Tuesday, December 16, 2014

5 Underused Parenting Tools for LDS Families


Family home evening, family scripture study, and family prayer – we know these as the core building blocks that shape lasting foundations for our families. We also know that the family is under attack and Satan is working harder than ever to destroy lives by simple and often unnoticed devices. There are other parenting tools that are often overlooked…tools that can have a profound effect on the well-being of our children.

Recently I published a post entitled “4 Surprising Mistakes LDS Families Make” which received an overwhelming display of positive feedback and requests for more ideas. Today I examine 5 commonly underused parenting tools that can have a significant and lasting positive effect on our children and families.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

5 Ways Other Religions Have Made Me a Better Latter-day Saint

The Prophet Joseph Smith once described a fundamental belief of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as our respect for the right of all people to “worship how, where, or what they may” (Articles of Faith 1:11). Brigham Young similarly taught that Mormonism embraces all truth, 

“whether [it] be found with…the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties” (Journal of Discourses 7:284). 
As I reflect on the many ways my own life has been enriched through associating with people of different religious faiths, I see clearly that much of what I know about how to be a devoted Latter-day Saint comes from lessons I have learned from those outside my faith. I have been strengthened in unique ways by the virtues and values reflected in the lives of the followers of many religious faiths. Here are five simple ways other religions have touched my life and helped make me a more committed Latter-day Saint:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

7 Simple Christ-centered Christmas Traditions to Start This Year

In a world where Christmas season starts at midnight on Oct. 31, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of Santa, reindeer, toys, gadgets and Black Friday madness. It can be even easier to overlook the real reason for the season. Add to that work parties, school parties, church and family get-togethers, it can be hard to find time to help your kids learn more about the Savior's birth.

Here are some ways to make it easier to focus on the Savior and the miracle of His birth during this hectic holiday season.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

3 Surprising Benefits of Gratitude and a Recipe for Accessing them Year-Round

There is something remarkable about this time of year. Beyond the food, football, or even time with family, as we gather together and vocally express thanks for the blessings in our lives, it seems to bring a great sense of happiness, peace, and contentment. As I sat down to write this post and figure out what makes being grateful…well, so great…I was pleased (and even a little surprised) to find that this is much more than some abstract or ethereal concept; it has been backed by science! A number of recent studies in what has been termed “positive psychology” have linked gratitude to incredible physical, emotional, social, and psychological benefits. The key to gaining these benefits, though, is to make gratitude a regular practice. While it’s great to spend a day focusing on our blessings, if we make a habit of regularly recognizing our blessings and demonstrating sincere gratitude for them, we can seriously improve our quality of life.

Following is a list of what I found to be some of the most intriguing benefits of gratitude and a few ingredients for incorporating gratitude into our everyday “diet” to realize them, even after the leftover turkey and pie are long gone.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Supporting Children with Invisible Special Needs at Church

“The body [of the Church] hath need of every member, that all may be edified together.”
Doctrine and Covenants 84:110

I think it’s safe to say that most people want to be tolerant and loving towards people with disabilities. We wouldn’t hesitate to make accommodations for a person with physical limitations or to someone who is deaf or has a visual impairment. However, there has been a significant rise in the number of young children diagnosed with what can be classified into a group called invisible special needs. Society in general is lagging behind when it comes to supporting these children and their families. What’s worse is that many families are being pushed out of their own churches, the very places that should be the most compassionate and accepting.

What is an “invisible” special need? Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Development Disorder), Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, learning disabilities, developmental delays, mental and emotional difficulties, anxiety, and giftedness are some of the most common special needs that would fall into this category. Kelly Priest (a school counselor and mother to a son with Asperger’s) gave the following definition:
“Kids who seem pretty typical much of the time, but have significant trouble, of neurodevelopmental origin, with self-regulation, social interaction, friendships, flexibility, abstract thinking, sensory management, attention, language and communication, and self-advocacy. Special, yes, in some ways … but ordinary kids in some ways too.”
It is likely that in a large church congregation of 200-300 people there are probably at least 5-10 children and teenagers who have invisible special needs. It’s also important to note that not every child with challenges will have an official diagnosis, but they still might need extra support at church just as they would at home or at school. For church leaders, teachers, and church attendees, here are 12 ways you can support children with invisible special needs and their families at church: