17 November 2014

Mormon Bible Study: Psalm 1

Mormon Bible Study: The First Psalm

Psalms 1 is so short, I thought at first that it would be a quick one to study. Silly me. There's some good stuff in there!

The first thing that jumped out at me was the tree imagery in verse 3:

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

I love this imagery of the follower of Christ as a fruitful tree. It's a beautiful image, but it's interesting too, because as you follow this idea of a tree through the scriptures it can be difficult to pick apart the parts that are talking about the followers of Christ as a tree, and the spots where this tree imagery is dealing with the Tree of Life, and that offers some very interesting Food For Thought. I added this scripture chain, of the verses that I found these ideas in this time around:

Psalms 1:2-3
Alma 32:41-43
Jeremiah 17:7-8
Isaiah 5:7
Romans 15:4
Jacob 5:12

Brother Brigham referenced Psalms 5:1 when he said this (JoD 2:258):

Psalm 1: The ungodly and the sinners.

I thought this was intriguing, so I started looking through the Topical Guide, at things relating to ungodliness, and found the following:

Psalms 1:5
1 Peter 4:18
Mosiah 5:2
Alma 5:26
Ether 12:27
1 Timothy 1:9-10, 14

The 1st Psalm gives us the key to the difference between the righteous and the ungodly: their attitude toward the scriptures. It is the response to the words of the prophets that separates them. The righteous delight in the law of the Lord. It brings them satisfaction. Pleasure. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness..."

Psalms 1: denying ourselves ungodly behavior

And finally, while perusing this post from Bite-size Bible Study, I found this insightful comment:

"A word about the promise "whatever they do prospers." Remember that everything Joseph did prospered because God was with him, but that didn't mean he was always rich or comfortable. God doesn't promise His children an easy road, but He does promise to prosper His purposes in our lives.

Lots to think about in only 6 verses!

12 November 2014

When I Am Big

Dragon(4): When I am big, there aren't going to be any time outs.

Mom: Ok. When you are big, and the Daddy, I'll remind you of that.

My guess is, he'll figure out the advantages time outs offer quickly enough, when he is big!

08 November 2014

Psalms: The Importance of Music

Mormon Bible Study: come study with us

So, why Psalms? Well, for one thing, it's not so much that it's too intimidating. It's just one book. And it's music. I love music. There's some really lovely hymns that are psalms set to music.

Most of  us are familiar with The Lord is My Shepherd, a setting of the 23rd Psalm, but when I looked at the back of the hymnal, there are more than 75 hymns that reference the Psalms. I had no idea the Psalms were so influential in our music! Just looking through those songs and their Psalms could be a fruitful study all on its own. Music is, after all, very good for us, even something that we are instructed to participate in: 

...but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
-Ephesians 5:18-19

However, "psalm" isn't a word that you typically see, outside of the scriptures. I found myself wondering, "What is a psalm, as distinct from a hymn or song?" At the suggestion of a friend of mine, I turned to the 1828 Webster's Dictionary. She told me that she likes to use that one because, it being so old, that language is closer to the language used in the King James, and it gives her an extra window into the older style of writing in the Bible. Webster said this:

PSALM, n. s`am. [L. psalmus; Gr. to touch or beat, to sing.]

A sacred song or hymn; a song composed on a divine subject and in praise of God. The most remarkable psalms are those composed by David and other Jewish saints, a collection of one hundred and fifty of which constitutes a canonical book of the Old Testament, called Psalms, or the book of Psalms. The word is also applied to sacred songs composed by modern poets, being versifications of the scriptural psalms, or of these with other parts of Scripture, composed for the use of churches; as the Psalms of Tate and Brady, of Watts, &c.

A song about the divine, particularly in praise of God. In fact, the Psalms are called Tehillim or "Praises" in Hebrew*. That, as distinct from a hymn, which seems to refer more to the music itself:

HYMN, n. hym. [L. hymnus; Eng. hum.]

A song or ode in honor of God, and among pagans, in honor of some deity. A hymn among christians is a short poem,composed for religious service, or a song of joy and praise to God. The word primarily expresses the tune,but it is used for the ode or poem.

And when the had sung a hymn, they went out to the mount of Olives. Matt.26.

In any case, the Lord's approval of music is clear, and the scriptures admonish us to use music in a variety of ways, including as a teaching tool:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
-Colossians 3:16

And as a way of expressing our happiness:

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
-James 5:13

Modern prophets and apostles have commented on the importance of music as well. From the First Presidency Preface to the LDS Hymnal:

Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end. We hope to see an increase of hymn singing in our congregations. We encourage all members, whether musically inclined or not, to join with us in singing the hymns. ... Music has boundless powers for moving families toward greater spirituality and devotion tot he gospel. Latter-day Saints should fill their homes with the sound of worthy music. ... Teach your children to love the hymns. Sing them on the Sabbath, in home evening, during scripture study, at prayer time. Sing as you work, as you play, and as you travel together. Sing hymns as lullabies to build faith and testimony in your young ones. ...Brothers and Sisters, let us use hymns to invite the Spirit of the Lord into our congregations, our homes, and our personal lives. Let us memorize and ponder them, recite and sing them, and partake of their spiritual nourishment. Know that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto our Father in Heaven, "and it shall be answered with a blessing upon [your] heads."

Through the miracle of sacred music, the Spirit of the Lord descended upon us...
October 1994 Conference

Make wholesome music of all kinds a part of your life. Then learn what sacred music has to do with revelation.
October 1994 Conference


06 November 2014

Mormon Bible Study: Psalms

I've been feeling the need to be more intentional about my Bible study. I'm pretty good with the Book of Mormon, and while I'm not horrible with the Bible, I don't feel like my knowledge of the Good Book is where it should be, either. So I've been thinking about what to do, and it seemed like the Spirit was saying, "Start a Bible study group." So that's what I did. And people have been joining. We're all going to have to learn together, because I really don't know what I'm doing. I also don't know of any LDS-specific Bible study guides. You can find tons of them online, produced by our Protestant brothers and sisters, but I haven't found any that are geared toward the Mormon understanding of scripture. So, for now at least, we're trying out a promising looking study guide that deals with the Book of Psalms. I don't know how well it's going to work, given the doctrinal differences, but I've always wanted to know more about the Psalms. So many of them are so lovely.

Mormon Bible Study: The Book of Psalms

So anyway. Kids are in bed, the house is all quiet. It's a lovely time to grab my scriptures for a bit before I sneak in some Minecraft and then head to bed. Not really expecting much, just planning to read some of the KJV versions of the verses there at the top, since I've found that it's pretty common for other translations to have some pretty significant meaning differences, and they're using the NIV. I started with the first one.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
-Romans 15:4

Oi. It's Paul. Paul is always one that I struggle with. His style seems to just bounce right off me, rather than sink in. Off to visit scriptures.byu.edu. That site always helps me.

Hope is one leg of a three-legged stool, together with faith and charity. -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Ok. Hope. That's not what I was expecting to read about. Let's see who else has used this verse.

Hope feasts on the words of Christ, “through patience and comfort of the scriptures,” “written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4), and bolstered by “having all these witnesses” (Jacob 4:6; see also 2 Ne. 31:20).
-Neal A. Maxwell, April 2001 Conference

Hope. This verse is about hope. The scriptures bring hope.

Yes, I guess they do. That's very comforting.

In fact, the whole talk from President Uchtdorf is fantastic. It's the one where he tells the story of his refugee mother loosing the train with her four children on it while she was out looking for food on a dark night during World War II.  I can't even imagine. But he turns that story into a story of hope. It's beautiful.

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5 Types of Music

Hero(8) is working on his music beltloop for Cub Scouts. I'm loving today's project: listen to 5 different types of music. It's made a fantastic soundtrack of our day, so far. Here's what we've been listening to:

First, we listened to a couple hours of this playlist of traditional music from India. It was perfect: we've been looking at pictures that a friend of mine that just moved to India has been posting over the past few days, and then we were listening this morning while I was doing my yoga. I see more of this type of music in our future.

At lunch time, I asked Hero what he wanted to listen to next. We'd talked about possibly listening to some violin music, but he surprised me, and asked for Latin, so I found him some hymns. Once again, it's very pleasant to have this running in our background, though Dragon(4) did complain a bit about these.

Next, he asked for Harry Potter. Sound tracks are a type of music, and he's halfway through book 4, and very interested in all thing Potter right now, so on to Hogwarts!

We lingered over the various playlists enough that the listening went into a second day. Which is OK. For our fourth selection, I just picked. And I had a hankering for gamelon music. It wasn't as big of a hit as the others, but we still listened to probably at least an hour. Looked at the map to see where Java is. Watched the guys play on the videos a bit. It was nice. I like this beltloop assignment.

For the final selection, he asked for Lindsey Sterling. So that's what we did. Not to shabby on the variety, I'm thinking. We're going to have to listen to more music again another time, even if the assignment is over; this was pleasant.

27 October 2014

Finding Patterns

One of the things I love about Miquon is the way it emphasizes patterns. It used to be, when I'd look at our Kindergarten materials, I would see the emphasis on patterns, and I couldn't understand why. Something related to counting? I had no idea. At the time, I viewed math as being pretty arbitrary: a whole lot of formulas, largely unrelated to each other, which must be memorized and recalled exactly perfectly, or the problem will be wrong. I was completely mystified by the strange people who gave every evidence of actually enjoying that sort of thing. 

I was missing a HUGE piece of the puzzle: patterns. 

Miquon is great for patterns. Today, for instance, we had a couple sets of problems like this: 

5 + 5 + 5
3 x 5
4 + 5 + 6

Hero declared them easy, and had them done in no time. But then came the search for patterns: he had to make up a set of his own, following the same pattern as the sets he'd been given. Maybe this wasn't so easy after all. So I helped him, and set up the rods for one of the problems. 

3 + 3 + 3 
3 x 3
2 + 3 + 4

Hey! Look at that! Now the relationship is much easier to locate: he moved one white rod from the four to the two, and suddenly had a problem just like the first two. 

Rods are so cool. I didn't learn using them (I have no idea what we did to learn this stuff: I can't remember.), and it's fascinating to see what they are teaching me. 

And those strange people that like math? I'm one of them, now.

21 October 2014

Nature Study: We Found a Pond!

I was so inspired by the pond study these guys did! The idea of going every week, always to the same place, is one that has appealed to me since she talked about her rationale for going to the same place. I think it was Angelic Scalliwags, anyway, but I can't find it on the blog this morning. But the idea was that, in going to the same place repeatedly, you get to know it in a much more intimate way. You get to know the regular critters, the usual plants, and you can see how they change over the course of a year. Things that you just can't learn in a single visit. I love that idea. So we tried a while back, but the weeds grew up around our first pond and we couldn't get to the water, so that plan fizzled after just a few weeks.

But we found a new pond. And friends to go with us. It's very exciting. 

Nature Study: Pond Study at Baby Steps Blog

It's only a few miles away, and it's plenty wild, so there's lots to see. It's got 2 docks, plus a small shore area, and the rest is wooded right up to the water's edge. In addition to the pond itself, there's a good size nature preserve, and a little nature center with people who Know Stuff.

Nature Study: Black Eyed Susans near "our" pond.

Tons of wildflowers, though most have gone to seed and died back for the winter already. I was quite surprised to see these Black-eyed Susans so late in the season. They're definitely past their peak, but still so cheerful. 

Nature Study: Field in Autumn

It's mostly wooded, but in a few places, it opens up to some great views. 

Nature Study: We found a tree frog by our pond!

This week, we found a frog. Again, a bit surprising for so late in the season. We've been getting frosts already. I would have guessed the frogs would have gone into hibernation or whatever it is they do; we still need to look that up. 

The green stuff on those fingers is duck weed. We asked about that last week at the nature center, and checked it out this week. They told us that it's such a desirable species that people with ponds will often plant it. Interestingly, it isn't slimy at all. Feels a lot like couscous when you touch it; it's all dry and grainy. I was pretty surprised by that. 

Nature Study: Checking out the Gray Tree Frog we found.

The kids had a good time looking the frog over. We talked about how his feet looked like tree frog feet, but we didn't have any way to identify him right there. I was amazed at how tightly he clung to our fingers! He had to be pulled off when it was time to put him back where we found him. We looked him up later and decided that he's probably a gray tree frog. 

Nature Study: Buckthorn gives us an opportunity to learn about invasive species.

Saw lots of these shrubby trees with berries on them. We had a conversation about how they are similar to blueberries, but not quite the same. The guy at the nature center said they're actually buckthorn, which is terribly invasive, so much so that there's a group that periodically comes to help them kill a bunch of it. So we need to do some learning about invasive species. 

Nature Study: Love that autumn maple color!

This one is a maple. The maples are just amazing right now. 

Nature Study: The thistles are almost spent.

The thistle are pretty well spent. But still so pretty. I was pretty surprised to see a bumblebee out so late it the season. She was definitely sluggish, like they get in the fall. 

Nature Study: A sluggish bumblebee, getting the last bits of necter.

I'm not sure what these are, but the seed pods are just so striking against those lovely yellow leaves. Autumn is so beautiful. 

And one more maple. There are do many of these around town; the whole city is just on fire with autumn maple colors. 

Over at Angelic Scalliwags, they had something of a plan as they started out. We haven't gotten so formal as that, at least not yet. But we do look things up as we're there (Hurray for little computers in the pocket!), and this week we're headed to the library to learn about tree frogs and invasive species. But for the most part, we enjoy the pond and keep an eye peeled for interesting things. Can't wait to see what our pond does next.

15 October 2014

Day in the Life

10:30am - The baby wakes me up. I wonder why she slept this late, but count my blessings, since Dragon did some sleep walking last night, and it took nearly 2 hours before I could get back to sleep. Hero hasn't been up long either, around a 1/2 hour. Slow start for us today, I guess. Not my favorite, but after last night, I'm not complaining. Morning is going to be short. He has helped himself to a bagel and peanut butter, and I am surprised to find he is reading a graphic novel version of the Iliad. I was guessing it would be Harry Potter #2.

11:00 - Jump in the shower, quick. I want to be done before the Daddy leaves for work. I grab some laundry and fold it up when I'm done, trying to find a shirt. I also need some socks for Hero; he's been wearing mine for the last two days. I don't start the washer yet, though, because the Daddy is using the water.

11:30 - I've stopped folding (which is not the same as being done with it), and change Tigress's clothes and diaper. I still need to do some yoga, and feed the two little kids. The Daddy leaves for work. Hero is reading Harry Potter now; The Weasly's flying car has just crashed into the Whomping Willow.

11:45 - Dragon wants a Minecraft coloring sheet. The printer is complaining because I'm out of yellow ink, and wants permission to print in black only. I also coax it into printing out my shopping menu: today is shopping day. We have a ton of errands to do, and I also want to get the basics of school done. I think the universe ate my print jobs, then I realize that I'd hit cancel, rather than OK. Oops. That won't work; try again. Tigress climbs up on my lap to draw. Dragon immidiately, very politely, asks for markers, which we keep up high. Put her down, give him the markers, clear enough of last night's cups from our drinks just before bedtime (midnight) that he has space for coloring.

11:55 - Pull up Pinterest to help me to think up stuff to put on my menu. Desperately try to stay focused, rather than being sucked into the wonder of Pinterest-land.

12:10 - Give the  younger kids some bagels too. Wonder where my hairbrush got carried off to. Return to Pinterest and my menu.

12:35 - Release Tigress from the high chair. Ponder doing some math with Hero, but return to my menu instead; we really have to go shopping. Give him my phone to listen to The Secret Garden. We are "officially" having a literary morning, and this goes with our current history chapter, on colonial India. Still no hairbrush, and the baby has an... aroma. Guess it's time for another change. My menu is 1/2 done.

12:40 - My nose lied about the diaper. The boys migrate to the basement and listen to the story while they play with their new balls. My girl has figured out how to connect Duplos. Sort of. And is very involved in doing just that. My menu is almost done. Dragon's nose is gross. I must remember kleenex when we go shopping.

12:55 - The menu is done! Now to make the shopping list. And figure out how to get Dragon's cooperation on this shopping expedition. He is, shall we say, unenthusiastic.

1:05 - The shopping list part is relatively painless, and goes quickly. I give Dragon a timeout - and some tylenol and sudafed. Poor kid feels rough. The boogeyman has eaten my hairbrush; count my blessings that I can convince my hair to be presentable without one, in a pinch. I wonder if I can squeeze in some yoga before we go shopping.

1:40 - Found my hairbrush. It was put away. Yoga's done; feels good. I ask Hero to turn off The Secret Garden (can I just say how much I love the Librivox app on my phone, and how much I appreciate the volunteers that read?!), and we all start looking for sock and shoes. First stop: Kohls. Hero needs pants in the worst sort of way.

1:48 - Where is Tigress's other shoe? Everyone go potty!

1:55 - We're off! The boys both bring stuff to play with in the car. It's so much fun to see old toys become new again after yesterday's Big Toy Toss (in which we lost 3 garbage backs of toys and things -- miraculously, without tears), and the toys that come with us are ones that have all their pieces again after all the sorting.

2:40 - We've been to the music store. Dropped off the banjo to get a minor repair done. Now we're at Kohls, looking for those pants for Hero. He has none that are nice. It's embarrassing. This is our second attempt at remedying the situation, but the first store, last week, didn't have anything.

3:15 - Success! On to Sam's Club.

3:35 - Lunch at Sam's.

3:50 - Shopping! We head away from the deli and into the store. It never matters that we just had lunch, the kids are always on a sharp look out for the "Sample Feast" and they are not disappointed.
4:50 - We're back to the music store to grab my banjo. It's all fixed up now, so when I play it next, I'll be able to tune it. Yay!!

5:15 - groceries in. Hero starts making wands (think Harry Potter), but gets side tracked by finding the missing balloon pump. Tigress actually makes the transfer, so she'll have a good nap. Hurray! Now to put away groceries & round up some Math. 

6:00 - After a delightful few minutes messing with the balloons, I coral the kids into doing some chores. Hero is unloading the dishwasher, which he can do (almost) independently, and Dragon is picking up the toys in the living room, which overwhelms him easily, so he has to be coached through it bit by bit. I have the table nearly cleared off, though, the math is out and ready to go, and as soon as the dishwasher is emptied, I can start working on catching up on those icky dishes while the kids do some math.

6:30- The boys' jobs are done, but not the math. Tigress woke up, and she thinks it's tragic that I won't let her chew on balloons. Sometimes, she is still very much the baby. Waking up poorly from a nap brings that out, so we sit down and snuggle a bit. She's coughing, but not as bad as yesterday.

7:00 - Dishes are coming along. Tigress spent some time playing with patter blocks while the boys used rods on their math. Now she's "helping" with the dishes. My kitchen isn't nearly so appalling as it was a couple hours ago, since I've been sneaking things into the dishwasher between helping the boys with their work. Sometime soon, I need to figure out what's for dinner, since we cut the shopping short before we got everything I'd planned to use for tonight. Oops. 

7:15 - Math's finally done. Piano practice is underway.  

7:35 - Dinner. I'm making this up. We have various snacky things: bread with Happy Cow Cheese, and hummus on bread and bell peppers. Sauerkraut. I get the bumps on a log almost completely to myself: the boys won't touch them.

7:35 - Clean up dinner. Hero does violin. Tigress is still eating, and Dragon is wilting. He just wants to snuggle. And play Minecraft. I'm hoping to get some violin out of him too, but I'm not really holding my breath on it. 

8:10 - Dinner's done; table's cleared and wiped. The dishwasher is still running, so I stack our plates and ignore the rest. It's worlds better than it was, and I'm tired. 

8:30 - Tigress comes for a cuddle. We read a stack of books, then she reads her giggle book with the button that giggles, and I try to read Transforming the Difficult Child while we snuggle. It doesn't work very well, but I got a few paragraphs.

8:45 - Tigress is in the bath. I sneak a few minutes with my banjo. 

11:00 - Family scriptures & prayers done. Now for potty and teeth. We had a good night call with Daddy because he's getting home too late even for our late bedtime tonight. Hero is hoping to make it long enough to get a hug, but in my heart of hearts, I'd like him to sleep sooner than that. 

11:15 - Everyone is in bed. Oops. Tigress escapes while I'm telling a story, and goes to play the piano. She's very happy with herself and comes running and giggling when I go catch her again. I do a "snot chase" (AKA lymphatic massage) on all the kids and tell them a story. 

11:40 - Both boys are asleep, and Tigress is about 75%, but fighting hard. I realize that both of them passed out without doing either personal prayers, or having scriptures read. Which is why we do stories last most of the time. Guess I messed that up. 

11:50 - The Daddy gets home and gives the kids their "snoozy snuzzles," as promised. I reclaim my arm from the now sleeping Tigress, and debate: more banjo, scrapbooking, or working on my book. There's not tons of time left before I need to sleep too, since we're meeting friends for Nature Study bright and early tomorrow (10:30), so we'll have to have an alarm to make sure there's no repeat of today's late start.

1:00am - I ended up playing around with Family Search, figuring out how to tag people in photos, and adding a bunch of my Aunts and Uncles to my file while I waited for the Daddy to finish up his paper work and stuff. They're all still living, but it's good practice, and I think that the picture will go public after they are deceased. I hope. Think I'll head to bed now.


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