I woke up this morning and the house is quiet. My thoughts are uninterrupted and I can think.  This my friends is why I have enjoyed getting up early for the first time in my life, to blog, reflect, and get my scripture study done before the house is over run with sticky fingers, phone calls, cat fights, and errands.  Because it is Sunday I decided to put a part of one of my favorite General Conference talks down on my blog.  It is one that I regularly reflect on and try to incorporate in my life.  There are SO many good things I want to accomplish every day but I have to remind myself what may be better.. or BEST!  Enjoy!

Good, Better, Best

Elder Dallin H. Oaks Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.

Elder Dallin H. OaksMost of us have more things expected of us than we can possibly do. As breadwinners, as parents, as Church workers and members, we face many choices on what we will do with our time and other resources.

I.

We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.

Jesus taught this principle in the home of Martha. While she was “cumbered about much serving” (Luke 10:40), her sister, Mary, “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (v. 39). When Martha complained that her sister had left her to serve alone, Jesus commended Martha for what she was doing (v. 41) but taught her that “one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (v. 42). It was praiseworthy for Martha to be “careful and troubled about many things” (v. 41), but learning the gospel from the Master Teacher was more “needful.” The scriptures contain other teachings that some things are more blessed than others (see Acts 20:35;Alma 32:14–15).

A childhood experience introduced me to the idea that some choices are good but others are better. I lived for two years on a farm. We rarely went to town. Our Christmas shopping was done in the Sears, Roebuck catalog. I spent hours poring over its pages. For the rural families of that day, catalog pages were like the shopping mall or the Internet of our time.

Something about some displays of merchandise in the catalog fixed itself in my mind. There were three degrees of quality: good, better, and best. For example, some men’s shoes were labeled good ($1.84), some better ($2.98), and some best ($3.45).1

As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all.

Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading books or magazines. Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information. But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it. Some things are better, and others are best. When the Lord told us to seek learning, He said, “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom” (D&C 88:118; emphasis added).

II.

Some of our most important choices concern family activities. Many breadwinners worry that their occupations leave too little time for their families. There is no easy formula for that contest of priorities. However, I have never known of a man who looked back on his working life and said, “I just didn’t spend enough time with my job.”

In choosing how we spend time as a family, we should be careful not to exhaust our available time on things that are merely good and leave little time for that which is better or best. A friend took his young family on a series of summer vacation trips, including visits to memorable historic sites. At the end of the summer he asked his teenage son which of these good summer activities he enjoyed most. The father learned from the reply, and so did those he told of it. “The thing I liked best this summer,” the boy replied, “was the night you and I laid on the lawn and looked at the stars and talked.” Super family activities may be good for children, but they are not always better than one-on-one time with a loving parent.

The amount of children-and-parent time absorbed in the good activities of private lessons, team sports, and other school and club activities also needs to be carefully regulated. Otherwise, children will be over scheduled, and parents will be frazzled and frustrated. Parents should act to preserve time for family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and the other precious togetherness and individual one-on-one time that binds a family together and fixes children’s values on things of eternal worth. Parents should teach gospel priorities through what they do with their children.

Family experts have warned against what they call “the over scheduling of children.” In the last generation children are far busier and families spend far less time together. Among many measures of this disturbing trend are the reports that structured sports time has doubled, but children’s free time has declined by 12 hours per week, and unstructured outdoor activities have fallen by 50 percent.

The number of those who report that their “whole family usually eats dinner together” has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together “eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children’s academic achievement and psychological adjustment.”3 Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs.4 There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: What your children really want for dinner is you.

President Gordon B. Hinckley has pleaded that we “work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it.” He continued:

“I ask you men, particularly, to pause and take stock of yourselves as husbands and fathers and heads of households. Pray for guidance, for help, for direction, and then follow the whisperings of the Spirit to guide you in the most serious of all responsibilities, for the consequences of your leadership in your home will be eternal and everlasting.”5

The First Presidency has called on parents “to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles. . . . The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place . . . in . . . this God-given responsibility.” The First Presidency has declared that “however worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.”6

To read the whole talk you can link here.

I heard a woman speak on the subject of over scheduling our kids just last Tuesday!  She has worked with young children and studied their development for over 20 years.  One of her biggest observations is that as a society we aren’t letting our kids play enough!  She reported that slamming 123’s and ABC’s down their throat at such young ages can actually be damaging.  She said that teaching them isn’t a bad thing..but to learn to do it through play.  She encouraged us to go outside and count the flowers and name the colors in the sky rather than staring at paper on a desk and that unstructured play time is also vital.  She said that letting them play make believe is very important in their development to start interacting with other kids and to understand relationships.  Any idea to engage our kids brains in things other than just nintendos, T.V. or internet is worth while.  I don’t think these things are bad, it just comes back to the “good, better, best” theory. I have to set time limits on my internet activity to or I loose that balance that I fight for everyday.  It is HARD to balance it all!

Another point that she brought up the same as Elder Oaks is that she believed in not overbooking our kids.  If we feel stressed out with our schedule than how do you think they feel?  This is a hard one for me because I feel like lessons are very important for kids…not that they have to have a teacher in the traditional way, but I want my kids to find something that is individual to them. Something they enjoy that can build a talent that gives them self esteem.  When I have each kid do that in one area, that automatically fills up our schedule when you combine it with homework, reading, and dinner….voila we arebusy.  Finding the balance in that is a tough one, but important.

 I believe in having family dinner time and just being together. Getting everyone home at this time of day is nearly impossible!  Jon is finishing up with meetings, and I am still in the process of playing taxi and finishing up homewoid.  Family dinner is easier said than done, but a battle I will continue to fight! It is such an important time in the day where we can review our experiences and feelings.  This combined with scripture study (which we stink at) and our Sunday family meeting have a significant impact on our happiness as a family.  

Our family planning meeting on Sunday is a recently established thing. It isn’t a habit yet, but I am working to that end.  We have been trying to sit down Sunday night and talk.  We bring up issues we have been having as a family and talk through them with everyone there.  There are always things the kids have fought about or schedules that need to be discussed.

Last week was pretty intense, but when all was said and done we got further with this hour long meeting than I had for six months just saying nagging comments to the kids about “Don’t make up foreign languages to tease your sisters!”  Jon isn’t there in the day time when these issues usually come up so it is a great time for him to try and help.  I hate to admit it, but I pride myself in communication when it comes to my kids and after seeing how he worked with them last Sunday, I was humbled and realized that he too has a lot to give and a different way of approaching the problems.  Sometimes I cringe when I see the words he uses because I know how a girl thinks and how they might interpret what he is saying as not what he is meaning, but I need to be patient.

After Jon spoke with them, it latest almost a WEEK!  I think they are so sick of hearing me say the same things over and over that it goes in through one ear and out the other.  After we meet together, we split up the kids and meet with them one at a time.  The kids feel listened to and a bond is formed as we go into the next week.  It is a great chance for hugs and compliments also.  When my kids are little, they want to be tucked in every night and this is when I would do this, but the older ones don’t get that anymore so I think it replaces that nightly routine in a way.

Anyway, enough ranting!  I would encourage you to reflect on your life and find a way that this talk could help you.  I know it gives me food for thought and I think it can help us all, regardless of our role in life.

Now I promised my friend Jen that I would enter her “color” photo challenge today.

I need a new battery charger for my camera and wasn’t able to take a new photo, but I did take this about a month ago by my house.  The colors were already so vivid, but I did darken the sky just a little bit and pump up the pink to give it more of a dramatic effect.  It was a beautiful rainy spring day, like we get in Utah and it couldn’t decide to rain or shine.

 It is one of my favorite things about Utah, the warm stormy days that confuse the senses.  The breeze smelling of blossoms, combined with thunder and random rain drops.  Some curse it because they say it teases them, I say bring it on!  I love taking my kids hiking or into nature to teach them about the world.  They always come how with rocks, leaves, or flowers to press.  I love to have them sit with their eyes closed and just smell.  It is so fun to listen to them talk about the things they notice, not to mention the healing that takes place outside.  We all need nature to decompress from the hustle and bustle of the day to day schedule!

Nature = The best School EVER!