Do you know the song, "Hush Little Baby, Don't You Cry?"
It starts with a soft plea for a baby to stop crying and the lovely thought of getting a mockingbird.
One interpretation could be the dad is buying the mockingbird so the kid can hear how ugly a cry sounds, and if the kid stops crying, the bird won't sing, and in the subsequent stillness, the child will be rewarded with a piece of fine jewelry.
However, with the rest of the song, we can see that the bawling is assumed to be an intense dissatisfaction with life. And thus the quest to make things right and that such a hope for the next best thing should be the substantial satisfaction needed to stop sniveling. And if all else fails, another promise to the previously 'need to be appeased' howling baby is he/she will still be the sweetest in town. It makes you wonder what all the other babies are like.
Clever rhyme and a catchy tune are not enough to fool that the message is harmless.
A song-less mocking bird needs no replacement.
Is it not still a wonder?
Does the lack of skill somehow diminish its beauty?
Can the baby not be introduced to the amazement at the texture of feathers and their varied colors and design. Oh, and to stop a moment while baby and papa share the amazement of the bird's ability to fly! Oh, the power of holding his baby and making up a story of what it would be like to fly. To say ‘thank you’ to whatever source you believe gave us the mocking bird brings peace.
I rewrote the song.
Hush, little baby, don't say a word.
Papa's gonna buy you a mocking bird
And if that mocking bird don't sing.
Papa's gonna show you its wing.
And when you see its feathers
you'll understand they're treasures.
And we'll take a peek
at its powerful pointy beak.
And pause to see the bird's wonder
even though sad times we are under.
Oh, and how a bird can take flight
and we can see what's good and right
And you'll always have more
if you learn to find that which to adore
Because things don't always work out right
and life sometimes has strife
But be assured my little one
we need not be undone.
Cry if you need to
I'll hold you and see you through.
But know we can triumph and be happy
even though this song is sappy.
Is not gratitude the most excellent distraction from sorrow?
Practicing gratitude brings peace.
And finally, what is so wrong with NOT being the sweetest little baby in town?
Just like a bird is still of great worth even though silent, we are still of great worth even when we are not so sweet.
Let’s march to our own upbeat drummers, change our tune to something cheerful, and write our own lullabies of gratitude.
As published on Military One Sources Blog Brigade
“All over” was a vague term in my pre-mother days, most often used as hyperbole. Now, “all over” was literal and I was looking at it. I was stunned when I saw the kitchen table. I stood still, scatterbrained, and staring. My wonderful children, who should have had their church shoes on and standing at the front door, were running shoeless all over the house. One or all four of them had tipped a box of cereal all over the table. A table was full of tan flakes in various states of matter and white sugar. I had 3 minutes before I had to be driving away from my house and about 30 minutes of work to do before I could even get out the door. My husband was away, so no dividing and conquering strategies. And though my senses were currently divided, I would not be conquered.
I retreated to the garage for the broom and dustpan. Yep, I swept my kitchen table, not my finest homemaking moment. I corralled the kids to the door, somehow, they got shoes on and we made it to church. And if it was like any other Sunday service, my kids were all over the pew and the youngest crawling all over me.
And what do frosted flakes, brooms, and pews have to do with summertime fun in the age of quarantine? As it turns out, at least two lessons lay in my experience. It has to do with the time we are not all over the town going here and there doing this and that.
First: Like using a broom to sweep a table, look for creative solutions.
Second: I was frazzled because we had a tight schedule. But we can make the most of the time we save not taking kids all over town to various activities.
1. Summer Camp canceled? Be your own camp director! We’ve done this and the memories are a treasure. I set up a different theme for each day for a week. We had stickers to celebrate completing projects. My husband was away that week, so it also kept me distracted from missing him. There are ideas all over the internet for nature crafts, homemade games, outdoor DIY obstacle courses, etc. Don’t forget the s’mores! Even microwave ones count. If you have a fire pit, there you go, your own campfire program!
2. The local library had to go digital or postpone summer reading programs? Put on your own summer reading event. Have ‘read the book, see the movie’ activities. Make paper puppets of the characters in a book and act out the story. Read out loud to your kids outside. We used to put pillows all over a corner of our deck and I’d read aloud, and we’d eat popcorn. Simple. But it was just different enough to keep things fresh.
Make your own reading bingo with prizes. (I suggest keeping the prizes simple and inexpensive or maybe not a thing at all but a ‘stay up late card’ or ‘get out of a chore card’) But add things besides reading to the squares. Literary things like writing a thank you note to a favorite author, drawing a picture of a character in a chapter book, or looking up more information about a place or thing from a storybook. You can even require non-fiction books or certain books. After all, you’re the librarian now.
Make the Most of the Time
As time moved past the cereal incident, there will be a time when the quarantine will be all over. Use those 10 minutes saved by not having to get shoes on small squirmy feet toward a complex project best broken into small pieces. 10 minutes a day for 3 months of summer equals 15 hours!
1. Stop Action Films. There are free apps for your phone that let you make stop-action films. Write up a story. Gather the characters from all over the house. Create backgrounds. Check lighting. Set it up. Practice. Take Pictures. Edit. Add music, etc. Too much to do at one time, but broken up into 10 minutes a day, you would have a mighty fine product at the end of the summer.
2. Family History. Gather photos and start writing the stories surrounding the image. Pick an ancestor but remember, family history isn’t all about those who have died. Current events are history. Think of your parents when they were your kids’ ages. Don’t cover just the basics of birth date and place, etc. Let your mind go all over the place. Describe them – write about eye color, favorite sayings, or jokes they told over and over.
Want to tell the story of a family member that has lived a long time? Make index cards for every year. Fill in the card with all that you know happened that year – file chronologically. Research and fill the cards. Think of places they lived, how old their family members were that year, events that happened in their community. Find out little things, like the price of bread and gasoline. Was there a pandemic? What did they hope to be when they grew up? What music was on the radio? What were the major scientific developments? What were the fashion trends? Then when you get to put it all together, you’ll already have it in order and lots of details. Have the kids interview a family member – hopefully, the oldest family member you’re in contact with. Record the interview somehow. Think of the joy a 10-minute call once a day for a week would bring to an elderly relative. Plus, imagine the treasure that recording will be to your kid’s grandchildren. They’ll be all over it.
Check out this great video! I explain the law God set forth to take care of His children so that there are, "no poor among them."
The composite above is of my two daughters, my mother, my grandmothers, and me. All 6 of us have enjoyed being born members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Five of us served full-time missions for the church.
I estimate that our church service from age 20 to death/present is a combined 217 years. I don’t know all that the others know, but I have listened and watched my mother as she implemented teaching strategies and heard her quote her mother, I’ve certainly paid attention to my daughter’s fine examples and I’ve heard stories about my father’s mother. Thirty of the above total are my years teaching in the church.
I say that all merely to establish a bit of credibility.
Here are some tips for the nitty-gritty of teaching a church class, and when I say nitty-gritty I am not talking about knowing and loving the gospel or knowing and loving the students…just nitty-gritty running of a classroom so there is an increased likelihood your students will hear you and understand and feel the Spirit.
1. If you give homework or a challenge, follow up! Send a reminder of the challenge, be encouraging, and have some sort of reporting in place. Not reporting like in a ‘gotcha’ way or even publically. Like give them a sticker to put on the challenge – something totally private but marks that they’ve completed the challenge.
2. When it is time to have a prayer, don’t ask, “Do I have any volunteers to pray?” or any form thereof. If you teach a class, you’ll have regulars. At the first class, pass out index cards and ask them to put their name on it (or have their names already on it) and have them write if they are willing to pray or read out loud. Respect this. When you are in class, ask someone to pray like this, “Brother Soandso, will you say the prayer?”
EZ PZ Direct. Saves SOOOO much time and awkwardness.
3. If you teach children or youth, be sure you have the parent’s permission to contact the child out of class. Find out their preferred method of being contacted. If you have children enrolled in your class and their parents do not attend, be sensitive to their situation and respectful.
4. If you are going to have class members read, display the book, chapter, and verse. This will increase your chances of not having to repeat the reference and it makes for a smoother class.
5. If you want class members to be silent participants by thinking about the lesson, post the questions you want them to ponder so they can see them. Tell them at the beginning you want to hear what they have to say about what you are learning together. All will be more comfortable answering questions they know in advance.
6. Don’t ask questions before you teach the lesson. UGH! A big pet peeve of mine. Starting the lesson off with a question that people will get wrong and then saying something dorky like, “That’s not what I’m looking for….” etc – totally shuts off learning and participation.
7. You are gonna have bad lessons. Things will get out of hand. You are teaching a classroom of individuals of all sorts of spiritual developmental stages. They are coming from their lives into the church. They could have had a very rough morning or going through a tough time. It is OK. Just express love and be patient. Don’t get so bogged down by how much effort you put in the lesson and they better well appreciate it attitude – you’ll fail for sure!
8. If it is a particularly spiritual lesson, say about the last week of Christ’s life or you’ll be sharing a personal tender story – tell the class at the beginning.
9. State the objective of the lesson at the beginning. It should not be hidden or a big reveal at the end. Keep them with you – you are learning together. You are not teaching because you are the expert, you are a leading learner.
10. Be enthusiastic.
11. Try to tell the scripture story/block you are studying at least two ways, the best is three. Read it together, have them read silently. show a video, have a student (ask them beforehand) summarize it, have them teach each other, do a radio play of it, have them draw a storyboard….you can think of ways. But if you want them to get the story so they can see the doctrine, repeat, repeat, repeat.
12. One principle that is nitty-gritty and high end - you’ve got to love them. Relax your face when you look at them. Smile. Don’t correct, redirect. These are God’s children and He has entrusted them to you…teach in a way that pleases Him.
Imagine you live 2,000 BC. Your name is Hagar.
You are a servant of an older woman, Sariah. She and her husband are Hebrews. You are an Egyptian, in fact, some people later would say your name Hagar means stranger.
The older woman can’t have children, and you are given to her husband, Abram so he can have a son. You get pregnant. One day the older woman thinks you are giving her the evil eye and starts treating you harshly. So harshly that you, alone, pregnant, run away.
An angel tells you to go back. He also tells you to name your son Ishmael and that he will grow into a wild man – could mean nomad or free man, - and will live among his people.
You go back.
Then 14 years later, the older woman, now called Sarah, is pregnant. She sees your son in what the scriptures call “mocking” and she tells the father of your son, now called Abraham, her son Isaac will not share any birthright inheritance with your son.
She demands you and your son be thrown out!
Abraham is sad about it, but he is told by God to let you go! Early the next morning, he gives you some bread and water and off you and your son go into the desert. The water doesn’t last very long. You throw the empty container under a bush. You can’t bear to see your son die, so you have him lie next to a tree and you go off, just as far as an arrow will fly (a bowshot)– so you can still see your son. You start to cry. Your son prays.
An angel shows up and says your son isn’t going to die and he’ll yet live to have a family. He says to go and lift him up and hold his hand.
He then shows you a well, you get your bottle, and fill it up and give your son a drink.
You don’t return to your home, but continue onward.
And what the angels told you becomes true:
Your son marries an Egyptian – you are an Egyptian - he lives among his people!
Does not have to answer to his father – so he is also a free man.
And has children, 12 sons’ names are recorded.
And ironically, as you were a bowshot (as far as an arrow travels) away from him when the angle visited, Ishmael became an archer.
Hagar thought she was at a dead end, but it was really a the middle of a journey.
Let’s examine the scriptural account a little closer:
The first thing is about Sarah – both times – she didn’t ask for clarification on her perceptions of both Hagar and Ishmael. She just acted on what she thought was hatred and mockery. And such drastic action! The narrative doesn’t say whether she even talked to Hagar about it, to be sure or to offer a chance for the teenage boy to do better.
Or even to double check with Ishmael – maybe she needed to hear his side of things before she took action.
The second is how Hagar was allowed to leave – she was helped on her way by someone whom she should have been able to rely on. And he barely supplied her. I’ve read Abraham was a rich man and yet he sent her out with one container of water and just enough bread to carry. No mule loaded with supplies? No helper?
And the third was Hagar didn’t see the well until she had divine help to open her eyes. The account doesn’t say, “suddenly a well appeared,” it said Hagar’s eyes were opened and so she saw the well. She saw another way – that God was more powerful than Abraham, and she could depend on God.
When we look closer at Hagar we see promises, divine intervention, and mercy.
(My sources for my research were the King James Version of the Old Testament, churchofjesuschrist.org, and myjewishlearning.com.)
The fire of testimony’s witness
Does not incinerate the weaknesses waiting,
Inflammable, sitting as useless rubble,
Polluting our inheritance.
Optimistically examined one by one,
Hardened chunks pulverized with joyful power
To infinitesimal particulates,
Distilled to usefulness by perfect Living Water.
While missionaries are called as missionaries first and their area of service is secondary, the area is still a divine assignment. I’d like to share what I learned about mission calls and prayer. I earnestly prayed I would be sent to the land of my ancestors and hoped the answer would be, “Yes,” I had been singled out so many times, and not in a positive way, for being fair skinned and blonde. I thought it would be comforting to be around more people who looked like me. I imagined Denmark or Sweden. When I received my call, I was sent to the Illinois Peoria Mission. I accepted that the answer to my prayers was, “No.” And that was OK, I was thrilled to be considered worthy to serve and humbled by the chance to witness for Christ.
However, through reading family history materials, by the time I reported to the MTC, I knew that in many ways Illinois is a land of my ancestors. So, the answer to my sincere plea was, “Yes.” Since my mission I have learned many more details of my Illinois family and other ancestors.
Abraham Hunsaker, born in 1812 in Jonesboro, Illinois moved to Quincy, Illinois at age 14. Their son, my great-great grandfather, Allen was born in Quincy in 1840. While living in Quincy the Saints, escaping from political and social persecution that hounded them in MO, crossed the Mississippi and found refuge in Quincy. Displaced, the McBride family were taken in to the Hunsaker home and while living there took the initiative to introduce the gospel to Abraham and Eliza. They accepted the Gospel and were baptized in November 1840 and eventually joined with the Saints in their relocation to the area of Nauvoo. Quincy was my first area.
While living in New York, a missionary named Jonathan Dunham ended up at the front door to the home of the William and Sally Stacy Murdock family. The family was baptized in 1836. When they were able to, they sold their fine property and gathered to Nauvoo. William died and buried in Nauvoo.
When Simeon Adams Dunn was 37 he was taught the gospel by his brother Elder James Dunn, whom he had not seen since childhood. After joining the church in January 1840 Simeon walked the 500 miles from Michigan to Nauvoo, Illinois. While living in Nauvoo he worked on the Nauvoo Temple, saw on of his daughters married in the temple, buried his wife, remarried, and had a daughter born there. His house is still stands on the corner of Parley and Hyde Streets.
Simeon’s 3rd wife, Harriet Atwood Silver, joined the church in Massachusetts in 1843. She was 25 and travelled alone to meet the saints in Nauvoo and lived there until the Exodus to the West.
Of course, the most important event in my family that took place in Illinois was when Andrew and I lived there some 20 years after my mission ended and a daughter was born!
Simeon A. Dunn's home in Nauvoo, Illinois.
On this sacred day and hearing from others who miss going to church services, I wanted to explain how members of the church I belong to, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are able to have church meetings in their homes during this time of social distancing - including taking the sacrament.
We do not have paid clergy. Just like Christ’s apostles during in mortal ministry, our church leaders are called from their professions to serve, unpaid, in the church. The modern prophet was a heart surgeon as the ancient prophet Peter was a fisherman. Our church does not have a hierarchy, in that serving in one call does not mean you’ll be given more responsibility in the next nor do you have to meet certain criteria to be selected by a council to lead. There is no ‘moving up.’ NOTE: The priesthood is the Lord’s power to give to whom He pleases. So arguments and protests to any body of people to demand the power of the priesthood be given to women is a waste of time. Church leaders represent Christ to the people, not the people to Christ.
The young men and men in our church are ordained as holders of the priesthood. As young as the January in the year they will turn 12. There are different responsibilities for each office in the priesthood. My son, Bryant, is a Priest. He can prepare, bless, and pass the Sacrament (bread and water). He can also perform baptisms. My husband, as a High Priest, can do all that my son can and be called to preside over church units as well as, by the laying on of hands (exactly like Jacob blessing Ephraim and Manasseh and Peter and John giving the gift of the Holy Ghost), give blessings to others.
I have been enjoying church meetings at home. We get dressed in church clothes. We sing hymns. Partake of the sacrament. And we pray. It is personal, peaceful, and focused.
When individuals and families do not have someone who is ordained to the priesthood to provide the sacred ordinance of the sacrament, there are those who can be assigned to bring it to them.
It is a beautiful thing.
I am happy to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings me great happiness.
When I was in the all-girls church group for 10-12 year-olds, "Merry Misses", one of my two lovely leaders was Lydia Dean. Sister Dean had been blind for a few years. I could tell she loved me. I certainly loved her. One Sunday she sat by me in church. We were sitting on the pew closest to a side door - near the podium. The door leads to the outside and it was a sunny day. Light entered the chapel. I always loved how that looked and felt.
That Sunday Sister Dean sat by me. Sometime during the service, she leaned over and whispered to me, "you're beautiful." My immediate thought was, "ya, only a blind person would think I was beautiful."
But as I sat there I wondered, well, what is there about a person you can't see that can be beautiful?
And I realized there are many parts to a person you do not see. And so I put my feeble efforts to focus on what I thought those were, such as following the Savior's example to "go about doing good." Her blind observation brought me great insight. The insight instigated an internal shift forever changing my life. So much gratitude do I have for her I named one of my children in her honor.
A few years later, I came upon something Spencer W. Kimball, the Lord's prophet at the time, said:
Life gives to all the choice. You can satisfy yourself with mediocrity if you wish. You can be common, ordinary, dull, colorless, or you can channel your life so that it will be clean, vibrant, useful, progressive, colorful, and rich.
And none of those beauties in life have anything to do with teeth, clothing, or hair cut (see photo). And I find comfort in the scriptural account in Samuel, where the Lord tells Samuel the reason he has not chosen the oldest son of Jesse has nothing to do with his appearance. Or maybe Samuel rejected Eliab after he was not chosen...finding a reason and saw him as unattractive. Whatever the cause of his commentary, the lesson is in the Lord's reply:
Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance but the lord looketh on the heart.
Oh, and by the way, my appearance got way worse - I got glasses (I bought the cheapest pair and they were so unattractive - and designed for a man) and though I was happy to get braces, I hated the headgear!
Find out more about Lydia Dean. An article about Lydia Dean that was published in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' monthly publication, the Ensign Magazine. Click on the link below to read:
Me in 1978, 10 years-old - about the time Lydia Dean's whisper rung loud in my heart.
My great grandfather, Lewis Hunsaker grew up in Northern Utah. He was a child and grandchild of polygamists who were also Mormon Pioneers, went to church all his life, served a mission for the church, had 13 children with his one wife, dedicated many hours in the temple, supported the Boy Scouts of America for decades, and was a hardworking dependable righteous man. I am not sure how many years he started working, but I would assume since he was a young boy. He shared the following experience he had when he was 20 years old:
"While herding sheep I read the Bible through twice, the Doctrine and Covenants twice, and the Book of Mormon five times. I have read it through several times since. As I finished reading it the fifth time and came to these words,
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that you would ask God the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the Power of the Holy Ghost, and by the Power of the Holy Ghost ye shall know the truth of all things.
“I quit reading and walked a little closer to where the sheep were feeding, thinking of the words I had just read. I looked to see if there was anyone in sight, then I knelt and prayed earnestly to my Heavenly Father. After praying, oh what joy filled my soul, it is beyond the power of mortal man to describe it. I shall never forget that occasion. It was in October 1891, two miles south of Washakie and one mile west."
I also know the Book of Mormon is true scripture. People say they know something is true, “with every fiber of my being,” or “as sure as I’m standing here,” or even “as I know the sun will rise tomorrow.” But my center of knowing The Book of Mormon is true isn’t in my physical self. It is not created by my environment, confirmed with my senses, nor experienced in a tangible manner. I know the Book of Mormon is true scripture through the simple personal spiritual communication of the Holy Ghost - joy. I wanted to know, I read it, and I asked my Heavenly Father if what I read was real. And in reality, He answered my prayer with a powerful soul-filling answer, the Book of Mormon is true scripture.
While Lewis was about his work he read the scriptures. Now, my work is quiet, but I work with my hands as I fold laundry, do dishes, make meals, occasionally mop the floors, and dusting every once-in-a-while. I usually listen to podcasts or music to keep me going through boring tasks.
Can I choose to be like Lewis?
I can’t read the scriptures when I work, but I can certainly listen to them! According to Google searches it would take 115 hours to listen to the entire Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Which is 32 minutes a day for a year! However, I've never been that careful with time and record keeping. So, I could just listen every time I was doing any of the chores listed above...
I cannot think of an excuse...so, here I go!
UPDATE: I did start this. In five days while listening while working around the home - not even all of the time I've been doing housework - I have gotten to Exodus 26. Five days. Just saying, I'm glad I've chosen to be like Lewis.
In case you are wondering: The hours it takes per book of scripture: 72 Holy Bible, 25 Book of Mormon, and 18 for the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.
God was like a neighbor who lived a few houses down the street. I’d go to him when something was broken, come back to collect the repaired problem, wave my hand in unspoken thanks, and speed back home. I didn’t know more about him and never invited him to my home. I was relieved to know he was there but thought of him as someone who lived close by and had a special set of skills.
But in an instant I knew God loved me.
I was thirteen years old. I’d been spit on, slapped, called names, called ugly, mocked, threatened, groped, and accused of gross sexual activity. I felt like the beauty of the world was not for me to enjoy. I did not deserve the air I breathed. I couldn’t sleep at night. I was convinced the devil would take me away because the world was too good for me.
There I stood in the middle of a pack of girls. Always in a pack, like animals. They surrounded me kicking, laughing, and enjoying it. I withdrew into survival mode. One of the pack leaders laughed while remarking she could see my heart slamming against my rib cage. My sense of self was used up. Fear filled me. I wanted to melt into the ground and not to be seen.
I imagined ways to escape. I thought of Scotty beaming me up to the Enterprise, a hole opening beneath my feet, and swooshing me through a tunnel across town to my bedroom. Fighting them even came to mind, but I’d seen too many Westerns. If I beat one, they’d take revenge. If I lost, I would be an easy target when one of them wanted to feel big. Though it crossed my mind then, I hadn’t run away yet. If I ran, I knew I could never recover.
I looked toward the helpful neighbor, God. I prayed. He spoke. “Stand firm.”
I doubted. My legs and resolve were quickly shrinking. I was going to collapse and give in. “Stand firm,” was repeated. I believed. A physical power of strength entered my legs and moved up. Like an aperture inside a soft clay sculpture, suddenly filled with steel. He made it possible to do as he told me to do. With that tangible power, I could and did stand firm.
In that instant I knew what I thought was a neighbor was an all-powerful God. He knew what I needed, he communicated it to me, and he empowered me. He loved me and I was worth loving. I wisely invited him into my home.
previously published on mormonwomen.com