Monday, May 2, 2016

Booklet Sequence Ordering for Double-Sided Printing

This is completely for my sake and sanity, one of the random things I find myself doing and stressed over that could have been easier, and I don't want to forget when it comes up again.

In the last few weeks I've made two programs for two different plays in our area put on by homeschoolers and directed by amazing mothers of some of these kids purely volunteering their time.  The first one I had kids in the play and it was my way to help make it happen.  The second one was a favor for a friend (and we get free tickets because of it - bonus!).

I know there is a way to print it and have it come out right, but the place the first one was done just printed it double-sided so things were out of order.  It wasn't horrible, but I knew it was wrong.

I couldn't send off the second to be done the same way in good conscience, so I sat with the single-sided pages in the right spots on my lap, flipping back and forth.  Of course when I had fiddled and messed enough, I finally figured out there is an easy pattern to it all, as seen in this graphic.  Follow the black arrows down and the blue arrows back up, and voila, in the right order.

Like I said, for me next time.  I have a feeling I will get to do this again.

Sorry this is so random...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wolf Scout Leader Files

Now that I'm a Wolf leader, I had to get myself all file organized for that too.

Wolf Adventure Tracking - The basics for this file were passed on to me by the former Wolf leaders, but I did some tightening so it fit on two pages, or one front and back.  They used colors to differentiate boys, but I've got a color and a black and white version to share.

You'll notice the numbers next to the Adventure name.  The number on the left is the number of Adventure (1-6 required, then 1-13 electives), and the number on the right is the page number in the Wolf book.

Wolf Adventure Tracking Color PDF

Wolf Adventure Tracking Color Excel

Wolf Adventure Tracking Black/White PDF

Wolf Adventure Tracking Black/White Excel

Wolf Adventures At-a-Glance - I didn't want to flip through the book every time I needed to see the requirements for an adventure (for marking it off on records or planning).  I know the font is small, but it fits on one page front and back.  Maybe someday I'll made one with a bigger font...

My one tip for this so far (since I'm still pretty new) is about the Paws on the Path adventure.  After working with the Boy Scouts and encouraging them in gathering their 10 Essentials, I thought it was cool for the Wolves to need to gather the 6 Essentials.  On the first week I had our Den Chief (you're missing out if you don't have one!) bring those and teach the boys about them, then when we went on our hike I made sure the parents knew with plenty of time that the boys needed to bring them along.

One of these items is a whistle...

I currently have 10 Wolf scouts.  Ten 8 year old boys, with WHISTLES.  As much as I encouraged them to not blow them so we could see the wildlife we were supposed to see, a noise making device is just too much for boys that age.  I didn't want to confiscate, because they were seriously feeling super cool packing around their 6 Essentials (eating their snacks, drinking their water, hoping someone had an accident so they could use their first aid kit).  A friend suggested maybe before beginning, or maybe another week pre-hike playing a hide-and-seek game at a park where a boy would hide then blow their whistle to be found.  Then maybe they would be plenty whistled out and realize the purpose of the whistle (to be found if lost, not to give their awesome den leader a headache).

Maybe one more tip.  Have a blast and love the boys!  It's what all the best den leaders do.

If you know an 11-year-old Scouts leader that needs some good tracking documents, I've got those as well, right here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

11 Year Old Scouts Leader Files and a Knots Tip

I have this special OCD with scouting, that I need to have the right tracking documents at my finger tips or I just can't function. With all the work I've put into them, I've decided I need to share them further than word of mouth.

For your scouting pleasure, here are my EYO scout files:

Rank Requirements Tracking Sheet - I had something very similar to this with the old requirements passed on to me from another leader, so I HAD to have it with the new requirements.  You're welcome!

Activity Tracker PDF - When I first became an EYO scout leader I did a lot of research on schedules.  I found quite a variety, but none that were what I figured I could work with and still be flexible enough to work with boys coming in and going out throughout the year (the way we roll with scouting in the LDS Church).  I finally found one I mostly liked, then I took it, messed with it a lot (and changed it more as I used it), and made it my own.  This is the latest version with the new 2016 requirements.  The requirements are all grouped by subject, so you can plan to do a month of First Aid, then some hiking, some orienteering, and so on, passing off requirements at each rank at the same time.  When I was making my calendar for the next few months, I would make sure this was updated, and plan in the things that were blank.  If just one or two boys are missing something, if their birthday was getting close work it in quick with something else we were doing, or plan it in later when we could hit it again.  Using this, we could do most of the requirements twice during the year, having the boys who already passed it off help teach, or give them a great review.

Activity Tracker Excel - in case you want your records looking nice, or want to mess with it like I did when I found the similar one (actually very different now), here's a version you can edit.

Examples of my schedule/scout newsletter --->  Oct-Dec and Jan-Mar  This was as much for me as it was for the boys.  I needed to be planned ahead so I wasn't wondering every week what we were going to do.  The boys and parents liked knowing what was ahead, and I could put things on there (like bring a personal first aid kit), and they would magically show up with them.  I like the half-sheet size - not too big for the fridge.

Now just a fun tip on teaching knots.  I learned this from one of my great scouting heroes, Kathee from the Snake River Council (if you're from up there, you know who I'm talking about).  She was a Scoutmaster for a community unit and would take her boys to scout camp, where those that didn't know her wondered why a girl was there.  By the end of the week they would be asking her how she got her boys to know and do the things they did.  For knots, she had a different color of paracord for each knot, and once they could pass off the knot (not just tying it once, but maybe learning it one meeting and passing it off the next), they would earn the rope for that knot.  If every they couldn't show her or the patrol leader the knot, they would lose the rope.  YIKES!  I guarantee no boy wants to lose a rope he's earned.  Plus, with a rope in hand, they can go home and practice, and they do.  They get their first rope when they cross the bridge from cub scouting to boy scouting - I have them tie a square knot when they get to me, and when they do it, they get a carabiner (to hang their ropes on and clip to a belt buckle) and a red rope.  Colors really don't matter.  For the basic knots I cut them about 4 feet long.  They have to do all 3 lashings to get the rope for that, but that rope is 7-8 feet long.  Paracord is cheap - we have a store locally that sells it by the foot for 7 or 8 cents per foot, depending on the quality.  Works out to be less than $3/boy for a set of ropes.

Here is a list of fun game ideas to reinforce the knots they learn.

I hope the files are helpful!  Feel free to share this page with other 11 year old scout leaders.

If you know Wolf scout leader that needs some good tracking documents, I've got those as well, right here.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Eyes to See

The last two general conferences the question I've had in my mind is how our family could be more loving and united. It just seemed there was always so much contention here over one silly thing or another.
Two Sundays ago I was being set apart as the Wolf leader in our ward, and during the blessing the words "the love that permeates your home" jumped out at me. Has he been in our home?!? Then I thought of where that blessing was really coming from, and what He knows and sees. What was I missing?
During the next week I was sometimes shocked, amazed, and humbled at the things I saw happening in our home. The little kindnesses, the laughter (one night crazy wild what-did-I-feed-them-for-dinner-this-is-so-weird-they-are-being-so-fun-together laughter), singing while they sort laundry together, smiles, and happiness.
I don't know if the miracle came from the blessing, or from my eyes being opened, but it's been two weeks now and I'm still seeing it. I love my wonderful family! (Even when they are contentious, because that still happens too.)

Someone is missing . . . 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Liahona Chocolate

Prayers can be answered in funny ways. My primary lesson today was on 1 Nephi 16 - the liahona. I had been thinking about an object lesson (didn't love the one in the manual), but no ideas were coming. Grabbed some Dove birthday chocolate to read over the lesson again this morning, glanced at the message inside, and inspiration struck. The world's messages are everywhere, and may sound lovely and enticing, but not God's way to get things done and bring us the most happiness.

In class I passed out chocolate to everyone and we enjoyed the advice inside, some good, some bad, and talked about all the places we can see for counsel and advice the world's way.  Then we talked about 1 Nephi 16 and likened that to us using Alma 37, then talked about the kinds of liahonas we can have faith in and really trust - scriptures, prophets, the Holy Ghost, patriarchal blessings, etc.

Thank you Dove!

Saturday, January 16, 2016


In a letter from Adam this week he asked, "Also, what do you want for your birthday? I already have one thing set (you'll love it). And maybe I'll send something for you to share with the whole family (spicy hot chocolate). But any wishes?"

The morning was busy enough (working for him actually - in the first letter he sent he asked me to e-mail him some talks he could add to a USB) that I hadn't even seen that to respond, so when I had to run pick up one of the kids I sent a quick message telling him I would send more talks if I got back soon enough.  When he replied to that I finally saw the question when he said again, "I need birthday wish on Monday. So I can get it sent. So think hard about it this week."

My response (thought I don't think he saw it yet) -  "Oh my son. Just you being you is gift enough."
Logistics-wise, he's on a mission.  He doesn't have a lot of money, and he doesn't have time to be wandering looking for anything, and really, what am I supposed to tell him?  "There's this book I really would like..."

But really, every letter is a gift.  Every picture he sends.  Every experience he shares.  Every testimony he bears.  Every bit of him I get to see growing and becoming stronger and stronger in the gospel.

It's been a perfect reminder of what really can we give our Heavenly Father, but I've still been trying to think of what I could tell him.

Say a prayer with me in mind and say "Thank you" a lot.  ;)
Write a letter telling me what you learned from me.
Watch for an act of service you can do that day and tell me about it.


Friday, October 16, 2015


(Since it's been almost a year since I last posted here, I found this post I started way back then and never shared.)

I want my kids home before dark.  I don't care what the clock says, especially in the winter, I want them home and in my house so I know they arrived safely and I don't have to worry about them possibly walking home alone.  If I have a little one away, I send one of the bigger kids to get them or go pick them up myself, before dark.

When my children have friends over, I make sure their friends are home before dark, even if it means one of us walking or driving their child home.

And yet, my kids don't always see it that way.  They think that just because they are right across the street, it doesn't matter.  That the short distance makes it okay. Here and there one will communicate with me beforehand, and I might okay an exception for a really good reason, but normally if one of them wanders in after dark, they will hear about it from their mom, and there may be other consequences.

I realized a similar phenomena in church recently.  It happens all the time during lessons, but the ah-ha came Sunday during a lesson on being "In the World, But Not of the World."  The lesson could be taken very broadly, but  it specifically mentioned four subjects - keeping the Sabbath Day holy, obeying the Word of Wisdom, respecting the name of Deity, and dressing modestly and keeping the law of chastity.  The night before teaching the lesson, I read the story of Eli Herring, and his choice of declining an NFL contract because he would have to play on Sunday.  (Here's a New Era article about him, and another article I really liked.)  I was very impressed by how seriously and spiritually he sought direction, and shared the story during my lesson.

Immediately a hand was raised, and stories were shared about others that work on Sunday and the opportunities that have come, and others that have chosen to play ball on Sunday.

I didn't feel prompted to share it during the lesson, but during my lesson prep I had written at the top of my manual, "We need to stop looking for the exceptions, and seek to better follow the rule."

Why do we do that?  Why can't we sit through a lesson on, for instance, keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and listen to the spirit about how we can personally make adjustments to better follow that?  Why is there a need to defend?

I love what the other article author said in the comments section to someone giving exceptions:
I want my sons to go on a mission and to keep the Sabbath day holy throughout their lives because I know that the Lord will bless them immeasurably for doing so. And to help make that happen, I want to give my sons examples of people who keep those commandments even if they are under extreme pressure to do otherwise. Going on a mission and keeping the Sabbath day holy is the rule. That’s not to say there aren’t inspired exceptions at times. But I wouldn’t hold up the exceptions as examples to my sons. I hold up as examples those people who keep the standard regardless of temporal consequences.
I don't know if we're afraid of setting a bar and shooting for it, or of offending others by showing we're shooting for it, or... or... what.

Get Thee Hence!

As of today, Adam has officially been on his mission for exactly a month!  Every letter glows with his love of learning his role as a missionary, meeting new people, and growing in testimony.

Which is what brings on this blog post.  The adversary discovered he could use my wonderful son against me.

It started small.  I couldn't even say exactly what the beginning point was, so I'll just jump to the point of realization, which was last Monday, his most recent prep day.  It went like this - I hate my phone making noise at me all day, so I leave off the notifications.  One of the first things I've started doing Monday morning is turning on e-mail notifications so I'll see when his e-mail comes in.  Anticipation for a few hours, then hooray, it's arrived!  This week Jamie was even home, so we gathered everyone together and read his message.  So so exciting to read!  As we e-mailed short response letter back and forth for a bit, the thoughts started coming...

He didn't say anything about the letter you wrote him.
You aren't important to him.
You shouldn't spend so much time thinking of good things to write him, it doesn't matter.
Nobody cares what you have to say.
And on and painfully on.

Jamie headed off to work and the thoughts continued.  I started to wonder, did he even get my letter?  I had attached some pictures from the week.  Maybe that's not allowed?  Maybe he sat and read letters from everyone else and is wondering why I didn't write.  I imagined him confused, wondering why so early on in his mission his mom already isn't writing.  I sent Jamie a text about that, and he called (probably realizing something was up).  About 5 seconds into the call I was in tears, so consumed with all the negative hurtful thoughts I was having.

Poor Jamie is not used to having a fragile, weepy wife!  He did his best, and even sent Adam an e-mail (which I still need to delete) solely to say, please mention your mom it would do a lot of good.  I'm chuckling now as I write this.  He married a tough gal, and had no idea what to do with the person he was talking to at that moment.  I'm very grateful he was trying!

That wasn't the first episode, but it was certainly the worst.  Satan found a golden opening to derail me, using my motherly desire to be important to my children, and I was so consumed by it that my children at home got a cruddy mother.

Maybe the voices were getting louder and easier to see for what they are, but thankfully this time I recognized everything for what it was, and that night I went to bed drained from it all, praying for a miracle to help me close it all out.

The next morning I wrote this in my journal:

"Satan doesn't know who he's messing with.

I am a daughter of God!  I have made covenants that bind me eternally to His work.  I know He loves me, and that my Savior loves me.  Without them I am nothing.  With them, I can do anything.  My life is in their hands, to further their great work on this earth.

I may still discover chinks in my armor for Satan's fiery darts, but these will be quickly discovered and strengthened.  But still the armor is there, every day.

I am enlisted.  Battle on."

The adversary is real and always watching for a weak point. It's one thing to love my children, and quite another to base who I am on them, what they do, and if they tell me thanks for what I do.

The seriousness and strength of it all seems so stupid and weak now.  But I also recognize this battle might not be completely over.  We shall see.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Generosity Backfired, or Why Did They Learn What I Was Teaching?

It's always been a goal to have our children be service-minded, good workers, and generous.  We've followed what those smarter than us have said works to do that - be involved together on service projects, take them to deliver meals and treats (Melanie is excellent at making cinnamon rolls, as several ward members would testify), and just generally be on the watch for opportunities to do good and do it.

Well guess what.  They learned it.

A few weeks ago Adam went to a dance and ended up giving 5 people rides home.  Two lived within about 5 minutes of the dance, two were about 15 minutes away, and one was about 20 minutes away.  Mom and Dad didn't feel quite so generous when we discovered the closest to the dance went home first, the closest to home went second, and the furthest away last, which put them more like 30 minutes away.  In an awesome parenting gesture, I asked him why he didn't stop in to say hi on his way past.  Yes me, the one that should be encouraging good, kind, generous behavior.  Yes, he got home late, past Holy Ghost bedtime late. And he heard he needs to plan better if that's going to happen again.

But I realized later that I should be happy he's willing to be helpful, because really that's what was at the heart of it all.

Yet when another child showed similar lessons learned (that's three sentences in a row I've started with a conjunction), I was again similarly irritated.  I got a text yesterday saying the Beehives were taking dinner in to a family for their activity, and reminding Melanie that she offered to bring soup.  I was grateful for the notice since I hadn't heard, but the immediate thought that ran through was, Really?  Nothing cheaper/easier?  At least this time it all stayed in my head (until now), though I did mention that I'm glad her leader let me know so I didn't hear about it a half hour before it needed to be done.  She did a great job today making it all by herself.  Sheesh, if she can rock cinnamon rolls, of course she can throw some soup together!

Trying to repent a little, sending this out so that when someone else's child learns the great lessons you want them to, maybe you'll remember better than I have to take note, enjoy, encourage, and be grateful.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Went online to research some family history and got this . . .

Call me weird, but I thought it was cool.

A few minutes later (after posting that first half actually), I refreshed the page and got this instead.

Pretty fun to belong to a world-wide church.  :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

You Can Be a Treasure Too

I've been doing a lot of family history research lately and discovered two gems from Israel Hoyt, my husband's third great-grandfather.  Most histories I've read tell a lot about where they lived and what they did, but I thought it was wonderful to discover two quotes from him.  One, “As long as we have anything, we will divide with our friends” (Israel was the first President of the United Order), and two,  "I have laid the foundation.  I hope you will build on it" (his final words of counsel to his family).

My own great-grandfather, William Henry Wagstaff, received three patriarchal blessings.  "I got my last Patriarchal Blessing – I have three of them – just before I was married. It was given to me by Hyrum G. Smith in Salt Lake. LaVon wanted hers so I went with her and got another one. I told you I was a mean little cuss and needed lots of guidance."
What a treasure!  I read those and feel like I'm really getting to know who they were, more than the he-lived-here-and-worked-here-and-had-these children.  I've read and seen many things in the past several months reminding me to make a record of my life.

It was a blessing to read Randal Wright's book "Make Every Day Meaningful."  His premise is that not only should we be recording experiences from our lives, but that we need to be looking for the lessons we learn from those - every day.  He gives the example of modern technology and how many advances have been made in just the last several years, then asks, "Why then are individuals and families not making progress at the same rapid rate as technology?  Why do so many retain the same weaknesses and make the same mistakes year after year?"  Interesting questions.  Yes, we are all human with our own opportunities to choose, and many of us have to make our own mistakes to learn.  But what if we had family records to look back on, much like scientific records, to see the mistakes and lessons of our ancestors?  I look around at other families all the time and wonder what makes them successful or how they went wrong, but most of the time I can only guess.

Each chapter in the book presents a reason for keeping your record, and uses a variety of wonderful life examples (both Wright's experiences and others from his family and friends).

He includes chapters on:
Seeing the Hand of the Lord in Your Life
The Necessity of Recording Family Stories
Learning Meaningful Lessons from Others
How to Use Your Grand Lessons
A Protection from Serious Mistakes
Overcoming Weaknesses that Limit You
Learn to be Grateful Every Day
Meaningful Lessons are Not Lost
Writing Your Autobiography

I love the chapter "A House of Learning."  He reminds us what an important place of learning the temple is, and how we should be seeking the lessons there, but my favorite part of that chapter was him talking about using the temple as a model for our homes.  He mentions model homes built by home builders with all the best upgrades, and says, "The purpose of models is to show buyers the kind of home they can have if they are willing to pay the price... The temple can be a model home to help us build strong families."  I've thought of my own parallels between our home and the temple before, but Wright really ran with that idea.  That's a chapter I will definitely be looking back on.

Each chapter ends with challenges to practice the lessons taught in that chapter.  I just read it through this time (with loads of underlining), but I plan on going back to review and work on some of the challenges.

One of those is the "Meaningful Lessons are Not Lost" chapter.  For those that have heard of Wright's three word journal method of recording stories in three words that will remind you of the story so you can write it out later, this chapter reviews that and gives a list of about 600 memory cues.  I have looked into buying his out-of-print book "The Three Word Journal," but I haven't found it for a reasonable price, so maybe this chapter makes up for that.

This book has helped me to evaluate my own journaling habits, and yes, I need to step things up.  Wright lays out so many great reasons, both for our personal benefit ourselves and for that of others.

Now, it's just doing it.

By the way, just after reading this, I read through my first two journal which took me from about age 10 through part of junior high.  I realized some journaling habits I did then that I still do that are really annoying (like just writing a scripture reference with no mention of what is there - mean!).  But it was funny to read some of the entries to my 13 year old, and yes, my "don't do's and do do's" probably had a little bit more backing since she could see I had walked some of the same paths that she does.

I received a copy of this for my review.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

How to Prepare a Child for a Mission

(I gave this talk on March 16, 2014 in our ward.)

After getting off the phone with the Bishop, I quickly felt inadequate for this talk.  I haven't sent a missionary out, so I feel like a mom with her first baby in her arms looking around sacrament meeting, noting everything other people's kids are doing, and thinking, "My kids will never do that."  Well guess what - they will.  Since I haven't actually sent a missionary out, the things I have to say could be totally wrong, so anyone that actually has done it, don't laugh too hard at my lack of knowledge.

(I forgot about this part, but if I hadn't, this is where it would have been.)

When my brother heard I would be talking about this, he said I needed to share this advice:
-- Every Elder should know how to catch, kill, prepare, and cook various forms of waterfowl  (I wasn't actually going to say this one, maybe mentioning that they should be prepared to use their special gifts and talents in creative ways, and be willing to learn more).
-- Every Elder should be well-trained in how to perform sweet BMX-like tricks on a non-BMX bike
-- It is absolutely critical that every Elder possess the courage and adventurism necessary to eat whatever is placed in front of them -- and then ask for more.

In our stake we had a Relief Society activity a month ago, and one of the classes likened preparing for a mission like getting ready for the Olympics.  An Olympian doesn't start learning how to play the game when they are trying to get on the Olympics team.  They practice for years to get to that point.  With a mission, preparation doesn't begin 120 days out when mission papers are filed.  It needs to start years ahead of that.

This is my personal mothering battle vision.
Alma 49:8-9 - But behold, to their uttermost astonishment, they were prepared for them, in a manner which never had been known among the children of Lehi. Now they were prepared for the Lamanites, to battle after the manner of the instructions of Moroni.  And it came to pass that the Lamanites, or the Amalickiahites, were exceedingly astonished at their manner of preparation for war.

I want my children to be prepared for battle the best they can be, so personal revelation is an inherent part of that.  The things I feel are important in my family for our "astonishing" preparation might be different than the things that are important to [the missionary I was speaking with]'s family.  With personal revelation, every family here would bring in different aspects to their preparation that will make their preparation new and astonishing.  

In the church we've been counseled that if we follow certain patterns, our families will be blessed.  The patterns I'm talking about are family home evening, family prayer, and family scripture study.  We've heard about that plenty of times before so I'm not going to go into that.  But it does take a consistent effort, and I'll be the first to tell you it's not easy.  It's not always spiritually filling, but we keep working and we keep trying.

We had a family home evening a few weeks ago that started out really well.  Erin was in charge of the lesson, and she wanted to talk about Joseph of Egypt.  After going through the story, I was pointing out how all these terrible things happened to Joseph, but that he had faith like it says in the scriptures, "Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good" (D&C 90:24).  By that point, family home evening had turned to chaos, so I ended my thoughts with, "just like I have faith that even though family home evening usually turns into this, I have faith that good things will come out of this too!"  (My poor children...)

Even though each individual effort has been less than stellar, I am seeing the fruits from the years we've been doing these.  I'm impressed with the knowledge my kids have of the scriptures, and they are gaining their own personal testimonies.

At the same stake Relief Society activity that I mentioned earlier, a video was shown with some mission advice from a couple in our stake that are serving as mission president/mission mom right now in Chili.  One of the things they suggested is that before serving a mission, young men/young women should have an experience where they've had to do something really hard to the point that they wanted to quit, but that they kept going.  When these missionaries are away from home for 1 1/2 to 2 years, they need experiences like that in their back pocket so they know they can continue through the new hard things they'll experience.

For our family, scouting has provided a lot of those activities, like camping out in the cold during a klondike, going on a backpacking trip, or a really long hike.  During Adam's first year working at scout camp, he had been hired to work in the shooting sports area and loved it, but halfway through the summer they had some people quit and he was pulled from that area and was moved to teaching First Aid.  He found out about the change on a Sunday evening, and we got a letter from him telling us about it the next Saturday (camp mail is slow).  We knew how devastating it would be for him, and we discussed going up to visit.  Before that was decided, Adam suddenly walked in the door.  We asked about the position change, and told him how bad we felt for him.  I think the question was asked, "Did you think about quitting?" because I remember him saying, "Yes, but I knew you guys would make me go back."  Besides struggling through that first week without having our "you can do it!," he continued through the rest of the summer and finished well.

To bring in another point on mission preparation, let's talk about Alma the Younger for a minute.  This guy came from a great family, but has made his own choices and was going around with his friends "stealing away the hearts of the people, causing much dissention," and "seeking to destroy the church" (Mosiah 27:9-10).  Suddenly an angel appeared and told them to knock it off, then got him back on the right path.

I haven't seen an angel, but I am deeply grateful for the people who have been angels in my life and in the lives of my children.  Susan Tanner stated that "Everywhere there are young [people] who are in the middle of their own stories, facing dangers and hardships. ...There will be 'angels round about you, to bear you up' (D&C 84:88). They will sustain us as we carry our earthly burdens. Often in our lives, those angels are the people around us, the people who love us, those who allow themselves to be instruments in the Lord’s hands."

I know that my children have been influenced by many angels in this ward.  I've asked them here and there, who do you look up to in the ward?  Who has been an example to you?  I've told some of those people but there are many others, and I'm so grateful for the influence they've had.

Several years ago a book was written called, "It Takes a Village."  I haven't read it, but I remember many people bothered by it, even retorting that "it takes a mother."  Honestly, I'm in the "it takes a village" camp.  I know that I couldn't do it all on my own.  I have wonderful parents, but I have also had plenty of angels in my own life that have helped to make me who I am today.

(Forgot to say this paragraph and the next, but it's important...)  In the fall Adam went on a hike to Ben Lomond peak with my brother and brother-in-law.  We talk off and on about where our boys will go on missions, and many times we've said that Adam will go to Africa for different reasons.  When he got home that day, he was all over going to South America because of everything his uncles had been saying about their missions in Uruguay and Argentina.  He insists it was the food talk, but regardless, the mission excitement was passed on.

One night after YM/YW a few months ago I was waiting and waiting for my kids to get home.  Finally at 10:00pm, an hour and a half after their activities should have ended, I was uptight and decided to drive to the church to drag them home, but passed them on the way.  I beat them home, and waited while they pulled in the driveway to give them some correction on just when it was appropriate to come home.  When they climbed out of the car, Adam got a "and where have you been?"  His response - "First we played basketball for a while, then we were talking about missions with the young men's leaders there."  Of course my lecture was gone, and I sent up a silent prayer about great leaders.  I did tell them 10:00 was too late to be coming home, though, but a lot kinder than I would have.

Probably the most important step in mission preparation is gaining a personal testimony so they can share that with the people there.  Unfortunately, that's not something I can cook up, serve on a platter, and consider it done.  Really, there isn't a whole lot I can do about that beyond doing these other activities and hoping they are touched by the spirit.

From Jeffrey R. Holland, "A 14-year-old boy recently said to me a little hesitantly, 'Brother Holland, I can’t say yet that I know the Church is true, but I believe it is.' I hugged that boy until his eyes bulged out. I told him with all the fervor of my soul that belief is a precious word, an even more precious act, and he need never apologize for 'only believing.' I told him that Christ Himself said, 'Be not afraid, only believe,' a phrase which, by the way, carried young Gordon B. Hinckley into the mission field...  What was once a tiny seed of belief for me has grown into the tree of life, so if your faith is a little tested in this or any season, I invite you to lean on mine."

Elder Holland is great and all--I love reading his talks myself--but he isn't someone that our children can watch and hear from all the time beyond his recorded talks.

Our children need to hear our testimonies!

We are people they can watch and learn from daily.  To realize the importance of that, check out these three examples from the Book of Mormon.

Even though Enos had a grandfather, uncle, and father that were prophets, he still needed to gain his own testimony.  While out hunting one day, he stopped to pray.  "Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart" (Enos 1:3).

Alma the Younger, also the son of a prophet, made poor choices and needed a change of heart.  When he was knocked from his astonishment at seeing an angel, everything he had been doing to destroy the church was running through his mind.  "And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world" (Alma 36:17).

We know that the stripling warriors relied on the testimonies of their mothers.  "They had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.  And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it" (Alma 56:47-48).

Maybe a huge reason for having family home evening, family prayer, and family scripture study is so we will have lots of opportunities to share our testimonies with our children.  If they know we know, they can lean on our testimonies when they need to.

Hopefully in the end, even with all the mistakes I make, this end vision will come to pass.

D&C 123:17  "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."

All I can do is cheerfully do my part, follow the patterns the church has given us, seek and follow personal revelation for my family, and do what I can to help my children gain their own testimonies.  But someday I hope when I look back I will see how deeply Heavenly Father has been involved in raising our children too, through their life experiences and through the people that have influenced their lives.  And hopefully, through all that, they will be well-prepared to serve a mission.