Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I Can Show Gratitude

Welcome to another week of Primary lesson helps and teaching tips! ;)  I hope that these weekly posts are helping someone out there--I really enjoy writing them up!  I also hope you take the time to watch this short video about gratitude from the Mormon Channel on YouTube.  It's fabulous!

This week's lesson is Primary 2: Lesson 24: I Can Show Gratitude.  It's fabulous because gratitude has been on my mind lately!  The purpose of this lesson is to help the children understand the importance of expressing gratitude to Heavenly Father.

I'm going to start with telling how I'll teach the lesson.  Find my helps HERE.

*Instead of using water, a spoon, and a jar, I'll take fuzz balls and a jar and each time they say something they are thankful for, they can put a fuzz ball in the jar.  Less mess.  More fun--fuzz balls rock!

*The word strip for the week is gratitude.  I would advise you to get actual word strips that teachers use and print the words out in proper formation.  Of course, this is the teacher in me talking, but why not teach them about reading and writing in a gospel context?  Their understanding is truly maximized by the spirit on all subjects!

*I will make cut outs of ten people to represent the ten lepers and we will separate them to show how many gave thanks and how many did not instead of using fingers.  Some of my kiddos have trouble holding fingers down still. :)

*Instead of singing "Children All Over the World," we will sing "Thanks to Our Father" because it tells specific things we can be thankful for.

*I will combine the first two Enrichment Activities and we will look at pictures of animals, plants, houses, our body, etc. and talk about each one and how we can take care of them in order to show gratitude to our Father in Heaven.

*I will bring a baby food jar for each child in our class.  When they are coloring their pictures, my DH and I will call two children up and help them write 5 things they are thankful for on small pieces of paper.  These will go in the jar and the children can decorate them with stickers.  They can keep them as a reminder to be thankful for these things and others. 

And now some ways that we as teachers can be examples of gratitude in our classroom.  Hopefully some of these tips will be useful to more than just primary teachers--they can be utilized in every aspect of our lives!

1. Be an example of gratitude during prayer.  Make sure that when you help the children in your class or when you are saying a prayer yourself that you always give thanks to Father in Heaven first.  I have noticed that there are a lot of people who know the order of prayer, but don't always follow it.  I've been guilty of it myself!  There is a reason that we are commanded to give thanks first.   Elder Richard G. Scott has told us, "An important aspect of prayer is gratitude. When we contemplate the incomparable gift of prayer and the limitless blessings that flow from it, honest appreciation fills our mind and heart to overflowing with thanksgiving."  President Ezra Taft Benson counseled us, "There’s a great tendency for us in our prayers—in our pleadings with the Lord—to ask for additional blessings. Sometimes I feel we need to devote more of our prayers to expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving for blessings already received. Of course we need the daily blessings of the Lord. But if we sin in the matter of prayer, I think it is in our lack of the expressions of thanksgiving for daily blessings."

2. Say thank you for EVERYTHING, big or small.  There are no small acts of service.  When you notice that a child in your class is quiet and sitting nicely, thank them! They are making your job of teaching much easier.  The children will see that you are grateful for them and will in turn be more grateful for you.  When we are thankful for the small things, we will be thankful for the larger things.  On the other hand, if we do not give thanks to those who serve us in small ways, how will we ever be grateful for the larger gifts and acts of service that come our way?  Our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson, then a counselor in the First Presidency, has counseled us with these words of wisdom, "We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues."  Our example of gratitude has the capacity to lift those we teach and everyone we come in contact with.  Say thank you!!!

3. Show gratitude in small acts of service.  Children love to receive letters and cards in the mail.  When a child in your class does something especially wonderful for you, reciprocate with a simple expression of gratitude.  Mail works, so does a small treat taken to their home during the week.  Even a hug can do wonders to show your gratitude, and children LOVE to be noticed for their good works!  We learn in the Doctrine & Covenants about the blessings that come from expressing gratitude.  Section 78 verse 19 says, "And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more."

4. Always be on the lookout for things to be thankful for.  If we are constantly seeking reasons to be grateful for our life and things that happen to us, we will be much happier!  A happy attitude begets more happy attitudes from those around us.  There are reasons to be thankful all around us--we just have to become more aware of them!  In the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon, Amulek tells us that one of his desires for his brethren (which includes us) is that, "ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which [God] doth bestow upon you." (Alma 34:38)

May we always be aware of the blessings of the Lord in our lives and show gratitude to our Father in Heaven and those around us is my prayer.  Have a blessed and restful Sabbath! :)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Geraniums: A Tribute to My Mom

If I could use one word to describe my mother as a hobbyist it would be gardener.  She LOVES to plant and to watch and create glorious garden areas.  I do not.  There are bugs outside.  And usually in KS it's hot and sticky around the time when you need to be planting and maintaining growing spaces.  My mom tried to help me with our front yard landscaping last year, but when it was left to me, all but 2 plants died.  Oops...

Not her plants, though!  She's got gorgeous blooms all over her yard and one bloom ALWAYS makes an appearance in her flowering areas--geraniums.  Whenever I see geraniums, I think of her.  And so this page is a tribute to my green-thumbed and amazing mother! 

Here it is~

 Maybe I'll make up a page for each of my family members, print them, and display them in my house...LOVE that idea--doing it!!! :)

Linking this page to: The Happy Scrappers.

Celebrating LIFE!

Hi, friends!  I've got a digi scrapbook page to show you tonight.  I've had a fabulous week spent with family and especially my darling 3 year old niece!  I got to have her almost every day at my house to play and she now has a new friend she loves SO MUCH--Hundie, my fur baby!!!  Since Hundie's birthday is June 30 and she'll be three, same age as my niece, we decided that we would have a party for her while our family was still in town.  My DH, my fur baby, my niece, and I went shopping to get Hundie some gifts and then my niece and I went and picked out a cake for the people to eat after Hundie opened her gifts.  We had so much fun and I took some darling pictures of my niece with her "Baby Spectacular," aka Hundie! ;)

Here is the page I've made with those photos~

A few of you may know this, but my DH and I have tried for about 8 years to get pregnant and have not succeeded.  I was incredibly upset when my younger sister had my 3 year old niece as I thought it wasn't fair.  I was equally as angry when my sister got pregnant again "on schedule" and had my 1 year old niece.  It took hours of prayer for me to overcome these feelings of anger and I am so glad that I have!  I wasted 3 years with my precious niece!  You know that this is one aunty who will do her best to make up for it!  I LOVE THOSE GIRLS--they are such dolls and I am so glad to have them in my life!  I miss them since they're now at home after their week long visit, but I am so excited to see them again at the beginning of August for another sister's wedding.  I hope you take the time today to tell your family how much you love them--don't waste time with feelings of anger!  Forgive and move on--even if it's hard!  Have a blessed Sabbath!

Linking up to: Addicted to Stamps and Think on These Things.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Knowledge from God

I have been blessed with amazing parents who stressed the importance of education, both in spiritual matters and in earthly matters.  They instilled in me a love of learning from a young age and it has continued to grow as I've gotten older.  I am so incredibly grateful to them and for the desire that I have to continue in knowledge and learning.  As I study gospel principles, I feel the importance of what I am learning and learn more each day.  Sometimes the knowledge alights upon me quickly and suddenly while at other times I have had to take time to understand the principle I am learning about.  Each new day brings more light and knowledge from God, though, and I am eternally thankful that I have the ability to learn and understand.

These thoughts go perfectly with the scripture over at Word Art Wednesday this week.  I've made a printable that you may use for PERSONAL use if you'd like to.  Just left click to enlarge, right click and save!

Here it is~

One of the ways that I have always been helped in learning and understanding the gospel is by having personal and family scripture study and prayer each day.  It is so wonderful to sit down with your family and to discuss the scriptures that you are reading.  Many precious memories have been made in my immediate family and with my DH and I as we study the scriptures together each night before we go to bed.  When I was younger, my wonderful father would call us all in for prayer and scripture study before we would eat our dinner together.  I am so thankful for his righteous perseverance in not listening to our griping and complaining about wanting to eat! ;)  Prayer and scripture study are also a wonderful way to finish up a day!  I don't have any specific stories about scripture study from my childhood, but I do have one from this last week as we've had my two nieces (aged 3 and 1) visiting us from Utah.

Our 3 year old niece likes to participate in scripture study and will "read" a verse for use when it is her turn.  She will repeat exactly what she is told to recite and her sweet little voice sounds so beautiful as she speaks the words of God.  I imagine that this is how our Father in Heaven feels each time we listen and preach His word to those around us and in our families.  We are all God's children and it must make Him incredibly happy to see each of us learning what He has given us each day.  I encourage you (and myself) to do a little better each day at learning and applying the gospel to our daily lives.  God bless! :)

This post linked to: Word Art Wednesday, Tell Me a Story, Titus 2sdays, and Think on These Things.

Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd

Welcome to another week of Primary lesson helps!  This week's lesson is found in the Primary 2 manual, Lesson 23: Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd.

As I read the purpose of the lesson, "To help each child understand that every person is important to Jesus Christ," I realized something.  I've already KNOWN this, but I needed the good reminder--if there is a purpose to each lesson, aren't I as the teacher supposed to be the example of each purpose?  Wow.  That is a huge deal!  How will the children in my class actually learn to apply this lesson if I don't show them HOW to?

Jesus said love ev’ryone;
Treat them kindly, too.
When your heart is filled with love,
Others will love you.

Words and music: Moiselle Renstrom, 1889–1956

I'm going to give you some suggestions of how we can show the children in our class and all those in our lives that each person is important to Jesus Christ.  I'm going to start by telling you a story...

When I first moved to Kansas with my parents a l-o-n-g time ago, I was only 11 years old.  We moved here the week that school started and I knew NOBODY.  I had gone to primary 1 time and had met a few girls my age, but I was basically friendless, in a new state, starting at a new school.  I was really scared.

It wasn't long before I had made some friends at school and at church and was feeling like part of the group.  There was one girl in our class at church that was a bit different and the other girls were not very nice to her.  I was unsure what to do, as my parents had taught me to treat everyone with kindness, but I really wanted to fit in.  I am ashamed to admit that I followed the crowd.  I have spent my life making up this mistake.

A few days after one such unkind incident as you can probably imagine, the girl's mother called my parents to let them know how her daughter had been treated.  I was called into my parents' room and they asked me if what they had heard was true.  I was immediately ashamed--the same feeling that I had had when the actual incident occurred.  I tried to defend myself, knowing all along that I was wrong.  I eventually confessed and told my parents that I would try very hard to fix the situation.

I soon became good friends with this girl.  She was still different and continued to be different for the rest of our school career.  She is still in my ward today.  I am proud to be her friend and I am grateful that Heavenly Father has also called me to be her visiting teacher because she does listen to me and take advice from me.  She trusts me and I am ever grateful to parents who called me out about my bad behavior instead of thinking that their child would NEVER do that.  Because of this experience, I was able to come to a greater knowledge and understanding of the worth of souls.

"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God..." Doctrine & Covenants 18:10

Here are a few lessons that I learned from this experience:

1. Everyone is of eternal importance to our Father in Heaven.  No matter what we do, no matter what sins we commit, our Father in Heaven always loves us.  He wants all of us to repent and return to Him.  President Gordon B. Hinkley said, "Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children." We should treat each other like family members that we love and care for.  This is the same way that God cares for and treats each of us.

2. There is a great need to look past mortal difficulties and see eternal potential.  This is built upon the foundation that we are children of God.  We each come to earth to experience things that, when handled correctly, will lead us back to our Father in Heaven.  President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has taught us that, "God Himself said we are the reason He created the universe! His work and glory—the purpose for this magnificent universe—is to save and exalt mankind. In other words, the vast expanse of eternity, the glories and mysteries of infinite space and time are all built for the benefit of ordinary mortals like you and me. Our Heavenly Father created the universe that we might reach our potential as His sons and daughters."  As we come to realize our own potential, we will be able to see the eternal potentials that others have.  No matter what trials and weaknesses we have here in mortality, each of us has the potential to become like our Father in Heaven.  No matter what physical ailment or mental disability that may be present in the children you teach, these are only for a small moment and are not indicative of the amazing spirit within the mortal frame they have been given.

3. Patience really IS a virtue and forgiveness is as well.  Sometimes you will be called to work with someone that knows how to push your buttons.  This will happen for your entire life.  There is no way that you will be able to get along perfectly with each and every person you meet.  This is called being mortal.  As you learn to be patient with other personalities and to forgive things that others have done to you, you will find it easier to see the eternal importance of each soul you come in contact with.  Most of the time I feel that those who offend us really and truly meant no offense.  Even if the offense is meant, we have still been commanded to forgive and be patient with those who have given the offense.  "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven..." Luke 6:37.  Make allowances for people.  This doesn't mean that you make excuses for behavior, it means that you take into account all that life has thrown at the person and try to put yourself in that situation.  It makes it a lot easier to forgive and to have patience.  I know that I am grateful when people make allowances for me.

4. NEVER speak ill of those you come in contact with or anyone close to them. Or anyone, really.  If you want to create a basis of trust with those around you, the quickest way to do this is to find the good in them and those they are close to (family members, etc.).  The quickest way to lose trust is to speak ill of someone.  President Uchtdorf has counseled us to, "Stop it!  It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters."  

I know that when we follow these basic principles of Christian living that we will be able to cultivate relationships of trust and caring and that our capacity to love and serve will grow and become more perfect each day.

Now, onto the lesson! ;)  Find the lesson helps HERE.  These are some ways that I will be altering the lesson to fit the needs of the kiddos in my class.  Feel free to use these ideas if you think they'd help your class as well!

*The "puzzle" will be created by just printing out a photo onto cardstock and cutting it into squares.  Making an actual puzzle would stress a few of my kiddos out.

*I will be placing the puzzle piece of the lamb underneath on of the children's chairs or under the table in our room.

*I will bring a towel for each child to put on their head to pretend to be a shepherd as they search for the piece of the puzzle.  Depending on how things go, we may go for a short "field trip" to find the puzzle piece near a picture of Christ outside the chapel.

*Our word strip for the week will say "fold" and we will talk about what the word means in relation to shepherding.

*We will glue cotton balls to our lambs for the children to take home.  I'm making 2 printouts--one smaller lamb with their name and a larger lamb on a whole sheet of paper for the cotton balls.

*I will have the children sign cards for the children in our class who aren't there and will deliver to those children through the rest of the week to let them know that they were missed. Since I make cards, I will just make up about 5 of them and use these.  I'll probably utilize the lamb image in the lesson helps. :)

That's all this week--hope any or all of this information can help you in some way!  Have a restful Sabbath! :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Thoughts on Marriage: A Tribute to My Fabulous Husband

 I've been quite remiss in my General Conference and Sunday School studies...I need to do better!  And so, I shall.  

I have just read Elder Boyd K. Packers talk from the past Saturday morning session of General Conference and, while I very much enjoy the whole talk, I would like to talk about the opening quote because it really struck me.

Elder Packer says, " Husbands and wives should understand that their first calling—from which they will never be released—is to one another and then to their children."

The part I want to focus on from that quote is the truth that husbands' and wives' first calling is to one another.  I am blessed to be in a very loving marriage.  I know this is largely due to my DH who is constantly willing to sacrifice for me and our family.  I've decided to make a printable using this quote, and I'd like to share it with you.

Here it is~

We have been unable to have children in our 8 years of marriage, we have experienced things that should have torn us apart.  The reason that they didn't?  We believe in the power of the marriage and sealing covenants that we made in the temple.

 Let me tell you a few tales from our precious 8 years that have effected me to my soul.  I am hoping that by writing a few of these experiences that someone else will be helped and not make the same mistakes I've made.  I'm thinking these thoughts have come to mind because one of my younger sisters is getting married at the beginning of August.  I think I'll tell her to read this... ;D

When we were first married, my DH didn't ever bring me flowers or chocolates.  I was a bit appalled.  Why wasn't he concerned about showing me how much he loved me?  As you guessed, this was my selfish feelings getting the better of me.  As I prayed to know that my husband, shy by nature and incredibly quiet, really did love me, I came to know him better through the Holy Ghost.  My Father in Heaven is also the Father of my DH.  He taught me things about my husband that I was unable to see with my limited view of romance and love.  I realized that my husband loved me more than I could ever know.  He showed his love not by bringing me flowers and chocolates, but by serving me.

"And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Mosiah 2:17

I was too naive to realize at the time that the best husband to have was one that put God first.  As my DH served me each day by helping with housework and listening and talking to me, he was putting God first by serving his wife.  How wonderful I felt when I realized that the love my husband had for me would be truly lasting and would not fade with time!  It wasn't based on looks or the thrill of gift giving.  My DH wanted our marriage to be based on service to one another and ultimately to God.  I am eternally grateful for my DH's willingness to serve.  He serves not only me, but anyone around him that is need of service.  Because of his example, I have come to find even greater joy in serving those around me.  And we are happy serving together!

Lessons learned: Service is the greatest form of love that we can show one towards another--especially in a marriage.  The world's view of romance is not lasting--the only love that lasts is love given from God.  We find this love through service.

I'm free!
 I tend to be incredibly strong willed.  That's a nice way of saying stubborn.  I like to make my own choices and to do what I like to do.  Since I am the oldest of 9 children, I did learn from living with 11 people in one home to work with others and to share, etc. for which I am eternally grateful.  I have no idea what I would be like if I didn't have parents who taught me these principles.  Seriously.  It would be B-A-D.

Anyway, I was sooooo excited to get married and leave home because it would mean more time doing what I wanted to do!  Right? WRONG.  I learned very s-l-o-w-l-y the importance of spending quality time with my DH.  I started out our marriage still spending a lot of time with my friends.  I didn't want to be one of "those" people who ignored their lives when they were first married.  I used my personal day off of work to not go on a date with my husband of less than a year, but to go and spend time with my friends.  I felt that since we were the only 2 in our family, we didn't need to have family home evening and I could still go to Single's Ward activities with my single friends on Monday nights.

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:24

Now, should you have NO friends when you are married?  Of course not!  But I realize now looking back that I spent too much time with friends, leaving my DH at home to do all the housework, because I felt like I was entitled to this since I was working full time and going to school part time while my husband was working only part time...forgetting that he was going to school full time and therefore working just as hard, if not harder, than myself. My DH never complained--he has always supported me in what I want to do and let me come to my own realizations about how to spend my time, even when I know that he really wanted to spend time with me.  This was a commandment from God.  I was making it very hard for him to keep this commandment.  He has taught me so much about compromising and the importance of spending TIME in a marriage together.

Lessons learned: Spending time with family should trump spending time with friends.  Both partners in a marriage should be considered and have a say when one of them would like to do something and a compromise should take place. Quality time is essential in a marriage--if you don't see each other, what is the point of being married?!  This is a commandment from God.

Nagging is NOT helpful...

Yes.  I used to nag my DH at times.  It was never all the time, but when I had asked him to do something once, I felt that nagging was justified.  I had asked him once, right?  He is a grown adult that should KNOW what to do!  This took place quite a bit in the first few months of our marriage.

Side note--I just realized I should ask my DH if I could post this...he asked exactly what I was writing about and I told him.  He wants me to tell you that I am not a nagging wife.  Isn't he precious?! ;)  He really is the best husband...

" A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." Proverbs 15:1

Okay, back to my nagging!  It really bothered me that my husband wasn't doing what I asked him (okay, told him) to do!  What was wrong with him?!  NOT.  What was wrong with ME.  I prayed about what to do about my less than patient attitude towards my DH.  You know what God told me?  I needed to realize that I was the problem.  My DH and I grew up in completely different families and learned how to do things in different ways.  Also, men and women are different.  THEY ARE.  We think differently and react differently to situations.  I decided to lighten up.

You know what happened?  I became A LOT happier!  I saw that if I asked my DH to do something for me, he would.  It might not happen right away, but it got done!  If I didn't watch him clean the bathroom, I didn't have to worry about HOW it got clean.  And it was still clean after he finished--probably cleaner than when I did it!

Lessons learned: Allow people to use their agency!  It's too hard to worry about someone else AND yourself when it comes to daily tasks when all involved are adults.  YES.  Men are adults.  They are not like women and react to things differently.  Allow them to have their differences and embrace them!  They even us out. 

And the last one...

Accepting Help & Staying Positive

As I stated before, I am stubborn.  Along with being stubborn, I tend to feel that when one thing goes wrong, everything is going to be horrendous.  WRONG.

My DH told me that when he asked permission from my parents to marry me (he really did) that my father told him that I needed help in this area.  My DH did not tell me this until just a few years ago.  Good thing!  I think I would've been livid and/or depressed that I couldn't be positive, lol!

I realize now looking back to the beginning of our marriage that I brought a lot of stress into our relationship by being incredibly stressed out by every day situations.  Things happen in life--I don't like it when things don't happen according to my plan.  Luckily, my DH continually has shown me a good example of staying calm and finding the good in the situation.  He also will say things like, "At least {this} didn't happen!  This could've been much worse!"  As I stated before, my husband is by nature very shy and quiet.  He would NEVER force anyone to do anything--even if he felt it was in their best interest.  He is a perfect example of gentleness and meekness when persuading others to do right.

"No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned..." Doctrine & Covenants 121:41

Because my DH doesn't force me to do things he thinks are right for me, I was able to see his example and to eventually soften to counsel that I would seek from him.  This really helped when we went to the doctor and were informed that we may not be able to ever have children.  My first thought after being told this was, "At least we have each other."  A few year prior to this, I would never have thought this.  My life would've been over.  I will always be grateful to my DH for his long suffering attitude towards helping me.  He continues to do this and I cannot express enough gratitude for this.

Lessons learned: Be willing to take righteous counsel from your righteous spouse.  Recognize that LIFE happens and that it's not the end of the world.  You can overcome all obstacles as marriage partners fully converted and dedicated to living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Hopefully these stories will help other young women to realize their roles in their marriage and encourage them to strengthen their relationships with their husbands.  Nothing can bring as much happiness as a righteous marriage built upon gospel principles.  This is our first and most important calling in life!  Being married ROCKS, y'all! :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Gratitude: Essential for Forgiveness

I'm incredibly scatterbrained this week with my blogging!  I have been trying to keep up with all the stamping challenges I am in charge of or on the DT for and I totally spaced posting on this blog!  I even made it on Wednesday!  Sorry! ;)  Luckily, there's still time to enter my digi artwork and thoughts into this week's Word Art Wednesday and also to Wendy's fabulous Scripture Sunday!

Here it is~

For some reason, as I read this verse and thought about it, it felt white to me.  I know that sounds strange.  I feel like I'm a very creative person, some of you may not agree, and sometimes things feel like colors or tastes or sounds to me.  But this felt white.  I associate the color white with purity and holiness.  I also associate it with repentance--that we can be pure and clean.  I know some of you are wondering where I'm going with this...

Here's where I'm going.  Lately, I've been thinking more about the type of person I truly want to be.  I am trying to be more forgiving so that I can be forgiven of my sins.  There are steps to repentance, I know that, but as I study the gospel more and more, I am coming to realize that true repentance incorporates every single aspect of the gospel.  This includes prayer and thanksgiving.  I believe that God not only wants us to be thankful to Him alone, but to anyone who does us a good turn.  I feel that ingratitude is one of the worst sins that we can commit.  If we are not willing to be thankful for the Christ-like service that is rendered to us by others striving to become like Him, aren't we also being ungrateful to the Being that made those hands and prompted them to serve us?  One of my favorite sermons from our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson, is about gratitude. He says:

“We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that ‘gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.’ …
“Do material possessions make us happy and grateful? Perhaps momentarily. However, those things which provide deep and lasting happiness and gratitude are the things which money cannot buy: our families, the gospel, good friends, our health, our abilities, the love we receive from those around us. Unfortunately, these are some of the things we allow ourselves to take for granted. …
“A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort—at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude.”

I want to become more conscious of all the blessings that are brought into my lives by those around me.  I do not want to be ungrateful and take things that are treasured blessings for granted.  In order to do this, I will have to forgive some things that have happened to me, ask for forgiveness from others, learn to be more patient and kind, and look for the good in everyone around me.  I know that I am not perfect, but I am grateful to a Father in Heaven who has given me everything.  Nothing that I have is of my own fruition--to Him be the glory!  My goal is to use the cards I make (you can see them here) to say thank you to Him for the talents He has given me and to tell those around me that I am grateful for their service.  I am not telling you this to make you think I'm a good person--I'm doing it so that I can be publicly reminded of my goal.  I hope you take the time to thank someone today, as well as God for all He does for us!  {{{HUGS}}} and blessings!

If you'd like a copy of this print for your very own, just click to enlarge, save, and print FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY!  For more disclaimers about my digital artwork, scroll to the bottom of my blog! :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

 My DH and I will not be teaching the lesson this week.  We are going to his family's ward as we have a new nephew to be blessed!  We are so excited to meet little Hyrum!  Even though we won't be there, I have decided to make up the lesson helps anyway--you never know when you'll need them again! ;)

This week's lesson in the Primary 2 Manual is Lesson 22: Blessed Are the Peacemakers.  Before we being, I'd like to share some thoughts on practical application of this lesson for US as the Primary teacher.

I'm going to preface my remarks by saying: PRIMARY TEACHER/NURSERY LEADER is (in my opinion) one of the most important callings in the church.  YOU are teaching the future leaders of the church gospel principles.  You may think they're not really listening, but they are.  YOU have a great capacity to teach them what is true and of eternal importance.  Never think of yourself as "just a Primary teacher/Nursery leader." You are creating spiritual experiences that will last a lifetime and effect the eternities.

That said, let's just tell the truth about teaching primary.  It can be really hard!  You are teaching a group of kids that you may or may not know and that all have extremely different personalities.  I know that every week we have some type of problem arise.  It's not usually a catastrophe, just something that doesn't go as I've planned.  It also seems that the more important the lesson, the more Satan tries to drive the Spirit away.  He does this by maybe giving you a not so nice thought in your head as you wake up on Sunday morning.  Or creating the feeling that you just cannot go and teach those rowdy children one more week.  Or by making YOU feel out of control, which makes you feel that you have no control over your class.

These are all lies.  You were set apart to teach these children and "...with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)  You can set the tone in your class and have the capacity to do so in a Christlike manner, because that is what God expects and we know that God will NEVER give us a commandment, "save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (1 Nephi 3:7)

So, how do you become a peacemaker in your classroom?  I believe that a peacemaker is simply a follower of Christ--peace was what He taught, and that is what we are called to teach.  I also believe that no matter your situation, being a teacher of the gospel in any capacity will be the most important calling you have.  I have a few tips that I have learned the *hard* way over my years in working with children and youth at church that may help you in your pursuit of becoming a better teacher.  Remember, these are MY opinions--I will try to back them up with scripture and prophetic council, but these are personal lessons that I have learned.  I'm sure that YOU will learn many other lessons through your experiences that benefit you personally, too!

1. Understand the importance of your calling.  Pres. J. Reuben Clark once said, "As teachers you stand upon the highest peak in education, for what teaching can compare in priceless value and in far-reaching effect with that which deals with man as he was in the eternity of yesterday, as he is in the mortality of today, and as he will be in the forever of tomorrow. Not only time but eternity is your field."  The things that we teach each week are of eternal importance.  Therefore, our calling is one of eternal importance.  Even as I write that, tears come to my eyes and I feel the truth of those statements.  These children may come from homes where the gospel is not truly taught.  We have the opportunity to teach them the importance of the gospel and that happiness can come from it.  Happiness.  For eternity.  THAT is what we will teach--what is more important than that?  NEVER feel that as a Primary teacher or Nursery leader that you are "not as important" as the Primary President or the Relief Society President.  All callings come from the Lord and are equally important.  So don't forget--YOU MATTER.  Your words each week have the ability to teach a future leader of the church--you may be teaching a future prophet.  Never forget that.

2. Prepare your lessons each week with the guidance of the Spirit.  No calling will be successful unless you prepare.  Preparation should start well before Sunday morning.  Before Saturday night, as well.  I begins by spiritually preparing yourself DAILY through personal and family prayer, scripture study, and staying worthy to receive promptings from the Holy Ghost.  Preparation for your actual lesson should start as far in advance as you feel you need to be successful.  For me, this means reading the lesson for the following week each Sunday (after I've taught the lesson that day--I get confused if I read too many lessons at once!), pondering it for the next few days, discussing it with my DH (teaching partner), praying to know how to teach the children in MY class the principles it contains, and finally preparing the lesson helps around the middle of the week.  When I receive more guidance about how the Lord would have me teach, I always change my lesson accordingly.  Sometimes this happens DURING the lesson.  And if you are prepared, this is okay!  Preparation also takes away any fears we may have about fulfilling our calling--no matter what calling we have! Doctrine & Covenants 38:30 promises us, "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear."  So, what is the key to overcoming fear?  All together now "PREPARATION!!!"

3. Focus on what you're good at and work on things you may not be as good at.  We all have talents--there is literally not one of us who has nothing to give.  You know the parable of the talents.  If we work on the talents we have, more can be given to us as we need them!  A short story from personal experience--I have never been one to think that I am "good" at anything.  I had wonderful youth leaders who realized my potential and, along with my parents, supported me.  When I graduated from high school, my Young Women president was called to be the Relief Society president in my home ward.  I was going to the local singles ward at the time and didn't really think anything of it.  When I got married a few short years later, I returned to my home ward.  I was given two callings--Ward & Primary music leader.  I loved it!  I was over the moon--I was going to school for music education and this really made me happy!  Until one day I was released from Primary.  And I had to go back to Relief Society.  I have always had a hard time going to Relief Society, and so this was really hard for me.  I was sullen many weeks and didn't want to participate.  Because the Lord had called my former YW president to be the RS president, she knew me and what I needed.  She gave me a visiting teaching route that included herself and one of her counselors.  I soon got to know them personally and came to love them, appreciate their service, and learned to love all the sisters in the RS of our ward.  Shortly after this, I was called to be the first counselor in the Relief Society and work with these two amazing women and to be in charge of the teaching in the RS.  I had only 1 teacher called, and had to teach the women (many years older and wiser than myself) each week.  I was paralyzed with fear when this was told to me.  But under the guidance of these two sisters (who I still to this day literally feel are sisters to me), I found that I had an aptitude for teaching the gospel.  Because of the love and care that they showed me, I gained confidence in my ability to do so.  These sisters will never truly know how this has effected my life because there is nothing I could do to repay the debt that I owe them.  Because of the righteous example of these sisters, my desire to work on my talents increased and my confidence in the Lord was strengthened.  Because of them, I have been able to serve in any calling that I have been giving with an ability beyond my own.  I will always be grateful to them and to the Lord for that experience.  President James E. Faust said, "The Lord has a great work for each of us to do. You may wonder how this can be. You may feel that there is nothing special or superior about you or your ability. . . .The Lord can do remarkable miracles with a person of ordinary ability who is humble, faithful, and diligent in serving the Lord and seeks to improve himself. This is because God is the ultimate source of power."  Amen to that.  If we truly humble ourselves and recognize that everything we have comes from God, He will be able to give us all that we need to accomplish what He has asked of us.

4. Love the people you serve.  This is so very important.  It is easy to find that you have "favorites."  I used to think this was just natural.  To this day I still have some children that I consider "favorites" but I have also found that as I truly get to know those I serve, I love each of them as children of God.  The prophet Joseph Smith once said, "Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what
power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind."  You can never love someone that you do not show love towards.  Find other ways to serve those you teach outside of church.  When I was the Beehive counselor in Young Women, I would call my girls to see how they were doing, find out their interests and talk to them about them, and send little cards to them in the mail.  As a primary teacher, I have decided to take one or two of my children each week for about an hour and spend time with them.  We will make a craft and play and just talk about them.  I've also found it very helpful to talk to parents about their children.  They know what things help and/or are not effective when teaching their child.  Getting to know someone and understanding where they come from is a sure fire way to be able to look past behaviors and see eternal potentials.  Petty things will no longer matter once you truly get to know someone as a child of God.

5. Teach correct principles with the guidance of the Holy Ghost.  This is SO IMPORTANT in any calling or teaching capacity you will have in the church.  I have found that when teaching a lesson, the best way to invite the spirit of contention is to use opinions too much or to use non-church materials.  I have found that the best way to keep the Spirit in a lesson is to teach directly from the lesson and to support lesson material with other church approved material.  That poem by e.e. cummings might be nice and meaningful to you, but it's not exactly doctrine.  Make sure that you use church materials--I promise that there is more than enough out there to supplement your lessons with!  These will always invite the Holy Ghost--the true teacher of truth.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks has told us, "If we have the Spirit of the Lord to guide us, we can teach any person, no matter how well educated, any place in the world. The Lord knows more than any of us, and if we are his servants, acting under his Spirit, he can deliver his message of salvation to each and every soul."

6. Invite all that you teach to be involved in and responsible for their own learning.  This is quite hard to do with a group of 4 & 5 year olds who each learn differently.  Luckily for us, the church has given us many resources to use to help us when preparing our lessons.  I have found, too, that asking questions is the best way to make children responsible for their own learning.  If I notice that a child hasn't participated, I may ask them specifically how they feel about what we are talking about.  If they don't want to answer, I do not make them. Instead, I call on another child that may really want to answer.  95% of the time, the first child I asked will think it through while the second child is responding and will want to answer after the second child is done.  I don't usually do this with adults because I don't want to offend them, but when you work with children and have a loving basis with them, they generally don't feel threatened when you "call them out" in a loving way.  From Teaching, No Greater Call, "Each of us is responsible to learn the gospel through diligent effort. We are also privileged at various times to serve as teachers—to inspire and help others in their responsibility to learn the gospel. We render this important service by doing all we can to: 1. Awaken and hold the interest of those we teach. 2. Encourage their active participation in lessons. 3. Show them how to live according to the truths they learn. We are to do these things with love and by the power of the Spirit. This means that we should focus not so much on our performance as on how well we help others learn the gospel diligently and live it faithfully."

7. Do not become involved in family disputes.  This is the last one and most important lesson that I've learned as a teacher.  This one I learned while working with the youth.  Many youth want to use their leaders as allies against their parents.  I am here to tell you that NO GOOD will come of this.  PARENTS have the responsibility to raise their children, not leaders.  If a child or youth comes to you with a problem in general, ALWAYS encourage them to go and talk to the other person involved.  If it's with another youth at church, offer to be a non-side-taking referee, but never just believe what you have been told until you hear both sides of the story.  If the problem is with a parent or sibling, encourage them to talk to the person involved.  The only time I would ever intervene is if I suspect abuse, and in this case I would call SRS with my concerns and leave it at that.  Never think that you know better than a parent when it comes to raising a child.

Hopefully these tips help you.  They are all things I wish I'd known when I was first a Primary teacher!  If you want more information on helping with reverence in your class, see my previous post here.  Hopefully these tips can also help you be able to magnify your calling to the best of your abilities when you adapt them to your personal situation.

Now onto the lesson!  I've come up with some ways that I would teach this lesson for my class and, even though I'm not teaching this lesson, I will share them with you and maybe you can use them!

*I would use my happy/sad faces sticks (more info here) instead of the printout in the manual when singing the opening song.  Since they are always in my bag, this is just easier for me!

*I would use the pictures in my file of families doing enjoyable things, turn them over, and have the children take turns choosing them and telling me what kinds of a choice it was (happy or sad) using their happy/sad face stick.

*My DH likes to take "field trips" and so instead of showing the picture of the Sermon on the Mount, we would take the children to the large painting of it in the meetinghouse, sit on the floor in front of it, and discuss this portion of the lesson there.  My DH likes to do this so that the children realize they can be more aware of their surroundings and also so that they can share what they learned with their parents when they see that visual reminder in the church building.

*I would use the situation strips in my lesson helps and have the children take turns choosing one and telling me how they would resolve the situation.  I like to do a lot of things that utilize turn taking so that children can learn sportsmanship in a gospel environment and then carry it into their sports venues.

I hope these ideas help you out with your lesson! :)  If you'd like a copy of my lesson helps, download them by clicking here.  I hope you have a restful Sabbath!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I Can Be Reverent

It's Primary time again!  This week's lesson in the Primary 2 Manual is Lesson 21: I Can Be Reverent.

Now, I don't  know about YOU, but our little ones have quite a hard time being reverent at times!  Before I share some thoughts on the lesson, I thought I share some tips on how to help your class be more reverent.  I'm not an "expert," but I am the oldest of 9 children, have had 13 foster children, and work with children who have special needs as my job.  These tips are all things I utilize in my classroom and have found work at least 95% of the time.  If you have any additional tips, please leave them in the comments--they'll be greatly appreciated!  These tips will be mainly for class/lesson time, but they could be utilized at other times when appropriate, as well.

1. Set Rules.  Make sure that the rules are age appropriate and that there aren't too many for younger children to remember.  For my nursery class, I only had one rule: Make happy choices.  If a child didn't know what a happy choice was compared to a sad choice, I had a multitude of opportunities to help that child understand what they were and when they made them.  Currently, my DH and I teach the 4 &5 year olds.  We have 4 rules.  They are sit nicely, use a quiet voice, raise your hand if you want to speak, and wait to be called on before talking.  We have visuals for these rules and they are displayed during class time through the whole lesson.  We also occasionally use these during sharing/singing time as a visual reminder of what behavior is expected.

2. Ignore bad/incorrect behaviors and praise those who follow the rules.  For example, if little Jimmy blurts out answers continually, ignore the behavior and praise Lily for raising her hand and ask her to share her thoughts.  If Jimmy realizes his mistake and raises his hand while Lily is responding, make sure to thank him for raising his hand after Lily is done and ask if he would like to respond to the question as well.  If Jimmy continues to blurt out while others are trying to talk, remind him of the rule.  If his sad choices continue, have a presidency member come and take Jimmy for a walk to talk about classroom behavior.  Make sure to praise the children in your class after doing something spectacular, like having a good sharing/singing time or walking reverently down the hall to class.  NEVER point out poor behavior by singling out a specific child's actions to the class.  This only shows the child that you are not worried about their feelings and that they cannot trust you to love them no matter what.  With older children, ask to speak to them after class, take them into the hall if you have a team teacher, or pop by their home during the week after making an appointment with their parents so that you can all talk about the problem.  Show the child that THEY can be in control of their actions by you being in control of YOUR actions.  You're the example in your classroom.  Your behavior will be the behavior the children mirror during class time.  Be aware of your behavior in the hallway while at church and after church meetings are over.  If you expect the children in your class to be reverent in the hallway, your behavior must be consistent as well.  The "status" of the building doesn't change because classes are over.  It is still the house of the Lord.

3. Avoid taking children to their parents as much as possible.  Some of you might think this is "mean" or "impossible" for some of the children in your class.  I really feel that parents need to know that their children can learn to be away from them and trust other adults.  Each of us was called by the Lord to teach these children, and He is counting on us to help the child AND their parents in the callings they hold.  Utilize your Primary presidency members for severe behaviors.  Take the criers into the hall and explain that mommy and/or daddy have a job to do in their calling and that the child's job is to be in class.  Reassure them that mommy and/or daddy will come and get them as soon as the class is over.  Let the children in your class know you love them by praising the good you see in them.  Make sure when a child is picked up by their parents that you either say something positive about their behavior or else say nothing and tell the child that you will see them next week and that you're looking forward to seeing them again.  The children will see that you won't "tell on them" to their parents and will begin to trust you more, and their parents will appreciate the positivity you show!

4. Keep in mind that kids are kids.  Don't expect them to be adults!  If you get into class from sharing/singing time and the children are a bit out of control, sing a wiggle song.  My favorite is Roll Your Hands (CS #274) because it can be done while the children sit in their seats, but they still get to move around.  If singing isn't your strong suit, have a quick "stretch time" where you model a few simple stretches for the children to mimic.  Have a "sharing time" at the beginning of class where each child (if they choose to) can come to the front of the class and share something from their week.  Not only does this cut down on talking out and unrelated comments, but they are also practicing public speaking skills!

5. Utilize music in your lesson times.  The Church has given us amazing songs that will help teach the children in your class basic gospel principles.  When used appropriately, music can invite the spirit into your classroom even more than the spoken word.  Use the songs in your lessons.  Think about having an opening song.  Practice the Primary Program songs while the children color at the end of the lesson.  Never underestimate the power of music.  If you are uncomfortable singing, check out a CD player and the Children's Songs on CD from the library of download them from the Church's website and use them.  You may even want to have them playing softly in the background as you teach a lesson.  You will see a HUGE difference in the reverence that will come when you use music more in your classroom.

6. Speak softly.  Don't carry a large stick. ;)  When the children in your class start to get loud, you need to get quiet.  YOU are the example of the behavior that is appropriate in your classroom.  When our class gets too loud, I stop talking, wait about 15-20 second, and then say somethings quietly.  It's usually a direction such as, "If you can hear me, touch your nose."  I continue by saying things like, "If you can hear me, touch your head.  If you can hear me, turn your voice off.  If you can hear me, fold your arms."  Because of the verbal direction coupled with different physical acts, the children calm down quicker and are more willing to "do as I'm doing" because I'm talking to the group, not individual children.

7. Learn how to utilize what I call "strategic seating."  My DH and I realized about 5 minutes into our current calling that we had some children that should NEVER sit together. Rather than do "assigned seats," we decided to make name tags and put magnets on the back.  We have the children stand to the side while we place the names strategically on the chairs, telling them to pay attention so they can see where THEIR name is.  Not only does this cut down on the behavior issues, it helps the children to recognize their name.  It's worked so well in our class time that we now also use this during sharing/singing time.  The children have a choice when it's time to go to class. I can carry their name tag to class for them, or if they can show me they can do it reverently, they can carry their name tag down the hall.  This has cut down behaviors during the entire 2 hours that we have the children and makes things OH SO much more pleasant!

That's all for now.  Hopefully you've found this information helpful!  If I come up with more classroom management tips, I'll post them later!

Now, let's get to the actual lesson, shall we?  Primary 2: Lesson 21: I Can Be Reverent.

I've made a few modifications to the lesson based on the needs of the children in our class.  Here's a short list of what I'm planning:

*Instead of making the body parts on the print out in the lesson, I'm going to make popsicle sticks with the words of each body part on it, have the children take turns choosing one,  and ask them to show the class what they need to do with that body part.  It'll kind of be like a "do as I'm doing" game.

*I'll be using my happy/sad sticks with the children during the teacher presentation and giving examples of reverent and irreverent behavior.  They'll tell me whether it's a happy or sad choice by showing the correct side of the stick.  I'll use the big happy/sad stick while they use their small ones.  I keep these in my bag at all times and use the happy/sad choices game any time we have  a lot of time left at the end of the class.  I've included these in the file--just print the happy faces onto yellow paper and the sad faces onto blue paper to save your color ink. ;)

*I will be using Enrichment Activities #2 & #3.  For #2, I'll use the pictures in my file, lay them face down on our table, and have them take turns choosing one.  For #3, I'll use the strips from my file and have them choose one at a time and show the appropriate behavior.

I hope that you find my lesson helps, well, helpful!  You can download them by clicking here.  Have a restful Sabbath! :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A New Heart

I don't know about you, but there are times when I feel incredibly strong in my testimony of the gospel and other times when I question what I believe in.  The scriptures call these times "trials of faith."  I used to wonder WHY God would give us these times in our lives.  I used to be angry during these times.  It's only been recently that I have decided to embrace these "trials of faith" and learn and grow from them.

A few weeks back, a good friend of mine asked me to watch her three little ones this week because her regular babysitter is on vacation.  I told her I would, thinking that the money would be welcome since I'm not working at all this summer.  But then I started to realize exactly what I had agreed to. 

My only experience with motherhood has been either a miscarried pregnancy or else a foster placement.  Foster care was a severe "trial of faith."  I never want to do it again.  It has nothing to do with the children that we took care of--I will ALWAYS love them.  It has to do with other things that I just typed and then deleted.  I'm trying to be more positive about it. 

Anyway, we'll just say that foster care left me a panic filled, paranoid, wreck of a severely distrusting person.  I never wanted to take care of kids or even think about trying to have them again.  I seriously felt that motherhood was NOT for me.  And on Monday night it hit me that I would have children in my home again.  And I seriously FREAKED OUT.  I felt sick to my stomach, couldn't eat or focus, and wanted to call and cancel.  BUT, I remembered my resolve to embrace things that were difficult with me, said a prayer, and went to bed at nine.  It was the right thing to do.

Friends, these past two days have been two of the best days of my life!  I loved the kids I'm watching before I offered to do this, but now I love them even more!  I have seen what motherhood really can be and it is not as scary as I thought it would be.  Granted, I've only done this for 2 days and I KNOW it gets worse after the "honeymoon" period.  But I have proven to myself that I could stay calm and collected.  The kids still love me.  I adore them!  This has by far been the most amazing "trial of faith" that I have ever gone through!  And all because I put my trust in God.  And He took my hardened heart and showed me that I could have a different heart that would do more good for the world.

Doesn't that story go along PERFECTLY with the scripture at Word Art Wednesday?!  I was amazed when I saw this week's challenge--and I am sooooo amazed at the goodness and greatness of God!

Here's my digital print for today~

AND, a recipe that I came up with for the kiddos--they LOVED them!

Homemade Oreo Cakesters
1 Devil's Food cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 container marshmallow fluff

Mix the first three ingredients, roll into small balls (about 1 inch in diameter) and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350*. When they come out of the oven, flatten the cookies slightly with a spatula. After the cookies cool completely, add marshmallow fluff to the bottom of one, and add another cookie on top!

Easy peasy, and OH SO YUMMY!!! :)  Sorry there isn't a photo...they were THAT GOOD. ;D

In addition to Word Art Wednesday, I'm linking up to Scripture Sunday @ Each Card Tells a Story, Think on These Things, Titus 2sdays, and Tell Me a Story.  I hope you all have a fabulous rest of your week--feel free to use my digital print for PERSONAL use!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Keystone of Our Religion & All Things According To His Will

I've been quite remiss in studying my Sunday School lessons this year.  I've been studying for Gospel Principles and Primary...haven't been as good as I should for Sunday School & Relief Society!  So, I'm resolved to do better.  Each Monday through the rest of the year, I'll be posting my thoughts about 2 Sunday School lessons (hopefully).  This is my personal view, please feel free to comment, but DO NOT disrespect my values and beliefs.  I am not writing this for anyone's use except my own, and therefore it is not linked up to anything.  I do not mind you reading it, as I am obviously putting it in a public forum, but I do moderate all comments and will not feel bad deleting any unkind comments.  Please feel free to use the digital prints found in this post for PERSONAL use.

With that said, I'll be starting today with Book of Mormon Lesson 1: The Keystone To Our Religion.  I'll be utilizing the class member study guide, not the teacher's manual.

  • According to the second paragraph of the title page of the Book of Mormon, what are three purposes of the Book of Mormon?

    " Which is to *show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and **that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also ***to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations..." -Book of Mormon Title Page

    *All members of the house of Israel (church members) have the need to be reminded continually of the things the Lord has done for their fathers.  This has a lot to do with gratitude.  How can we as people grow and have a loving relationship with our Father in Heaven if we are not thankful for what He has done not only for us personally, but also for those who paved the way for us to have the fulness of the gospel in our lives today?  I have learned so much from history in general--we have a great need to remember history and LEARN from it.  What a wonderful gift from God we have!  The opportunity to read the scriptures on a daily basis, in our own homes, whenever we choose, and to learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before is just one example of the loving nature of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

    **Covenants made with the Lord are important parts of our mortal life.  The purpose of this life is for men to prepare to meet God, for us to grow and learn and remember the things we were taught before we came here.  The greatest thing about covenants is the HOPE associated with them.  My DH and I have struggled for years with infertility and have found great hope and comfort in the promise of the covenants we made with God in the temple when we were sealed for time and all eternity.  We may never be parents in mortality to our own children, but we have the opportunity to be parents as Primary teachers, Youth leaders, and in other ways.  The Lord NEVER forgets His covenants.  We need to ask to know His will so that we can see how He will fulfill them for us personally.  I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to learn from other faithful members and leaders by searching the resources on  They have brought great comfort to me and my husband as we continue through the struggles of life.

    ***If there is any book that I have read that has tried to convince me that Jesus Christ is my Savior and has completely succeeded it is the Book of Mormon.  It is the perfect companion to the Bible.  It explains all the mysteries of God and shows His love for ALL of His children.  Would you forget a child who decided to leave home and live on another continent?  Never!  God remembers ALL of His children--that means each human being who lives on this earth--and He has always provided a way for the to have the gospel of Jesus Christ available for them.  The Book of Mormon truly is another testament that Christ is our Savior, that He was born of Mary, that He lived and died for us, and that He lives today!
  • What have you learned from the Book of Mormon about Jesus Christ? How has the Book of Mormon strengthened your testimony of Jesus Christ?

    As I stated before, I have learned by studying the Book of Mormon that Jesus is the Savior of ALL of our Father in Heaven's children.  God is no respecter of persons.  He loves each of us the same.  It is our actions that He hates, never a person.  As I've read the Book of Mormon each time, I have found comfort and peace from it's teachings.  I have found answers to all of the questions that I have had while reading it's pages.  This inspiration has come from faith in my Savior and by trusting Heavenly Father to answer my prayers.  I have learned that Jesus Christ's church is to be a world-wide church--there truly is one true faith and one true religion.  The true church will span each continent and fill each home, as it was intended to do.  Jesus Christ truly is the head of the church.  He organizes and calls under authority from our Father in Heaven.  He is a personage of flesh and bone.  He loves little children and wants what is best for them.  He cares for those who follow Him, and listens to and answers prayers in the most correct way.  He calls all to repentance, repentance made possible through His Atonement, because true repentance is the only real way to be completely happy in this life and in our life in the eternities.
  • What passages in the Book of Mormon are particularly inspiring to you?

    The verse from this lesson that particularly inspires me is 2 Nephi 19:23.   I LOVE the book of Isaiah and LOVE learning the hidden teachings and treasures in that book, so hearing that the prophet Nephi felt the same way makes me feel a great kinship to him.  I also love the charge to liken the scriptures to our lives.  If we cannot do that, what is the purpose of reading them?  I love to hear stories from others that show how all things pertain to the gospel, and I love reading the scriptures and finding jewels of wisdom just for me written in the words of these books.  :) 

    This is my digital print of the verse~

    I also love 2 Nephi 29:8-9 about the importance of the Book of Mormon and it's need to compliment and support the Bible.  I personally am eternally grateful that God is unchanging and will speak and give modern revelation as well as the fact that He speaks His word to all of His children.  It is another testimony to me that God truly loves ALL of us.

    I LOVE this quote by President Marion G. Romney, as well, “I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1980, 90; or Ensign, May 1980, 67). 

And now onto the second lesson.  Book of Mormon Lesson 2: All Things According to His Will.
  • One of the first events described in the Book of Mormon is the departure from Jerusalem of Lehi and his family. What circumstances led to this departure? (See 1 Nephi 1:4–15, 18–20; 2:1–3.)

    The prophet Lehi was called to preach repentance to the people of Jerusalem.  Because of the reception that this information received (negative to the extreme--the people wanted to kill Lehi), Lehi received a commandment from the Lord  to leave their home and travel to the "promised land."  We later find out that the "promised land" is the American continent and that this land is incredibly important and plays a great role in the restoration of the gospel.  I'm sure I'll write more about that one later on. ;)
  • Why did the people of Jerusalem reject the message of Lehi and other prophets? (See 1 Nephi 1:19–20; 2:12–13; 16:1–2.) Why do some people today rebel against the Lord and His servants? What can you learn from Nephi about how to make your heart more receptive to the teachings of the prophets? (See 1 Nephi 2:16, 19.)

    The people of Jerusalem rejected Lehi's message because they were wicked and unrepentant.  They had stopped living the gospel and were seeking justification for their actions--a truly godless attitude.  People today do the same thing.  They think that if something is "hard" then it can't be from God.  Whoever said that living the gospel was easy?!  If God needs us to do something hard, He will ask us to do it!  BUT, He always prepares a way for us to accomplish that thing, as we learn in 1 Nephi 3:7.  People do not like to be told they are wrong.  I have made it a personal goal that if I hear something that  if I hear something given in a talk or lesson at church and am offended by it, that I will go home and pray to know if the real reason is because I am in the wrong and need to change or if the reason is that what was said was incorrect.  This is what Nephi did.  More times than not, I am in the wrong and have some changing to do.  I try to make sure that if I am pricked that I do NOT feel ill-will towards the messenger.  It's my fault for sinning!  All messengers are imperfect people--but their message is from the Lord and should be taken as such.  Tender Mercies, a good talk about this subject. And a short movie of the highlights of the talk.

    Here's my digital print~
  • Why did Lehi’s family need to obtain the brass plates? (See 1 Nephi 3:3, 19–20; 4:15–16; see also 1 Nephi 5:21–22; Mosiah 1:3–7.)

    The scriptures are a vital part of acting in faith.  The Lord knows what happens when people do not have scripture readily available--apostasy.  Because of this, in His great wisdom, He commanded Lehi to have his sons go back to Jerusalem to retrieve the brass plates--which were their scriptures.  Without the availability and the use of scripture daily, each of us runs the risk of dying spiritually and of listening to words that are more pleasing to the natural man rather than listening to the things of God.  We NEED to read!