Monday, March 25, 2013

Easter Tree

I got this idea from The Family Home Evening Spot to make an EASTER TREE!  We all love Christmas trees, WHY NOT have a tree for Easter too?!?  I bet it would make a fun table decoration or visual aid for an Easter lesson.


There's a huge willow tree in our backyard with these beautiful branches.  I picked out a couple and spray painted it with two or three white coats.  Then I tied them together in a clump with some Easter grass and covered it up in the vase with more grass and a couple plastic eggs.  



I found some of my favorite pictures of Christ and Easter quotes and cropped them down to little  Instagram-like prints, then just slapped them together with some glue and ribbon.




Here are my ornament squares I made.  I used a bunch of images from the LDS gospel library, and I just googled the rest...















 HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!


Silent Easter and Atonement Lesson

I get to alternate teaching every other week and this Sunday Darcey gave the lesson.  And it was AMAZING!  I think all of the girls felt the spirit so strong.  She gave a Silent Easter Lesson found on sugardoodle.  She didn't say anything the whole time.  She played church music in the background and displayed posters with directions for the girls for the entire lesson.  It was so peaceful.  Each poster was displayed for about a minute.

POSTER 1
The lesson today is one of quiet reflection. Please listen, watch, ponder, and read about how you may strengthen your relationship with Christ

POSTER 2
Be still and be quiet.  Allow the Spirit the opportunity to testify of our Savior.  May this experience instill in your soul a greater testimony of our Savior and his complete love for you.

POSTER 3
April 2012 Conference by Elder Uchtdorf

ACTIVITY
Give each of the girls an Easter Egg with a strip of blank paper inside of it and a pencil.

POSTER 4
Please write on the strip of blank paper what you will change about how you treat others.

POSTER 5
Please open your scriptures and read to yourself.

POSTER 6
Forgive: To treat one another with Christlike love and to have no bad feelings toward those who have offended them

POSTER 7

POSTER 8
On the back of your strip of paper, write down the name of someone you can forgive.  Place it back in the egg and close your egg.

POSTER 9
There is One who suffered for and forgives our sins

PICTURE
Play "The Miracle" while this picture is displayed

POSTER 10 (AND HANDOUT)
Please read and reflect:
Atonement: To reconcile man to God.
As used in the scriptures, to atone is to suffer the penalty for an act of sin, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner and allowing him to be reconciled to God. Jesus Christ was the only one capable of making a perfect atonement for all mankind. Because of the Atonement, all people will rise from the dead with immortal bodies. The Atonement also provides the way for us to be forgiven of our sins and live forever with God. But a person who has reached the age of accountability and received the law can receive these blessings only if he has faith in Jesus Christ, repents of his sins, receives the ordinances of salvation, and obeys the commandments of God. The scriptures clearly teach that if Christ had not atoned for our sins, no law, ordinance, or sacrifice would satisfy the demands of justice, and man could never regain God’s presence. 


POSTER 11
Easter is celebrated to remind us of Christ's Atonement and Resurrection.  The egg you hold in your hand symbolizes Christ's emergence from the tomb and his resurrection.

PICTURE

POSTER 12
Decide today to be a better you.
Forgive everyone.
Be more like Christ

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

POSTER 13
Will someone please stand and give the closing prayer

....


THANK YOU DARCEY FOR LETTING ME STEAL THIS FROM YOU ;)

Pre Camp Certification

For mutual on Wednesday we did our first aid training for camp certification.  Since practicing CPR and wrapping a broken leg can only be SO EXCITING, all creativity and effort was focused on refreshments!  Yes!  First aid themed dessert!  



My sweet husband helped me dip pretzel bones the night before.  And I only had to scold him three or four times for trying to eat them when I wasn't looking.  I found the bones recipe here.
The Band-aids were cinnamon graham crackers, vanilla frosting, and red icing.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weekly Challenge

Okay, you know how every week the lessons challenge the girls to live what they are learning?

Teach something you learned today to a friend or family member...
During the week, think about how this lesson can help you in your life...
Who can you share your testimony with this week?
Blah, blah, blah.

I think these are great challenges, but it's just so easy to forget to think about it during the week!  I wanted to try something new, so I tried making the girls little spiritual notebooks.  You can get three mini composition books for a dollar at The Dollar Tree.  It's something small enough that they can fit into a purse or scripture bag.  The goal is to have them write down their challenge each week and take it home with them.  They can also use it as a spiritual journal, or to glue their handouts in each week. 


I was so excited when I handed them out at the beginning of class today.  About two minutes into the lesson one of my beehives raised her hand and asked, "Can I write that in my notebook?!?!"  Yes. Yes. Yes.  That's what I'm talking about!


How Can The Atonement Help Me During My Trials?

Get this week's lesson here.

To atone is to suffer the penalty for sins, thereby, removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner and allowing him/her to be reconciled with God.

But also... As a part of His atoning sacrifice, the Savior took upon Himself our PAINS and SICKNESSES.

I found another great article about the atonement from a devotional given by Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the seventy.  It gets pretty deep and intense describing what the Lord went through, and I really encourage anyone with extra time to read through it.  The atonement is such a sacred, solemn topic, and he does an excellent job of capturing it. You can read the article here.


As a class, read Mosiah 24:8–17. Invite the young women to share what they learn from the experience of Alma and his people.... 

I think I'll script and section the story to make it a little more interesting.  I'll just print out the scriptures and highlight the different voices and split them up between the girls.  I guess there aren't that many characters, but we can make it happen.  There can be a narrator, some of Amulon's thoughts, and the voice of the Lord.  What do you think?
EXAMPLE:

Invite the young women to read or watch the story about how Elder Shayne M. Bowen coped with the loss of his son (in the talk “‘Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also’”). Ask them to think about the following question as they read or watch: How did the Atonement help Elder Bowen during his trial? Invite them to share their thoughts. Ask the young women to think about a trial they are currently experiencing. How can they draw strength from the Atonement?


When I think about the trials I am struggling with, it's easier when I realize that there is someone who can completely relate to what I am going through.  It doesn't hurt as much when you know you are being supported by someone else who has mirrored your emotions.  You are a team.  You're in this together.

Like Elder Bowen mentioned, when others say, "I know how you feel."  Sometimes all you want to do is turn to them and say, "No, you REALLY don't understand how I feel or what I'm going through."  But our Savior truly does.  He has been there. He has felt those feelings of emptiness, heartache, and loneliness.  None were with him when he took on the sins of the world, but we will always have him there to hold us in his loving arms and bring us comfort.  He is telling us, "Be of good cheer and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you."  That's what keeps me going.

This is my favorite painting of Christ.  I think I'll bring it to display during the lesson.  There's something in his eyes that is so real and full of love.  The artist has a neat story about why she painted this masterpiece that you can find on her website here.
...

Another thought I had....

In our family growing up, I was the middle child.  I kind of got in trouble the most and I know I was the most-difficult child for my parents to raise (sorry mom and dad).  My older brother, Adam, was perfect.  He always looked out for me, protected me, and comforted me.  He was seriously my hero, like Buddy from Fried Green Tomatoes.


I have this memory of the two of us.  I was mad at mom/dad about something and was up in my room listening to music or whatever it is teenagers do when their mad at their parents.  And Adam came in and sat down beside me.  I vented to him about everything, how "this isn't fair" and "why wont they let me do this" and he just sat and listened... to every word.
I knew he understood.  I knew he was listening with his whole heart and was aware of what I was feeling.  Then he talked.  He gave me great advice and wisdom.  He put the situation into a different perspective for me and had me try and put myself in mom's and dad's shoes.  He comforted me and cheered me up.
The most important part of this memory was what happened next.  He nudged me and said, "C'mon.  Don't sit in your room being upset all day.  Let's go and do something."  

When I think of the atonement, I know that the Lord knows my pains and can comfort me when I'm feeling sad.  But sometimes I stop there.  Sometimes it feels good to be sad.  I feel more justified about what I'm going through and just want to sit alone and feel sorry for myself.  But the Lord doesn't want us to do that.  It's OK to be sad, but we also need to move on.  

Even though our Savior went through pain and suffering, I don't think he sits and lingers on it and feels sorry for himself.  And neither should we.  When we experience a trial and want to sit in our room being miserable, the Lord can come into our lives through the atonement and understand us and comfort us.  But then we need to get up and move on.  He wants us to take his hand, walk away from our sorrows, and be happy.

I really needed to realize that this week.  I know I am guilty of this, and I hope it makes sense how I tried to explain it.  I need to work on moving on and allowing the atonement to heal me.  No more being sad!  No more feeling sorry for myself!

OK... I'll stop now.

Friday, March 1, 2013

How Can Repentance Help Me Everyday?

Find this week's lesson here.

Our ward has noticed in the past that the YW learn well when they break off into groups, study a section of the lesson on their own, and then teach that section to the rest of the class.  If I split anything up in this lesson, I'll probably separate The Elements of Repentance in True to the Faith (Pages 133-135).  

Faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
Sorrow for Sin
Confession
Abandonment of Sin 
Restitution
and Righteous Living

Give the young women time in class to work on Virtue value experience 4 from the Personal Progress book. If they have already completed this value experience, ask them to share what they learned from it.

I made a list for the girls to mark off throughout the lesson with all of the requirements for their value experience.  Then randomly during the lesson we can read a scripture here and a paragraph there and write in their journals until they have all of it completed by the end of the class.

You can download the PDF printable version here!



I also think one of the hardest steps of repentance is forgiving yourself.  Satan always knows how to make us feel guilty, even when we no longer have a reason to do so.  That's what's so beautiful about the atonement... Once we have fully repented, the Lord wants us to move on and be happy.

The Duck and the Devil

There was a little boy visiting his grandparents on their farm.  He was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods.  He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit the target.  Getting a little discouraged, he headed back for dinner.  As he was walking back he saw Grandma's pet duck.

Just out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head, and killed it.  He was shocked and grieved.

In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile, only to see his sister watching!  Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.

After lunch the next day Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes."  But Sally said, "Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen."  Then she whispered to him, "Remember the duck?"  So Johnny did the dishes.

Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing and Grandma said, "I'm sorry but I need Sally to help make supper."  Sally just smiled and said," Well that's all right because Johnny told me he wanted to help."  She whispered again, "Remember the duck?"  So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed to help.

After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally's... he finally couldn't stand it any longer.

He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck.  Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug, and said, "Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing, but because I love you, I forgave you.  I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you."

Thought for the day and every day thereafter?

Whatever is in your past, whatever you have done... and the devil keeps throwing it up in your face (lying, cheating, debt, fear, bad habits, hatred, anger, bitterness, etc.)  ..whatever it is....You need to know that God was standing at the window and He saw the whole thing.....  He has  seen your whole life. He wants you to know that He loves you and that you are forgiven.

He's just wondering how long you will let the devil make a slave of you.  The great thing about God is that when you ask for forgiveness, He not only forgives you, but He forgets.....  It is by God's grace and mercy that we are saved.   God is at the window.

What Does It Mean To Have Faith In Jesus Christ?

This week's lesson can be found here.

When I think of faith I think of my favorite scripture :
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thy own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."  -Proverbs 3:5-6

This subject of trusting in the Lord is another great topic that I think works well with the Candy Bar Object Lesson.

It's easy to forget that we don't see the WHOLE PICTURE like He does.  It's like a man trying to describe to a fish in a little pond what a human's world looks like.  The fish has only seen rocks, water, and a little bit of algae.  But he'll never be able to comprehend sunsets and mountains and the stars in the sky.

Take Nephi in the scriptures for example...

           What Nephi Could See                             What the Lord Could See
   •Make not one, but TWO accounts                       •Over 2,000 years later    
  of my people upon the metal plates            Martin Harris loses 116 handwritten
       •For a wise purpose which I                      pages translated from the plates
                  know not                                    that Joseph Smith allowed him
     •The Lord knoweth all things                                      to borrow

Nephi acted on faith, and because of his second account, Joseph Smith was able to translate it without worrying about what happened to the 116 pages and the changes people may have tried to make to them.

Ask each young woman to find and share a story from the scriptures in which someone acted on his or her belief in Jesus Christ

I don't have a degree in psychology or anything, but I can definitely tell you that I have some sort of phobia when it comes to big, open water.  I think I'm afraid of what's in it.  If I'm put in a situation where I'm swimming too deep in the ocean or if I'm standing on a dock next to a huge boat and while looking down can't see where the bottom of the boat is, my heart starts pounding and I lose my breath.  Just typing about it makes me sweat.

I think because of that I love the story of Peter walking on water. 

"And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
"And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
"But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
"And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
"And he said, Come.  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
"But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
"And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"

P.S.  Liz Lemon Swindle is one of my favorite artists

What can we learn from this scripture story?  I've been trying so hard to dissect it.  Maybe Peter's initial thought when he asked to go out to Christ was an action of faith.  Sometimes I feel like we don't give him enough credit.  He chose to step out on the water when everyone else stayed behind in the safety of the ship.  I didn't really understand why he was looked on as having so little faith when he took this courageous step that others wouldn't take.  No one is perfect.  Almost everyone it seems would have a glimpse of doubt or fear when they look around at the dangers and storms surrounding them.  Maybe that's why it frustrates me so much.  Because we aren't perfect and would make the same mistakes as Peter. If we are doing something as impossible as walking on water, there shouldn't be a single reason to fear that Christ isn't in control.  But how many times do we catch ourselves doing just that?  Having all these reasons to trust in the Lord and believe, yet we still find moments of weakness where we doubt everything will be all right.

HAVING FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST MEANS RELYING COMPLETELY ON HIM--TRUSTING IN HIS INFINITE POWER, INTELLIGENCE, AND LOVE.  IT INCLUDES BELIEVING HIS TEACHINGS.  IT MEANS BELIEVING THAT EVEN THOUGH YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND ALL THINGS, HE DOES.  REMEMBER THAT BECAUSE HE HAS EXPERIENCED ALL YOUR PAINS, AFFLICTIONS, AND INFIRMITIES, HE KNOWS HOW TO HELP YOU RISE ABOVE YOUR DAILY DIFFICULTIES.  HE HAS "OVERCOME THE WORLD" AND PREPARED THE WAY FOR YOU TO RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE.  HE IS ALWAYS READY TO HELP YOU AS YOU REMEMBER HIS PLEA: "LOOK UNTO ME IN EVERY THOUGHT; DOUBT NOT, FEAR NOT"
-TRUE TO THE FAITH (2004) PAGE 54

What is the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

Get this week's lesson here.

I love camping.  You know what my favorite part of camping is?  Being done camping and taking a shower.  But seriously... I love getting dirty with greasy hair and dirt under my fingernails.  Usually by the last day of the trip I catch myself daydreaming about my long awaited shower.  I think about the warm water and the yummy bottles of shampoo and conditioner waiting for me to come home, shaving my legs, washing my face, Q-tips, fingernail clippers, mouth wash, and fresh clean clothes.  Holy smokes, there's no better feeling in the world.


I think the atonement can give us that exact same feeling in a spiritual way...

Alma the Younger has a great story and testimony of this.  During his conversion story, he talks about being in the lowest of lows and afterwards feeling the highest of highs.  Can you imagine that kind of emotion?

I've mentioned before my need for things to FEEL REAL when I'm studying the scriptures.  This quote by Elder Orson F. Whitney has always pierced my soul and has allowed the atonement to come to life for me and my testimony.
 
"Then came a marvelous manifestation, an admonition from a higher Source, one impossible to ignore. It was a dream, or a vision in a dream, as I lay upon my bed in the little town of Columbia, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  I seemed to be in the Garden of Gethsemane, a witness of the Savior's agony.  I saw Him as plainly as ever I have seen anyone.  Standing behind a tree in the foreground, I beheld Jesus, with Peter, James, and John, as they came through a little wicket gate at my right.  Leaving the three Apostles there, after telling them to kneel and pray, the Son of God passed over to the other side, where He also knelt and prayed.  It was the same prayer with which all Bible readers are familiar: 'Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.'
As He prayed the tears streamed down his face, which was toward me.  I was so moved at the sight that I also wept, out of pure sympathy.  My whole heart went out to Him; I loved Him with all my soul, and longed to be with Him as I longed for nothing else..."

***

Recently, my husband and I drove and traveled all the way across the country, and while passing through Missouri, we stopped by to visit Liberty Jail.


There is a WONDERFUL Ensign article by Elder Jeffery R Holland that I deeply suggest you read called Lessons from Liberty Jail.  As Joseph Smith suffered in prison, and as we all face difficult trials throughout our lives, we can always remember that the Savior has been where we have been.

"THE SON OF MAN HATH DESCENDED BELOW THEM ALL.  ART THOU GREATER THAN HE?"

***

I can't imagine the sorrow and pain my Savior had to endure for me.  I also can't imagine how our Heavenly Father felt.  Have you ever thought about the atonement from his perspective?  Imagine watching your child you love suffer.
I look back on a time when I was younger being really sick with the flu and I remember my dad sitting beside me on the bed.  I remember him saying, "I wish more than anything I could go through this pain for you, but I can't and I'm sorry."  I imagine our Heavenly Father felt the same way.  Watching what had to be done during this painful time and enduring the sadness along with our Savior.

I am so grateful for my Savior and all He has done for me.  I'm grateful for the atonement and hope for my testimony of it to continue to grow day by day.

***
***

This handout came from spirituallythinking.blogspot.com. Cute! Cute! Cute!
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