Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sixteen (or so) Pictures for the Sixteenth (or so) of November Two Thousand and Sixteen

One day each month we document the day with a picture from each person in our family so we can see the everyday happenings of each other . . .

Atlas:  I am grateful that there are no tornadoes at my house and that Grandpa and
Grandma's house has armor around it to protect it from the tornadoes.
(Note:  Atlas watched the Wizard of Oz recently.)

Levin:  I am grateful for games and Atlas.

Cali:  I am grateful that our little boy is still small enough to carry once in awhile.

Ray:  I am grateful for the best day of the year and a demo project of a perfectly good bathroom.

Hazel:  I am grateful to be alive.

Henry:  I am grateful for balls to play with.

Grace:  I'm grateful for a warm house, foot to eat, and my family.

Abe:  I'm grateful for wonderful kids.

Kathryn:  I am grateful for the Sunbeam song.

Eliza: I'm greatful for marshmallows and straws. And that my right eye looks cool.

Afton: I am grateful for goodnight hugs from my little sister.

Michelle: I'm grateful that Ty bought new dishes today so I don't
have to wash the ones that stacked up through the day today.
Our mixed, matched, chipped, and cracked ones are headed for the dump.

Ty: I'm grateful for my girls and our Wednesday night tradition of
running to the track and Freedom Park. I run 4 laps with the girls in
 the stroller, then the girls get out. Afton runs a whole lap, Eliza 2/3's,
and Kathryn gets carried. Then we play at the park.

Winnie:  I am grateful for my thumb.

Ezra:  I am grateful for someone to play with.

Zeph:  I am grateful for read aloud books on the iPad.

Ande:  I am grateful for happy kids . . .

. . . and for the Young Women's program . . . and the end of a very intense fundraiser.

Joe:  I am grateful for kids because they are joyful.

Calvin:  I am grateful for good associations.

Jane:  I am grateful for home, soft nightgowns, simple suppers, and
16 on 16 of 16 posts.

The Parable of the Cake

Today’s seminary lesson was The Parable of the Cake. This lesson is an effective way to teach good scripture study habits, and a lesson students request year after year.

I'm always encouraged and even inspired at what the kids draw from this lesson.  Their insights are personal and insightful.  This year it took 10 cakes to have enough for all of the students (Christina, our incredible support specialist, helped me to bake that many) and it was worth every pan.

Materials needed: baked chocolate cake, 1 jar caramel ice cream topping, 1 large tub whipped topping and 1 cup candy bar toppings (broken candy bars, Heath bits, mini-M&M’s, etc.)

1. Explain that reading the scriptures is a lot like eating cake.

Ask your students for correlations between eating cake and scripture study. (They will give you great analogies: both are sweet, both are filling, both make a visible difference when a lot is consumed, both have a lot of variety/ingredients, both take work, etc.)

Have students silently read a selected chapter or block of scripture. After the students have finished reading, I suggest that one similarity between cake and scripture study is sometimes they’re both a bit dry. There is a reason we frost cake and there is a reason we are encouraged to do more than read the scriptures.

2. Explain to your students that they can eat the cake just like it is – after all they have read the scriptures – or they can add more layers to make it moister, better, more satisfying.

Show the class a jar of caramel and take a vote on who wants to eat the cake plain or who wants to add a layer of caramel to the cake. (After dozens of lessons, I’ve yet to have a class vote to eat the cake plain). Explain that caramel on the cake is like studying the scriptures rather than simply reading them. Studying makes the scriptures more filling and sustaining.

3. Have the students return to the chapter or block of scripture and study using the Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, Guide to the Scriptures, maps, For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, General Conference talks, etc. While they are studying, poke holes in the cake with fork tines or a kabob stick and drizzle caramel over the cake and let it seep down into the holes.

After students have studied the scriptures for about ten minutes, allow them to share insights with the class. After the discussion, ask students if they want to eat the cake as it is (after all, they have studied the scriptures) or if they want to add another layer.

Show students a tub of whipped topping and ask for a vote. (Again, the vote has always gone for more toppings when I’ve taught this lesson.)

4. Explain that pondering and praying for understanding will add to reading and studying the scriptures.

Give students an opportunity to reflect and write in their journals what they have learned or questions that they may have from what they have read and studied. While students write in their journals, spread the whipped topping over the cake.

5. After students have written in their journals. Explain that they can eat the cake like it is – after all they have read, studied, and pondered the scriptures – or they can add another layer.

Show students the candy bar pieces and explain that teaching and testifying of what we have learned helps not only others, but it helps us to better retain the truth. It also gives the Holy Ghost an opportunity to confirm what we say and strengthens our understanding. 

Take a vote whether or not the students would like to go to the next layer.

Assign the students to teach each other or create a social media post on what they have learned. As students teach, sprinkle the candy bar bits on the cake.

6. Now that the cake is finished with a layer of caramel, whipped topping, and candy bar bits, explain that no matter how beautiful or satisfying it appears, it is of no use sitting there. It is not until the cake is eaten and inside of us that it makes a difference. It is the same with scripture study. We can learn, understand, and feel the truth of them, but until what we have learned influences our behavior and actions it is of little use to us.

Invite your students to apply what they have learned from their scripture study and record their goal in their journal or report to a friend.

Serve the cake!

(This lesson could easily be applied to other topics such as how to have a more united family or any topic that builds upon a foundation.)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veteran's Day - The Military's Family

Abe, Army
Calvin, Army
Ty, Air Force

Years ago – years and years ago – we had two little babies. One night Calvin said, “Jane, if there is another war where I am needed I plan to re-enlist.” I cried. I begged him to realize he’d already served his time (he was drafted during the Viet Nam war) and that now we had children to raise. I tried to get him to see that fighting and going to war was someone else’s job now, not ours. He told me it was everyone’s job, in one way or another, to protect our freedom. I fervently hoped the day would never come, because he would not be swayed.

For the next few years I often thought about Calvin’s lone comment. A few times I asked him if he still felt the same; he insisted that he did, and each time my heart sweat fear.

Several years passed and more babies joined our family.  My mind gradually came to understand his way of thinking and eventually joined his, “If not us, then who?”

By the time our sons, Abe and Ty, enlisted in the military, my heart and mind were at peace. Well-intending family, friends and acquaintances suggested it was “others’” responsibility to defend America, but the boys believed as Calvin and had a desire to serve God, fellowman, and country. I clearly remember standing humbly and proudly next to Calvin on the sidelines as each boy took his oath to protect and defend the constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. They understood freedom is worth defending.

A few summers ago Ruth came up to me at a Fourth of July celebration and said, “I didn’t realize you come from a military family and I just wanted to say thank you for all your family has done for this country’s freedom.”

Frankly, I was surprised. Even though Calvin’s grandfather served in WWI, his dad in WWII, and Calvin during Viet Nam, I didn’t think of him as coming from a military family. Even though my grandfather served during WWI, my father in the Korean War, and our sons serve now, I didn’t see us as a military family either. I thought military families were like the . . .

Eisenhower family. (President Eisenhower was a General and his sons followed his military lead.)

Or . . .

The McCain family. (Senator McCain’s father was a Navy admiral, Senator McCain was a Naval officer and POW, and his son a Naval officer.)

Or. . .

The countless families that move all over the world in the name of the United States Military.

These are the types are families I considered to be military families, and they are. They have blessed our country immeasurably by their sacrifice and service.

I guess it’s because we’re normal people living normal lives in normal houses that I hadn’t thought of us being a “military family.” Ruth’s comment helped me realize that military families are much more common than I had supposed.

A few years ago a young man from my hometown had his legs blown off in Iraq. He was a track star and the loss of his legs seemed sardonic. I watched my hometown rally to his support. Hundreds left appreciative and concerned comments on his progress blog, and I suspect even more prayed for his recovery and adjustment. Fundraisers were held and ceremonies planned. Suddenly military families were created as hundreds reached out and adopted him as their own and cheered for his new achievements – first, breathing on his own, then eating on his own, and finally sitting by himself.

Or Bill Crawford, a janitor at the United States Air Force Academy. He swept, mopped, and scrubbed toilets, but he didn’t talk much. The cadets didn’t pay him much attention either. Until one day . . .

A cadet was reading about a tough Allied ground battle in Italy during WW II. The book recorded that Private Bill Crawford had charged forward as his platoon was being pelleted by machine guns. He had thrown a hand grenade into the machine gun nest. Two other machine gun nests began to shoot from the left and the right so Bill ran into the bullets and, after capturing the nests, began using the guns on the running German soldiers. His platoon was able to advance and they fought until night fall. Bill lay somewhere on the battle field, but no one could find him. His fellow soldiers assumed him dead and submitted his name to receive the Medal of Honor in gratitude for his bravery and saving their lives. His father received the award posthumously.

But, Bill was not dead. He was a prisoner of war in a German camp. The thing that got him through that camp was a scripture from his Red-Cross issued, pocket New Testament: Romans 8:31 “If God be for us, who can be against us.” He hung on to that verse to get him through the deplorable camp conditions and the rest of his life as he faced new challenges. Even scrubbing toilets and mopping floors at the Air Force Academy.

When the cadets discovered that Bill was a Medal of Honor recipient, news spread quickly through the corps. The young men made more time to talk to Bill, asked him for advice, and cleaned up better after themselves. They adopted him as their father, their family. They also arranged to have President Ronald Reagan present the Medal of Honor to Bill properly as part of their graduation ceremony. Bill was part of their family.

We don’t have to wait until a soldier’s legs are gone or until we learn of a soldier’s courage and bravery to adopt them into our families and hearts to say, “Thank you for defending my family, America, and her constitution.”

Veteran’s Day makes military families out of all of us as we honor the service and sacrifice of those who defend and rebuild this nation and promote the freedom they protect.

Thank you veteran’s - past and active duty - thank you.