Thursday, May 29, 2014

June Sharing Time - Priesthood Ordinances Bless and Strengthen My Family

Elder Craig C. Cardon, of the Seventy, said,

"The priesthood also has the power to change our very natures."

How awesome is that? 

I've often thought about how the gospel has changed me.  I can't tell a difference from day to day, but when I look back over several months, I am amazed.

I like to compare myself to a large stone and the gospel (and the ordinances within it) to a slow, yet consistent, stream of water.  Maybe even the word stream is too big, perhaps drip would be better.  As I participate in the teachings of the gospel, try to make them a daily party of my life, those drips change me just as the water will eventually carve into the stone. 

Elder Cardon closed his talk by saying,

"So it is that the priesthood, through the workings of the Spirit, moves individuals closer to God through ordination, ordinances, and refinement of individual natures, thus affording God's children the opportunity to become like Him and live eternally in His presence - a work more glorious than moving mountains."

Becoming more like God is a "work more glorious that moving mountains"!  I love it!

Start off your Sharing Time by either reading or singing (for those of you with more vocal talent than me) the lyrics to the second verse of "Love Is Spoken Here."  Before you read, tell the kids that when they hear something that blesses their family to stand up (or raise their hand, touch their nose or anything else you can think of).

Mine is a home where ev'ry hour is blessed by the strength of priesthood pow'r,
With father and mother leading the way,
Teaching me how to trust and obey;
And the things they teach are crystal clear,
For love is spoken here.
After your done reading through the verse, have one child tell you what it teaches about how our families can be blessed.  Then, ask for examples.  Have the children share with you ways their life has been blessed by the priesthood. 
This makes me think of a family in our ward that started visiting temples throughout Utah every month in January (yes, I know we Utahns are unbelievably blessed when it comes to the lack of distance between our homes and multiple temples).  As a youth we went on temple trips a few times a year, but I never thought about doing them with my parents, as a family.  If you have a family that makes time to go to the temple together, you could either talk about them or have them come in for a few minutes to tell you how it has blessed their lives.  I think this would be an awesome addition to the conversation and add an angle the children may not have thought about before.
Now you can move on to quiz time. 
While you could follow the Sharing Time Outline a little more exactly in senior primary, having the younger kids (mostly the youngest two classes) think up clues would really be having their teachers come up with clues.
So, this is my alternative, find pictures for as many priesthood ordinances as you'd like.  You can either go to lds dot org and print them at home, or get to church a little early and have your lovely librarians find some for you. 
Copy and paste the clues below to be used in a variety of ways.  You could cut them apart, put them in a basket for the kids to draw out and guess; hide them around the room or under chairs; or you could read them, having the kids do something when they know the answer (like standing up).
This is done every sacrament meeting.
While this is happening a group of men stand in a circle and hold you in their hands.
When you find them person you want to spend forever with, you go to a special place to do this.
If you aren't feeling very well, your dad or other worthy priesthood holder can give you this.
This ordinance can only be done after you are 8 years old.
This only happens after you are dunked under water, but usually either right after or the next Sunday.
Feel free to add other ordinances if you think of them!
As one is guessed, stop for a minute and talk about how exactly it can bless not just your life, but the lives of your family.  Encourage the children (and teachers) to share personal stories.
Send the children home with their very own copy of the matching game from this months "Friend."  I know that many children get the magazine delivered to their homes, but not many will have their very own copy.  These ones they can color, cut out and play with their families. 
Not too long ago, Sister Carole M. Stephens of the General Relief Society gave a talk with a great title, "Do We Know What We Have?"  For those of us that have easy access to the blessings of the priesthood, it can be easy to forget what wonderful blessings they truly are.
"These priesthood ordinances and covenants provide access to the fullness of the blessings promised us by God, which are made possible by the Savior's Atonement.  They arm sons and daughters of God with power, God's power, and provide us with the opportunity to receive eternal life - to return to God's presence and live with Him in His eternal family."
Let's not forget how blessed we are.  Let's not forget where that power comes from and to whom we should express our thanks.  Often.

Friday, May 16, 2014

May Sharing Time - The Prophet Speaks to Us During General Conference

Last week I wrote about a modified memory game I'd made up using both quotes from the latest General Conference and the pictures of our modern day prophets and apostles. 

If you haven't used the game yet, I think it fits pretty darn perfectly this week. 

This is what one half of the matching looks like, the other half is a picture of an apostle on one side and the matching quote picture on the other (the quote pictures help the kids...and match the quotes more easily to the correct apostle's picture).

If you'd like to use the matching game, click back to my previous weeks post for more detailed instructions and the link for the download.  This game would also work awesomely for a Family Home Evening (or two).  My kids loved playing it last time I made it and I'm looking forward to getting it all printed out so we can do this one.

If you've already used the game, or would prefer not to, I do have another idea for this week.

I was perusing through some family home evening ideas on King Benjamin when I came across one on A Year of FHE.  I've probably mentioned this blog before, but just in case you haven't ever checked it out, I would highly recommend it.  Her lessons are simple, easy and pretty great.

The lesson I found used a black and white King Benjamin and tower.  Each step of his tower detailed a different teaching from his speech.  As I looked at the tower, an idea started to percolate.

I could made a "tower" for President Monson and then add his teaching from our most recent General Conference.

After going through a few different incarnations, I finally found a format I really liked (which I'll show you in just a minute).

I would start the lesson by asking the children to tell me what they know about King Benjamin.  Go until someone talks about his speech from the tower. 

Then, ask if there is anything like that today, do we gather together to hear our prophets speak?
We are so blessed to hear from them at General Conference two times every year!!

Then say something like this...

Hearing is important, we have to hear and learn about messages from our Heavenly Father before we can do them.   Today, we're going to talk about what King Benjamin taught us in the Book of Mormon and what President Monson taught us just last conference. 

As we're learning, be thinking about how we can make changes in our lives to put the teachings to work.

I made the King Benjamin tower a little bigger and then made a podium/tower for President Monson. 

Take the towers and cut them apart so each rung on the ladder is one piece.

Put the tower and podium up on the board and have each ladder piece in a cup/basket/bag for the children to draw out.  As they draw a rung, have them decide which prophet the teaching belongs to AND talk about how we can use that teaching in our lives every single day.

The download also has a King Benjamin and President Monson you can put at the top of the tower or behind the podium.

I love how so many of the General Conference speakers express their love for President Monson and a personal witness of his call as a prophet.  This would be a perfect way to end sharing time. 


Saturday, May 10, 2014

May Sharing Time - My Family Will Be Blessed as We Follow the Prophet

"One admonition that has been a strength to me is the powerful declaration of the Prophet Joshua, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve; ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Josh. 24:15). ...

In our world today, one thing has not changed since Joshua spoke: Those who choose to serve the Lord  will always listen attentively and specifically to the Prophet.  In modern Israel, serving the Lord means carefully following the Prophets" (Elder Andersen).

We have been taught to follow the prophets, to choose as a family for a very long time.  It is truly advice or any age and every family.

I think following the idea in the Sharing Time Outline to have a few families come in and share how the follow the prophet is a great idea.  I would additionally ask them to share what they've learned from the most recent conference and what they've done (or plan to do) to follow that specific counsel.

If you choose to ask more than one family, I wouldn't plan on doing anything else.  Ask enough that they'll each have 3-5 minutes (I'd say 3-4 families) and be excited that you get a fantastic sharing time without having to do too much work.

You could also choose to have just one family speak for a minute or two to introduce the topic and then use the last idea in the outline to help the kids learn more about what our prophet has taught us most recently.

Last year I made up a game to help the kids learn about what our apostles taught during conference and how those teachings can be applied in our lives.  I decided to make another one for this conference seeing as it would fit beautifully with this weeks topic.

This game would fit great with the last week too, so if you want to have families come in for the third week, you could still use the game during the fourth week.

It's sort of a modified game of memory.  You match a quote from conference with the apostle who said it.  To help more easily match them up, I put a picture that goes along with the quote (or in some cases, the talk) both on the quote and on the back of the apostle picture.

To play, you'll need:

Pictures of the apostles.  I printed out and laminated quarter page size pictures of the apostles a few years ago and I use them frequently at home and in primary.  Very worth the ink.

Pictures that match the quotes to tape or sticky onto the back of the apostle pictures.

The quotes and pictures (both the pictures and the quote pictures shown below are here).

I would arrange the board like this:

Put all the prophets on one side (with the quote picture stickey-ed on back) and the quote/pictures on the other side.

Make sure to line up the prophet pictures with enough space either next to or underneath so you can put the quotes there once they've been matched.  You could take them off the board as you find matches, but I like the idea of the kids being able to see them the whole time.

Game instructions:

1. Call on a child to choose a quote and prophet picture (I would also ask them to try and name the apostle they've chosen).

2. Check the picture on the back of the prophet picture to see if they match.

3. If they match, proceed to step 4, if not, start again with step 1.

4. Have the child read the quote and lead a short discussion on how we can use that specific counsel in our personal and/or family lives.

5. Put quote back on board next to the apostle who said it.

6. Start again with step 1.

Teach the children that our "... prophets speak to us in the name of the Lord and in plainness.  As the Book of Mormon confirms, "For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding" (2 Ne. 31:3).

While it is important to search and ponder, God will always speak to us in a way that we can understand individually.  This is why many people feel General Conference was specifically for them.  Through the Holy Ghost, we will hear what we need exactly at this time in our lives, making the teachings and counsel given very personal. 

President Uchtdorf went on to say, "Let us listen to the prophets of our days as they help us focus on the things that are central to the Creator's  plan for the eternal destiny of His children."

As we listen and try to feel and follow Heavenly Father's direction for us, and for our families, we will grow stronger.  Our faith, testimonies, families and so much more will be impacted in positive ways.  I am so thankful for the amazing gift and blessing conference can be in all our lives!!

Happy Sharing Time,


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May Sharing Time - The Prophets in the Scriptures are Examples to my Family

Image courtesy of bulldogza/

Elder Waldo P. Call of the Seventy said, "My dear brothers and sisters and family, can't you see what we need to do?  Be submissive - do not murmur - endure to the end.  If we will do this, the Lord will show us the way, if we will but follow his prophets and Apostles."

I used this quote while writing about last weeks sharing time, but I couldn't help using it again this week.  It's simple and profound.

We need to follow the prophets, to learn from their teachings AND their lives. 

This week we get to focus on the lives of several prophets from the scriptures.  We get to talk about what their example teaches us and how we can use those teachings in our lives.

After introducing the topic with the clapping exercise found in the Sharing Time Outline (you could really have them follow you doing anything and it would work exactly the same), move on to the individual prophets we'll be learning about. 

I was thinking it would be fun to have each of the prophets pictures up on a board so all the children can see them (the library has pictures of all the prophets, while you can print them out, you can save yourself some ink by getting to church a little early and giving your helpful librarians a copy of who you need portraits of).  Then, using some reusable poster putty, attach the scripture reference to the bottom. 

I want to kids to read the scripture and GUESS which prophet it's talking about.  I figured, if I had them look it up, they'd be able to know which prophet purely from the reference (especially in senior primary).  That's why I typed up the scriptures, sans reference, and stuck the reference on the pictures.

After reading the scripture, attach it below the prophets picture, and spend a minute letting them tell you what they can learn about that prophet's example from the scripture.  How can they apply the lesson in their own lives?

While you can move to the next prophet after the discussion, I have another idea.  Well, I suppose it's actually the Sharing Time Outline that has another idea, although I did tweak it just a smidge.

Teach the kids a made up verse to Follow the Prophet that goes along with that teaching. 

Did anyone else see that and think, huh, if only I was a little more quippy, quick, good at writing song lyrics, I could totally help the kids come up with a verse DURING sharing time? 

Luckily, I was able to find verses for almost half of the prophets.  They are pretty great.

Unfortunately, that still left me with a little more than half. 

Even more unfortunately, I decided to take a stab at writing a few verses.  So, if you'd like to use them, you can.  If you just want a good laugh, they'll work pretty well for that, too. 

Lehi was a prophet, sailed across the sea
From Jerusalem the Lord told him to flee
Coming off the boat, he knelt down in the sand
Thanked the Lord for leading them to the promised land.

Nephi was a prophet, he chose to obey
All of the commandments that the Lord did say
Nephi was courageous, valiant, true
What the Lord commanded, he would go and do.

Once there was a prophet, king of all the land,
Gathered all his people, taught them the Lord’s plan.
All the people listened; joy filled every heart.
Then King Benjamin said, “Go serve and do your part.”

Joshua was a prophet, he taught us to be strong,
If we use our courage, we just can’t go wrong.
His challenge was to choose each and every day
How our house can follow God in every way.

Prophet John the Baptist paved the way for God,
He got people ready with a gentle prod.
Baptizing with water all who held desire,
So they would be ready to be filled with fire.

Alma the Younger didn’t choose the right,
So his father prayed, pled with all his might.
An angel came to Alma, showing he’d been sent,
Alma saw his sins and hurried to repent.

A prophet followed God by building 8 great boats,
So across the ocean their families they could tote.
Jared’s brother showed great faith and then he saw
Our Savior Jesus Christ which filled him with awe.

Pres’dent Monson is our prophet, he teaches us through God
To follow the commandments and hold the iron rod
We watch at General Conference; the words he speaks are true
And even though we’re small, there’s so much we can do

I included a verse about President Monson in case you have extra time (ha), want to take extra time or fit it into another weeks sharing time.  I think it would fit pretty great with week 4.

After going through as many prophets as your time allows (I'm pretty sure the 15 minutes allotted for sharing time go faster than regular 15 minutes most Sundays), take the time to bear your testimony.

Elder Neil L. Andersen said,

"This is the kingdom of God upon the earth.  You and I are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the Son of God.  He lives.  He directs this work.  President Hinckley is His Prophet, and with him are 14 ohers who hold the Apostolic keys.  They are watchmen on the tower, messengers of the warning voice, Prophets, Seers, and Revelators.

"Choose you this day whom ye will serve; ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Josh. 24:15).

"And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey" (Josh. 24:24).

That these words may be written in our hearts is my prayer..."


If you'd like to download the scriptures, references and new verses to Follow the Prophet, I've uploaded them to Google Docs.
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