Monday, January 28, 2013

Help Them Aim High

I taught Relief Society yesterday.  When I first got the lesson schedule I was so excited to get to discuss President Eyring's talk "Help Them Aim High" for my first lesson.  Jamie had it playing in the car shortly after general conference.  I listened for a while, taken in by all President Eyring was saying, then mentioned to Jamie that I didn't remember it, and was told it was a priesthood talk.  Lucky guys again!  I think I printed it the moment we got home so I could read and think about it, and even used it for my November visiting teaching lesson.

I love teaching.  The study is different knowing that you'll be presenting the information, and I walk into the class knowing that the insight I get from others will expand my learning even more.

The basic gist of the talk is that being individuals with individual missions to fulfill in life, we are blessed with different spiritual gifts to help us in that.  Not only do we need seek to recognize our own gifts, we need to recognize the gifts that others have, especially our children, and help them to "see, want, and believe they can achieve their full potential for service in God's kingdom."

President Eyring talks very specifically about how he did that for each of his children.  Through his other talks you can tell he's a great, caring man, but it was wonderful to see the special love and time he gives to his children and grandchildren.  A great example.

Something that was specifically brought up and clarified during the discussion was that he wasn't helping his children discover these gifts as part of their future occupation, but as ways they can bless others in service.  Seeking after those gifts will certainly strengthen who you are, though, and would bless your life in a variety of other ways, including occupation.  He never once mentions his children's occupations, but does share ways his children used their gifts in service.

Studying this has helped me to think more about how I can help my kids "aim high."  Thank goodness President Eyring says we don't have to carve to do it.  This talk reminded me of something my aunt and uncle did for their family.  Another beautiful way - no carving.  :)

I've been watching my children more, and if nothing else, pointing out to them things that I see.  I've never been given anything concrete like a height board or framed scripture from someone regarding what they see in me, but I've had a few people here and there in my life mention things they see in me, even quickly in casual conversation, that I didn't realize.  It's hard to really see yourself, though, don't you think?  Or even if I think I might have some gift, it's nice to know that someone else recognizes it too.  When I realize someone sees that in me, it's easier to focus on developing that more, which is why it's so important to recognize those things in others, especially our children.

Anyone want to discuss it more?  So many good things in there to talk about.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Scripture Study and a Study Tool

I can't remember if I've mentioned it before, but at the start of December Jamie challenged anyone in our family that wanted to to read the entire standard works and Jesus the Christ in a year.  I admit I went into panic mode and told him there's no way I have time to do that, but trying to have a "Can Do!" attitude, below the surface somewhere I kept thinking about how it could work.

I finally decided that while I can't do the whole thing at this point in my life, I can do the Old Testament (I've been wanting to), Doctrine and Covenants (Sunday School topic this year), and Jesus the Christ.  We're reading the Book of Mormon as a family like always, so I'm counting that.  New Testament will have to wait until next year.

I'm actually doing pretty good!  (Until this week, to be explained in a bit.)  It's been a long time since I read the Old Testament, and I really loved Genesis and Exodus.  And so exciting to learn things in the Old Testament, then read the Book of Mormon and have my eyes opened to all the Old Testament-ness there too.  Every part of my scripture study has been so much more exciting and I'm learning so much.

Leviticus . . . not as exciting.  UNTIL, one night I opened up the Citation Index app (also available online here) and would read what prophets and apostles have said about different verses there.  That's why I'm behind now, because not only am I reading the chapter, but I'm reading that as well, and documenting parts of that in my scriptures or study journal.  In a way I wish I had been doing that all along, but I would probably be way more behind too.  Such a blessing to have that as a study tool.

And maybe staying home with a sick one from church today will give me the time I need to get back on track...

I remember hearing people say they study their scriptures for an hour a day, and thinking that it's not possible  at this time of my life.  Amazing how a goal and people working that goal with you can make it happen.  And thankful for a wonderful priesthood leader that threw out the challenge.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

John Wooden

The first time I heard of John Wooden I was listening to a talk on leadership that I already wasn't impressed with.  When he was mentioned and the speaker explained who he was, in my mind it reiterated the lack of knowledge the speaker had, and I thought, "Big deal.  A coach?  That's all they could come up with?"

Don't think that about John Wooden.

I think Luke 22:32 describes John Wooden perfectly.  He was "converted" to living well with a deep value system, and then he went about strengthening others with that.  John's father was his example in that, giving him a seven point creed to try to follow, including "Be true to yourself," "Make each day your masterpiece," and "Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day."

It's interesting studying a sports figure verses a political figure, businessman, or religious leader.  Not only do you see the effects, but you get all the stats to really prove how great they are.

John started out as a great basketball player.  He was the Basketball All-American for 3 years (the first person to do that), was a college player of the year, and the college scoring champ for the year.

The year before John coached at UCLA the team had 12 wins and 13 losses.  His first year (1948) they had 22 wins and 7 losses, and in 1949 they had 24 wins and 7 losses.  As it was pointed out during our class discussion, he was probably dealing with essentially the same players that had been on the 1947 team, so a great leader does make a difference.  John retired in 1975, and in the 12 seasons leading up to that his team were National Champions 10 times, including 7 in a row (still a record).  In that same time period they had 4 perfect seasons, with 30 wins and no losses.

John Wooden was the first person to be inducted to the Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach.

But enough with the stats.  People knew he was a great coach, but it wasn't until after he retired that his leadership wisdom became more widespread.

A few of my favorite quotes from him (there are LOTS):
-- "Discipline yourself and others won't need to."
-- "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others thing you are."
-- "Never try to be better than someone else.  Learn from other, and try to be the best you can be."
--  "Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the best effort to become the best of which you are capable."

In discussing character, there are many stories that show John's.  In 1947 the team John was coaching was invited to play in a national tournament, but he refused to take his team since they had a policy against African Americans playing.  Also in 1947 Purdue wanted Wooden to be their assistant coach until the current coach's contract ran out, and be the head coach after that.  Wooden declined, not wanting to make the coach a lame duck coach.  In 1950 when that coach's contract ran out they invited him to be the coach.  John's wife didn't really like living where they were near UCLA and he wasn't sure he was where he wanted to coach so he considered it, until UCLA reminded him that he had insisted on a 3-year contract with them, and it had only been 2 years.  Feeling he would be breaking his word if he left, Wooden stayed.

John Wooden also believed that family was of utmost importance.  He was asked once if he runs his family like he runs his team.  He said no, I run my team like I run my family.  When he wife passed away in 1985, he wrote her a love letter every month and placed it on her pillow, up until just a few months before he died when his eyesight made it impossible.

John took 14 years to create what he called the Pyramid of Success, taking special care to choose the characteristics and their placement on the pyramid.  I didn't spend a lot of time studying this, but I want to.  If you glance over the pyramid, make sure you note that faith and patience are the "mortar" (as he calls it) of the whole pyramid.

The exciting thing about studying more recent leadership examples is being able to see and hear the real deal.  You can feel that John Wooden is a great person listening to him in this talk.

While planning who I would teach about to our Vanguard Youth homeschool group this year, I wanted to give the youth not only great leadership examples, but a variety of examples in different walks of life so they can see how people can be leaders in any walk of life.  John Wooden adds the biggest variety to our year, and it was definitely a meaningful study.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Nursery Thoughts

Upon being released from the nursery for the second time within just a few years (I've been in the nursery with Carolyn, Erin, and Madeleine), I want to share a few ponderings.

Being in nursery is a very joyful experience.  The children are so quick to love you when you give your heart to them.  In this last round of service I had a few that would watch for my lap to be empty and take their turn sitting there.  Many of them play on their own and need only a little affirmation, while others need what feels like almost constant care.  Much like the rest of the world?

The lessons in nursery are very simple, ranging from about 30 seconds to a few minutes depending on the attention span of the kids.  But that's the official lesson time.  Really the lesson time starts the moment the first child arrives to when the last one leaves.  We learn to love one another, share, be kind, be helpful, that family is important (sweet to see how the siblings help each other), that church is a wonderful place to be, and on and on.  It always impresses me that we teach the same things learned in every other class, only on their level.  The gospel at its most basic.

Nursery definitely has its entertainment as well.  One little girl that loved my lap used to suck her thumb on one hand and run her fingers through my hair with the other.  When one little brother would get sad his big brother would tackle him and he would be all smiles (a house of all boys - go figure that's the way they show the love!).  

We had a Star Wars lover that kept turning off the lights one day.  We asked him to keep them on, and he looked at us very seriously and said, "Star Wars happens at night!"  Ah, that explains everything!  Plus, I had never thought about that with Star Wars, but true!  He had a hard time coming into nursery for a while, and we sat talking about Star Wars one day.  I learned his favorite character was Yoda, so the next week I brought Sammy's Yoda action figure.  Little guy was super excited until he noticed Yoda was missing a hand (his hand was attached to the light saber and Sam was concerned it would get lost, so we left it home).  He got a very serious look on his face and said, “But he doesn't have a hand!”  Not wanting to explain all, I told him we couldn't find it but that we would look again at home.  “But where’s his hand?!”  Home somewhere, we’ll find it.  “But he needs a lightsaber!”  I know, he needs that too.  But look, you can play with Yoda!  A little while later one of the little girls walked up and politely asked if she could play with it after he was done.  He looked at her totally incredulously and said, “But he’s a boy!”  She repeated that she wanted to play with him when he was done.  Stronger, like she was some kind of crazy for even asking, “But he’s a BOY!”  Worthy of note, he didn't have a problem coming to nursery ever again after that, even when I would forget Yoda.

Rosemary Wixom shared some beautiful thoughts about nursery in a CES fireside:
 "A young man in his teens had an experience when he was just a child, a very young child, under the age of three years old. He had been adopted into a family who were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His environment changed drastically. He left his home in Eastern Europe and came to live in the eastern United States—a land with a new family, a new language, and new feelings. On Sundays his new family would take him to the nursery. It was in the church, down the hall, in that nursery room when he felt it—when he came to know a security and a love he had never felt before. It was his first experience of really recognizing the Spirit. Now, as a teenager, he occasionally chooses to go down the hall to that same nursery room to hear the sounds, see the sights, and feel the Spirit that he once felt there. How beautiful that nursery is to the eyes of that child who there came to the knowledge of the Spirit of the Holy Ghost."

Nursery is love.

I do have to admit (though I hate to do it) that this round wasn't an easy time for me.  The first time I served in the nursery I was there for a year and a half, and it took me six months to let go and allow the real learning to start.  So maybe I wasn't there long enough this time?  

I don't share that to complain (and believe me it's hard to share this chink in my armor), but because I want to watch for those people looking for someone to care about them.  I even wrote about my feelings in my study journal so I could remember, under the topic of UNITY.  "Without a constant gathering in, love, bonding, and appreciation for one another, wow, I feel lonely.  We're all in the same building, but it feels like two entirely different worlds.  It stinks.  But I don't want to forget this feeling.  I believe it's for a purpose.  This experience will hopefully help me build unity in the future.  I feel like the only way to be noticed would be to not come, but even then it would probably just be the others in nursery that would notice at first.  After a few weeks the primary presidency, and others eventually.  But would those others reach out and lift, or would they talk amongst themselves and wonder where I had gone wrong?  How have I responded to people in similar situations?  How should I?  Makes me think that while some don't come to church because of that lack of connection, and maybe there are others that want to be noticed.  (Is it the same thing?)  Wow.  How can you reach out to the whole, individuals, and the lost sheep, and gather them all in?"

Lest anyone judge me, I realize that we shouldn't go to church with more thought than how we can worship God and serve, and not worry about the "socialness" of it.  But if that fellowship wasn't part of the gospel, we could all have church at home each week, right?  A great man I know in our stake joined the church in his teens.  He asked me once how long it takes for a person to stop coming to church if no one says a word to them while they are there.  He paused for a moment while I thought in my happy little mind that gosh, we should come to church for God, not to be popular, when he answered his own question with, "Seven weeks.  That's how long it took me.  Seven weeks."  It's real people.  We need each other.

I'm so thankful for the time I've had to spend with those little ones.  They are definitely in my heart, and I am thankful for all they've taught me.