Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Confession....

As a primary kid, I could NOT concentrate on the scripture stories.  I'm sorry.  They just couldn't keep my attention.  I think I'm a visual person, I need solid matter to feel or look at to help me learn.  Words were just words, and scripture stories seemed like just that, STORIES.  I could never get into them enough to feel like they were actual events that took place.  They were more like cartoon characters in my head rather than real, genuine people who actually walked the Earth.  

So, I came up with a trick.... and it works.  I study the scriptures in a different way now and I get more out of them and my testimony grows stronger now that I can feel it actually happening and taking place instead of just a fairytale being told.

I take people I know are real and change them to characters in the scriptures.  Yes... This is what I do.  So, when I'm reading about Alma the Younger persecuting the church with his friends, I picture someone I know.  Who was the guy in middle school/high school with a lot of followers?  The "too school for cool" kid who really cared about his image and what other people thought of him?  That's who I think of while I'm reading.  I can relate to the situation, like I was there when it happened.  My imagination is opened and the scriptures become real.

And YEAH... when I read about Nephi, maybe I picture him as Jacob from Twilight.  Don't knock it before you try it!  I dare you NOT to think of Nephi this way from now on!  Too much?  Too far?  Maybe...


HAPPY TESTIMONY TUESDAY

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Why Do The Choices I Make Matter?

One of the activities suggested for this week's lesson is to:

Invite each young woman to silently read “Agency and Accountability” in For the Strength of Youth and share what impresses her. Class members could then choose another standard in the book and share some choices they’ve made in relation to that standard and the blessings that came from their choices. For example, you might discuss as a class the blessings they’ve received for following the counsel to avoid addictions (see page 27).

I made these printouts that I thought might make the silent reading a little bit more exciting.  Next to the Agency and Accountability section I made a space where they could take individual notes about anything they found that stood out to them.


And BONUS:  My husband is teaching the YM this SAME lesson on Sunday, so I made a more manly version for the boys!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD PDF


OBJECT LESSON IDEA:
Some sinful behavior may bring temporary, worldly pleasure, but such choices delay your progress....



When I've done this object lesson in the past, I start by having a volunteer leave the room.  I set out "CHOICE A" (a couple of candy bars) and "CHOICE B" (a big ugly block of wood).  I cover the choices with a dish cloth and tell everyone else in the class they can try and convince the volunteer to make a certain choice when they get back, but be sure not to give away what the choices are underneath the cloth.  

When the volunteer comes back in they are told they may take home either CHOICE A or CHOICE B.  Without the knowledge of what's under the cloth and with everyone in the room shouting out different things, the YW volunteer may get a little confused. 

 I then pull out my cell phone and say how Heavenly Father is always there to help us make wise choices.  Before class I went into my phonebook and changed the name under my number to Heavenly Father.  In class, I then secretly send a text to myself saying "Choose Choice B."  I try and make some sort of joke saying I have some sweet connections with "The Big Guy" and when the YW looks at my phone, she sees a text message from "Heavenly Father" telling her which choice to make.  

At this point, the YW always decides on CHOICE B.  I lift up the cloth and say, "Congratulations, you get to take home an ugly piece of wood!"  Everyone in the class is usually confused at this point... Don't worry, keep going!

I then laugh and tell the YW, "Just kidding.  That doesn't seem really fair.  Now that you can see what both choices are, you go ahead and decide which one you want to take home."  So far, every time I've done this, the YW decides to grab the candy instead and goes and sits in her seat and starts snacking on her chocolate.  

I then explain how we need to trust the Lord and even though we don't always understand why we're asked to make certain choices, Heavenly Father can see the big picture and knows which choice in the long run will bring us happiness.  When I peel off the piece of paper wrapped around the wood a $10 bill falls out from inside.  It's always been a humbling experience for the girls.  I LOVE this object lesson!



For the handout this week, I used the Choice and Accountability page in the Personal Progress Book.  I printed out little wallet size pictures on photo paper to make a simple bookmark for the girls.



Sunday, February 3, 2013

What Happened In My Premortal Life?

This week I'm kinda cheating and cramming two of my lessons together.  It'll be a mixture of both THE PLAN OF SALVATION and PREMORTALITY.
Found this SWEET handout at Machine Gun Kisses that is the BEST Plan of Salvation diagram I've ever seen.  The scriptures that accompany it are PERFECT and it makes an AWESOME companion for independent study.

"The Lord has described his plan of redemption as the Plan of Happiness... Conversationally, we reference this great design almost too casually at times; we even sketch its rude outlines on chalkboards and paper as if it were a floor plan for an addition to one's house.  However, when we really take time to ponder the plan, it is breathtaking and overpowering!"
-Neal A. Maxwell

The preexistence is so mysterious.  It's one of those deep subjects you find yourself talking about with your best friend late at night as you gaze up at the stars. It can be one of those overpowering moments where your mind flickers with questions about where you came from and why you are here.  

Here's what I came up with to help get the girls' wheels turning and help them look at pre-mortality with a bigger picture...

I want them to REALLY understand that they existed before this life.  Picture where you were when Christ volunteered to be our redeemer.  When Christ was born were you in the choir of angels?  Do you think you were weeping when he was crucified? What assignments did you carry out in the preexistence?  What experiences did you have with your Heavenly Father?


I interviewed my sister-in-law and plan on sharing her story about a time when she hit her head and experienced temporary amnesia.  When she went to the hospital she had no idea who she was, how old she was, or the choices she had made in her past.  But she did remember unusual things like her morals and her personality.  Hopefully I can compare this to us and how we came to earth with a veil covering our eyes from our pre-mortal past.

My mom is a music composer.  A lot of the time when she writes her beautiful songs, my dad will take it and write lyrics to accompany them.  When my older brother left on his mission, they wrote a song to play at his mission farewell.  It's a story about two friends who knew one another in the pre-existence.  As the friends departed and said goodbye, one asks the other to remember them and to come find them and share the gospel with them during mortality.  It's a beautiful song that makes me emotional every time I listen to it.

CONFESSION: This is not, not, NOT my picture!  I'm pretty sure I found it randomly on google years and years ago and I'm not sure where I got it from.  But I went ahead and added my parent's lyrics to it.


I think a perfect church hymn that clearly sums up this lesson is O MY FATHER

1. O my Father, thou that dwellest

In the high and glorious place,

When shall I regain thy presence

And again behold thy face?

In thy holy habitation,

Did my spirit once reside?

In my first primeval childhood

Was I nurtured near thy side?

2. For a wise and glorious purpose

Thou hast placed me here on earth

And withheld the recollection

Of my former friends and birth;

Yet ofttimes a secret something

Whispered, "You're a stranger here,
"
And I felt that I had wandered

From a more exalted sphere.

3. I had learned to call thee Father,

Thru thy Spirit from on high,

But, until the key of knowledge

Was restored, I knew not why.

In the heav'ns are parents single?

No, the thought makes reason stare!

Truth is reason; truth eternal

Tells me I've a mother there.

4. When I leave this frail existence,

When I lay this mortal by,

Father, Mother, may I meet you

In your royal courts on high?

Then, at length, when I've completed

All you sent me forth to do,

With your mutual approbation

Let me come and dwell with you.

 I just discovered the Mormon Channel's History of Hymns Episodes... THEY ARE AMAZING!  It gives so much church history that I never would have known otherwise!  I'll probably just play straight from the audio so the girls can hear the narrator.  It's about a half an hour long, so I think I'll start around 12:20, let them explain the history behind all of the Stanzas, and cut it off early.


If there's time, the last thing I'd like to do is read from the book DAUGHTER OF A KING.  I found my wedding tiara and I'm thinking of making a visual with a "princessie" vibe to help the girls realize who they are and their divine nature.




One of my YW advisors when I was younger handed out and framed the "Letter from Heavenly Father" poem for each of us girls.  I always had it sitting on my nightstand during my youth and would catch myself reading it from time to time.  I want to give a copy to the girls as well and seal it in an envelope with each of their names on it to hand out at the end of class.

Dear Daughter,
I remember well the day you left my side, wandered through the veil and ventured forth to fulfill you earthly mission. I had a tear in my eye as I clothed your spirit in a cloak of love and sent you off to school. Be assured that my thoughts are with you now, as always.
I love you with all of my heart. I know your life, the good, the bad, your grief, your disappointments, your unrewarded efforts, your frustrations. But always remember--all that I have is yours if you will only come home again.
Daughter, realize that in you I have placed a bit of heaven. No one was exempt. I love all of my children. You have some blest gift, some talent, some little part of me in you. Search for it, develop it, use it, and most importantly, share it with others. If you really love me, then help others find themselves and lead them to me. Show your love by serving others.
Repent of your failings and humble yourself. Make yourself ever teachable and continually strive to improve. I gave you weaknesses to help you be humble. Don't condemn me for that. I did it because I love you. Be full of hope. Don't let discouragement engulf you. I'll come if you need me.
Daughter, cease you idle contentions. Be a peacemaker, for it breaks my heart to see so many of my children fighting. If they could only see what I have hoped, planned and desired for them. My heart breaks as I watch them. But you, faithful daughter, are my hope. It is through you that my work must proceed. You haven't much time and there is so much work to be done. I beg you to get started. Accomplish the mission I gave to you before you left me. I'll help you. I'll never be too busy or too far away to come to you. I'm nearer to you always than you might suspect. I have so much I would like to tell you, but I can't here.
Come to me often in prayer. I love to talk to you, my beloved daughter. Be diligent in my work and my kingdom shall be yours. I'd love to take you in my arms, but I too, must wait patiently: that time will come. Till then I leave you my peace, my blessing, my love, and never forget I am nearby whenever you need me.
I love you and miss you so very much and, oh, how I am looking forward to your return to me and your Mother.
All my love,
Your Heavenly Father

I know I had a loving relationship with my father in heaven in the pre-existence and that knowledge of the plan of happiness helps me to strive to endure so I can live with him and my heavenly mother once again.  I know of my divine nature and that I am a daughter of a king.  I know of his love for me and I am so grateful for my Savior who atoned for my sins so that all of this may be possible.  Without Christ's love and sacrifice there would be no path back and no way to return to our eternal families.  I hope we are all able to recognize all of the blessings we have received because of this perfect plan of happiness.



The Mormon Messages are so great!  My dad always told me to never linger on a teaching activity for more than 10 minutes.  Always change it up so nobody loses their focus.  Videos make awesome segues between materials.



Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mrs. Bee

The Introduction
            Okay.  I am sitting on the little green couch.  Breathing in.  Breathing out.  My in-desperate-need-of-fruity-scented-lotion/raisin fingers rest against the keys and wait…  Wait…  Then Type…  Then wait a moment more.
            I am reaching deep into the hidden compartments of the bottom of my body and spirit letting the words pull through my shoulders, down my elbows, and spill out onto the keyboard of my little, glowing laptop and sitting back, watching them take me on a soaring adventure through the imagination of my thoughts and cleansing the noise scraping against my pounding brain.
            This will be my story.  My soul’s story.  Whatever it wishes to share with you, partially in my control, partially wild and free without a restraining harness to hold it back...

            There are things I cannot remember about who I was and the purpose I once knew I would someday fulfill.  There were people I loved and who cared for me dearly, though I now am blinded of the memory of their smiling, loving faces.  Those eyes, the ones that would gleam down on me with adoration knew then the full measurement of my someday potential. 
            If the heart were given lips, what would it say?  What secrets might it hold that we don't even know about ourselves?  If it could tell us who we are or who we were, would it share the pure knowledge to the unanswered questions mankind has struggled to glimpse for so, so long?
            As our feet cup inside the mossy steps on our pathway through life, where do we turn to fill in the empty spaces that cloud the sight and glory of a completed picture filled with every detail of our worth and what all. of. this. means?

            Although we have forgotten that grand beginning where we once lingered together harmoniously before this life, we are given the drops of dew sprinkled throughout our mortal existence that may quench our thirst just enough to continue climbing toward this strenuous, unreached goal.
            And we are given the nutrients for survival that pour the energy into our aching muscles as we grip the crevasses of the jagged rocks and pull our burdensome weight up and over the towering mountains that lead to one shared, eternal objective.  

That strength I speak of is God’s love.  Through Him we may endure this passage of time.

            The Other Introduction
            Let us start NOT from the beginning.  Let’s start right at this moment.  Right where we are now.  Isn’t that how life works?  As you walk into the unfamiliar room and begin that awkward conversation with a complete stranger, it starts in that moment.  Then grows into it’s own story.  And someday when this strange, new character becomes your bosom friend and all the uncomfortable-ness of the unknown passes by, you'll look back and remember "your beginning" and not a moment sooner.
            In this moment, I am a 20-something year old with long brunette hair that falls into rolling waves after air-drying from a hot, morning shower.  True story.  
            I have a husband.  Just one.  And our souls are inseparable from our deep, passionate, fairytale love like those unrealistically featured in Disney movies.  Also a true story.
            We have been happily married for over six years now.  By happily married, I mean with lots and lots of hardships, disagreements, grumpy days, tears, and misunderstandings that have been brutally outweighed by the happiness and laughter and perfect little moments nuzzled around and protecting the borders of our sacred relationship.
            I have a cat.  Kind of.  It’s not technically our cat, but he is welcomed into our home with love every time he wanders onto the porch.  And by welcomed into our home, I mean he has been trained to scamper directly into his little chevron suitcase bed (that I made copying others’ creativity on Pinterest) which is the ONLY place he is allowed to settle since I am ridiculously allergic to cats.
            I am a life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  THIS.  This will definitely be talked about.  This is a gigantic chunk of who I am.
            I wish there was a better way to dissect who this "I" is that I am.  I've always wondered after we are born and continue to grow if we shed layer after layer of the person we used to be and are continuously developing into a brand new version of ourselves, or if deep inside we are always the same person.  A unique recipe of ingredients that is ours and ours alone.  And even if our taste or texture changes from time to time, we own that recipe and will never be anyone else but that one being we were always destined to be.

            I like to think it’s the latter of the two options... Someday I think we'll all know.

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