Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Scripture Challenge: Week 3

Mosiah 16 - Alma 22

What to look for:
In these chapters a common theme to pay attention to is how the decisions of the fathers affects the children.  Using these stories, how can you escape your personal bondage, no matter if a result of your own choices or the actions of parents or others?  If you feel no bondage, do you recognize your blessings and why you are blessed?  Are you rebelling against those blessings?  Why?  When making your own life decisions right now, think of how it may affect your children and even generations to come. 

There is a lot of preaching in these chapters to a variety of audiences.  Righteous believers, a little wayward believers, those who once believed and don't anymore, and those who have never been taught.  By noting the teachings common to all of these people, what are some of the most important concepts we should teach our children and know for ourselves?

Bonus: Write it down and Share
I would love to hear your thoughts on some of the questions above, as would others in the e-mail group I'm sure.  Try to keep a notebook handy while reading or jot down your thoughts as soon as possible afterwards.  Share these thoughts with a spouse, friend, or our e-mail group.  
"Writing down what we learn, think, and feel as we study the scriptures is another form of pondering and a powerful invitation to the Holy Ghost for continuing instruction."  Elder Bednar, "Because We Have Them before our Eyes"
 “You will find that as you write down precious impressions, often more will come. Also, the knowledge you gain will be available throughout your life. Always, day or night, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, seek to recognize and respond to the direction of the Spirit. Express gratitude for the help received and obey it. This practice will reinforce your capacity to learn by the Spirit. It will permit the Lord to guide your life and to enrich the use of every other capacity latent in your being. (“To Acquire Knowledge and the Strength to Use It Wisely,” Liahona, Aug. 2002, 12–14; Ensign, June 2002, 32–34)"

“Behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:3).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Scripture Challenge: Week 2

2 Nephi 19-Mosiah 15

What to look for: Ways to have the Holy Ghost as your companion

Bonus 1: Holy Ghost Present
The goal this week is to have the spirit with you as you study.
“Scripture comes from God by the power of the Holy Ghost. It does not originate with man. It means only what the Holy Ghost thinks it means. To interpret it, we must be enlightened by the power of the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:20–21.) It takes a prophet to understand a prophet, and every faithful member of the Church should have ‘the testimony of Jesus’ which ‘is the spirit of prophecy.’ (Rev. 19:10.) ‘The words of Isaiah,’ Nephi said, ‘… are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy.’ (2 Ne. 25:4.) This is the sum and substance of the whole matter and an end to all controversy where discovering the mind and will of the Lord is concerned” (“Ten Keys to Understanding Isaiah,” Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign, Oct. 1973, 83).
Elder Eyring: The Holy Ghost confirms to us the word of God when we read it. That confirmation, repeated often, strengthens our faith. And it is by faith that we overcome obstacles and resist temptation.
Bonus 2: Prayer
Prayer is one way to invite the spirit to our study. Pray before, after, or both every time you read this week.
There is nothing more helpful than prayer to open our understanding of the scriptures. Through prayer we can attune our minds to seek the answers to our searchings. The Lord said: ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you’ (Luke 11:9). Herein is Christ’s reassurance that if we will ask, seek, and knock, the Holy Spirit will guide our understanding if we are ready and eager to receive” (Elder Howard W. Hunter in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 91; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, 64).

2 Nephi 32:9
But behold, I say unto you that ye must apray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall bpray unto the Father in the cname of Christ, that he will dconsecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the ewelfare of thy soul.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


The official start day of the scripture challenge was last Sunday.  Unfortunately, I was so busy doing things for my calling and getting kids ready for church and setting everything up for the challenge, that by the end of the day I was too darn tired to actually begin my reading!  Nice.  Starting behind on the first day. 

Monday rolls around and I'm trying to figure out just when I can do my catch-up, because of course I didn't follow my plan in the morning.  Then a friend called up and invited two of my three children for a play date sans me.  With fewer children to care for, my options grew.  But how should I fill the time?  We were totally out of milk and my house was a mess.  However, it was time for the little guy to nap so I decided the best thing was to put him down to sleep.  My husband could pick up the milk and what turned out to be a much longer grocery list by the end of the day...thanks Dear! :)  So now it was between reading my scriptures or cleaning my house.  I decided I had to make it a priority to read (since I hadn't up to this point).  Well I read and took notes from the first day's reading and then cleaned a bit before I had to pick up the kids, hoping that somehow I could still make up my lost ground.  I didn't that day, but the amazing thing was that by some miracle I was able to get most of the cleaning done that was scheduled that day.  (Anyone juggling three little ones at home all day can understand what a miracle that really is).

As the week has gone on, I've tried to put my reading first whenever I have a choice of how to spend my time.  As I have done this, somehow my other duties have been completed as well and I managed to catch up on the reading!  Some credit should go to the healthy living challenge I am doing because since starting that my headaches have dissipated and it sure is a lot easier to get things done without fighting migraines!  But even since my health has improved, I have never been so on top of my housecleaning (don't think that means my house is clean, I'm just fulfilling the bare minimum that I have planned for each day!).  I know that the Lord has blessed me to be able to accomplish the many tasks I have to do each day, including spending quality time with my children, because I am putting Him first. Treating our bodies and spirits right will help us to be and do our very best.

I hope others have seen the blessings flow from taking the scripture challenge seriously.  Even if you are so behind you'll never catch up, just make it a priority to read and I know you will see the Lord's hand in your lives.  Please share with us your experiences! 

(PS if you haven't received e-mails from me and are doing the challenge, please let me know.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Scripture Challenge: Week 1

By the end of this week, you should be up to 2 Nephi 18 (pge 88.5)

Some things to start you thinking: 
These chapters show a stark contrast between characters, particularly Nephi compared to Laman and Lemuel. Look for how your topic may have played a role in the direction each of their lives took and in the decisions they made.  Whose pattern are you emulating in your daily decisions or actions? 

Another thing to consider would be family relations. How were conflicts handled between family members?  What worked and what made things worse? What are some things you can do in your home to create more peace or to change bad feelings you may have toward a member of your family?

Disclaimer: I've written this post several times in my head, but have found myself too swamped to actually type it up and at this moment I am super tired, so I'm pretty sure it won't come out right and I'll forget half of what I wanted to put! I also meant to post it a lot sooner as a way of preparing for the challenge, but alas, the time to prepare is gone. Still, I hope some of these things can be helpful to some of you in this journey.

Each week I would like to post some tips or extra bonuses to the challenge. They shouldn't be anything time consuming, but rather ways to help with completing the challenge and also making it more effective. Having said that, however, this one might be time consuming...but hopefully it will help us get more from our reading and save time in the long run.

Study the doctrine behind the topic so it's easier to see the applications in the stories.  This would have been easier had I posted this before the challenge began as I had planned.  For now, if you happen to get ahead or find extra study time, here are a few sources I have found for "hope."

Sometimes I get tired of all the planning I have to do.  Meal planning, plans for my callings, plans for keeping my children occupied during the day, plans for soccer practice, planning for when to plan, etc.  It gets tiresome.  And yet, it is a tip that I think will help in accomplishing this crazy goal we have set and also give a little hope to see it just might be possible!  Here is the pattern I have used for my planning.

When to read:
MWF 6:30 AM
T TH Sat Sun 7AM

How to read: From the actual Book of Mormon with notebook for notes sitting at a desk after taking a shower to wake me up.  (Although I may just listen to the Isaiah chapters on my Ipod in order to push through them more easily).

Plan B
If the morning time is missed or cut short or I just don't read fast enough, I will listen to it on my Ipod while running or at other times during the day when possible. Saturdays and Sundays will be done during kids naps or in the evening if I miss the morning slot.

Part of the goal of this challenge is to help change our priorities a bit.  Therefore, there are some things I need to give up or put off if my reading is not done.

  • I will not check social media (i.e. Facebook or blogs or even e-mail) until my reading for the day is done.
  • I will not watch any shows or movies until my reading is done for the day.
  • I will not clean anything in my house until my reading is complete. 

Just kidding on the last one, although I might use it for an excuse at times!

Back-up to Plan B
If by chance things are really not going my way and I've had a super crazy day and couldn't get it in, I will not crash in bed until I make a specific plan for the next day of how to get in the extra pages.  I will not get behind more than one day, even if it means locking my children in their rooms for a little peace and quiet!  (JK again) 

Ok.  I think I have a pretty fool-proof plan, don't ya think? :)  I'm now beginning to believe in the possibility of this goal!  Let the games begin!

(PS I will be e-mailing some info including schedules and the sped-up audio files we made.  If you do not receive one tonight, let me know.  You will miss things if you are not on the e-mail list, particularly the discussions).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spiritual Challenge

How much time do you spend on your physical needs during the day? (Shower, teeth, hair, make-up, food, exercise, sleep, etc.)

How much time do you spend on your spiritual needs?

It seems to me that sometimes the spiritual side of things can get neglected in the daily lists of things to do. Even when time is given to things like scripture study and prayer, what is habitual can become mundane. I would like to present a spiritual challenge to help spark things up a bit.

The Speed-Read Scripture Study Program

What it is:

Read the entire Book of Mormon in only 6 weeks focusing on a single topic.  The suggested topic that I will be studying is "hope."  We will have some form of online discussions to keep each other motivated and to share with and learn from everyone else.

I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, ... and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

—Joseph Smith, Introduction to the Book of Mormon

Generally when I study the scriptures, I like to take my time and analyze all the little details. And yet, I have thought it would be fun to read the whole Book of Mormon thinking of only one topic. I can't imagine how much that would drag on if it took forever to read it! So I tried the impossible and set my goal at 6 weeks focusing only on "Faith" as my topic. Unfortunately, I fell so far behind, that with only one week left, I was barely beginning Alma!

The amazing part is that even though I didn't actually finish my goal last time around, I have loved how much improved my scripture study has been. I can feel a difference in me and in my life having put more emphasis on reading. The most prominent feeling I've experienced is a greater desire to do missionary work. I have discovered new analogies to my life and new things to do as a parent with my children as I've done this fast reading of the stories instead of scrutinizing every verse. It's been a really cool experience. I'm hoping that some others will be willing to join with me in the next 6 weeks to keep me accountable to staying on track.

Why Hope? 

My in-laws suggested a family study based on the 6 Attributes of Christ section found in Preach My Gospel. The first attribute there is "Faith" and the next one is "Hope." Hope is also a basic principle that would probably help with most problems or issues in our lives and I personally have never studied it before. Who hasn't felt discouraged about things in their life recently? (Being a good parent, child, or spouse; feeling good about yourself physically or spiritually, etc.)  However, if you have a different topic, that is fine.
“When I read the Book of Mormon, something inevitably happens to me. My burdens feel lighter. Faith and hope replace my worries, concerns, and doubts. Life appears brighter.”
--Richard G. Hinckley, "Fruits of the Book of Mormon," Liahona, June 2008

Not Enough Time in the Day?:

It's just 12.6 pages a day. That's less than a chapter in the Twilight books!  When I got behind, I finally discovered some tricks. I put it on my iPod and listened while running in the morning or doing mundane chores like dishes when kids were napping. I didn't like that as much as reading and writing my notes, didn't get as much out of it, but it went faster and I think it was the only way to make up lost ground once I was behind.

We've also taken the original audio files for the Book of Mormon and sped them up by 50%.  So you can listen to 10 minutes of the Book of Mormon in only 6.67 minutes.  We'll figure out how to distribute those files to anyone who's interested (or create a tutorial on how you can do it yourself).

Who's in??

Leave a comment or send me an e-mail if you are feeling up to this challenge.

"Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God."
--President Hinckley, regarding his reading challenge given in 2005