Monday, March 31, 2014

ALL of His Daughters Matter


Here we go again!  It's the week of General Conference!  Since we have General Conference Book Club at our house every week, our kids are never quite sure when the actual General Conference is upon us.  So, they end up asking every week or so "Is this week General Conference??" 

Well, it's finally here, and we are so excited!

You can see all our General Conference traditions and activities here if you are looking for ideas~!  

And at the request of a reader: You can download and print off the General Conference review activity that you see Scarlett doing in the picture above.  Just go here.  It coincides with our Apostle Name Board which Scarlett is demonstrating below! (She just loves to play teacher!)



To see Scarlett demonstrate how we use our Apostle Board click here.  


We kicked off General Conference by attending the General Women's Meeting with my girls.  Although Scarlett and Autumn are not 8 years old yet, they begged me to let them to go.  Guy has been attending the Priesthood session with his Dad for quite a few years, so now it's the girls' turn to have a special night out with Mom!


Because we had a birthday party to attend in the same area as our stake center building, we ended up making a special DAY out of it.  Trust me when I say, there was no other way.  I wasn't trying to make a big production out of it, but because of the distance and travel time involved and the timing of the b-day party, we ended up with over four hours to fill between our first engagement and the special dinner/broadcast.

But the girls ADORED it!  


Although the girls said the whole day was awesome, I'm going to guess that getting their hair done at the salon in the mall was one of their favorite parts.  Since they were dressed in dresses (rare thing to see little girls that way these days on a Saturday afternoon) the women in the salon just oohed and ahhhed over them and gave them the royal treatment.


Since there was a Friendly's in the mall, we went there for lunch/dinner.  I shared with the girls how when I was a teenager we used to go to Friendly's for ice cream after church dances.  They just had a ball being silly.  It was a girls-only "Yes Day!"


When we finally did make it to the broadcast, the men served us a spaghetti dinner in the cultural hall.  It was neat how they made sure that the "little women" felt welcome.  They went out of their way to speak to them, and every detail included them, such as paper table cloths and crayons on the tables for the girls to doodle.

I felt such a spirit of love and gratitude.  As we sang the opening hymn, I just bawled.  I felt the spirit so strong.  

During the meeting, we bore testimony in spirit, in action, and very much through music and song.  The decision to have all of the women singing together so often during the meeting was brilliant, inspired, and powerful.  It brought the Holy Spirit, and it united us.

I know that the Lord loves his daughters...all of them.  It touched my heart that the Lord would gather his daughters like this and build us up.  He knows what our lives are like, and to protect us and strengthen us, he has drawn us to one another and to him.  During the course of this special meeting, our leaders managed to do some profound things:  break down walls, help us realize our importance, give us a sense of how much the Lord loves each of us individually and collectively, and pour out the spirit upon us.  He also gave us the opportunity to model all of this in front of our children.  

In a world where I think womanhood really takes a beating on a daily basis, where I feel children and elderly are severely undervalued and often discarded, I felt my hope renewed as the Lord, through his servants, demonstrated to us that ALL OF HIS DAUGHTERS MATTER to Him...and they should all matter to each of us as well.


As a friend and I were walking out of the chapel, I stopped before stepping into the foyer.  There was so much happy chatter...such a sense of love and joy and unity and excitement.  It felt a little sacred to me, like times I've seen people happy in the temple, so I just stepped back into the doorway to take it all in, to soak up that sound of happy women rejoicing in the Lord.  Their angelic voices and beautiful smiles...what a delightful night.  I am so grateful to be a daughter of God...in His kingdom here on earth!  We are so blessed!

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Easter Resurrection Idea


I was intrigued by this Easter activity when I read about it at The Exclamation Point, and decided to try it out with my children at the earliest possible convenience.  That day was today!


All you need for this Easter lesson is two white helium balloons, a plastic, disposable shopping bag, and a few cute kids!  

I started by having my two lovely assistants put together the resurrection puzzle that we have, and asked what they knew about the resurrection.


We talked about how when Jesus Christ died, his body was placed in a tomb, and three days later, he was resurrected and his body and spirit went to heaven.  He had risen.  

This was part of what we call His Atonement, which was the greatest event in all of the history of the world.  

Because Christ was resurrected, we will ALL rise again too.  When we die, our spirits and bodies will eventually be reunited again forever, just like Jesus Christ's was.


But one major difference between us and Christ is this: Christ was sinless, but we all have made mistakes and sinned against God.  

We placed a plastic shopping bag on our balloon to represent our sins.  Then we let our balloon go.


The girls noticed quickly that although our balloon did rise, it was not able to join Christ's balloon.  (For no unclean thing can dwell with God. 1 Ne. 10:21)

That made us sad.  I asked the girls what we could do about it?


They said that we needed to get rid of those sins, so that we can be with Christ again and stay in his presence forever...and that to do that, we need to repent.

  

Having recently reviewed the hope-filled path of Repentance, we talked briefly about what it takes to repent.  We need to ask in prayer for God to forgive us of our individual sins.


The girls were happy to see that after repenting (or removing the shopping bag) their balloon was able now to join Christ's balloon...and stay there.

And isn't that what we all desire...to feel light and happy, and free like that balloon??  And to be with those we love most forever???  That is the happy, wonderful message of Easter, and a promise that we can count on and apply in our lives each and every day!!


This was such a fun and simple activity.  The balloons cost me less than $2 each.  

And the girls had a fun time playing with the balloons.  I don't think they'll forget this lesson, and it'll be a fun memory between two friends.  I am planning on having Autumn teach this to her siblings later today.

Now, I sort of tailored this object lesson to what I wanted to teach my kids, so it's not exactly the same as the idea I read about.  You can read how she did her lesson here for more insights.  One small tip: Make sure the strings on your balloons are extra long so that you can do this object lesson over and over again and get the balloons down from the ceiling easily!



 We will be adding more ideas like this one this Easter season.


PS - Yesterday, at Primary, the girls were able to learn from actual witnesses of Christ's resurrection...role-played by various adults in our ward.  It was such a cool experience, and you can read about the idea on Sugardoodle.   Since the children had recently reviewed what happened after Christ was resurrected, we didn't need to go into much detail on that during today's lesson.  OH, here's the link for the RESURRECTION SHARING TIME.

PPS - {For more posts on Easter and Family History
check out the #MyForeverFamily challenge page.}

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Friday, March 21, 2014

The Moral Force of Women by Elder Christofferson



"My plea to women and girls today is to protect and cultivate the moral force that is within you. Preserve that innate virtue and the unique gifts you bring with you into the world. Your intuition is to do good and to be good, and as you follow the Holy Spirit, your moral authority and influence will grow. To the young women I say, don’t lose that moral force even before you have it in full measure. Take particular care that your language is clean, not coarse; that your dress reflects modesty, not vanity; and that your conduct manifests purity, not promiscuity. You cannot lift others to virtue on the one hand if you are entertaining vice on the other."

Sometimes our lessons are nothing more than a casual chat while our hands are busy with a fun project.  One afternoon, while doing such a project, the girls and I talked about Elder Christofferson's talk The Moral Force of Women.

There is such a great endorsement of women and their moral authority in the world in this talk.  We focused on the idea that as women our "intuition is to do good and to be good," and that as we follow the Holy Spirit and choose to be modest and virtuous, our moral authority--our ability to do good and be good and to influence others--will grow.

What more could we want than to grow in virtue and beauty and moral authority?  The words of the apostles are full of simple, powerful promises.  I would encourage us to seek those promises out and live them, so that we can receive those blessings.

I love that all women and girls (ages 8 and over) are being invited to the Women's Broadcast next Saturday night.  I listened to an interview with the Presidents of the Auxiliaries, and they said that the reason why this is being done is to foster mentoring and to give young girls an opportunity to see what virtuous womanhood looks like.

Our "project" was making bubble gum necklaces, since it was the Friday before St. Patrick's Day.  We also made Shamrock bracelets and bubble gum necklaces to share with their friends...after all, this is one of the ways that women manifest their desire to do and be good...by making things for and giving of themselves and their time to one another.

You can see how to make the bubble gum necklaces here and the shamrock bracelets here.



Here are our General Conference Review Lessons for the October 2013 Conference so far:


Angels to Watch over Us - President Eyring

Come, Join With Us - President Uchtdorf

The Key to Spiritual Protection - President Packer

The Articles of Faith - Elder Perry

Like a Broken Vessel - Elder Holland

Trust in the Lord - Elder Ballard

No Other Gods - Elder Oaks

Beware of Bondage - Elder Cook

Decisions for Eternity  - Elder Nelson

Repentance: The Hope-filled Path - Elder Scott

The Moral Force of Women - Elder Christofferson

Windows, Priesthood & Tithing - Elder Bednar & Elder Andersen

"Oh, How We Need General Conference! - Elder Hales


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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Each Day is a Day of Decision Elder Nelson

The following post was contributed by Delina Wille of the blog Dew This.  I am so grateful to all of the women who have contributed a post about how they have used the teachings of General Conference to teach their children.  If there are any more posts out there that you'd like to share, please send me an email.  Here's Delina!!

I will admit, the Sunday Afternoon Session is usually the session of conference I fall asleep in (please don't judge) but this year I was ever so glad I stayed awake! Elder Nelson began his talk with the phrase "each day is a day of decision". This really struck me and I felt myself sit up straighter in my seat as he continued.

"The wise use of your freedom to make your own decisions is crucial to your spiritual growth, now and for eternity. You are never too young to learn, never too old to change."

When I heard those words they just echoed in my head- especially about being 'never too young to learn'. I started thinking about all the lessons I have given to children because in my mind they are 'too young' to fully understand or the FHE lessons I had scrimped on feeling justified because my 'boys are just so young'. I felt the call the become better to make the decision then to use my freedom to make those decision crucial to my families spiritual growth.

I used his talk:Decisions for Eternity as I prepared FHE for my boys and we invited a family over to join us that evening!

(This lesson is planned for 3-5 year olds but this talk offers the opportunity to branch out into many different topics and areas that are concerns for your children or teens.)

Opening Song: I am a Child of God




"We are eternal beings—spirit children of heavenly parents. The Bible records that “God created man in his own image, … male and female created he them.” Recently I heard a chorus of children sing the beloved song “I Am a Child of God.” I wondered, “Why haven’t I heard that song rendered more often by singing mothers or faithful fathers?” Are we not all children of God? In truth, not one of us can ever stop being a child of God!"

"Scripture teaches that the body and the spirit are the soul of a man"

Discussion Questions:

What can our body do?

These are the quotes I used for our discussion

 "Think of your eyes that see, ears that hear, and fingers that feel all the wondrous things around you. Your brain lets you learn, think, and reason."

"Your body protects itself. Pain comes as a warning that something is wrong and needs attention."

"Your body repairs itself"

Elder Nelson then went on to say "How you use your body affects your spirit. Some of the decisions that will determine your eternal destiny include:

How will you choose to care for and use your body?

What spiritual attributes will you choose to develop?"




What do our spirits do?

These are the quotes I used for our discussion:

"You were chosen NOT for you bodily characteristics but for your SPIRITUAL attributes, such as bravery, courage, integrity of heart, a thirst for truth, a hunger for wisdom, and a desire to serve others. You developed some of these attributes premortally. Others you can develop her on earth as you persistently seek them.


We then discussed that we can strengthen our spirit through family/personal scripture study, family/personal prayer, attending church, FHE, doing service for others, etc.


We also talked about self control-

"A strong human spirit with control over appetites of the flesh is master over emotions and passions and not a slave to them. That kind of freedom is as vital to the spirit as oxygen is to the body. Freedom from self-slavery is true liberation!"

As my boys are young, we talked primarily on anger, frustration, and cooperation.

This part of the lesson allows room to discuss a vairity of topics based on your families personal needs.

What spiritual attributes will you choose to develop?"

Closing Quote:

" Each day is a day of decision, and our decision determine our destiny. We will account for decision that we made about our bodies, our spiritual attributes, and how we honored God's pattern for marriage and family."
 
 Bear Testimony and Close

Activity:

I traced each boy's hands on a sheet of paper. When then labeled one as our body and one as our spirit. (They look the same.)

The boys then wrote and drew pictures to show what good things we can do for our bodies and spirits.  (I wanted to used magazine pages but ran out of time) 


 My 3 year olds artwork


It was fun to hear what each boy remembered and what messages really spoke to them! This was such an amazing talk and it's simplicity yet depth really astounded me! The message really is about the decisions we make for eternity and we make them everyday! I hope that this outline can help your family discover, strengthen and find those decisions and attributes you are making and desire.

I have a testimony that we do have a living prophet with apostles today and these messages are for everyone, young and old. Jesus is the Christ and His gospel is for everyone- we just have to live it!


++++

Just as a PS to Delina's excellent post: To teach this talk to our children, we plan on focusing on how fasting helps our spirits to have power over our bodies by walking the children through a mini-fast one Sunday afternoon...just to teach them how it is done and prepare them for a time when they will start fasting.



Here are our General Conference Review Lessons for the October 2013 Conference so far:


Angels to Watch over Us - President Eyring

Come, Join With Us - President Uchtdorf

The Key to Spiritual Protection - President Packer

The Articles of Faith - Elder Perry

Like a Broken Vessel - Elder Holland

Trust in the Lord - Elder Ballard

No Other Gods - Elder Oaks

Beware of Bondage - Elder Cook

Decisions for Eternity  - Elder Nelson

Repentance: The Hope-filled Path - Elder Scott

The Moral Force of Women - Elder Christofferson

Each Day is a Day of Decision - Elder Nelson

Windows, Priesthood & Tithing - Elder Bednar & Elder Andersen

"Oh, How We Need General Conference!" - Elder Hales
Continue reading... »

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Repentance: the Hope-filled Path by Elder Scott


Since we have a wooded backyard with tons of fun paths to follow, I like to use that resource whenever I can for our family lessons and activities.  When I read Elder Scott's talk "Personal Strength Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ" looking for something tangible to help my children remember his teachings, this line caught my eye, "...repentance is not punishment.  It is the hope-filled path to a more glorious future."

To facilitate this lesson, I created two paths marked by signs.  The signs of one path indicated the choice to cover up a mistake.  The signs on the other path represented the steps we take when we choose to repent of a mistake that we have made.

We started the lesson by imagining a scenario where we have made a misstep.  Standing in between both paths, we realized that we had a decision to make...whether to own up to what we have done and repent or to follow the other path of denial.

We ventured down the "non-repentant" path first.  The signs marking this path included:

Lie about it.
Deny it.
Cover up your mistake.
Blame others.
Give logical reasons why you acted that way.
Explain why what you did "isn't really that bad."
Feel angry.
Feel guilty.
Feel sad.
Feel alone.
Pretend you don't care.
Hide the way your are really feeling from family and friends.
Do things to try to forget.
Feel even worse.
Deny what you once knew was true.

Attached to each path marker was a photo representing what was written (to help non-readers and) to more fully express the kinds of feelings that we experience when we travel on a non-repentant path.

Non-repentant Path



And of course, our path lead us right back to the beginning.  Our path looked pretty welcoming at first.  It was well-marked, even had pavers to walk on, but soon lead us through bushes and uncomfortable briars (even a dead end) and eventually we ended up where we started...no better off.  Even worse off, because we ended by "denying what we once knew was true."

Repentant Path
So, we started over and chose a different path.  We chose the path of repentance.  The signs marking this path were as follows:

Realize we've done wrong.
Feel sorry for our sin.
Confess our sin.
Change our behavior.
Ask for forgiveness.
Make restitution, if possible.
Forgive others and ourselves.
Feel peace.
Feel happiness.
Feel God's love.
Earn a testimony of truth.
Accept any short or long-term consequences of our poor choices. (Specifically mentioned in Elder Scott's talk)
Know that breaking a covenant with the Lord is never ok. (from Elder Scott's talk)
Fortify yourself by following the Prophet's advice so you don't fall into old ways. (from Elder Scott's talk)
Seek strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. (from Elder Scott's talk)


The path to repentance looked rockier at first.  The pictures of Godly sorry (real photos of my kids mostly!) didn't look that alluring, and the path meant, at first anyway, we'd have to traverse some ice.  But soon, the blessings of repentance became more promising and appealing.  Instead of walking aimlessly in the woods, our path took us to a higher elevation, onto the porch, and then into our warm home, where we feel safe and happy and loved, and where a bowl of left-over Valentine's Day Candy was waiting for us! (Sorry, that's all I had to end our trail with...perhaps "fruits of the spirit" would have been better!)


I am so thankful for the imagery that Elder Scott used and that our yard helped bring his teachings to life.  (You could recreate at a similar wooded area or in your own home using obstacles of another kind.)  I hope that we can refer to this experience often as we remember that repentance is not a punishment, but a hope-filled path to a more glorious future.


Here are our General Conference Review Lessons for the October 2013 Conference so far:


Angels to Watch over Us - President Eyring

Come, Join With Us - President Uchtdorf

The Key to Spiritual Protection - President Packer

The Articles of Faith - Elder Perry

Like a Broken Vessel - Elder Holland

Trust in the Lord - Elder Ballard

No Other Gods - Elder Oaks

Beware of Bondage - Elder Cook

Decisions for Eternity  - Elder Nelson

Repentance: The Hope-filled Path - Elder Scott

The Moral Force of Women - Elder Christofferson

Each Day is a Day of Decision - Elder Nelson

Windows, Priesthood & Tithing - Elder Bednar & Elder Andersen

"Oh, How We Need General Conference!" - Elder Hales
Continue reading... »

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Elder Cook Avoiding Bondage


We've been moving right along with our General Conference Review Lessons...or trying to anyway.  We slowed down for some St. Patrick's Day fun and have also been doing some "testing" of our knowledge of General Conference.

Even though, we are only halfway through our review of the talks, our children did pretty well coming up with correct answers to my General Conference Crossword puzzle on Sunday, which you can try for yourself online.  You can also print it out.  

It was a good learning tool as well, as I reminded Guy that General Conference, like life, is an "open book test."  When he came to the last few answers that he couldn't "guess," I showed him how to turn to the Conference Ensign, look up the speaker and search for the answer within the talk.  As we did this together, I felt that helping Guy become familiar with the Conference Ensign was a logic next step (that I hadn't thought much about previously) and a valuable tool for him to have.


Another review activity that we all really enjoyed was "Who said it? Dieter or Dumbledore?" (which appears to be down at the moment, but hopefully it'll be back up soon.  Lots of families must be using it as FHE~!)  Anyway, whether you are an Elder Uchtdorf fan or a Harry Potter fan or both, you'll enjoy this online quiz.

Ok, so last night for Family Home Evening, we got back to business.  After a few rounds of asking fill-in-the-blank review questions about what we've already learned about General Conference, we dove into Elder Cook's talk Lamentations of Jeremiah: Beware of Bondage.

Man, I don't know about you guys, but I felt that the talks from General Conference this time around were a lot more serious than the previous one, but we still managed to make learning about this talk fun for the kids.

Using our white board, I employed a "win, lose, or draw" tactic to help the children learn his four points.

First, we listened to Elder Cook's voice, and I asked the children if they could identify who was speaking.  They were not able to identify his voice (as they could those of the first presidency) but it was good to hear his voice and identify it with his name and face...and then connect all of those things with his latest teachings.


I told the kids I was going to draw parts of his talk, and they would need to try to guess what I was drawing.  I introduced his topic by drawing a picture of someone behind bars.  They guessed "dungeon," "jail," and "prison."  I wrote down "bondage" and we talked about what that word means.

Then I explained that Elder Cook taught about four different categories of pitfalls that can result in us coming into bondage or losing our freedom.

I proceeded to draw things that represented each of his four points:


For some reason, doing this lesson "pictionary-style" really made these ideas more accessible for the children.  I could see where they were at from what they guessed, and drawing forced me to present Elder Cook's points using ideas familiar to them.  

After each point, we asked them to teach us why each of these pitfalls bring about bondage and how and discuss more specific examples that we see in our world today.  They were able to teach the lesson back to us very well.  

One last interesting tidbit is that although Elder Cook speaks of various ways we can come into bondage, Elder Nelson taught that, "Freedom from self-slavery is true liberation."


Here are our General Conference Review Lessons for the October 2013 Conference so far:


Angels to Watch over Us - President Eyring

Come, Join With Us - President Uchtdorf

The Key to Spiritual Protection - President Packer

The Articles of Faith - Elder Perry

Like a Broken Vessel - Elder Holland

Trust in the Lord - Elder Ballard

No Other Gods - Elder Oaks

Beware of Bondage - Elder Cook

Decisions for Eternity  - Elder Nelson

Repentance: The Hope-filled Path - Elder Scott

The Moral Force of Women - Elder Christofferson

Each Day is a Day of Decision - Elder Nelson

Windows, Priesthood & Tithing - Elder Bednar & Elder Andersen

"Oh, How We Need General Conference!" - Elder Hales
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