Tuesday, January 28, 2014

February Sharing Time - Heavenly Father Has a Plan for His Children

What an amazing gift the gospel is!!

Sorry for being so repetitive, I feel like I say it every week, but every time I sit down to write about Sharing Time, I feel it all over again.

Speaking about Heavenly Father's plan, Elder Russell M. Nelson said, "It is also called the plan of happiness, the plan of salvation, the plan of redemption, the plan of restoration, the plan of  mercy, the plan of deliverance, and the everlasting gospel."

When I read through the list, my first thoughts centered around the plan of happiness and how wonderful that title is.  I love happiness and it's how I feel about the gospel.  Best name ever.

And then I started to think about the other names and I realized they're all amazing.  Deliverance, everlasting, and mercy?!  Wow.

This week we're covering some basics from the plan of salvation.  We'll be reading through a few sets of scriptures and sticking them in one of three categories:

As you read through the scriptures (either in a group or together as a primary), make sure to take time to talk about them.  Making sure the kids know what the words mean and understand what each scripture is talking about.  After discussing them, choose where it fits within the plan of happiness.

Because Junior Primary isn't quite as good at reading as Senior (and because just about everyone likes pictures), I found pictures to go along with each scripture.  If you'd like to use them, you could either write the scripture on the board under the category or put up the pictures or both.

I also made a handout, for either during primary or to send home, where the kids can write or draw a picture of something they learned about each area of the plan of mercy.

If you want to use any of my free printables, click over to my google drive to download them!

In that same talk by Elder Nelson he said, "Our thoughts and deeds while here will surely be more purposeful if we understand God's plan and are thankful for and obedient to His commandments."

I'm all about doing things with a purpose, living with a purpose.  I love the idea that the more we learn about the gospel, the more purposeful we can be about living it.  The better and more consistently we can walk Heavenly Father's path in the plan of deliverance.

Have a wonderful sharing time!

Monday, January 20, 2014

January Sharing Time - I Can Return to Heavenly Father by Following Jesus Christ

"Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou has shown,
Pause to help and life another,
Finding strength beyond my own,
Savior, may I learn to love thee -
Lord, I would follow thee."

I love this hymn and it's so very applicable this week (and month).  It makes me smile and gives me a greater desire to do good.  To be more like Jesus and return to our Father in Heaven definitely takes strength beyond what I possess and I'm grateful to have the knowledge that I don't have to do it alone.

I'm even more grateful that I get to share that knowledge with the children in my ward.  What a gift it is to teach, to inspire and to help them to feel their Heavenly Father's love.  That's my ultimate goal each and every week.

This week we open with a review of the goals set during the third Sunday.  Re-draw the line across the board (from the second week) and talk for a few minutes about our ultimate goal here on earth, eternal life with Heavenly Father.  The only way we can make it down the path, through the path and every experience we have here in mortality, is by following our Savior's example and taking advantage of the amazing gift of His atonement.

I love the story of Christ's apostles leaving everything behind to follow Him and all it teaches us.  I think many of the kids (especially junior primary) would love to do the actions that the Sharing Time Outline provide to go along with it...but I'm probably just going to tell the story as a lead in to the activity we're going to do.

After talking about about the story, I'll ask the kids (as instructed) what they would do if Jesus asked them to follow Him?  The thing is, HE HAS ASKED US!!  In John 21:22 He said, "...follow thou me."  Simple.  Direct.

Our activity will provide the children opportunities to see how Jesus has been followed and how they can follow Him throughout their lives.  We'll make sure and stop frequently to apply what we're learning to goals we can each set.

I've found a few different ideas for games.  Well, come across is probably a better description.  It amazes me how often I am doing something else and "happen" to find something that will work well for primary.  Amazed and blessed.

I love the idea of using the Bringing Primary Home section of this month's Friend.  Each of the cards are either an action we can take or an event in our lives (which are also actions, but they're singular events) where we can choose to follow Christ.  You could put them up on a board before Sharing Time and move a picture of primary children (like the ones I used a few weeks ago from Susan Fitch's blog) along the path as you talk about each one (or you could skip moving the kids and put them up one at a time as you talk about them).

Depending on which card it is, you could ask questions like:
How did you follow Jesus here? (pre-mortal life)
Give me an example of how you have followed Jesus by keeping the commandments.
What's one way your family follows Jesus?
How can the Book of Mormon help you follow Jesus?
How does the armor of God help you follow Jesus?
How does the temple help you to follow Jesus?
What things can you do in your future family to help all of you gain eternal life?
How have you stood for the right?  or How will you stand for the right this week?
Tell me one goal you can work on right now to help gain eternal life?

I also love the idea of encouraging them to go home and make their own personal pathway using the pictures (you could make copies of the cards for them to take home).  They can add their thoughts, goals, pictures from events that have already happened in their lives, drawings of what they think future events will be like or anything else you or they can think of.  The children could then put them up in their rooms to remind them of their goals. It would be a great family home evening for anyone who hasn't already had the opportunity to do it.

I did find a few other fun and similar ideas on the Family Home Evening ideas for 2014 I downloaded from The Idea Door.  I've only read through a few of the January ideas so far, but they're pretty great (taken from old Friend magazines).  The ideas for this week come from the July 2003 Friend.

I especially like main idea as it ties in so very well (even uses the same scripture story) with the Sharing Time Outline.  As you build the maze by looking up scriptures, stop and ask what exactly that story/scripture teaches us about following Jesus.

I also like numbers three and five in the additional ideas listed below.  Number three is similar in that you look up scriptures/stories that teach about following Christ, but different because instead of a path or maze, you put the pictures up in the form of a face clock (12 pictures in a circle) and you scripture chase your way around the clock learning about how we can each follow Christ.  Junior primary might struggle some with this one, but senior would LOVE it.

With number five, you teach the children the first verse of the song I quoted above, "Lord, I Would Follow Thee."  It instructs you to teach them the song backwards, line by line, pausing to talk about what it teaches us about following Christ and how we can USE what we've learned.

I sort of wish I had a few Sundays to share more than one of these awesome Sharing Time activities.  I know I don't normally share lots of ideas like this, but I love them all.  They are all fairly simple, give lots of opportunity for participation and testimony bearing.

Prayerfully choose what it is that your primary (and don't forget your teachers) needs to hear.  How can you best touch all those you have the opportunity to teach?

And have a wonderful Sunday!!


ps. If you've chosen to use the "Bringing Primary Home" from this month's Friend, I separated each of the pictures (so I could make them bigger and hang them on the board) and made a black and white version of the pictures (in a single sheet) to make copies for the children to take home.  You can download them (PICTURES and TAKE HOME) from my Google Drive!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Three Favorite Things About "The Mother Daughter Book Club"

Last summer I went up to my in-laws to visit with one of Steve's cousins who was passing through town.  One of her daughters was reading a book that sounded very interesting and when I got home, I wrote down the title so I'd remember to check the library later.

Later happened about a month ago (yeah, I know, a little on the slow side) and I'm so glad I finally took the time to look for it!  It's actually a whole series of books called The Mother Daughter Book Club and although I've only read two so far, I LOVE the whole darn series (trust me, I know).

No. 1
I love that the story is about a bunch of real girls (and real moms), they aren't perfect and they change throughout the books.  They grow and learn, they're advised and helped by their mothers, they make a few more mistakes and then they all come together in the end.  It's not only heart warming, but through watching (reading about) these girls, you get to learn some great life lessons. 

In the first book one of the characters has to choose between friends who are "cool" but mean, and her book club friends who love and support her no matter what she does.  Not to mention that her book club friends have had to forgive her for having previously chosen the "mean girls." 

No. 2
In each book in the series the girls and their moms read through one book together in their book club.  Each chapter heading contains a quote from the book they're reading.  I LOVE the quotes.  They're pretty amazing.  They usually relate somehow to the chapter, but they are pearls in their own right. 

In the second book, the club is reading through the first couple Anne of Green Gables books and, I have to say, Anne Shirley is one smart cookie.  One of my favorites is when Anne tells Marilla that she finds comfort in the fact that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.  What a comfort it is that we can begin each day anew!!

No. 3
After starting the series I have found a great desire to start my own mother daughter book club.  I love that when they meet every month, they not only talk about the chapters they've read, but they also discuss and learn about the author's life.  How fun would that be?!  Plus, they get to deepen friendships and eat treats.  Could it get better?

Even if I'm not able to find some willing participants, Makenna and I are going to choose a book to read together.  We can talk about the characters, who we think we're like, learn about the authors and try to imagine ourselves in another world (either from the authors life or the books they've written).  Most of all, we can grow closer together (don't tell Makenna, she might groan and roll her eyes, even though I know she'll like it too).

I would love to hear about any fun, inspiration and GOOD books you've read recently!


Sunday, January 12, 2014

January Sharing Time - Jesus Christ is the Perfect Example For Me to Follow

It seems that we've been talking about examples a lot lately.  I remember asking and being asked whose example we should follow on more than one occasion.

That doesn't mean we can't open with that, but I do think we need to acknowledge that it's been asked a few times.  Perhaps like this,

"We've gotten to talk about the different people in our lives whose examples we look to a few times in the last month or two, so you guys should have it down now.  Who can tell me whose example they try and follow every day?"

After getting all the different answers (don't forget to wait, silence is HARD, but they will have such good answers if we wait), tell them we're going to focus on a few specific ways we can follow Jesus example.

You could take a minute here and talk about one part of the baptismal covenant, we are to take Jesus name upon us.  That means that we are acting in His name, for Him.  To be able to do that, we have to KNOW about Him and then FOLLOW Him.  Elder William R. Bradford of the Seventy said, "Do the things which you think and do entitle you to bear the name of Jesus Christ?"

Now, our primary isn't large AND I find the disruption of moving into and out of groups is rarely worth the time it takes, so we're not going to split up.  I think part of the appeal is letting the kids hear from someone new and different, so if you wanted, you could still ask a few others to lead the discussion about each scripture and picture.  It might even be fun to ask a few older children in primary (before Sunday so they have time to prepare) to be in charge of a picture.

As you talk about each picture and scripture, make sure and get at least a few ideas for SPECIFIC goals we can work on daily.  These next sections are just my thoughts, ideas to get your juices flowing.  A different direction might be better for your primary, or the children may surprise you and take things in a wonderfully unpredicted way.

John 13:14-15: In these scriptures we are told to do unto others as Jesus has done.  He is telling us to "Follow thou me."  To serve and love those around us as Jesus would, we can do one act of service or kindness everyday.

Matthew 5:1-2: When I first read this one, I was stumped.  What in the world were these two scriptures telling me?  If you keep going in the chapter, there's a lot of great stuff, but just the first two?!  Then, I talked with my husband and he had a great idea.

Mountain tops were like our temples today, holy places where we can talk with and grow closer to God.  Jesus went to the mountain to get closer to God and be better able to teach.  We can visit our temples, be worthy to attend the temple, put a picture of the temple in our rooms and work daily toward being able to make and keep sacred covenants (by doing those simple yet profound things we hear over and over: Read the scriptures, Pray, Listen to the Holy Ghost and ACT).

Luke 15:4: This scripture about lost sheep shows the importance of every single one of us.  It first brings to mind a phrase I've heard over and over again lately, "Hasten the Work."  We can help to hasten the work of the Lord by watching for those we can serve, love and invite to hear the good word of the gospel.  We were promised in the last general conference that if we pray for missionary experiences, we will have them.  Our fear with be replaced by faith and we will be able to do God's work! 

3 Nephi 17:1-10: This is a long one and I can foresee that some kids might struggle with listening to it all at once.  I was thinking I might read (have read) verses 1-4, stop and talk about it and then read 5-10.  It might help to have the children read along and have them take turns reading one verse at a time.  I also like to get them to summarize, in their own words, what's been read to make sure they really understand it.

Verses 1-4 talk about how we need to take time to think about the gospel principles we learn, to pray and discover their truthfulness for ourselves and to be prepared so we can better learn more.

Verses 5-10 are a great example of the mercy and love our Savior has for us.  He didn't just move on because he had a schedule to keep, he saw the need of the Nephites and was willing to stay with them a little longer.  We can pray and look for those who need His help, we can be His hands.

After going through all the scriptures and talking about different ways we can follow Jesus example, we'll sing the song, "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" (CS 78-79).  Then, I'll read it and have the kids raise their hands or stand up (haven't yet decided, it might depend on how rowdy it is) when they hear something they feel they can follow.

I  made this handout that I plan to give before we start reading scriptures.  As we read and discuss, they can take notes of things that strike them (with words or pictures).  The center section can either be filled out while talking about the song, "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" (CS 78-79) or with their chosen goal to work on for the week.

I'll end with the challenge to choose one way to consciously follow Jesus example throughout the next week.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "Following Christ is not a casual or occasional practice but a continuous commitment and way of life that applies at all times and in all places.  ...  Achieving [our] ultimate destiny in eternity is possible only if we follow our Savior."


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tender Moments

I recently came upstairs and found this. 

I love my children.  I love seeing their love for each other in how they take care of each other.

James loves Josh.  Josh loves to be read to. 

Aren't they adorable?

I'm so blessed to be able to spend so much time with these wonderful people.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

January Sharing Time - Heavenly Father Provided a Savior and Makes it Possible For Me to Return to His Presence

This week we get to talk about the atonement.  I like the Sharing Time Outline's object lesson using a chalk path and bridge, so I'll be using it.  And a little more besides.

I'll open talking about last years theme just a little bit (remember, I skipped the first week's lesson because we have stake conference this month).  We'll talk about why Heavenly Father sent us to earth and what we're supposed to be doing while we're down here (I found some adorable primary children on Susan Fitch's blog to move along the path that I'm going to draw while we talk). 

If no one brings it up, after a minute or two, I'll bring up that we are working towards eternal life, living with our Father in Heaven forever.  Elder Russell M. Nelson said that eternal life is "the greatest gift of God to man" and "the object and end of our existence."  It is! 

As not all the children can read, I thought it would be nice to have a picture for the end of the path also.  This is a cropped First Vision picture and I love that it looks like they are motioning for us to come

I'm really excited to talk about how bridges are like the atonement.  After I erase a section of the path and ask how we can now get to Heavenly Father, I'm going to see if anyone can quote the 3rd Article of Faith.  We are blessed with the atonement, it is our bridge and we don't just get one bridge or 10 or 1,000,000...we get as many as we need.  He is ALWAYS THERE to help us. 

One of my favorite things about Jesus' sacrifice for us is that He did not only suffer for our sins, He felt our every disappointment, fear, loneliness, all of it.  When we pray for help, He knows exactly how we're feeling and EXACTLY how to help us.  What an astounding, amazing gift!!

Even with this greatest of all gifts, most of us will still need more help along the path.  I'll ask them if there are other things/parts/people in our lives that can also help us make our way over the bridges to eternal life.

I'm going to tie this in to this year's theme by talking about how our families can help us (and we can help them).  With all of us working together, we can truly be an eternal family.  I think I might share the quote I wrote about in last weeks post from Elder Robert D. Hales,

"To receive the blessings of the sealing that our Heavenly Father has given us, we have to keep the commandments and conduct ourselves in such a way that our families will want to live with us in the eternities."

Whether I do or not, I'll spend the rest of sharing time playing the game I also wrote about previously.  I found it in a family home evening on Chocolate on My Cranium, and involves rolling the family dice you can print out with her lesson.

I'll draw the children's names out of our jars, have them come up, roll and think of a way they can show their love for the family member that comes up (or help them in some way on the path to eternal life).

We'll play until our time runs out and then I'll share my testimony about the atonement.  About life here on earth and how we can all work together, love and serve each other, so we can all be ready to live with Heavenly Father again.

In that same talk by Elder Nelson, he said, "I weep for joy when I contemplate the significance of it all.  To be redeemed is to be atoned - received in the close embrace of God with an expression not only of His forgiveness, but of our oneness of heart and mind."

I hope you have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Years Resolutions - Setting Goals

Happy New Year!!  In honor of the new year, I thought I'd share a fun idea we'll be using in my family.

But, before the good idea, I have to tell you how I got there.  You know, the background.  I like background.

Several months ago, while browsing through a bookstore called Seagull Book, I came across these super cool boards.

I love goals.  I love knowing I'm striving towards where I want to be and measuring my progress against goals I've set.

While I know that there are all sorts of different ways to make goals, this isn't one I'd thought of before and to say I was excited when I "stumbled" across it would be a massive understatement.

I continued to think about the boards for weeks until one day, it dawned on me that I could make my own.  My own personalized version.

And so can you.

I made a few different versions, starting with this one.

(this version is completely editable in excel)

And this could be it.  You could fill it out, hang it up, and work on it throughout the year.

But, my plan is to use the excel version for a family night and have each member of our family fill one out. 

Next, I'll cute-ify them by copying their goals onto one of these versions (or probably a few different ones).

I've got these as jpg's, pdf's and in Microsoft Word.  If you don't love your handwriting and would there for like something editable, you can edit the pdf's if you have Adobe Professional, otherwise, you'll want the word version (I already added text boxes for you, although you can certainly change them up yourself).

2014 Goals jpg
2014 Goals pdf
2014 Goals word

Happy goal setting!

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