Thursday, September 29, 2011

Unique General Conference Ideas

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Keep your lego-maniac happy with instructions on building their own Lego Temple




Learn how to play General Conference Jenga!


Read one of the best articles I've ever seen on Preparing yourself for Conference!

Download my favorite General Conference Note-taking system...



Get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to photograph General Conference!
This is sooo cool!


Learn how you can bring your General Conference experience to the world through the church's video project.

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Access printables for a General Conference Wall for kids.





Oh and one more...I love this post from Kathy showing the temple softie that she made from the tutorial that I shared inspired by Made by Bedtime Tales's temple softie.  (Find their pattern here.) She made the bride's dress using scraps from her own wedding dress...and I loved seeing these two lovingly working together on something so meaningful!
Beautiful job, Kathy!

If you'd like to see some more awesome ideas/posts check out the General Conference Link-up.  You can still add your posts/ideas through General Conference Weekend!
Thanks everyone for sharing your ideas with all of us!

Now to announce the winner of the temple print giveaway from KMC Photography.

Manti LDS Temple Print

Random.org chose Abby at A House of...
who shared her General Conference preparations in the Link-up!


Check out the file-folder games she's using with her kids!

Thanks again to KMC Photography and thank you to everyone who share their ideas!

Have a great General Conference Weekend!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You be you, she'll be Sister Dew


Two wonderful things happened this evening, and I'm not sure which event I'm more excited about!

First, I received my first email from a reader who would like me to send her a copy of The Book of Mormon!  I am overjoyed to share my favorite book with her!

Second, which to many of you might actually be your first on the list:  I was honored to participate in a meeting with Sheri Dew, Emily Watts (also of Deseret Book) and a dozen of my very favorite bloggers.  

Among other things, we discussed the significance and power of blogging. (Sister Dew called it the new "backyard fence" where ideas are exchanged and things happen as a result!).  

We also heard about the new books that they have coming out including what sounds like a pretty amazing companion study for President Monson's biography called "The Teachings of President Monson".  You can read more about it here and order it here.

If you loved "To the Rescue", which I did, you are going to love this one even more.  It has a very useful index of key doctrinal teachings by President Monson listed alphabetically in the back of the book, making it easy to incorporate his teachings in church lessons, at home, or on your blog.

The meeting took place in Utah, and of course, I was at home in Pennsylvania at the time.  Isn't technology wonderful?

One other thought that Sister Dew shared, that I wanted to pass on to you this evening, is that "The Lord needs all of us."  She suggests that women by and large underestimate the power of their influence.   She said that she is "evidence that God will use anybody," despite short-comings.  

Sister Dew added, "I find myself in many situations where there is no model for what I am doing.  No one has done it before." Each of us is unique, but we each have something to offer.  We should ask ourselves what we have that we can place on the alter for God to use.  Then it is up to each of us to work hard to demonstrate to the Lord that we can be trusted.  Then when he knows that he can trust us, he will use us to do great things, in our homes, in our jobs, with our neighbors and friends, and online.

It was so great to participate in such a candid conversation with such a wise woman/group of women!  Thanks to everyone involved in organizing this meeting for inviting me!

Ok, that's all of the excitement that I have to share with you "over the backyard fence" tonight!  Two wonderful, beautiful experiences!  I will be back tomorrow with some of the best posts from our General Conference link-up and the giveaway winner!

Why I Share My Faith



Once upon a time (in high school), I shared the most important thing in my life (the gospel) with someone who I cared a lot about (my boyfriend).  Sound familiar?

Eventually (the summer after we graduated), he was baptized into the church.  And although I wasn't at all sure yet that he would make the gospel a life-long commitment, our love blossomed quickly that summer, as young love does.  I was a woman now of 19.  I was a freshman in college, and I began to allow myself to envision a future with him.

I can't say, however, that I was completely surprised when, a year and a half later, he called me at school to tell me that he didn't really believe in the church.  I was shocked, however, to hear him say that he didn't even believe in God.  

For all of the words that we had exchanged both in person and in writing up until that point in our lives, in that moment, I had no words.  I was completely and entirely at a loss for what to say next.  All I knew...all we both knew...was that it was over between us.  He knew I wouldn't be married anywhere but in the temple, to a worthy priesthood-holder.  Although we loved each other very much...that just wasn't going to be enough.  And we both knew it.

So there were no words left for either of us...only pain.

I have no idea what he did with his pain and disappointment, but I know what I did with mine.  I turned to the Lord.

Years later, much of that evening is a teary blur, but one part I remember as clear as day, and I doubt time will ever erase it.  

I remember hanging up the phone and dropping to my knees.  I was alone in my dorm room, trying to get the words of a prayer out.  In desperation, I begged God, "Please, don't leave me alone.  Please, don't let me be alone!"  I must have sounded a lot like a child who cries out for her Father to rescue her from darkness.  

In response to my prayer, I received an immediate, undeniable, personal assurance that there is a God, that He knows me, and that no matter who walks in or out of my life, He would always stand by me.

In the decade and a half that has passed since that evening, I am happy to say that He has kept that promise.  And I have tried to stand my Him as well.

It was difficult, at first, to stand by Him.  I needed time to heal.  

That next semester at school passed like a strange dream.  I went to class, but didn't remember much.  In fact, I felt almost nothing at all, for a long time.

When I started to wake up from the numbness, I began getting a taste of just how sad I really was over my loss, and then I started to smart from it all.

I told myself that never again would I share my faith with anyone...ever...never, ever, ever!

I had conversations with myself saying that I just didn't care anymore.  Even if someone stood up in class and asked me directly, "Are there any Mormons in this room," I decided that I would say nothing.  

It just wasn't worth the risk, I decided, of ever feeling that kind of grief again.  I wanted to protect the things that meant the most to me, by keeping them to myself.

A few weeks passed like this.  I probably didn't have much to share with others anyway.  I felt so hollow inside.  But I continued to go to church and attend institute on campus, of course.  And one day, a few weeks later, I cracked open my Book of Mormon and began reading again. I am not sure what I read, but I suddenly realized how selfish I had been, how childish.

I immediately repented of my temper-tantrum, and in the same breath, I covenanted with the Lord that I would always share the gospel and be an instrument in His hands in bringing His children to Him.

Within days of this realization, people began coming out of the woodwork, people who wanted to know about the gospel, people who the Lord had already put in my path, who I had already become friends with, people who needed to return to the fold, who were just waiting for me to break free from my stupor.

It was nothing short of miraculous.  And the Lord showed once again that He did indeed exist, that He was actually acutely aware of me and of my feelings...because He felt them too.  

That experience bonded me to the Savior in a profound way, and should probably be considered the birth of my adult testimony.  

I learned from that experience first-hand how much God cares about each and every one of His children.  


So, why do I share my faith?  Because I care about them too.


When I read The Book of Mormon, I read the words of many people through history, who have seen the Savior, who have heard His voice, who have obeyed His word and learned to trust in Him.  The Book of Mormon is proof that God knows and communicates with ALL of His children, regardless of when or where they lived, that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all mankind, and that He lives.


I add my testimony to theirs when I say:  I know that He Lives.  And I want you to know it too.  If you would like to know more about what we, as member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe, please read here all next month.  If you have a question that you'd like me to address in my blog posts, please email me at jocelyn.christensen@gmail.com.



The Book of Mormon Forum



*If you are interested in reading more testimonies like this one or blogging along with us in The Book of Mormon Forum nextmonth, please grab a button and send me an email with "Book of Mormon Forum" in the subject line.  I sent an email out with details last night, so if you haven't received that email...let me know!  Thanks!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Temple Softie Tutorial



This temple softie set will be a great addition to your child’s room or as a fun sewing project to make together during General Conference weekend.  My temple softie was inspired by the beautifully detailed temple toy by Becca of Made By Bedtime Tales.  
(You can access her original pattern here.)

I made this one about a year and a half ago to use as an alternative craft for Day 12 of my Family Proclamation Lessons (and my kids still adore it!).  As you'll see, my take on the temple softie is simple enough for a beginning sewer or to be made with a child.

In addition to being so sweet and lovely, it allows you to tell the story of your own temple marriage.  The bride and groom tuck right inside the temple and come out to play whenever your child wishes!  It is very quick to sew and will be even more treasured by your children if you allow them to help!  Were your children sealed to you in the temple in a live sealing?  Adapt this temple softie toy to represent your family’s experience in the temple by creating child dolls and pockets to put them in as well.  


(Special thanks to Made by Bedtime Tales for graciously allowing me to share my knock-off version of their cuddly creation.  Please be sure to link back to them when you show off your family's temple softies!  Can't wait to see what you come up with!)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Sanctity of Human Life

riverkids

I believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed good news for everyone and should be greeted with jubilation.  But many people around the world are not free to hear the good news of the gospel.  The circumstances and poverty into which they are born take a heavy toll on many women, children, and families--something that must surely bring our Heavenly Father a great deal of sorrow.

My friend Erin Ann McBride is currently shedding some light into the dark corners of the world, as she serves the people of Cambodia as a member the Peace Corps.

In part one of her article "Fighting Trafficking in Cambodia" Erin explains why sex, child, and human trafficking are such a big draw for poverty-stricken Cambodian families.  She says that in order, "To break the generational cycle of sex and child trafficking, the families must be fixed. The families must first be helped with access to food, education, and vocational training..."

Erin works with a group called Riverkids to advance this goal, but she also recognizes that this is where the basic truths of The Family Proclamation really bear weight.

She suggests that if all women, children, and families could come to understand that “The sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife," and that, "the means by which mortal life is created [is] divinely appointed," how different would the world look?  What a rich gem we have in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, when we read about, "the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.”

I believe that the day that these truths are no longer kept from these people, will be the day that the Lord truly reveals his arm to all of the corners of the earth.  It will be the day that men, women, and children cease to abuse themselves and each other, the day that children are given their appropriate rank in society, and the day that families in these difficult areas are given a fighting chance of staying together...and of being happy.  Through the help of people like Erin and Riverkids, hopefully this day will come much sooner than later.

In the meantime, we have The Family Proclamation.  We have prophets in our day to point the way through turbulent times.  May we never, ever take that for granted.

If you'd like to read all of part one of Erin's article, follow the link above and check back there tomorrow for part 2...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

General Conference Link-up & Giveaway






God told Adam to multiply and replenish the earth.

He commanded Noah to build a boat.

He promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations.

And he gave Moses the Ten Commandments.

The scriptures are full of accounts of God communicating with his children through prophets.  

Today, many people wonder, if God spoke to man then, then why doesn't he speak to us now?

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know that God still speaks to his children on earth.  

He speaks to us personally through scripture and to our hearts through the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.  He also sends us messages for our day through the words of his living prophets.

Those prophets and other church leaders will speak to the world this Saturday and Sunday
in General Conference.  If you are curious about what they will share, you can access their messages virtually where ever you are through LDS.org and on BYU-TV.

Here are a few things that I gleaned from the prophets words during our last General Conference just six months ago:




During the last General Conference, church members were also asked to display a picture of the temple in every bedroom in our homes.  Have you done that yet?  Hmmmmm?


If not, here is a giveaway to help get you on your way to fulfilling that admonishment!


Manti LDS Temple Print  


KMC Photography has kindly offered up a personalized 8x10 print of your choice from their shop to the winner of the giveaway.  (Check out their blog here.) 


To enter, please link-up any General Conference-related post above.  It can be a GC tradition, activity, craft, recipe, testimony, or write a post about how your family celebrates General Conference....I only ask that your post contains a link to the upcoming general conference page or some other relevant part of LDS.org.  Link to this post too, if you'd like to help spread the word about this link-up.  Gracias.


Time to get sharing!  I will let Random.org choose a winner on Thursday!  I'll feature your best Gen Conf posts/ideas on Thursday too!  Oh, and just a heads-up...I'll be doing another General Conference Link-up AND giveaway the Monday after Conference.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Forget Not...

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Nope, I couldn't wait to come home and make this little reminder for myself!

"Forget Not" by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and other great talks from tonight's General Relief Society Meeting can be watched again...and again...here.

I'm going to print this off and stick this on my fridge!





The Book That Makes Me Who I Am.


I've got this book here.  It's my absolute favorite.

I read it all the time...

It makes me happy...and helps me make sense of this crazy world.


I like it so much that I want to share it with my friends.


I've got some of these too...copies of my favorite magazine.  

And it explains a bit about my favorite book.

Do me a favor...If you're a friend of mine reading this thinking, 'Hey, I'd like to read Jocelyn's favorite book,' please email me.  I'll be happy to send you a copy.  I'll even tell you personally why I love this book so much!  (jocelyn.christensen@gmail.com or Facebook me.)

The Christensen Creed


During our family mission statement link-up for Celebrate Family I mentioned to a few of you that we didn't yet have a family mission statement.

But as I cleaned/de-cluttered my house today, I discovered these notes that I had written in 2005.  I was fairly newly married and living in DC at the time.  I was also freshly pregnant with my first child and visions of what shape my future family might take fueled my imagination whenever I wasn't working. 

To help my thoughts take form, I wrote down this family creed.  The paper behind it has an addendum that I apparently added this past January.  And the paper next to it contains a list of family traditions that I wanted to include in our life together.

I can see that at the time I valued the following principles:

*Reverence
*Cleanliness
*Education
*Service
*Marriage & family
*Jesus Christ

And I am happy to look at our lives now and realize that we do indeed still value these things, even though the existence of these documents slipped my mind over time!


PS - Enjoy the Relief Society Broadcast tonight at 8pm Eastern!
(Click here to watch it online.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Family Proclamation Will Stand


I consider The Family: A Proclamation to the World to be God's "Constitution" for families--the thing that will build families up and make them rock solid.  

It contains everything that families need in order to be successful in their pursuit of happiness...regardless of the challenges that we all face.  

It even contains an inalienable "bill of rights" that protects children.

I know many people who are not members of our church who believe that families are forever.  They earnestly hope that family relationships do not end with death, even if their own religion is vague or silent on the topic.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World, however, is not vague and it is not silent on topics that most of us wonder about.

The Family Proclamation teaches us that God intends for families to be forever.  It also tells us specifically what it takes to become a forever family and invites everyone in the world to take those necessary steps--to overcome human frailties--in order to become an eternal family, and return home to God together.

We learn from The Family Proclamation that a forever family is a place where husband and wife treat each other with respect and love, and work together as equal partners.  A forever family is a place where children are welcome, where they are protected from neglect and abuse, and where they are taught that they are children of God with infinite potential.  It is a place where fidelity and forgiveness is absolutely key.  And it all begins when a man and a woman are sealed together for eternity in a temple of the Lord.

There are people in the world today, who would like these truths about the Family to go away.  But the fact is that regardless of who does or does not subscribe to the basic principles of family, the truths found in The Family Proclamation are not going away...ever.

The great movie-maker Cecil B. DeMille said, "You cannot break the Ten Commandments; you can only break yourself against them."

I echo his assessment when I say, "You cannot break the basic truths of The Family Proclamation; you can only break yourself against them."

Let us not break ourselves and our homes and families because we were too selfish, proud, or shortsighted to truly see the value of the advice contained in this inspired document--a document written and signed by prophets of the Lord.

Instead, let us build our lives upon it.  And let us quickly realize that in order to truly defend the liberty of all men, we must first defend and strengthen the family of all men.



Thanks to everyone who has commented and contributed to Celebrate Family 2011.  And special thanks to MontserratJaime from Welcome to the Madness, and Shannon of The Red Headed Hostess for continuing this beautiful tradition.

Please keep on contributing to the online conversation about what it takes to have happy, peaceful, successful families!  The world needs these truths now more than ever before!


Coming up in October, I will be blogging about The Book of Mormon and answering questions that I have received from my friends about what Mormons believe.  I would love to have you join me by blogging about your feelings about this inspired book and linking to the special Book of Mormon edition of the October 2011 Ensign.  You will have the opportunity to link-up your posts as well.






The Book of Mormon Forum







If you'd like to read along or join me, please grab this button or read up on The Book of Mormon Forum here and here.


Here are the posts from Celebrate Family 2011

(Family Proclamation Pass-along Card by Allison Kimball)

(Family Proclamation Treasure Hunt Game)


(Family Mission Statement Worksheet by JocelynChristensen)
(Family MissionStatement Blog Hop)

Working for Eternity by Meredith Tuttle


Family Proclamation FHE Lessons by Jocelyn Christensen
(Photo Essay Blog Hop)

Love is All You Need by Liz Pitcavage

From a Young Age by Becca Nelson


(FHE Lessons Blog Hop)


Forgiveness for Past Abuse by Jackie Sarager



Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reaching Our Family Potential by CaMarie Hoffman (Blog Hop)

As a very young girl, I learned how powerful a clear picture can be in helping us achieve our dreams. For Family Home Evening one night my parents ignited our imaginations by asking each of us to share the hopes our hearts harbored. In fact they asked us to find or create a clear picture of that desire and post it.

My parents taught us that the word desire meant 'God given', meaning our Heavenly Father gives us righteous desires and wants to bless us according to those desires. We spent the evening perusing magazines and books to catch a clear picture of what we hoped for in the future. In the end we had a poster picture of our family goals and yearnings.

Most amazing to each of us was how quickly those dreams came true. That part was unexpected, even a tender mercy of the Lord. Our family was greatly blessed with deeper love, greater memories, and rich experiences that seemed to come out of clarifying and focusing on what we hoped to have happen.

Years later, my husband and I decided to continue that tradition. We gathered our children and created a poster of pictures of our fondest dreams, big and small. What an amazing thing for us, as a family, to watch before our eyes the poster pictures become a reality, little by little, in a relatively short period of time.

When my husband was called to be the stake president, our visiting general authority set him apart and offered words of counsel. One piece of advice: take time to gather as a stake presidency and with prayerful consideration, prepare a poster, a clear picture of what they desired to see happen here in our stake. What a wonderful idea!!

I had a poster that hung in my room all my growing years. It had a picture of my FAVORITE thing, a horse, and it read "If you can dream it, you can achieve it, If you can imagine it, you can become it".
   
As a young girl, I dreamed daily of having a horse. The impossible dream! How my 'city-slicker' parents would ever consent to that, or where we would keep it, or how we would pay for it I did not know, but my heart kept on picturing it.

Believe it or not, at age 10, I visited my grandpa's farm in British Columbia, Canada and upon arriving, Grandpa said he had a surprise for me. And there she was. A brand new filly. Mine. I named her and spent every day with her that month I spent on the farm. The next year Grandpa and I brought her the thousand miles to my home. She lived down the street from my house in a little field and changed my teenage world. 

As young as my life was, one thing I knew, Dreams DO come true!

What do you desire more than anything in the world? What do you hope for daily? If you could have anything in the world what would it be? When it comes right down to your heart, what makes it the very happiest, deeply, wonderfully, satisfied happy?

I have pondered these questions and the answer for me in the end, and for you I am sure, is FAMILY. Those precious people and extraordinary relationships we get to share with them. That is where love is. That is where happiness lies.

 
President Hinckley has said, "How wonderful a thing is marriage under the plan of our Eternal Father, a plan provided in His divine wisdom for the happiness and security of His children... The sweetest feelings of life, the most generous and satisfying impulses of the human heart, find expression in a marriage that stands pure and unsullied above the evil of the world." 

Do we have a clear picture of the family life that we desire? We have been given The Proclamation on the Family. This article, now framed with a mat of my own family pictures in our entry hallway, is a clear picture of what God intended family to be, of what I desire most for me and my family: ...To remember that I, and each member of my family, have divine identity, purpose and worth; to protect and partake in the sacred power of procreation; to rejoice in our children, 'an heritage of the Lord'; to raise our children in love and righteousness; to provide for their needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to keep God's commandments and obey the laws of the land; to be faithful to our marital vows and to our children; to build our family on the foundation of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work and wholesome recreational activities; to honor husband and father as the provider who presides in love in our home; to remember as mother to nurture and love my children; and ultimately, to return to the presence of God and let our family relationships be perpetuated beyond the grave, indeed for time and all eternity.
    
In a talk given by Richard G. Scott, a modern day apostle of Jesus Christ, he states, "Through the restored gospel we learn there is an ideal family." He goes on to describe it, and then challenges us, "Do the best you can while on earth to have an ideal family. To help you do that, ponder and apply the principles in the proclamation on the family." We have been given a clear picture to promote our success. The Proclamation on the Family.

My brother, who has served in the Marine Corps and is now studying at BYU to be a Chaplain, recently taught me that in the army an ordinance is basically a command, a direction given to clarify where to aim for success against the enemy. Ordinances must be followed in order to overcome and gain victory and freedom. The Lord has given us an ordinance, a clear picture of where we are to aim in order to reach our fullest potential and gain the greatest victory of all! Elder Scott mentions, "Satan and his hosts will do all in their power to keep you from obtaining the ordinances required for the ideal family. He will attempt to distract you from centering your mind and heart on raising a strong family by nurturing your children as the Lord requires." 

And we learn from Sister Beck, the General Relief Society president, "...Strong families are not an accident. Living the Lord's plan with precision, intention, and determination is a conscious, faith-filled choice in today's world."

We read Elder Robert D. Hales, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in the latest Ensign telling us, "If we live the laws pertaining to celestial marriage, we will, with our spouse and with our family, be able to have a little heaven on earth...And when we live those laws, we are practicing the same laws that are practiced in heaven." 

Let us, you and I, hold that precious picture we have clearly set before us in highest priority, close to our hearts and visible in our homes. The ideal family, the way to greatest happiness is a "banner now unfurled; ye nations now look up it waves to all the world".

The Lord has made the picture of greatest happiness clear to help us acquire it. May we study it, work toward it, dream of it, PRAY for it, and eventually ACHIEVE it!- partaking of the divine plan of happiness in our own ideal family.

 

CaMarie Hoffman is the oldest of 6 children who grew up on family, babysitting, music and horses ;).  She graduated from Davis High and went on to graduate from Utah State University in Family and Human Development with an emphasis in early childhood education and a minor in marriage therapy.  She says this, " I married my knight in shining armor! (That's what he was the first night I met him.  A mutual friend had arranged our first 'date' at her Halloween party at USU- I was an exotic princess just so you know - hee hee.  I'm forever grateful for Heidi!)  Mike was just finishing up a degree in metallurgical engineering.  We were soon expecting our son Isaac and just before he was born had a complete change of plans - on to medicine!  (14 years and 7 children later we finished the road of preparation it takes to be a surgeon and settled down in Williamsport, PA).  Mike was soon in the bishopric, bishop, then stake president as we delivered our 8th baby.  It's been an amazing ride and very challenging at times but I must admit my joy is full.  I LOVE being a wife to Mike, developing children, reading, writing, music, and right now a highlight for me is teaching early morning seminary!  19 students this year!  Hurray!"




Please share your testimony about The Family: A Proclamation to the World in a blog post of your own...and then link up below for others to read.  


SC - I Heart Family
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