do things for themselves, instead of always being eager to help.