July 22, 2014

Book Review for Parents: Free to Learn by Peter Gray


I just finished reading Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and better Students for Life by Peter Gray and I have some thoughts.

First, everyone should read this--and I mean everyone.  Not so much because everyone should homeschool or unschool or even send their children to a "unschool-school" but because it helps provide a different vision of our schools than the media currently espouses wherein our children need to go to school younger and work more intensely to be more competitive.  While I am still on the fence about a lot of things Gray said, I am adamantly opposed to the politician/media model that is ruining our education system currently and stressing out our children.

Second, I think Gray's overall premise is correct: children learn better when they are having fun.  I disagree with Gray's conclusion that school inhibits all fun and learning.  I had a lot of fun in public school.  I read a lot of great books, assigned and unassigned. I had a lot of great friends and some excellent teachers.  I had three recesses, gym, art, and music.  I was good at school so I rarely felt much stress or pressure.  I may be the exception, but I think public school works just fine for a lot of kids.

Gray spends a lot of time in this book examining hunter-gather societies and how children are reared within those communities.  He then then takes certain characteristics of those child-rearing approaches and tries to apply them to our current first world society.  I didn't think it worked very well.

Then Gray moves on to talking about the importance of self-directed, adult-free play.  This is the section of the book that is easiest to buy into.  Gray defines play as: 1) self-chosen and self-directed, 2) motivated by means more than ends, 3) guided by mental rules, 4) imaginative, 5) conducted in an alert, active, but non-stressed frame of mind.  Gray then proceeds to explain how many people play while working because their work meets all the criteria of play.  I think my husband feels this way about his work as a computer programmer.  My hubby has often described his work as "spending all day solving really cool puzzles."  When my hubby was an accountant he dreaded going to work every day and he was not happy.  Accounting was never play for him.

I saw a lot of myself as a homeschool mom in this section of the book.  My favorite part of the day is when we are working on school.  I chose to homeschool my children and continue to choose to do so every day.  It is very much a creative outlet for me.  I love picking the books to read, reading to my children, putting together curriculum, enjoying my children's enjoyment of everything we do for school.  Sometimes my kids get annoyed about practicing piano, or computation practice, but overall the school part of our days are pretty awesome.  I wouldn't hesitate to call it play.  (Getting my children to do the chores around the house is another matter entirely.)  I sometimes worry a little bit that the reason I don't want to put my children in school is because I get so much out of homeschooling.  On the other hand, all of my children adamantly refuse to attend public school so I can't feel too guilty about it.

After he defines play, Gray explains why play is so valuable for children.  The man was clearly preaching to the choir (me).  He said everything I've ever thought about children needing more time away from adults to make their own decisions and take their own risks.  He also talked about the value of multi-age play and the value of "dangerous" play.  I liked that he has the science degrees to make what he says sound more legitimate than my ravings on these topics.  :)

Where are you on the free-range parenting vs. tiger mom parenting scale??  I'm so curious about other homeschoolers' perspectives on these topics.

So, overall, I thought his ideas were pretty awesome and inspiring.  The drawback, as I see it, is his absolute conviction that learning should be entirely self-led.  He is a huge fan of unschooling. His son attended Sudbury--a school model that is very like unschooling, only with lots of kids together in the same building.

I've thought about unschooling a lot over my five years of homeschooling.  When I first started homeschooling, I tended to worry a lot more about getting things done.  However, I've never thought children should be studying academics in the early grades so my approach to homeschool was a tad more flexible than many newbie homeschoolers.  As Gray correctly pointed out on his blog, most homeschoolers start out fairly rigid and then relax as the years go by and they realize that their children learn all the time, with or without much effort on the part of the parent.  I am far more trusting of my children's basic curiosity then I was at the beginning.

However, I am not an unschooler and am not entirely convinced that unschooling is a good model of schooling in the younger grades.  As a child gets older--say early teens and upwards--they develop more pointed interests.  An unschooling approach, at that point, makes a lot of sense to me.  The older child can create a plan of action to develop those interests and he is old enough to understand why a broad base of knowledge (we'll call it a classical approach or cultural literacy approach) can be helpful. He can also cut out the unhelpful parts of a traditional education (like high school gym) and streamline his learning to best work with other areas of his life.

A younger child doesn't have the life experience and knowledge to know what his interests are.  I know unschoolers would adamantly disagree, and I understand their point of view and freely admit that I might be wrong.  However, I see a lot of value in exposing my children to a more typical classical approach in the younger years to help make therm aware of all the possibilities out there.  Also, I think they should have a familiarity with some general concepts like WWII and atoms.  Sure, if my 16 year old had no interest in history I could see myself not being too worried about it, but only because I'd already have covered history during the elementary and middle school years.  Teenager has been exposed to ideas, is not interested in said ideas at this time, does not have to pursue those ideas.  This works for me.

The child-directed model from birth does not.  How does a seven year old know if he's interested in history or not?  How does a seven year old know if he's interested in chemistry or not?  How does a seven year old even know what chemistry is unless an adult introduces him to the idea?    

Maybe I still don't trust my kids enough, but I feel strongly that my purpose as a homeschooler of young children is to expose my children to a variety of ideas in all subject areas.  When my children have been exposed to many subjects and ideas then they can start to specialize.

Where are you on the unschooling scale?  I would love to know.

Regardless of my disagreeing or, at least, questioning some of Gray's conclusions, I really think the book is a must-read.

Now really, tell me where you are on the unschooling scale.

July 2, 2014

Clay Castles


We're still working on history in fits and starts.  One day we read a bunch of books about castles (none of them were so fantastic that I felt they needed to be mentioned on the blog) and then tried to make castles out of clay.

It was pretty much a flop.

The kids had a lot of fun, however.  I even baked their creations and let them paint the next day.  Yes, you read that right.  I let my children paint.  I'm basically a rock star.

June 30, 2014

Viking Era Historical Fiction Reviews from Miriam



Argh, I am behind AGAIN!  I forgot to post this way back when we finished the Viking Era (800-1000 AD).  Miriam was unwilling to go into great detail about these books, but she did give them star rankings, which I hope is helpful.  

Miriam turned 11 this month (wowsers) and she enjoys books at grade level and significantly higher.




Viking Quest books, including Raiders from the Sea, by Lois Walfrid Johnson.  Miriam: I loved them.  I would give them 10 stars.

(That's a crazy high recommendation.  These were by far her favorite "assigned" books she's read so far this year.)



The Namesake: A Story of King Alfred by C. Walter Hodges.  Miriam: 3 stars; I liked it. 



Black Fox of Lorne by Marguerite de Angeli.  Miriam: I loved it, 5 stars.


Beorn the Proud by Madeleine Polland.  Miriam: I liked it, 4 stars.




The Shipwreck by Jorn Riel.  Miriam: I liked it, 4 stars.

There you have it.  Miriam might be getting the Raiders From the Sea series for Christmas.  Shhhh, don't tell.  :)


June 28, 2014

Tall Tales

If you have a 9 year old scout (Bear) then this post is for you.  One of the requirements is to learn about tall tales.  I am *learning to love* scouting and thought I'd start with something interesting to me to increase my motivation.  For that same reason we are doing cooking next.  After that, things get trickier.

Back to tall tales.  I decided to throw a mini-unit into our summer homeschool plans to accommodate the tall tale requirement.

First, we went to the library and checked out a gazillion tall tale books.  We read about the people I already knew about--Davy Crockett, Paul Bunyon, Pecos Bill, John Henry.  We also found some tall tales about people of whom I'd never heard--Gib Morgan (our favorite find), Sally Ann Thunder Something Something Crockett (my girls loved her because she was the only female--I just wish her name was easier to remember), and Casey Jones's coal man, Sim.

My kids loved this book (notice the author is Nancy Farmer of The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm fame; if you haven't read that book, repent and do so immediately):

(warning: the devil is very freaky looking in the Sim Webb book and Harriet was greatly disturbed by him the whole time we were reading)

My kids also loved this book:


And this one:

There were many, many others my children liked as well.  Just go to the tall tale section of your library and check out everything.  They are all fun.

After we read a bunch of tall tales, I taught my children the word "hyperbole" and also threw in "character" and "plot" while I was at it.  We don't really do language arts units very often, so I had a bit of fun using LA vocabulary around the house during our two weeks of tall tales.  Since my children understood the concepts, it was no problem to teach them the vocab.  

We did some other really fun things as well.  The scout book has little paragraphs about random people in their tall tale section.  I decided that while I don't consider those people "tall tales," we might as well learn about them.

For Molly Brown we watched "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."  I tried to find a children's book about her without success.  Someone should write one.  My kids loved the movie.  I love the movie too although there is a LOT of yelling.  Holy cow people, inside voices!






For Hiawatha we listened to a short reading on youtube.  At first my children whined (no pictures??!!!), but they were hooked in less than 30 seconds.




For Barbara Freitchie (if you haven't heard of her, don't feel bad, neither had I) we listened to this reading that we all quite liked:




We read through a little about the Lost Dutchman at http://www.lostdutchmandays.org/legend.htm.  My hubby was surprised that I'd never heard about the Lost Dutchman so apparently it is common knowledge among westerners.  Can I blame my ignorance on this matter on being Canadian?

We read about King Kamehameha the Great on this website: http://www.aloha-hawaii.com/hawaii/king-kamehameha/.

Then we spent some time learning about the only Utah tall tale I could find: the Bear Lake Monster.  It's a bit of a stretch, but there is a youtube video about it. I can't find the video the kids and I liked best, but here is this one for all you Utahns out there:




After all that preparation, I thought the little scout quiz in the scout book would be easy for my kids.  Not!  Just a warning, the quiz is based on the info paragraphs in the scout book.  My kids have read about four different Johnny Appleseed books and watched the movie and they (and I) still couldn't figure out the answer for Johnny Appleseed on the quiz.  We finally halted the quiz half-way through, read the info paragraphs in the scout book, and then resumed the quiz.

If you want your kids to take the quiz, you can find it here:
http://pack45.com/pdf/Bear/BA-4.pdf.  Take it without reading anything in the scout book and tell me how you do.

Finally, we wrote our own tall tales.  None of my kids are really independent writers and this was a supplemental bonus unit, so I didn't want to take a lot of time helping kids write tall tales.  Instead I purchased a tall tale outline at teacherspayteachers.com for $1.00 and had the kids fill in the outline.  They kids enjoyed it, the activity took no time at all, and it was a good final project for our mini-unit.  You can buy one too, if you want, here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Tall-Tale-Story-Pattern-51344.

JUST FOR FUN BONUS: while I was looking for youtube videos about Hiawatha, etc, I stumbled across Johnny Cash reading my dad's favorite poem!  When I was little and one of us would say, "That's weird," my dad would say, "But is it as strange as the night on the barge at Lake Lemarge that I cremated Sam McGee?"  He had a lot of the poem memorized and would recite it randomly.  So you can imagine my excitement at finding Johnny Cash reading the poem.  My kids liked it too.




That's it!  Congrats on wading through this ridiculously long post. Hope you are all having a fun summer!!!

June 15, 2014

Scripture Study: The Joyful Burden of Discipleship

The Joyful Burden of Discipleship
By Elder Ronald A. Rasband
Of the Presidency of the Seventy

To sustain our leaders is a privilege; it comes coupled with a personal responsibility to share their burden and to be disciples of the Lord.

Harriet: On May 20 of last year a massive tornado pummeled the suburbs of Oklahoma City, in the heartland of America, carving a trail more than a mile (1.6 km) wide and 17 miles (27 km) long. This storm, an onslaught of devastating tornadoes, altered the landscape and the lives of the people in its path.
Eli: Just a week after the massive storm struck, I was assigned to visit the area where homes and belongings were strewn across the flattened, ravaged neighborhoods.
Emeline: Before I left, I spoke with our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, who relishes such errands for the Lord. With respect borne not only of his office but also of his goodness, I asked, “What do you want me to do? What do you want me to say?”
He tenderly took my hand, as he would have done with each one of the victims and each of those helping with the devastation had he been there, and said:
“First, tell them I love them.
“Second, tell them I am praying for them.
“Third, please thank all those who are helping.”
Cowen: As a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, I could feel the weight on my shoulders in the words the Lord spoke unto Moses:
“Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; …
“And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee [Moses], and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.”1
These are words from ancient times, yet the Lord’s ways have not changed.
Miriam: Currently in the Church, the Lord has called 317 Seventies, serving in 8 quorums, to assist the Twelve Apostles in carrying the burden placed on the First Presidency. I joyfully feel that responsibility in the depths of my very soul, as do my fellow Brethren. However, we are not the only ones assisting in this glorious work. As members of the Church worldwide, we all have the wonderful opportunity of blessing the lives of others.
Dad: Explain the structure and organization of the 1st presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Quorums of the Seventies.

DAY TWO:
Harriet: I had learned from our dear prophet what the storm-tossed people needed—love, prayers, and appreciation for helping hands.
Eli: This afternoon each of us will raise our right arm to the square and sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Emeline: This is not a mere formality, nor is it reserved for those called to general service. To sustain our leaders is a privilege; it comes coupled with a personal responsibility to share their burden and to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mom: What is a disciple?  How can we share our leaders’ burdens?
Cowen: President Monson has said:
“We are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness—be they family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us. …
Miriam: “‘… Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these … , ye have done it unto me’ [Matthew 25:40].”2
Will we respond with love when an opportunity is before us to make a visit or a phone call, write a note, or spend a day meeting the needs of someone else? Or will we be like the young man who attested to following all of God’s commandments:
“All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”3
The young man was being called to a greater service at the side of the Lord to do the work of the kingdom of God on earth, yet he turned away, “for he had great possessions.”4
Dad: What of our earthly possessions? We can see what a tornado can do with them in just minutes. It is so important for each of us to strive to lay up our spiritual treasures in heaven—using our time, talents, and agency in service to God.
Mom: What are earthly possessions?  What does a tornado do to earthly possessions?  What are spiritual treasures?  What does it mean to “lay up” spiritual treasures?

Day Three:
Harriet: Jesus Christ continues to extend the call “Come and follow me.”5 
Eli: He walked His homeland with His followers in a selfless manner. He continues to walk with us, stand by us, and lead us.
Emeline: To follow His perfect example is to recognize and honor the Savior, who has borne all of our burdens through His sacred and saving Atonement, the ultimate act of service. What He asks of each one of us is to be able and willing to take up the joyful “burden” of discipleship.
Cowen: While in Oklahoma, I had the opportunity to meet with a few of the families devastated by the mighty twisters. As I visited with the Sorrels family, I was particularly touched by the experience of their daughter, Tori, then a fifth grader at Plaza Towers Elementary School. She and her mother are here with us today.
Miriam: Tori and a handful of her friends huddled in a restroom for shelter as the tornado roared through the school. Listen as I read, in Tori’s own words, the account of that day:
“I heard something hit the roof. I thought it was just hailing. The sound got louder and louder. I said a prayer that Heavenly Father would protect us all and keep us safe. All of a sudden we heard a loud vacuum sound, and the roof disappeared right above our heads. There was lots of wind and debris flying around and hitting every part of my body. It was darker outside and it looked like the sky was black, but it wasn’t—it was the inside of the tornado. I just closed my eyes, hoping and praying that it would be over soon.
“All of a sudden it got quiet.
“When I opened my eyes, I saw a stop sign right in front of my eyes! It was almost touching my nose.”6
Dad: Tori, her mother, three of her siblings, and numerous friends who were also in the school with her miraculously survived that tornado; seven of their schoolmates did not.
That weekend the priesthood brethren gave many blessings to members who had suffered in the storm. I was humbled to give Tori a blessing. As I laid my hands on her head, a favorite scripture came to mind: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”7
I counseled Tori to remember the day when a servant of the Lord laid his hands on her head and pronounced that she had been protected by angels in the storm.

DAY FOUR:
Harriet: Reaching out to rescue one another, under any condition, is an eternal measure of love. This is the service I witnessed in Oklahoma that week.
Eli: Often we are given the opportunity to help others in their time of need. As members of the Church, we each have the sacred responsibility “to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light,” “to mourn with those that mourn,” and to “lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”
Emeline: Brothers and sisters, how grateful the Lord is for each and every one of you, for the countless hours and acts of service, whether large or small, you so generously and graciously give each day.
King Benjamin taught in the Book of Mormon, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”
Cowen: Focusing on serving our brothers and sisters can guide us to make divine decisions in our daily lives and prepares us to value and love what the Lord loves. In so doing, we witness by our very lives that we are His disciples. When we are engaged in His work, we feel His Spirit with us. We grow in testimony, faith, trust, and love.
Dad: I know that my Redeemer lives, even Jesus Christ, and that He speaks to and through His prophet, dear President Thomas S. Monson, in this, our day.
May we all find the joy that comes from the sacred service of bearing one another’s burdens, even those simple and small, is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Mom: Read part of my patriarchal blessing that talks about compassionate service and the memory I wrote down called “Spaghetti and Visiting Teachers” in the Book of Remembrance. 
Dad: Read what Kenny wrote about Compassionate Service in the Book of Remembrance.  Then what Grandpa Young wrote:
“Quite often as I awaken in the morning a church hymn will be going through my mind.  One day it was, ‘Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?’ The words continue, ‘Have I cheered up the sad or made someone feel glad?  If not, I have failed indeed.’
            These are not idle words.  The message they portray is strong.  With each new generation the message in this song continues to be tested.  What a different world we would have if all its inhabitants abided by this message.  As to whether we have failed or succeeded in life can pretty much be measured by comparing oneself to the words of this song.”

Mom: How can we better serve those around us, especially the people with whom we live?

June 6, 2014

Good Book for Food Chains/Food Webs

We didn't spend a lot of time talking about food chains and food webs because my children already have a pretty firm understanding of those concepts.  Since we are studying animals again (we started this time with life cycles, moved to food chains, are starting habitats next week and then we'll finish up with anatomy), I thought we would do a little refresher on all the key concepts we've talked about before.

Besides, it gave us an excuse to read Dory Story again, and that always pleases my kids.


Dory Story by Jerry Pallotta never fails to make my children giggle at the end.  You'll like it too.

June 1, 2014

Scripture Study: Elder Holland's The Cost and Blessings of Discipleship

I wasn't going to post any more of these since it isn't very helpful unless you have five children (or six like me wherein one is a baby and not represented in the reading assignments).  Then my sister, who has six children all my children's ages, requested that I continue to post only insert her children's names instead of my children's names.  Talk about lazy.  :)  Here you go, Kayli.

PS  Whatever happened to search and replace???

PPS  When my hubby isn't busy I'll try to get this to look normal.  I just did a basic cut and paste!  Why do computers act like they have a mind (subversive mind) of their own?

The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship
By Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all.

Day One:

Orrin: “President Monson, we love you. You have given your heart and your health to every calling the Lord has ever given you, especially the sacred office you now hold. This entire Church thanks you for your steadfast service and for your unfailing devotion to duty.”

Talmage: “With admiration and encouragement for everyone who will need to remain steadfast in these latter days, I say to all and especially the youth of the Church that if you haven’t already, you will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part.”

Ethne: “For example, a sister missionary recently wrote to me: “My companion and I saw a man sitting on a bench in the town square eating his lunch. As we drew near, he looked up and saw our missionary name tags. With a terrible look in his eye, he jumped up and raised his hand to hit me. I ducked just in time, only to have him spit his food all over me and start swearing the most horrible things at us. We walked away saying nothing. I tried to wipe the food off of my face, only to feel a clump of mashed potato hit me in the back of the head. Sometimes it is hard being a missionary because right then I wanted to go back, grab that little man, and say, ‘EXCUSE ME!’ But I didn’t.””

Mom: As a reminder—what is a disciple?  What is a disciple of Christ?  How did that Sister missionary follow the Savior’s example?

Hazel: “To this devoted missionary I say, dear child, you have in your own humble way stepped into a circle of very distinguished women and men who have, as the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob said, “view[ed Christ’s] death, and suffer[ed] his cross and [borne] the shame of the world.”

Jethro: Jacob 1:8

Mom:  What is Jacob talking about in this scripture?  How do we view Christ’s death or take upon us His cross?  What does it mean to bear the shame of the world?  How did the Sister missionary bear the shame of the world?  How is this concept represented in Lehi’s vision?

Dad:  1 Nephi 8: 24-28 and 1 Nephi 11: 35-36

Mom: Which is truly important: what other people think of us or being a disciple of Christ?  “Indeed, of Jesus Himself, Jacob’s brother Nephi wrote: “And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.” 1 Nephi 19: 9



Day Two

Orrin: “In keeping with the Savior’s own experience, there has been a long history of rejection and a painfully high price paid by prophets and apostles, missionaries and members in every generation—all those who have tried to honor God’s call to lift the human family to ‘a more excellent way.’”

Talmage: “And what shall I more say [of them]?” the writer of the book of Hebrews asks.
“[They] who … stopped the mouths of lions,
“Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, … waxed valiant in fight, turned [armies] to flight …
“[Saw] their dead raised to life [while] others were tortured, …
“And … had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, … of bonds and imprisonment:
“They were stoned, … were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: … wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, [and] tormented;
“([They] of whom the world was not worthy:) … wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”
Mom: What are some other things disciples sometimes encounter or endure?  What do disciples endure now?
Ethne: Surely the angels of heaven wept as they recorded this cost of discipleship in a world that is often hostile to the commandments of God. The Savior Himself shed His own tears over those who for hundreds of years had been rejected and slain in His service. And now He was being rejected and about to be slain.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” Jesus cried, “thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
Hazel: And therein lies a message for every young man and young woman in this Church. You may wonder if it is worth it to take a courageous moral stand in high school or to go on a mission only to have your most cherished beliefs reviled or to strive against much in society that sometimes ridicules a life of religious devotion. Yes, it is worth it, because the alternative is to have our “houses” left unto us “desolate”—desolate individuals, desolate families, desolate neighborhoods, and desolate nations.
 Jethro: des·o·late
1. ravaged. 2. desert. 4. lonesome, lost; miserable, wretched, woebegone, woeful, inconsolable,cheerless, hopeless. Desolate, disconsolate, forlorn suggest one who is in a sad and wretched condition. Thedesolate person is deprived of human consolation, relationships, or presence: desolate and despairing.  Thedisconsolate person is aware of the efforts of others to console and comfort, but is unable to be relieved orcheered by them: She remained disconsolate even in the midst of friends.  The forlorn person is lost, deserted, orforsaken by friends: wretched and forlorn in a strange city. 6. ravage, ruin. 8. sadden, depress. 9. desert.
Hazel: con·done
  [adj. des-uh-lit; v. des-uh-leyt]  Show IPA
adjective
1.
barren or laid waste; devastated: a treeless, desolate landscape.
2.
deprived or destitute of inhabitants; deserted; uninhabited.
3.
solitary; lonely: a desolate place.
4.
having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.

Synonyms 

Dad: Share a time on your mission that you saw someone who was desolate, change and become happier due to learning about the gospel.


Day Three

Orrin: So here we have the burden of those called to bear the messianic message. In addition to teaching, encouraging, and cheering people on (that is the pleasant part of discipleship), from time to time these same messengers are called upon to worry, to warn, and sometimes just to weep (that is the painful part of discipleship). They know full well that the road leading to the promised land “flowing with milk and honey”6 of necessity runs by way of Mount Sinai, flowing with “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots.”

Mom: What is Elder Holland referring to when he says “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots”?

Talmage: Unfortunately, messengers of divinely mandated commandments are often no more popular today than they were anciently, as at least two spit-upon, potato-spattered sister missionaries can now attest.

Ethne: Hate is an ugly word, yet there are those today who would say with the corrupt Ahab, “I hate [the prophet Micaiah]; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always [prophesied] evil.”8 That kind of hate for a prophet’s honesty cost Abinadi his life. As he said to King Noah: “Because I have told you the truth ye are angry with me. … Because I have spoken the word of God ye have judged me that I am mad” or, we might add, provincial, patriarchal, bigoted, unkind, narrow, outmoded, and elderly.

Mom: Why don’t people want to hear about the commandments?  What does Elder Holland mean by “bigoted” “outmoded” and “elderly”?  Does the prophet’s age matter?

Hazel: It is as the Lord Himself lamented to the prophet Isaiah:
“[These] children … will not hear the law of the Lord:
“[They] say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
“Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.”
Jethro: Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.
Mom: What is Elder Holland talking about when he says “comfortable gods”?
Dad: Talk about man creating God in his own image! Sometimes—and this seems the greatest irony of all—these folks invoke the name of Jesus as one who was this kind of “comfortable” God. Really? He who said not only should we not break commandments, but we should not even think about breaking them. And if we do think about breaking them, we have already broken them in our heart. Does that sound like “comfortable” doctrine, easy on the ear and popular down at the village love-in?
And what of those who just want to look at sin or touch it from a distance? Jesus said with a flash, if your eye offends you, pluck it out. If your hand offends you, cut it off.12 “I came not to [bring] peace, but a sword,”13 He warned those who thought He spoke only soothing platitudes. No wonder that, sermon after sermon, the local communities “pray[ed] him to depart out of their coasts.”14 No wonder, miracle after miracle, His power was attributed not to God but to the devil.15 It is obvious that the bumper sticker question “What would Jesus do?” will not always bring a popular response.

Day Four
Orrin: At the zenith of His mortal ministry, Jesus said, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

Talmage: To make certain they understood exactly what kind of love that was, He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” and “whosoever … shall break one of [the] least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be … the least in the kingdom of heaven.”

Ethne: Christlike love is the greatest need we have on this planet in part because righteousness was always supposed to accompany it. So if love is to be our watchword, as it must be, then by the word of Him who is love personified, we must forsake transgression and any hint of advocacy for it in others. Jesus clearly understood what many in our modern culture seem to forget: that there is a crucial difference between the commandment to forgive sin (which He had an infinite capacity to do) and the warning against condoning it (which He never ever did even once).

  [kuhDescription: http://static.sfdict.com/dictstatic/dictionary/graphics/luna/thinsp.pngDescription: http://static.sfdict.com/dictstatic/dictionary/graphics/luna/thinsp.pngn-dohn]  Show IPA
verb (used with object), con·doned, con·don·ing.
1.
to disregard or overlook (something illegal, objectionable, or the like).
2.
to give tacit approval to: By his silence, he seemed to condone their behavior.

Mom: What is the difference between forgiving sin and condoning sin?  How do we love others without condoning behaviors that we know are wrong?

Jethro: Friends, especially my young friends, take heart. Pure Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world. I testify that the true and living gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth and you are members of His true and living Church, trying to share it. I bear witness of that gospel and that Church, with a particular witness of restored priesthood keys, which unlock the power and efficacy of saving ordinances. I am more certain that those keys have been restored and that those ordinances are once again available through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than I am certain I stand before you at this pulpit and you sit before me in this conference.

Dad: Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them. A long history of inspired voices, including those you will hear in this conference and the voice you just heard in the person of President Thomas S. Monson, point you toward the path of Christian discipleship. It is a strait path, and it is a narrow path without a great deal of latitude at some points, but it can be thrillingly and successfully traveled, “with … steadfastness in Christ, … a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.”19 In courageously pursuing such a course, you will forge unshakable faith, you will find safety against ill winds that blow, even shafts in the whirlwind, and you will feel the rock-like strength of our Redeemer, upon whom if you build your unflagging discipleship, you cannot fall.20 In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Mom: Helaman 5:12