My youngest son, Jonah, is just three and a half. When I was raising my older boys, now 16, 12, and 9, I carefully constructed quiet books for sacrament meeting. I made special clipboards with stickers and photocopied church related coloring pages. I would stock my church bag with new treats and toys every week.
My Sunday plan these days is much, much simpler. I rarely pack a “church bag:” usually I throw the stuff I need for my day into a big Trader Joe’s shopping bag. If he’s lucky, I remember a ziploc bag of goldfish for Jonah. The big boys bring their own scriptures and Josh brings his phone so he can use the scripture app. Most Sundays, this works out well.
I used pieces from the media library for almost everything because part of the purpose of this quiet book is to familiarize Jonah with our gospel art. I did reach out for a few extra images: Queen Esther, Zacharias, and Ruth are classic paintings and they are each public domain images. There is no X! Because that’s nonsense. Also, when I had the option, I chose images that were related to Christ or the Bible rather than words or images related to culture or LDS tradition. In fact, every scripture reference in this set is Biblical. If the mood strikes, perhaps I’ll put together one that is more Book of Mormon focused, although it is harder to find enough art to fill out all 26 letters. Anyway…
The best part about this quiet book is that it is extremely cost effective. It cost me about $3.50 to print all of the images as 4×6 photo prints at Costco. The photo brag book (the kind you can find at most drug stores) can be found for as cheap as $1. The plastic photo books I found hold 24 images: I slipped the letter Z into the back cover so the numbering was perfect. I think this would be a fantastic gift for grandchildren or for a Primary class.
Feel free to grab these and download your own ABC photo book! Each file is a jpg which is the correct format if you’re planning on printing these as photos. Here’s a zipped file.
The zipped file doesn’t have the cover, which you can download right here.
And here are the individual files if you’d prefer to download them separately.
The call came! They are thrilled to serve in Phnom Phen, Cambodia. Whoa!
Today’s throwback is an adorable postcard illustrated with the names of the book in the Bible. We’re working on a “Master Scriptorian” program in our Primary (perhaps I’ll share it here a bit later) and one of the goals is for the children to memorize the names of each book for the standard works. I think it would be much easier to accomplish with such a sweet little card as a guide
Interesting how it is split up into categories of “Law,” “History,” and so forth. And here is the back:
The adorable couple you see here is my Mom and her husband–they are anxiously hoping that their mission call arrives in the mail TODAY. I have to share part of the group texting that was going on yesterday:
Some of the kids (and their families) live nearby and are planning to get together for the letter-opening. Others live far away so we’ve orchestrated a Google Chat. This involves dozens of people, schedules, and a couple of time zones. I love that the first thing my sister texted after finding out the letter had not arrived yesterday was that it was probably misplaced in a neighbors mailbox! Ha.
I know many of you have been through this process too–sending off a missionary does not necessarily mean sending a child. It often means sending a parent! In fact, my husband’s parents served a senior mission several years ago, accepting a call to leave sunny Southern California for Duluth, Minnesota. If that’s not devotion, I don’t know what is.
Lately, the focus of missionary work chatter has been all about the age changes, the massive influx of sister missionaries, and post-high school timing issues. But the truth is, there’s also a big shift in the number of senior missionaries answering the call to serve! I just read the number of senior missionaries serving is up 14%. Currently, 6,609 of the 83,471 total missionaries are seniors.
These two can hardly wait to join that number. I have been watching over the last year as they’ve made preparations to depart. I thought it might be helpful to share some simple senior missionary mission prep tips, so I asked my mom to write up a list! She and her husband consulted together and shared the following. I especially love #6–it’s really true, my Mom has been sharing their plans to serve all over Facebook. It’s so great. (Thanks guys! See you tonight!)
Since we are still awaiting our mission call this list is a tentative recommendation. Once we get into the mission field we anticipate learning the shortcomings of this list.
Top 10 List of Things to Prepare to Serve a Senior Mission
- Strengthen your testimony of the gospel and missionary work.
- Study the scriptures daily. Study Preach My Gospel.
- Serve wherever you can, especially as a couple. Reach out, don’t limit your service to callings.
- Pray for guidance in your preparation. Have faith.
- Talk to Senior Missionaries and returned Senior Missionaries. It is very inspiring and educational to learn about their experiences. It also gives confidence that couples are all unique and can serve according to their abilities and strengths.
- Prepare your family, children and grandchildren for your mission. They will be blessed as well. Also, I have prepared my friends on Social Media that we will be serving a mission. My non-member friends are also excited about finding out where we will go and what we will do. I hope that sharing our experiences will touch their hearts.
- Discuss your missionary service preferences as a couple. You are able to submit all kinds of preferences. Check out the Senior Missionary website to see the broad array of service opportunities available. What would you love doing together?
- Prepare financially. In the application process you need to know how much you can provide monthly for your expenses.
- Prepare your health. You will want all your health issues resolved or managed.
- Make decisions about your home, car, financial obligations, phones, etc. while you are gone.
UPDATE: Their call did finally arrive! You will never guess where: click here to find out.
One of my friends is working through the recent loss of her father. We talk about it together often. And even though it’s not raw or constant, I’m still picking at a few loose ends from my dad’s death. Losing someone who is important to you is like turning on a light at dusk: all of a sudden you can see the shadowy, undefined objects that were in the room all along. Once you’ve dealt with a personal loss I think you can see the kind of physical and emotional work it takes to lay someone to rest. People are dealing with it every day. Now I know how important it is to talk about the loss, even weeks and months later. I know how lingering and surprising the pains can be. I can see the grief in the room more clearly.
I’ve been thinking about how death is in fact an imposing presence in the Mormon home. Our faith encourages us to keep connected with family and community. We have some unique and steadfast doctrine about death and dying. We are commanded to “mourn with those who mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” I believe it’s really difficult to balance all of these facts and imperatives with grace. I thought I’d share a few especially wise or thoughtful links related to the subject that might be helpful.
Perhaps the best place to start is Christ’s example in the scriptures: How does Christ react to death? Even though he knows he will overcome death, he weeps at Lazarus’ death. What other reactions does he have to this most inevitable human experience? How does he succor his people?
Compare with the raising of Jairus’ daughter (see Mark 5:22, 24, 35–43) and the young man of Nain (see Luke 7:11–15). This experience testifies of the compassion, empathy, and love that our Savior and our Heavenly Father feel for each of us every time we are weighed down by the anguish, sin, adversity, and pains of life.
Getting Grief Right by Patrick O’Malley
Always Go to the Funeral by Deirdre Sullivan
Peace, Hope and Direction by Patricia Pinegar
Because I Live Ye Shall Also Live by Shane M. Bowen
(Also see related handouts to Bowen’s talk here)
The Lord Has Not Forgotten You by Linda S. Reeves (quote below is from this talk)
Dear sisters, our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, know us and love us. They know when we are in pain or suffering in any way. They do not say, “It’s OK that you’re in pain right now because soon everything is going to be all right. You will be healed, or your husband will find a job, or your wandering child will come back.” They feel the depth of our suffering, and we can feel of Their love and compassion in our suffering. Linda S. Reeves
Jana Riess shared about her mother’s death: Stephen Colbert, Grief Therapist and The grief that keeps on giving
Finding Joy in Alzheimer’s by Robert Leleux
I love this idea to send to a friend who is far away.
A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis (Book)
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (Book)
For LDS children: What Happens When People Die? by Timothy Robinson (Picture book). We read this together with the children when my grandparents passed away.
And a couple of my old posts about this subject. I’ve clearly used blogging as a place to process my grief. I think sunlight and fresh air helps with healing.
What We Remember
The End of the Story
Unexpected but Prepared
I don’t expect to read the Book of Mormon in 30 days with the whole family, but it has crossed my mind. I think Josh would really appreciate the pace. Years ago I read the Book of Mormon in 45 days, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, with my Relief Society. It’s refreshing to absorb the familiar stories more quickly–it encourages a new perspective and insight into the stories and themes of the book. You might want to try it!
There’s a full page version with the chapters broken out into 30 days of reading. Some will be longer than others. I tried to keep sermons or story lines together when possible. I leaned heavily on these great reading charts by Nathan O. Richardson as well as the chapter headings in the scriptures, of course. On the full page version I also included a brief overview of the Book of Mormon itself.
I reformatted the same 30 day schedule into bookmark size. There are two per page. They’re mean to be 7×3.5 inches, but there is plenty of white space for you to work with.
I know there are tons of reading schedules out there, but I decided to design my own anyway because I wanted one that is easy to print in black and white and photocopy. Also, I like this font
So there’s a link for a printable 90-Day reading chart below. This one is full page.
And I put together some bookmarks as well. These are designed to be 3×7 inches to fit standard scriptures, and there are three per page. You’re going to have to trim the margins, maybe on all four sides (sorry). I wanted to leave enough white space around the edges that you won’t have trouble with your printer.
I bet you can guess what’s coming tomorrow…
My oldest son is a junior this year: he’s driving, taking SAT prep classes, and setting up his schedule for his final year in high school. I’m trying to prepare myself for my first baby bird to leave the nest. I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff I need to teach him or talk about together. Before our family shifts and changes for the next phase I’d also like to read the whole Book of Mormon together. I’m not sure if we’ll start this fall, with the new school year, or if we’ll get going sometime this summer. It’s on my mind, though, so I’ve been putting together a few reading charts that might work for us. I’ll share a few this week.
Just to be clear, you’re meant to fill in a circle for every chapter you read. I included a few guides to help give context to your reading: I think it’s helpful to know which chapters are the Tree of Life Vision, or Words of Isaiah, or Christ’s Ministry.
This one is two per page, meant to fit more easily into a standard size scriptures.
Last fall one of our new friends casually asked me if our family was going home for Thanksgiving. It took me by surprise. “I am home,” is the first thought that came to mind. Then I realized that she was asking whether I’d be making the trek back to Utah for Thanksgiving at my mom’s house. It almost made me laugh. It’s been at least ten years since the word “home” makes me think of my parents–or my husband’s parents.
As sappy and as cliche as it may sound, it’s really true that home is wherever I am with my husband. We’ve been married for nearly twenty years. He knows me better than I know myself, the best parts and the worst. The shorthand and the inside jokes are so thick that even our children have only barely begun to penetrate the years and the layers. He is the love of my life.
He is a loyal and honest man, but having been in a committed (probably co-dependent) relationship for such a very long time has broadened my views of forgiveness and forbearance. I used to believe that if he made a small handful of very serious mistakes I would leave him–I would have to! After all these years, I now know that I would forgive him for almost everything. The handful of mistakes is close to empty. He is always welcome home. He is home.
I adored my husband from the first time I met him, but the years of work and tears, of joy and acceptance have helped us earn an easier, more unconditional love.
With our children, it’s decidedly different. From the very beginning my love for my boys has been less conditional. They don’t have to do anything, resist anything, or become anything to earn my affection. I just love my babies. My greatest hope is that they always and forever want to come to my house for Thanksgiving. I don’t have to be their “home,” because I hope someday they will find that for themselves, but I do hope, deeply, that they will always enjoy visiting the people who first helped them get a taste for home.
These two kinds of love–a deep, time-worn, romantic love and the unconditional, irrevocable parental love–are the most profound ways of loving I have yet experienced. It’s natural to extend the lessons I’ve learned at home to the church, to my neighbors, and to God. Less conditional. More trusting. Freely forgiving. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Are you planning a Valentine’s Day class party? Here’s a quick printable that you could use at school, Primary, or at home. The idea is to count the hearts (I found 32) and then color them in.
There’s also a version with four per page.