Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sweep the Earth

I heard the most amazing, powerful talk this afternoon at BYU Education Week by Elder Bednar. Wow. It was a poignant talk directing members of the church to use the internet and social media as often as we can in a positive and uplifting way, to sweep the earth as with a flood. We need to share the goodness. 

Elder Bednar spoke on four main points that all LDS members should remember as we immerse ourselves in the social media world. 

1. Be authentic (trustworthy) and consistent. 
2. Edify and uplift. Be courageous and bold, but not overbearing. 
3. Respect intellectual property. LDS.org and recently opened a media library filled with usable quotes, pictures and videos that we can use. 
4. Be wise and Vigilant. Protect yourself and your family. 

"What has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation

 communicating gospel messages through social media 

channels is a good beginning—but only a small trickle. I now

 extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into 

a flood. 

Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep 

the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth

—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—

and literally sweep the earth as with a flood."

While sharing bits of our faith and testimonies with other members of the church "we can sweep the earth as with a flood" that edify and uplift other people around the world. Always aware of the possibilities and pitfalls of the use of the internet and social media sites. Doesn't this get you excited! Doesn't this motivate you to do more, to be better!

I'm on Facebook, Twitter Pinterest and Instagram. I try never to be negative about anything (I have broken this rule once or twice in the past 8 years...). I hardly ever speak on my religious views, if I do I'm re-posting/re tweeting/blogging about something else someone said. This talk has lit a fire over my bum to use these great media sites and share my thoughts, feelings and testimony.  "The Doors to the world are literally opened wide" for all of us to take advantage of. Quoting Elder M. Russell Ballard, "digital technologies should be servants not masters."

Remember at Easter time when the LDS church put out the video "Because of Him" and all of a sudden social media was filled with #BecauseOfHim hash tags with added testimonials and pictures?  It was awesome. A little earlier than that the church posted out there #DidYouThinkToPray with pictures that all started with "I pray when..." That too was incredibly powerful. 

All the brethren have a Facebook account, did you know that? Elder Ballard, Elder Holland and Elder Bednar are all on Twitter. How cool is that! Add these brethren to your accounts so you can often see uplifting, inspirational updates from them. 

The talk in its entirety has not yet been published in a video form, but you can read his talk HERE

“Try to imagine the impact we can have as hundreds of thousands and millions of members of the Lord’s restored Church contribute in seemingly small ways to the rising floodwaters. May our many small, individual efforts produce a rainfall of righteousness and truth that gradually swells a multitude of streams and rivers —and ultimately becomes a flood that sweeps the earth.”

I challenge each and everyone of you to take Elder Bednar's message to heart and add your water to make the flood stronger. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Santa Barbara Reunion

A couple months ago Michelle, Steve, Robin and I were all talking together about how great it is that so many families from Santa Barbara are now living in Utah. We thought it would be a great idea to plan a SB Reunion...so we did! 

Yesterday we met at Creekside Park in Alpine. The park was very fun, and central for so many families. There are several playgrounds, a splash pad, basketball courts, tennis courts, a volleyball court, tons of grass to play Frisbee and lacrosse and sidewalks for bikes and scooters. 
We BBQ'ed meat, ate chips and cookies and drank soda pop. Steve lead an epic game of Crazy Ball. It was so fun!

It was so wonderful to see so many great people from Santa Barbara again. I remember most of these people as 14, 15 and 16 years olds, so it was pretty strange when they brought along their spouses and children! Here are a few pictures of the fun event.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jackson's and Will's Talks

When we were all asked to speak in church Jackson and Will were not worried or nervous at all. Several days before the day they were suppose to speak, they wrote out in bullet points what they wanted to share and talk about. Scott and I went over it with them, tweaking a little here and a little there. But, 90% of what they spoke on was from them. I am very proud of how well their talks were written and how well they were delivered. The spoke slowly, enunciating words carefully, looking up the the audience often and maintained good volume and pace.

Jackson's Talk:

Good morning Brothers and Sisters. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jackson Thompson.  Today I will be speaking about how to “Strengthen Home and Family” through Family Rules and Mottos.

In our family, we have a couple of important rules, mottos or mantras.  The first one is what we call the “Number 1 Rule”.  Simply put, it says “Don’t embarrass Mom.”  This is such an important rule for us to remember, because it has a lot of different ways that it reminds us about our behavior.  It is not that much different from the saying “Return With Honor” and could probably very easily be changed to say “Don’t Embarrass Heavenly Father.”  When we take a moment before acting and consider the consequences that the action has and whether or not it might bring embarrassment to our Mom; this gives us a good way of deciding if we should do it or not.

My mom told us many years ago that our new family motto was “Brother’s First”.  To me this motto means that in any situation that we are in, we need to remember to put our brothers first.  For example, there might be a time when I really want to hang out with some friends, but one of my brothers has a football or lacrosse game.  I will often skip what I am doing with my friends so I can go to the game and try to support them.

Another way that I put my brothers first is when I am asked to babysit.  I could easily just sit and play on the computer or watch TV and ignore them.  I mean, as long as nobody dies on my watch, I think that I will have done a pretty good job of babysitting.  But when I apply this motto, it reminds me that I need to place their needs and wants ahead of my own.  So instead of thinking of myself, I think about what they might want to do.  I play games with them, dress up with them and act out different stories or movies.  It is really fun to see them having a good time.  I know when I put my brothers first I am showing them service and love and it makes me feel good after.

I am thankful for my mom and dad and all the things they keep teaching me to be a better brother and person.  In closing, I would like to bear my testimony. [BEAR TESTIMONY] In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Will's Talk:

Good morning Brothers and Sisters. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Will Thompson.  I am the oldest son in the Thompson family. Today I will be speaking about how to “Strengthen Home and Family” through Setting a Good Example.

Being the oldest in the family, I think that it is my number one job to be a good example to my younger brothers.  They look up to me and will often do things that they see me do because they want to be just like me.  It is the same thing that we all do with OUR Older Brother, Jesus Christ.  He was the greatest example of the things that we should say and do on this Earth.

The ways that I think I can be a good example to my brothers is through obedience, attitude, and hard work.
With the principle of obedience, I think it is important for my brothers to see me being obedient to the rules of the house and to the rules and commandments of the Gospel.  In D&C 82:10, it says “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”  This Scripture Mastery scripture teaches us that it is through obedience to the commandments that we are given great blessings and the Lord HAS to give them to us because he is bound.  In our home, the same principle applies.  My parents want to give us stuff and do nice things for us, but they expect us to be obedient and respectful.  If we don’t do these things, then we cannot expect the blessings that come.  If my brothers see me being obedient and showing respect, then they will want to do the same.

However, it is not just enough to obey and do the right thing.  It is also important to do it with the right attitude.  There is a big difference between doing what we are supposed to do with a bad attitude and doing it with a GOOD attitude.  I can do the dishes each night only after I am reminded 100 times and then throw the dishes around because I am mad that I have to do them.  Or, I can do the dishes without being asked, with a smile on my face and understand that we all have important jobs to do in the family. My brothers watch my reaction and response to various situations, so it is important for me to show them that we need to do things with a good attitude.

Finally, it is important for me to show my brothers a good example by working hard.  In our family, we have another motto and it is “We Do Hard Things”.  As a family, my mom wanted us to remember that in our family we don’t give up just because something gets hard.  Often times, we do things because they ARE hard and it is what is expected of us.  Being the oldest in the family, most of the hard work and chores get allocated to me because I am the oldest.  It is important for my brothers to see that I am willing to do these hard things just as much as they are, if not more.  As the oldest, it was recently my opportunity to be the first one to get a “real job”.  I am thankful to Ira Ashton for giving me the opportunity to work for The Lawn Guys.  I could have just as easily have chosen to do an easy job for my first job and worked in an air conditioned space making shaved ices.  But I chose a hard job because I knew that it fit my family’s motto.

President Ezra Taft Benson shared the following quote as part of his message to full-time missionaries shared in September 1990 Ensign.  
He said:
“I have often said that one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. Work, work, work—there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work.”
I am thankful for my mom and dad and all the things they teach me to be a better brother and person.  I know that I am able to set a good example to my brothers, because my parents have set a good example for me.  In closing, I would like to bear my testimony. [BEAR TESTIMONY]  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Strengthening Home and Family

A three weeks ago a few members of my family were asked to speak in church with the topic, "Ways we can strengthen home and family". Here is my talk. I hope some of the ideas will help inspire you and your family!

My talk today is on “Strengthening Home and Family”. This topic is so important that it has its own section dedicated to it in the Church Handbook of Instructions. We are taught in the Family Proclamation that all of our endeavors in this life are “designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.” The Proclamation also says, “The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children”.

 In the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, we are taught that “being part of a family is a great blessing. … Not all families are the same, but each is important in Heavenly Father’s plan”. 

At the same time, we need to remember that eternal families are made up of individuals. So it is up to us as parents to establish and adapt “patterns of righteousness” in our families. The Lord is depending on us to assist Him in the exaltation of our eternal families. 

In a General Conference talk given in April, 1991, Sister Janette C. Hales (then 2nd Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency) taught about these “patterns of righteousness”: 
Patterns are meant to be repeated. A pattern of righteousness is worthy of duplication… When we establish a pattern of righteousness in our lives, we commit to our Heavenly Father to do all in our power to help others reproduce this pattern in their lives. This can happen over and over until, as it says in Isaiah, “the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isa. 26:9.) 

So how are we going to do this as parents? I am going to focus on a few “patterns of righteousness” that I have found important in our personal family’s progression. And my husband, Scott, will talk about a few others during his talk. 

The first “pattern of righteousness” that I would like to discuss is prayer. Seeking the help of the Lord daily through prayer will bring great blessings to your family. Families need different things at different times. Staying close to the Lord, through personal and family prayers, allows the Spirit to direct us in our efforts to parent these spirit children of our Father in Heaven. 

To help my boys learn this pattern of righteousness, we have them offer prayers whenever and wherever we can. Of course, there are the normal opportunities to give prayers at mealtimes; and in our family, no one is exempt from the opportunity to pray regardless of age. Often, the older boys assist the younger brothers with their prayers whenever they get to a sticking point. While standard phrases will often creep into these prayers, it is important to understand that our children are attempting to “model” the prayers that they are hearing offered by others. As they spiritually mature, they will seek to avoid the vain repetitions and will attempt to put greater thought into the words that are being offered in their prayers. 

Another important thing to remember in our attempt to teach our children about prayers is to never be critical of the things that our children offer during their prayers. As we are taught in 1 Samuel 16:7, “The Lord looketh upon the heart” and so he already understands the intent behind the prayer; even if the words do not match. If we were to criticize the prayers that our children offer, it may cause them to no longer develop this pattern of righteousness and their progress in the gospel could be stifled. Prayer is such a great pattern of righteousness!! 

The second “pattern of righteousness” that I would like to discuss is scripture study. As you personally study the scriptures, you will come to know the Savior and His teachings. Consider how you as parents can share your understanding of the scriptures with your family during family study. 

Elder Richard G. Scott, in a General Conference Address in October 2011, said, “Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high.” 

Proverbs 3: 5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” 

Doctrine and Covenants 11: 21 says: “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men”. 

For this reason, we have found this to be a very important “pattern of righteousness” to instill in our children; a love of scripture study. We further invite them to memorize the Articles of Faith and Scripture Mastery scriptures as a crucial start to the building of a collection of the “packets of light” that Elder Scott spoke of in his talk. By having these pearls memorized, our children can refer and reflect upon them at various points in their lives without having the Standard Works right in front of them. 


The third “pattern of righteousness” is love and service. One thing that I hope that every one of my children understands is how much I love them. It is not a mistake that love and service is a “pattern of righteousness” that directly follows scripture study. Once we learn about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, it is natural to want to learn how to love and serve the members of our families. 

For this reason, it is important for us as parents to teach our children that their actions are a manifestation of their knowledge and beliefs. As they learn to show their love for others, they can demonstrate that love through service. The Lord taught this principle to us throughout his daily life because he was constantly serving those that he loved… his brothers and sisters. 

 In our family, as you heard Jackson discuss in his talk, we have a family mantra: “BROTHERS FIRST!” It was important to us to them to learn to put the needs of their brothers BEFORE the needs and wants of their friends. To help reinforce this concept, we have implemented the use of Mason jars and fuzzy balls. Each time that Scott or I see the boys performing an act of service for a family member, they can earn a fuzzy ball that goes in the jar that is labeled with their name. When their jar is full, they earn a reward that they have previously selected. This jar is then emptied and the “pattern of righteousness” begins again. Some of the boys are better at this principle than others, and so they earn fuzzy balls faster. But everyone is afforded the same opportunity.

The last “pattern of righteousness” that I would like to discuss is testimony. We are taught by the Apostle John in Revelations that our testimonies were one of two weapons that we used in the pre-existence to fend off Lucifer and his angels.

Revelations 12:11 says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” 

 So we can see from this scripture that our testimonies were a vital resource to us in the War in Heaven. And I think that it is no different in the war that we wage in this life against Satan and his angels. Our children need to be given the opportunity to develop their testimonies and share them with us on a regular basis. 

In our family, the way that we do this is on Sundays. We hold mini Family Home Evenings. We set aside time after church in the evening to come together as a family to feel the spirit and to learn more about gospel principals. The children are asked to give mini-talks and bear their testimonies. They do not know the topics ahead of time, and when the time comes, I have little slips of paper that are cut up in a bowl. Each child comes forward and draws a slip of paper with a gospel topic written on it. They then go to the front and talk for 2-3 minutes about the topic that they have been given. At the end, they conclude by bearing their testimonies. The younger kids can singing a primary song by heart or recite an article of Faith. 

This practice in our family has not only allowed them to become more confident in presenting their ideas and knowledge about various gospel topics, but it has also helped their testimonies to grow. I know that this “pattern of righteousness” is one that will greatly serve them when they leave to serve as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

Brothers and Sisters, it is my prayer that we can teach our children the importance of developing “patterns of righteousness” in their lives. I hope that you will go home and explore the specific patterns that you hope to teach your children. Realize that our Heavenly Father has promised us his blessings as we teach our children the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He will support us in our endeavors, but we must persevere despite the adversities that may arise in our parenting attempts. 

I would like to conclude by bearing my testimony. [BEARING OF TESTIMONY] 

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day of cleaning, projects and fun!

Knowing Scott had the first half of the day off and my to-do list growing quickly, we decided to involve the kiddos and get some serious items OFF my list! 

The boys woke up between 8:30-9 and we were off. I had a list of cleaning to-do's for the boys to mark off. 

Here's my list: Weed garden (100 weeds each boy), sort laundry, clean bedrooms, clean bathrooms, unload dishwasher, load dishwasher, clean stove, clean microwave, fill up soaps, take out all trash, vacuum, wash walls, sweep kitchen, wash down bar stools, carpet clean bedroom and basement. 

As the boys and I were hustling to clean the house, Scott and Will started on the larger projects that needed attention. 

That list was: Attach ball holder in garage, make a new coat hanger, hang all 3 coat hangers in garage, cement loose rocks from outside stairs and wall, print vinyl stickers, install new fan in living room, sand down kitchen chairs, hang medal holder, stain craft board. 

 We got through the entire cleaning list and most of the project list by noon, so we decided to take a little break. We drove across the street to 7-11 for FREE Slurpees. Then, drove around the corner to another 7-11 for another delicious Slurpee. Next stop, Barnes and Noble to turn in the boys Summer Reading charts for FREE books. Last stop, Chik-fil-A for FREE food (if you dress up like a cow). I taped black and white spots on the boys, some hung signs around their necks, some wore noses with ears. Our bill came to $47, but we paid ZERO! 

 Back home we worked on the rest of the project list, and everything is OFF my list! WOW!! The incentive I offered the boys in the morning was if they worked fast and hard without complaining, we would have a water balloon war after. As I'm typing this post up the boys are filling up the balloons! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day 7 and 8: Thompson Family Road Trip - Santa Barbara and Home

We spent over SIX hours at one of the local Santa Barbara beaches, Hendry's. We swam, boogie boarded, skim boarded, built sand castles, buried our loved ones, ate food, found seashells, dug for sand crabs, and relaxed. It was a perfect day! The beach is truly my favorite place on earth. I love everything about it. 

 Later that night we had over 30 cousins and close friends come over to my mom's house for taco dinner. It was great to reconnect with so many loved ones. I have such a wonderful extended family. 

On Sunday, we attended our home ward in Santa Barbara, packed the car and were off to St. George for the night. We arrived late and the boys fell right into bed and fast asleep. We all slept in and headed for the pool where we spent a couple hours playing and horsing around. 

After stopping in Beaver for squeaky cheese, we were able to finish out our trip home. Aww...It was a long road trip, but totally worth it. We had a great time!

After 9 days and 2300 miles, we hope that it is a trip that our boys talk about for a LONG time!

Days 5 and 6: Thompson Family Road Trip - Magic Mountain

The big boys, Scott and I woke up early and headed for Magic Mountain. Earlier in the year, the boys participated in a special reading program where the reward was a free ticket to Magic Mountain! So of course, we took advantage of that!! We left beautiful 70 degree weather in Santa Barbara and entered 95 degree nastiness. BUT, we were able to ride fun, scary rides to make up for the terrible weather!

We spent the night at a nearby hotel and headed back to Magic Mountain the following day. Well, the boys did. I chose to stay behind and lounge poolside, read a book and relax. I'm glad I did. The boys were there right when the gates opened and ran right onto several rides! They had a blast!!

We left around 4 or so and met up with Nana, Papa, Nathan and Preston in downtown Santa Barbara. My mom took the kids to a new fun pizza place while Scott and I indulged in some delicious Italian food at Pascucci's. 

Can't beat the view!!