Ye Shall Be a Peculiar Treasure Unto Me: Old Testament Lesson 14-Gospel Doctrine

I was super excited about this lesson.  Although, we only got through 1/3 of it before my time was up!  So I thought it was super important to get it posted.

You can find the class member study guide here.

When we look at the word peculiar here, it does not mean strange or different.  As Elder Russell M. Nelson taught that with the literal translation, peculiar broke down to mean, “valued treasure, made or selected by God.”

In 1944 David O. McKay told the following story:

“There is a story told that a company of botanists seeking some
special flowers up in the Canadian Rockies, came one day to a
very rare flower down on the side of a cliff. To reach it they
would have to retrace their steps and go back ten miles to come
up from the valley below. Someone suggested that if they had a
rope they could let a boy down to pick the specimens. That
suggestion was prompted by the fact that a little boy had been
following them for about an hour, watching them silently.
They got the rope and said:
Here, lad, we’ll give you $5 if you will put this rope around you
and permit us to let you down to get those flowers.
Without saying a word the lad scampered off. They thought they
had frightened him. He went to a house nearby and soon came
back with a man by his side. Then the little fellow answered:
You may put that rope around me, and I’ll get the flower, if you’ll
let my dad hold the rope” (Pres. David O. McKay, CR, Apr.
1944).

Having that story fresh in your mind, Imagine that you must make a journey into a wilderness where you have never been and that has not been mapped.
*How would you prepare for the Journey?  You would want to have someone to show you the way.  A guide of sorts.
*What qualifications would a guide need?  The guide should know the area and be trustworthy.

In the following verses, the Lord was the guide for the children of Israel.  He was trying to teach them how to trust Him to “hold up the rope.”

I love that we can each look at the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness and put that lesson toward our own journey through mortality.
The first lesson we should learn is to choose God as our guide through “the mists of darkness” in this telestial wilderness.

The Formula to becoming a holy nation.

1.  Partake of the Lord’s spiritual bread and water.

“After the Israelites had passed through the Red Sea, the Lord instructed Moses to lead them to the promised land.  But first the Lord tested the Israelites’ faith in the wilderness.  Many of the people lacked faith, complaining to the Lord instead of turning to him.  Nevertheless, the Lord provided water for their thirst and manna and quail for their hunger.”

The people were very thirsty in one of the hottest desserts in the world.  There was no water to be found, and the complained continually to Moses.  So the Lord provided water for them when he had Moses smite a rock, causing water to spring up out of it.  This was the physical water that was provided.  One thing that they were being taught through their afflictions was the importance of the “spiritual drink” that comes from the “spiritual Rock,” which is Christ the Lord.
1 Corinthians 10:4
And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that aRock was Christ.”

The spiritual water that flows from Christ is the love of God.
1 Nephi 11:25
“And it came to pass that I beheld that the arod of iron, which my father had seen, was the bword of God, which cled to the fountain of dliving waters, or to the etree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.”

How do we drink of the Living Waters of Christ?  We keep the commandments!
Doctrine and Covenants 63:23
“But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the
amysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living bwatercspringing up unto everlasting life.”

Those who Drink of the Living Waters of Christ are “[given] the mysteries of [God’s] kingdom” (D&C 63:23).  “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never athirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water bspringing up into ceverlasting life” (John 4:14).

While the people of Israel were wandering in the wilderness, they were in need of nourishment.  The dessert did not have very many things to offer them for the purpose, so the Lord sent Manna.

Manna was somewhat a mystery.  They didn’t really know what it was, but Moses told them it was bread provided by the Lord.
Exodus 16:15

Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain abread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain brate every day, that I may cprove them, whether they willwalk in my law, or no (Exodus 16:4).

Some of the other reasons that the Lord sent manna are as follows:

  1. It would show the Lord whether his people would obey him (Exodus 16:4, 16–31).
  2. It would give the people daily reminders of the Lord’s power and love (Exodus 16:12).
  3. It would teach the people that they do not live “by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
  4. It would humble the people and help them receive salvation (Deuteronomy 8:16).

Manna is a representation of Christ, because the Lord provided it miraculously for the physical nourishment.  He provided the one thing that could sustain them for years (they wandered the wilderness for 40 years).
John 6:35
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the abread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never bthirst.”

But there is a difference between manna and Christ’s Living Bread.
John 6:48-51
48  I am that bread of life.
49  Your fathers did eat amanna in the wilderness, and are dead.
50  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
51  I am the living abread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bbread that I will give is my cflesh, which I will dgive for the elife of the world.

The difference between manna and Christ’s Living Bread is that the manna was nourishment for merely their physical bodies.  It was a temporal salvation.  The only Bread in which we can find Eternal Salvation is in the Living Bread.  Heavenly Father sent Christ to be our Savior and Redeemer.  To be the ONLY way back to Father.  It was sent for the temporal AND the spiritual redemption of all mankind.  This is the Living Bread.

How can we daily partake of Christ’s Living Bread?  We partake of Christ’s Living Bread by praying daily.  We remember Him daily, through our actions towards others.  We study about Him and his teachings in the scriptures.  We repent by turning toward Him and his sacrifice in the Garden of Eden.  It is about having our lives centered on Christ.  When we do this, we cannot help but partake of His Living Bread.

The Israelites needed to gather manna every day to maintain physical strength.  If they tried to store it for the next day, it would grow worms and stink.  It would be inedible.  However, they were commanded by the Lord to not gather it on the Sabbath day, but to gather extra only on Saturday to prepare for the Sabbath.  This was their first lesson in the importance of “keeping the sabbath day holy.”

Just like a person cannot run a race without first having hydrated themselves and having nourished their bodies the days before the race and expect to do well, or even refrain from getting sick, we cannot expect to not be partaking of the Living Water and Living Bread before a trial comes and expect to have the strength to endure it.  We must prepare.  We must be wise, and we must do better.  Reading our scriptures, praying, attending our church meetings among many more of those spiritually nourishing activities are so important to prepare us for the marathon called “mortality.”  I know I need to do better at Partaking of the Living Bread and Living Water like the trial is already upon me.  This will keep us humble and teachable, and help us understand why we must go through that trial at that time.

Our trials are an important part of our mortal lives.  Yes, they are a blessing, we have been taught that. But it is so much more than that.  Our trials are a compassionate service from our Father in Heaven.  He wants us to succeed gloriously, so he throws these obstacles in our path so that we can remain humble and close to Him.  This is His way of helping us return to Him.  He can’t force us to choose Him, but we can choose to grow from our challenges, to let Him mold us into the divine being that He knows we can be!

*******This is where my lesson ended due to lack of time*********

2. Sustain His chosen leaders.

The Amalekites warred with the children of Israel for many years, beginning in the time of Moses.  Exodus 17:8-13

President Ezra Taft Benson said:  “I am reminded how Moses up on the hill raised his arms for the victory of the armies of Israel.  As long as his arms were raised, Israel prevailed, but when they dropped from weariness, then the enemy prevailed.  And so Aaron and Hur ‘stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side,’ and Israel was victorious’ (Exodus 17:12).  So will we be victorious as we hold up the arms of the Lord’s anointed servants.”

As I consider all of the ways in which we can hold up the arms of our prophets, I think of the basic things like: never speaking ill of them, by praying for them, and by listening to them.  But then I am reminded of something a little deeper.  When we follow the prophet.  When we do what he counsels, and change and repent as we have been taught, then we are not only keeping the enemy at bay for us, but for the whole church.  All it takes for the enemy to be victorious is for us to drop the hands of the prophets, and stop following their counsel.

Jethro noticed something about his son-in-law, Moses.  He was greatly concerned about it.  The people were coming to Moses about ever little thing that was going wrong in their lives.  Moses counseled all of those people.  Jethro told him that this was too much.  He needed to appoint people to help with those things (Exodus 18:13-25).  Today, we call them stake leadership, bishopric, relief society presidency, young men presidency, young women presidency, primary presidency, and Sunday school presidency.  They all need our sustaining too.  How can we hold up the arms of our local church leadership?  Or sustain them?  We can not speak ill of them, we can follow their inspired counsel, we can pray for them, and most importantly, we can serve in our own capacity to the best of our ability.  We are each home teachers or visiting teachers.  How are we doing in these capacities?  How are we doing with our callings in the church?  I know for me there is always tremendous room for improvement.

3.  Obey His commandments.

Within three months of Israel’s entering the wilderness, the Lord wanted to establish his covenant with them (Exodus 19:5-6).  As part of this covenant he revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses.
Exodus 19:5-6
Now therefore, if ye will aobey my voice indeed, and keep mybcovenant, then ye shall be a cpeculiar dtreasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
And ye shall be unto me a akingdom of bpriests, and an cholydnation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

The Israelites camped at the base of Mount Sinai as Moses went up to speak with the Lord.  The Lord wanted this to be a spiritual experience for the Israelites too.  The Lord commanded them to wash and sanctify themselves.  Moses was about to receive the Ten Commandments, and the Lord wanted to speak to them too.

Consider how you feel when going to the temple.  Mount Sinai was a holy temple.  How do you prepare to attend the temple?  How do you feel while there?

It is somewhat ironic that the first four commandments in Exodus 20 teach the proper relationship between us and God.  He commands us to not worship other gods or idols.
Exodus 20:3-11

And God aspake all these bwords, saying,

 aam the bLord thy cGod, which have brought thee out of the land of dEgypt, out of the house of ebondage.

 Thou shalt have ano other bgods before me.

 Thou shalt anot make unto thee any bgraven cimage, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

 Thou shalt not abow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a bjealous God, cvisiting the diniquity of the efathers upon the fchildren unto the third and fourthgeneration of them that ghate me;

 And shewing amercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my bcommandments.

 Thou shalt not take the aname of the Lord thy God in bvain; for the Lord will not hold him cguiltless that dtaketh his name in vain.

 Remember the asabbath day, to keep it bholy.

 aSix days shalt thou blabour, and do all thy work:

 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in itthou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thyastranger that is within thy gates:

 11 For in asix days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore theLord bblessed the sabbath day, and challowed it.

Old habits and patters of belief or behavior are hard to break.  Even though the Israelites had left Egypt physically, they were still not spiritually free from its influences.  After the Israelites had heard the voice of God proclaim the Ten Commandments from Sinai, they quickly broke the first two.  It can be hard, but it is important to withstand peer pressure to join in sinful acts.  Aaron gave in to the Israelites’ unrighteous desires to build the golden calf and worship it (Exodus 32).

Sometimes as leaders and parents we must say “no,” even at the risk of offending or alienating those whom they are responsible for.

President Spencer W. Kimball said:
“Idolatry is among the most serious of sins […] Modern idols or false gods can take such forms as clothes, homes, businesses, machines, automobiles, pleasure boats, and numerous other material deflectors from the path of godhood […] intangible things make just as ready gods.  Degrees and letters and titles can become idols […] Many people build and furnish a home and buy the automobile first–and then they ‘cannot afford’ to pay tithing.  Whom do they worship?  Certainly not the Lord of heaven and earth […] Many worship the hunt, the fishing trip, the vacation, the weekend picnics and outings.  Others have as their idols the games of sport, baseball, football, the bullfight, or golf […] Still another image men worship is that of power and prestige […] These gods of power, wealth, and influence are most demanding and are quite as real as the golden calves of the children of Israel in the wilderness” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 40-42).

The following six Commandments are as follows:
Exodus 20:12-17

12 aHonour thy bfather and thy cmother: that thy ddays may beelong upon the fland which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

 13 Thou shalt not akill.

 14 Thou shalt not commit aadultery.

 15 Thou shalt not asteal.

 16 Thou shalt not bear afalse witness against thy bneighbour.

 17 Thou shalt not acovet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s bwife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

After this, the Lord introduces the Law of Moses.  The law of Moses did not replace the commandments, covenants, or principles of the gospel.  Rather, it provided “a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him” (Mosiah 13:30).  The law of Moses taught the people to confess their sins and make amends, to follow strict rules in offering animal sacrifices, to keep their bodies healthy, to give to support the Lord’s work, to give thanks, and to be reconciled to God.

If we set these 3 principles as our daily focus, we will be humble, teachable, and our Father in Heaven will see fit to make us part of a holy nation.  We will be a peculiar treasure unto Him.

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I created this little handout as a reminder of the things that we need to focus on daily.  Feel free to download it and print it off for your own needs.
The Formula-Lesson 14

Evelyn

Gospel Doctrine Listens

The material from this lesson was taken from the following resources:
Old Testament Teachers Manual for LDS Sunday School.
Exodus Chapters 15-20; 32-34
Ted L. Gibbons lesson plan.
Elder Russel M. Nelson video on “Peculiar People.”
Lesson Outline

February Through March

Lots of things have happened in the past handful of months.  I can in no way detail them all individually.  So, I’ll make a photo story post.  

 

In February, Little Cowboy turned 3!
He had never had a party, so we invited all of his nursery friends!  We had a great time! 

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They hatched dinosaur eggs!

 

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This was a hit.  I filled spray bottles with vinegar, and the eggs are made out of baking soda, water, and food coloring.
You add just enough water to make a moldable dough.  You form the shape of an egg
around the little dinosaur, and let air dry.
Bunny and Bug helped out with this project.  It was pretty fun to make them!

 

 

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A friend made the cupcakes and decorated them.  She really is talented!
Everyone loved them!

 

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Little Cowboy finally got to bite into his cupcake!  He passed out cupcakes to everyone,
it was a very had thing for him to do.  When he was handing Bug her cupcake, 
just couldn’t resist.  He licked it!  It was so funny!
After that, he tried to lick all of the other cupcakes, but luckily mamma was quick, and blocked him!

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This was LC’s favorite gift.  He got a new blanket, made out of the same material that made his
two smaller “doggie blankies!”

He still uses it every day, but gets to still carry around his little ones when he wants to!
The best of both worlds!

 

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Bunny is shopping for her meal plan.  We have started to have both of the girls plan one meal each week, and carry out the shopping and cooking involved.  They get help when requested by mom, of course!  But ultimately, they are on their own!  They do a great job!

This meal, Bunny is preparing potatoes and salmon.  It turned out so good!  But, honestly, I’m not sure how it could be anything but!

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Bug is picking out the tortillas for her recipe.  She chose a recipe out of her very own cookbook that she got for Christmas from Santa Claus!  She made quesadilla pizzas….which turned out delicious btw!

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I love living in New Mexico!  And the following picture portrays why.  Even living in a tiny trailer in a dirty down can be beautiful, when you know where to look!

 

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The homeschoolers made it to the dinosaur exhibit at the museum!  A few times a year, our museum curator plans different traveling exhibits to come and take residence in our museum.  At the beginning of this year, it was all about the dinosaur that was found in South America that is larger than T-Rex.  He is called a Maposauraus.  It really is huge!  I have always been so fascinated over these creatures.  As a kid, I played with dinosaur toys and pretended what it would have been like to live with them.  That is a fascination that has never left.  

An FYI:  My camera kind of acted up in this darker enclosed space, so a lot of the pictures are kind of blurry.

 

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Some of these were robots.  This is one of them.  

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This one is a baby maposaurus!

 

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This is a picture of one our favorite missionaries getting ready to go back home to Tijuana Mexico!

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Hoss with his package truck!

 

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Bunny and Bug made “snowmen” out of play-dough!

 

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My friend who made LC’s birthday cupcakes taught a class in enrichment on cake decorating.  This is what I did, based off of her tutorial!

 

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LC is playing in his sensory tub with his fishies!

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LC is helping out.  He really wants independence, and he takes it and runs with it!  

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The kids love to take a picture sitting on the Target ball.  I think this was in Roswell over Stake Conference.

 

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After we got back home from Stake Conference, later that Sunday night, we got a devastating phone call about some wonderful people that passed away in Idaho.  We were not going to be able to go to the funeral of the four deceased, due to monetary strain, but some wonderful people in our ward family wanted to make sure we got the opportunity to go.  So we received an anonymous donation so that we had gas, food, and hotel money.  Hoss was unable to go, because even though we felt like these people were our in-laws, when they were our in-law’s in-laws…He just couldn’t get the time off.  So, the next day the kids and I packed up and made our way to Idaho for what would turn into a 1,600 mile round trip.  I really wish I would have taken more pictures while I was there with my family.  I guess I didn’t think of it much due the mourning.  We had some good times, amidst the sorrow.  I got to meet my new sister-in-law on the trip, and since I had been planning a trip to Arizona to visit my sister and my grandparents a few weeks later anyway, I decided to roll it all into one large trip.  I’m glad I did, because I would not have wanted to get back in the car for another road trip so soon.

 

The girls found Grandpa K’s exotic hat collection. 🙂

 

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Little Cowboy had to hold his “baby” cousin, even though he is nearly as big as he is!

 

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We made a bus ride trip down ISU campus, in an attempt to go to Idaho’s Museum of Natural History.  It would have worked really well with our theme of dinosaurs and history.

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We had dinner with Uncle T, and Aunt Amma.  Why I didn’t get a picture of all of us, I will never know. :/

 

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Then we went and stayed a few nights with Uncle G and Aunt Jisha!  LC and his Cousin P had a good time sliding down the stairs.

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My Brother, Uncle G mixing cement.  They are remodeling their basement before their baby #5 comes!

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The Campbell Kids with the Curtis kids.  They had a lot of fun!

 

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Since I didn’t want to pack up a few weeks later to make my planned vacation to visit my sister and grandparents, I decided to just go home the long way.  I went through Arizona!  I’m glad I did.  We had a great visit, and reconnected with family.  Money well spent.

 

Some of the cousins with my kids at the peak of our hike in Phoenix.  It was a nice time.

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I only planned one day per grandparent, which was enough…but I have to be honest, I wish we lived closer so that I could go visit more often!  Here is Grandma B helping Little Cowboy with his orange, while Grandpa B smiles for the camera.  There are so many memories for me in this house.

 

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Grandma, who is a wonderful painter got out the paints for Bunny and Bug to paint.  She encouraged them to find something to paint and go for it!  She then gave them tips and ideas on how to finish their painting.  They sure loved it!

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Little Cowboy found the cars and trucks.  A true boy at heart.

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I so wish this photo turned out a little more clear.  LC wanted to show Grandpa all of the toys he was playing with.  He isn’t wearing pants, because he waded in the swimming pool.

 

 

 

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After lunch, Grandma got out the clay that she had moistened for the girls to sculpt with!  Here she is getting it ready.

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One of the days that we were in Phoenix, I took the kids to the zoo.  What a fun place to visit!

 

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Cousin K had a birthday the day we were planning to leave to head back home.  We helped set up the decorations!  Kek is very creative when it comes to decorating!  

 

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Just another mile on the stretch.

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I decided last minute to stop at White Sand’s National Monument.  It is totally awesome, and worth the stop if you are ever in the area! 

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I love this shot.  So pretty!

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I randomly added photos, so the following were back at Grandma’s house.

This doll has been around forever!  LC wasn’t quite sure about her at first!

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More pictures from the zoo.

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After the zoo, we stopped by Grandma M’s house for lunch and a nice long visit.  We looked at pictures, and just caught it.  It was so nice!

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After we got back to New Mexico we remembered that Alex Boye was going to be in Roswell to perform a concert, and the next day a fireside at the church.  So we naturally went.   He is such a fun performer!  The girls got a high five, and after the show, we were surprised to see him out front mingling with all of the fans.  

Here Alex is signing the Bunny and Bug’s tickets!

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Just over a week ago, we got together with other homeschoolers to go to an activity at a local church here.  In Lubbock, TX, the Science Spectrum has a satellite program, where someone will come and teach something to kids in other towns.  One of the companies here in Hobbs offered to sponsor them to come, so we didn’t have to pay anything!  

First we went into a portable planetarium and learned about the stars and constellations!  

Then we learned about the digestive system; we learned out our bodies breaks down the food we eat in a very realistic object lesson. 

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Little Cowboy is doing so good about getting closer to people he doesn’t know!  He is sitting next to Bunny there on his left, but the other girl was someone he had never met.

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For St. Patrick’s Day, we had to try and capture a leprechaun!  We found an idea online and gave it a go!  No luck for us, but he did get into the trap and out again, eating some of the gold coins, and hiding the others around the house for the kids to find.  He also turned our milk green!

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Bunny and Bug have been saving up to make a fairy garden!  We finally decided to do that after we got back from Idaho and Arizona.  It was fun to pick out the stuff for the, and maybe one day, when we have a slightly larger house and a place to put them, we’ll make a larger one.  For now, this was perfect!

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That is the last 8-10 weeks in a nutshell!  It has been quite eventful. Sad, challenging, rewarding, and memorable.  To whoever donated the money for us to go to Idaho to the funeral, thank you.  We will always remember that generosity.

One project that we are working on is our lapbooks on owls and owl pellets.  I hope to post about it next week sometime.

New Year: New Goals

I haven’t pinned down any concrete New Year Resolutions yet until now.

Set goals to accomplish your dream.

Set goals to accomplish your dream.

Last Sunday during Sacrament Meeting, a family spoke about setting good and uplifting goals.  Their son mentioned that after this life, when we review our mortal one, we might regret not having pushed ourselves more.  We can do that by setting achievable goals.  He also mentioned that “goals reflect the desires of our heart” (Quote from Preach My Gospel).

His sister spoke of patriarchal blessings, and how they can help us set personal spiritually uplifting goals to help us become a better person, and learn more about what our life mission is.

I have many goals that I have been considering making official, and I suppose it isn’t official unless I write them down.  I have so many desires that I want to accomplish, but I only have so much time.  Without further ado:

My overall very necessary goal is the following:
-To use my time wisely, and to better organize where I spend my precious time.  This is a really hard thing for me.  It is easy to get distracted with so many things.  But the things that usually get missed, or pushed to the side are the things that matter the most to my person.  I find that I am not as fulfilled if I am not doing everything that I need to be healthy, happy, educated, and filled with the Spirit.

Physically Active Goals:
I have started what is called the “Lazy Man Iron Man.”  Over the duration of a month, I will complete 26.2 miles running/walking, 110 miles cycling, and 2.4 miles swimming.
To help hold me to that, I decided to sign up for a 5k race.  This is something that I have always wanted to do after “I lost the weight.”  But, the time just keeps slipping past.  I guess there is no time like the present.  One lady told me, that I’d “be surprised at how doable a race at any level is.  It just takes determination and desire.”
-So, my desire is to be ready to run a 5k by April 19!

Spiritually:
I have had tons of thoughts on this front.  But what I have settled on are the following.
-I want to have read the lesson readings before church each week.
-I want to start preparing my Gospel Doctrine lesson for the full 2 weeks that I have in between each lesson.
-I want to study the scriptures and my upcoming lesson every day.
-Have family prayer every night and evening, even if Hoss is working, or had to leave before we all were up.
-Have family scripture study every evening, even if Hoss is not home yet.

Writing Goals:
This one has been nagging at me for a very long time.  I started writing my novel about 6 years ago (I am hanging my head in shame).  I have only a handful of chapters left to write.  I’m talking between 2-5 at the most, but I have been putting off finishing it for a few reasons.  Not all of them I am willing to admit, because they are personal, but let’s just say, I’m a bit afraid of success.  There.  I said it.  Every time I pray for the Lord to help us find a way out of debt, I get the distinct impression that I need to finish my novel in order to “help” that out.  So, I’m working on getting past my fear…
-I have set a goal to have it finished and edited by myself and ready for others to read and edit by the end of April.
-I want it ready to submit before or by The end of July.

Homeschool Goals:
I want to keep setting little goals.  Monthly goals, quarterly goals, and weekly…and even daily goals.  We need more goals in this household.  We are off to a great start, as I have set some academic goals for myself–reading as many books as I can.  Ideally, I’d like to read a book a week.  But with everything I am needing to do, I think one book every 2 weeks is great!  I have mentoring goals set for the Bunny, Bug and Little Cowboy.  We haven’t really set any goals with our homeschooling before.  I wish I would have sooner.  I already feel like we have a direct purpose, and now we are not stopping!

I am very confident that this is going to be a very rewarding year!  What do you think?  Will yours be rewarding too?

Simplifying Part 2

I planned to type this blog post up at the end of Thanksgiving.  I’m not even sure exactly what I wanted to say.  I do know that it was in regards to our decision to pull the toys out of the house and put them in storage.  So, not knowing exactly what I was inspired to share, here I go.

We have now had most of the toys, except for a few select sets out of the house for about 9 weeks!  I can’t believe that much time has gone by.  The things I did leave in the house were Little Cowboy’s trains, and a box of assorted toy animals.  Every single toy of the girls was taken out of the house.  You can read about it here —> Simplifying Part 1.

Here are the after pictures of the girl’s room.  I didn’t take the after pictures of the rest of the house, but I will.

The "made" bunk beds. Bug and Bunny make their own beds.

The “made” bunk beds. Bug and Bunny make their own beds.

The dresser area.

The dresser area.

The closet area.

The closet area.

The blanket storage area.

The blanket storage area.
I couldn’t get him to hold still long enough to take a non-blurry picture, and he wanted to be in it…

I can’t remember a time when they have asked for a specific toy.  They have asked a few times, “When can we get some toys out?”  Bunny has asked for a stuffed animal she really likes.  But other than that, nothing.

I don’t intend to never let them have the toys again.  That isn’t my point.  Toys are great, and they are fun, but we had too many for the space in which we have to store them.  They were overwhelmed.  Now, they aren’t as overwhelmed.  Both girls have played pretend outside, and inside.  They have spent a lot of time coloring, drawing, and learning new art techniques, like working with oil pastels.

So, in the next few months, I will go through the toys in the storage unit and organize them, get them separated into appropriately sized boxes/totes, and bring home a set and switch out when they are ready.  I will do the same with Little Cowboy’s toys.

While I had our house completely organized with everything in a place, we have regressed slightly.  Most of us spent the full month of December and into January sick.  So, we got a lot behind on chores, tidying up, and laundry.  That beast is growing again.  But now that we are feeling better, and I am thinking I may have beat my sinusitis and bronchitis, I have been feeling more motivated to do.

I look forward to the rest of the week, spent in folding clean laundry, washing more, and putting everything back where it belongs!  I’ll write an update once I get all of their stored toys sorted, and we start rotating them out.  Until then, I’ll keep letting them play using their imaginations.

Thou Wast Chose Before Thou Wast Born

Today was my first time teach Gospel Doctrine class.  I was just called last week, set apart, and given a manual.  I was sent right to the task to prepare the lesson.  As I was reading different stories and sources that correlate with the topic, I came across the following quote that I thought was very appropriate:

“The goal of gospel teaching is not to show how much the teacher knows, nor is it merely to increase knowledge about the Church.  The specific goal of teaching in the Church  is to help bring about worthwhile changes in the lives of the members.  The aim is to inspire the individual to think about, feel about, and then do something about living gospel principles” (Then an Elder of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Thomas S. Monson, 1970).

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Old Testament Sunday School:  Lesson #2

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via lds.org

Abraham 3: 11-12, 22-23

     11 Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, as one man talketh with another; and he told me of the works which his hands had made;

     12 And he said unto me: My son, my son (and his hand was stretched out), behold I will show you all these. And he put his hand upon mine eyes, and I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof.

     22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

     23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

Abraham was chosen before he was born (v. 23).  He was foreordained in the pre-mortal existence to be a prophet and leader in God’s kingdom.

“Foreordination is God’s pre-mortal ordination of His spirit children to fulfill certain missions during their mortal lives” (Old Testament teacher’s manual, pg. 5-6).

So Abraham was among the chosen spirits foreordained to be leaders in the Lord’s Church throughout mortality, as well as into the spirit world and into the eternities.

On October 3, 1918 Joseph F. Smith received a series of communes with the Lord through the Holy Ghost.  He had been reading the 3rd and 4th chapters in the 1st Epistle of Peter, when his heart and eyes were opened and he received his lesson of understanding concerning our premortal life, and the spirit world.

Doctrine and Covenants 138:53-57

      53 The Prophet Joseph Smith, and my father, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and other choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work,

      54 Including the building of the temples and the performance of ordinances therein for the redemption of the dead, were also in the spirit world.

      55 I observed that they were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God.

      56 Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.

      57 I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among                 those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead.

Some of the other “noble and great ones” are Moses, Adam, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, John Taylor, Wilfred Woodruff, Nephi, Alma, and basically all of the prophets of old and of today.

But foreordination did not guarantee that Abraham, Joseph Smith, and the “other noble and great ones” would reach their calling.  That was dependent on how they chose to live their lives.  There is a distinct relationship between foreordination and agency.  With the veil intact, we cannot remember what happened in our premortal existence, and without that knowledge, we have to strive to choose righteousness in order to take steps toward our foreordained ministry.  The manual states, “Even though a person is foreordained to a calling, that calling is dependent on the person’s worthiness and willingness to accept it.”

I have hinted at this, but prophets are not the only of God’s children who were foreordained in the premortal life.  President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

“God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the second coming of the Lord. Some individuals will fall away; but the kingdom of God will remain intact to welcome the return of its head—even Jesus Christ. While our generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time. It is that God has saved for the final inning some of His strongest children, who will help bear off the kingdom triumphantly. …

“… Make no mistake about it—you are a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time than there is of us” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 104–5).

Each one of us accepted our mortal life before we came to earth.  We understood what our specific mission would be.  We understood what our trials would be, and we gladly accepted them with the understanding that we could become like God if we choose righteous paths and endured to the end.  Your bishop was foreordained to be the bishop for your ward at this time, as well as your stake president and other leaders in the church.  Relief Society, Primary, Young Women, Young Men, all of the leaders were foreordained to be the leaders of those auxiliaries at this time.

How about you?  What were you foreordained to do?  How can we even begin to learn or understand what we individually were foreordained to accomplish in the name of our Father in Heaven?  We can turn to our patriarchal blessings.  We can pray, and as we study the scriptures and our patriarchal blessings, we can understand step by step what we are called to do.

Another great thing about this lesson is found in 138:56, “Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.”

The “noble and great ones” were taught by Heavenly Father before they came to earth!  They were schooled by many, I’m sure.  Jesus Christ, Father Adam, and many other great men/prophets, and women who were foreordained.

Knowing what we all have foreordained callings in our lives, we have to understand, that we too were taught and educated by our Father in Heaven before we came to earth.  This is one of my very favorite aspects of this lesson.  It is one of many evidences of God’s love for each of us.

Those foreordained to be leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can come from all different walks of life.  Vaughn J. Featherstone came from a home where family prayer never took place.  In fact, he grew up being afraid to even ask if they could pray together.  President Thomas S. Monson alternately grew up at about the same time, in a prayerful home.  A home that studied the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the ancient prophets, and the latter-day prophets.  But both men grew up with righteous desires, and ultimately both became leaders for the world-wide Church of God.

Consider Abraham.  He grew up during a time of idolatry and wickedness.  His father worshiped idols.  In fact, his father allowed Abraham to be sacrificed.  But when Abraham was on the altar, and angel of God stopped the ceremony and saved Abraham from his father’s wickedness.  Abraham didn’t learn righteousness from his father.  But he was a good man.  He had righteous desires, and turned out to be one of God’s very favorite prophets of old.  So blessed was he, that Abraham was promised that his seed would be as numerous as the sands of the sea (The Abrahamic Covenant).  This comparison came from the following blog
LDS Gospel Doctrine Plus.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught:  “What we insistently desire, over time is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity.”

My mom and dad are on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo Illinois.  About 3 weeks ago now, my mom ended her letter with the following statement that I felt really belonged with this lesson.

She said, “Here is a closing thought, something that came into my mind yesterday as I was leaving the temple. No matter what your background, where your are from, where you have been, what you have done, who your parents are, what they did, or what they taught you– whatever your past is should not limit you as to what you can become because you are a child of a loving Heavenly Father. You have unlimited potential to become like Him. The decision is yours. It’s up to you.”
To read their latest letter click here –> Christmas Well Wishes.

Take the time to understand the doctrine of foreordination, and what Father in Heaven needs you to do to help His work move forward.  You are a child of God.  He loves you perfectly and completely.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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via lds.org

I wish there was a way to record all of the comments that were made, so that I could share more fully the conversation during the class, but you will just have to let the Spirit direct you personally.

A Decade in the Making

Tenth Birthday Photo shoot! 1-8-2014!

Tenth Birthday Photo shoot! 1-8-2014!

Miss Bunny is celebrating a birthday today!  Not just any birthday, but a milestone in years birthday!  She is now 10 years old today!   Ten years ago today, Bunny was a little 6 lb 12 oz 21″ bundle of joy!

Newborn!

Newborn!

Hoss and I stressed over whether she was breathing at night, or if when she got sick at 2 weeks old if she was going to live to see the next day.  Bunny started out as the skinniest baby, but come 2 months old, she was our chunkiest baby, and was often referred to as the Michelin baby.

2 months

2 months

Laughing hard at 4 months.

Laughing hard at 4 months.

Her giggle!

Her giggle!

6 monthsish with cousin.

6 monthsish with cousin.

1 year old at Christmas!

1-year-old at Christmas!

2 years old!

2 years old!

Silly!

Silly!

Easter 2006

Easter 2006

3rd birthday! Ears pierced!

3rd birthday! Ears pierced!

Cheese!

Cheese!

Sleepover with cousin and sister!

Sleepover with cousin and sister!

5th birthday!

5th birthday!

Cutie

Cutie

:)

🙂

Beautiful

Beautiful

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds 2010.

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds 2010.

Bunny's Kindergarten graduation 2010.

Bunny’s Kindergarten graduation 2010.

1st Grade Art Project.

1st Grade Art Project.

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2010 photo shoot with Grandma D!

2010 photo shoot with Grandma D!

2010 Photo shoot with Grandma D!

2010 Photo shoot with Grandma D!

So far, she has lived to see one decade through.  She has seen Bush blunder through two terms as president and likewise, she is now witnessing Obama’s crap-shoot into his second term.  She has witnessed gas prices sky-rocket, and the price of milk follow suit.  She has witnessed six moves for the Curtis family, and has experienced traveling half way across the country to live in a new state that we had never visited.  Likewise, she witnessed us pack up and move to Hobbs after only visiting twice.  She has lived to feel the sadness of living 1,000 miles away from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  And she has lived to feel the sadness of moving away from best friends.

Most importantly, she has lived to be baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2012).  She has felt the joy of feeling the influence of the Holy Spirit, and she has become pretty sensitive to it.  She has learned to own her fear of public speaking, and she has shown her faith in prayer..  She is an aspiring artist, and an aspiring pianist.  Miss Bunny is my eldest child.  She is the big sister to Bug and Little Cowboy, and she is my little helper in pretty much everything.  She is a babysitter, a friend, and she is just plain a wonderful girl.  She is imaginative, creative, and sensitive to the feelings of others.  She is funny and constantly makes us laugh.  She is just plain happy!  She loves to read, and one day wants to be a waitress and a UPS driver.  She has also expressed interest in writing and animals.  Overall, she is just one great girl!

Besties! 1-8-2014

Besties! 1-8-2014

Big Sis 1-8-2014.

Big Sis 1-8-2014.

Daddy! 1-8-2014

Daddy! 1-8-2014

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Tenth Birthday Photo shoot! 1-8-2014!

Tenth Birthday Photo shoot! 1-8-2014!

I am so grateful to have such a wonderful daughter in Bunny.  She has been my guinea pig in learning how to mother and parent, and she has borne it fabulously.

Happy birthday Bunny, Daddy and I are so proud of the young woman you are becoming, and we love you very very much!

Love Daddy, Mommy, Bug, and Little Cowboy!

 

Being Renewed and Reborn Through the Atonement of Christ

Last Sunday (December 29, 2013), I gave a talk in church, and so I thought I’d share it here, as it might help someone.

As I pondered the topic, Being Renewed and Reborn Through the Atonement of Christ, the first things that came to my mind were all of the miracles that Christ performed.  When Christ healed the people of their physical limitations, they were temporally reborn.  They were given a second chance.  I gave these scripture stories in a list.

1.  The man with Palsy: Mark 2:4-12

Jesus Heals a Man Stricken with Palsy: video at lds.org

  • The definition of Palsy: “Complete or partial muscle paralysis, often accompanied by loss of sensation and uncontrollable body movements.
    I have a cousin who has 3 out of 4 children with cerebral palsy.  Any walking they do un-aided is a miracle.  Their brains are under developed, their muscles under developed, and many other functions prevent them from moving freely.
  • Our temple president, President Bray gave a talk in Stake Conference in September of 2012.  He talked about this bible story.  He taught us that Christ didn’t just return this man’s ability to walk.  He healed the muscles, the bones, the ligaments.  Everything that would have needed therapy to strengthen, was healed perfectly… allowing this man to pick up his bed and walk.
  • I want to add to this.  If this man had cerebral palsy, he would have been healed by having his brain fully developed as well.

2.  The woman with a blood disease:  Mark 5: 25-34

Jesus Heals a Woman of Faith: video from lds.org

  • FAITH:  In order to be healed, we must have faith.
  • Elder Bateman a member of the Seventy taught, “Faith is both a principle and a process.  It defines the path by which we build a relationship of trust with the Savior.  In order for faith to develop, we must begin with a humble heart and contrite spirit, have a strong desire to know the Lord, and then be obedient to gospel principles.  In return, the Savior rewards the obedient with spiritual confirmations of their actions (see Alma 32:16, 27-32).  As faith grows, our vision of eternity expands, which in creases our capacity to meet life’s challenges” (“Faith That Preserves and Strengthens,” in Brigham Young University 1996-97 Speeches [1997], 141). Excerpt taken from Seminary New Testament Teacher’s Manual.
  • We can gain faith by testing the commandments.
  • Elder Holland taught us that we should not focus on the faith we lack, but that we must grasp the faith we have and exercise it until it becomes knowledge.

3.  The woman taken in adultery:  John 8:10-11

Go and Sin No More: Video from lds.org

  • Maybe it’s because I am a writer, but I often look at these stories and wonder… “Then what?  Did she turn from sin and seek righteousness?”  The only sinless person around her showed the woman compassion.  He literally forgave here right there and saved her life.  I like to think that she changed.  How could someone be shown that much compassion and turn from it?
  • As we saw in the story of the man with palsy, and the woman taken in adultery, Christ not only healed the physical body, he also healed the spirit.  We don’t know what happened to any of the people he healed.  What we do know, is that Christ gave all of them a second chance.  A new start, and a chance to be reborn.

What do these stories of physical healing have to do with repentance?  Well, this was the best way I could relate how fully and wholly our Father and Heaven can forgive us, leaving us renewed and reborn.  Ready to start again.

4. Repent and start new, start again, but better:  D&C 58:42-43

  • We must learn to put our faith in Christ and the Atonement, so that we can be forgiven.  Heavenly Father promises us, that He will remember our sins no more after we fully repent.

5.  How?  We must bury our weapons of war:  Alma 24:16-19

Anti-Nephi-Lehies bury their weapons of rebellion. Via lds.org

Anti-Nephi-Lehies bury their weapons of rebellion.
Via lds.org

  • What are your weapons of rebellion?  What instruments are out in the open posing the threat of temptation?  Are you willing to “bury” these, so that they are no longer in reach to tempt you?
  • The Ammonites were incredibly faithful.  They weren’t without trial after their choice either.  Remember when their brethren came upon them?  Many were slain.  But even more people during that experience were converted than slain.  Those converted repented, and likewise buried their weapons of war.
  • When you make a covenant with the Lord, you will be tested, and you might make a mistake.  But remember, no one is ever done repenting.  You just repeat the process being again renewed–just a little better than the last time.

6.  Elder Sterling W. Sill a member of the Seventy in 1971 taught, “Hang on the walls of your mind the memory of your successes.  Take counsel of your strength, not your weakness.  Think of the good jobs you have done.  Think of the times when you rose above your average level of performance and carried out an idea or a dream or a desire for which you had deeply longed.  Hang these pictures on the walls of your mind and look at them as you travel to roadway of life.”

One last scripture.  Moroni 7:37, 40-41

I bear testimony of the power of the Atonement.  Each day, each week, month and year, I learn a little more about utilizing the Atonement in my life.  As we take small steps toward repenting, putting a little faith in Christ, we will be rewarded with freedom, the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and the opportunity to test more faith in Christ and the Atonement.  With each step back to Gethsemane, we are allowing Christ to heal our spirits completely, to give us a renewed desire to be a little better today than we were yesterday.  Remember, that when we repent of our sins, our Father in Heaven has promised that He will remember them no more.  We just need a little faith.  In Jesus’s name, amen.