Friday, July 31, 2009

My Gospel Study in July 2009

2009 Outline for Sharing Time and the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation
July Theme (and weekly gospel principles): I will strengthen my family.

July Scripture: "And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably" (Mosiah 4:13)

Chapter 36: Receiving the Ordinances and Blessings of the Temple
Chapter 37: Charity, the Pure Love of Christ

General Conference Addresses April 2009

Quentin L. Cook, “Our Father’s Plan—Big Enough for All His Children,” Ensign, May 2009, 34–38
"The desire of our hearts, of course, is not only to acquire salvation and immortality but also to attain eternal life with a loving Father in Heaven and our Savior in the celestial kingdom with our families. We can obtain eternal life only through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.The Savior said, “For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me."

Kevin W. Pearson, “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Ensign, May 2009, 38–40
"As parents, we have been commanded to teach our children “to understand the doctrine of … faith in Christ the Son of the living God” (D&C 68:25). This requires more than merely recognizing faith as a gospel principle. “To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone” (Bible Dictionary, “Faith,” 669). True faith must be centered in Jesus Christ. “Faith is a principle of action and of power” (Bible Dictionary, 670). It requires us to do, not merely to believe. Faith is a spiritual gift from God that comes through the Holy Ghost. It requires a correct understanding and knowledge of Jesus Christ, His divine attributes and perfect character, His teachings, Atonement, Resurrection, and priesthood power. Obedience to these principles develops complete trust in Him and His ordained servants and assurance of His promised blessings.

"There is no other thing in which we can have absolute assurance. There is no other foundation in life that can bring the same peace, joy, and hope. In uncertain and difficult times, faith is truly a spiritual gift worthy of our utmost efforts. We can give our children education, lessons, athletics, the arts, and material possessions, but if we do not give them faith in Christ, we have given little.

“Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith” (Bible Dictionary, 669; see also Romans 10:14–17). Do your children know that you know? Do they see and feel your conviction? “Strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Bible Dictionary, 669).

Barbara Thompson, “His Arm Is Sufficient,” Ensign, May 2009, 83–85
"Last September in the general Relief Society meeting, Sister Beck outlined three things to help us in our goal to obtain eternal life. They are:
1. “Increase in faith and personal righteousness.”
2. “Strengthen families and homes.”
3. “Serve the Lord and His children.”3 This also means to seek out and care for the poor and needy.
We know Satan will tempt and try us as we seek to do these things, but the Lord has promised that He will strengthen us. He will help us."

Jeffrey R. Holland, “None Were with Him,” Ensign, May 2009, 86–88

"Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: “I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”

"May we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear. This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ “at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,”21 for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone."

Dallin H. Oaks, “Unselfish Service,” Ensign, May 2009, 93–96
"A familiar example of losing ourselves in the service of others—this one not unique to Latter-day Saints—is the sacrifice parents make for their children. Mothers suffer pain and loss of personal priorities and comforts to bear and rear each child. Fathers adjust their lives and priorities to support a family. The gap between those who are and those who are not willing to do this is widening in today’s world. One of our family members recently overheard a young couple on an airline flight explaining that they chose to have a dog instead of children. “Dogs are less trouble,” they declared. “Dogs don’t talk back, and we never have to ground them.”

"We rejoice that so many Latter-day Saint couples are among that unselfish group who are willing to surrender their personal priorities and serve the Lord by bearing and rearing the children our Heavenly Father sends to their care. We also rejoice in those who care for disabled family members and aged parents. None of this service asks, what’s in it for me? All of it requires setting aside personal convenience for unselfish service. All of it stands in contrast to the fame, fortune, and other immediate gratification that are the worldly ways of so many in our day."

"The values of the world wrongly teach that “it’s all about me.” That corrupting attitude produces no change and no growth. It is contrary to eternal progress toward the destiny God has identified in His great plan for His children. The plan of the gospel of Jesus Christ lifts us above our selfish desires and teaches us that this life is all about what we can become."

José A. Teixeira, “Gifts to Help Us Navigate Our Life,” Ensign, May 2009, 104–6
"We too have within us a “GPS” allowing us to know at all times what is right and what is wrong, as well as assisting us in making correct choices. “We are born with a natural capacity to distinguish between right and wrong because of the Light of Christ that is given to every person (D&C 84:46). This faculty is called conscience. The possession of it makes us responsible beings.” Additionally, as members of the Church we have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost to comfort, protect, and guide us."

"President Thomas S. Monson, our beloved prophet, said, “Our lives will depend upon the decisions which we make—for decisions determine destiny.”

Ensign, July 2009

The Friend, July 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Recently Read: Last Child in the Woods

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

The basic point of this book is that children are not spending time in nature like past generations. They don't build forts and go fishing and work on the farm and lie on the grass and watch the clouds go by, contemplating the deeper meaning of life. The effects of this lack of nature-activity are linked to pretty serious stuff: disturbing childhood trends of growing rates of obesity, ADHD and depression.

The book discussed some of the reasons behind the shift away from nature: parent fears of strangers and diseases and traffic, kids are busy with more and more homework and structured activities, less access to nature, and of course the growth of tv and computer technology. The book offered solutions and suggestions for policy change (I admit I mostly skimmed this section).

This book was thought provoking and caused me to reevaluate the life of my family and how much time we spend in nature. Without a backyard to send the kids out to, I have to be a little more intentional when it comes to getting my kids outside time. We like to go for nature walks, but we could do it a lot more. Florida abounds with wildlife (lizards and armadillos and gators and plenty of bugs) but are we really learning all we could about these creatures?

This book was a good lesson (reminder) about how essential it is that children grow up with the chance to experience nature and make it a part of themselves. Here are some suggestions from the book of things that you and I can do:
  • Encourage children to study or play in rooms with a view of nature.
  • Encourage children to play outdoors in green spaces, and advocate recess in green schoolyards. This may be especially helpful for renewing children's concentration.
  • Plant and care for trees and vegetation at your residence, or encourage the owner to do so.
  • Value and care for the trees in your community. Caring for trees means caring for people.
I checked out the author's blog and discovered this resource guide with lots of great nature activity ideas. I really like the idea of a daily green hour. Does anybody want to join me for a weekly nature hike?!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Scripture of the Week: Exodus 20:8

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
Exodus 20:8

This scripture was chosen to go with a Family Home Evening lesson on keeping the Sabbath day holy. I used this suggestion from the 2009 Outline for Sharing Time and the CSMP (July, #4).

"Display a large weekly calendar that has Sunday marked or highlighted. Ask the children why Sunday is special. Discuss the history and importance of the Sabbath day. Help the children memorize Exodus 20:8 (see “Memorization,” TNGC, 171–72). Play a sorting game. Prepare a list of Sabbath activities and then add a few other activities that would not be suitable for the Sabbath. Invite a child to read one idea and place it on an appropriate day on the calendar. If the activity honors the Sabbath, be sure that it is placed on Sunday. Repeat for each activity. Testify of the blessings of keeping the Sabbath day holy."
I used the visual aids found here for the sorting game, and the activity went well.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Recently Read: Helping and Healing Our Families

Helping and Healing our Families by Hart, Newell, Walton, and Dollahite

The subtitle of this book is Principles and Practices Inspired by "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". It is a textbook produced by the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, including the work of 125 authors (BYU faculty and individuals with professional and personal experience in family life).

I picked this up from the BYU Bookstore a few years ago, and it's taken me that long to read it. I didn't take that long to read it because it isn't good--it's a textbook, so it just took me a little while to do my homework.

This book relies on scholarly research to provide helps to families and individuals in many varied circumstances. Some of the topics covered include:
-the covenant of marriage
valuing and nurturing children (you can bet I've read these chapters a few times!)
-overcoming addiction
-wayward children
-the benefits of marrage
-mental illness
-maintaining and strengthening the family

This book is a great resource for any families reference shelf. I refer to this (and it's earlier companion volume Strengthening Our Families: An In-Depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family) fairly regularly. It's a great resource for anyone who is trying to raise a family according to Proclamation-based principles.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Scripture of the Week: D&C 136: 28-29

“If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
If thou art sorrowful, call on the Lord thy God with supplication, that your souls may be joyful.”
D&C 136: 28-29

We chose this scripture to go along with our Pioneer themed Family Home Evening Lesson. This scripture is the word of the Lord given through the Prophet Brigham Young to the pioneers who were camped at Winter Quarters in January, 1847.

We shared the story of Edwin Pettit, one of our ancestors who, when faced with opposition, dressed up as girl so that he could join his sister's wagon train that was leaving Nauvoo and heading west.
Then we did this Pioneer Treasure Hunt to learn more about pioneer life. After our treat we finished up the evening with some good old-fashioned stick-pulling.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Scripture of the Week: 3 Nephi 18:21

"Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed."
3 Nephi 18:21

President Monson likes to say “The family that prays together stays together”.

We chose this scripture and quote to go along with our Family Home Evening lesson adapted from the Primary Sharing Time suggestion listed in The Friend magazine for July 2009.

Family prayer strengthens my family.

  • Read: 3 Nephi 18:21. Listen for what Jesus Christ commands us to do (pray in our families).
  • Tape one of the following word strips on each child in random order: family, prayer, will, strengthen, my, family. Ask the other children to help unscramble the children so the words are in the right order. Recite the sentence together.
  • Show GAK 606- explain we are encouraged to have family prayer every night and every morning.
  • Ask: what can you do to help with family prayers? (remind their family to have family prayer, come quickly when called, take turns saying the prayer, pray for members of the family, be reverent during the prayer.)
  • Sing “Family Prayer” (CS p. 189) and think about our family kneeling in prayer.
  • Write at the top of a paper “Family prayer will strengthen my family.” Draw a picture of our family kneeling in prayer.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Caldecott Books in June

Here are the Caldecott Medal Winner books the Ant Bug and I read during the month of June.

1950: Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi
1985: Saint George and the Dragon, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman; text: retold by Margaret Hodges
1988: Owl Moon, illustrated by John Schoenherr; text: Jane Yolen
2000: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
2001: So You Want to Be President? Illustrated by David Small; text by Judith St. George
2007: Flotsam by David Wiesner

The Ant Bug quite enjoyed Flotsam and the Joseph book has long been a favorite at our house. The others got a "just okay" response from her. I really enjoyed the President book.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Scripture of the Week: D&C 6:13

If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God…”
D&C 6:13

We chose this scripture to go along with our Family Home Evening lesson on Perseverance.

We defined perseverance as sticking to it and trying again and again, even when it seems hard to do. We also used words like patience and hard work. Then we talked about ways that members of our family have shown perseverance (the Ant Bug learning to read and to play the piano, etc).

We sang the song from Joy School that goes like this:

"When a thing is hard to do
I won't sit and cry.
I will sing a happy tune
And try, try, try."

Then we used Gospel Art Kit picture #412 to tell the story of Mary Fielding Smith showing perseverance (and great faith) as she traveled to the Salt Lake Valley, facing many difficulties along the way.
We finished the evening off by making ice cream in a bag. While we enjoyed the fruits (or should I say treats?) of our labors, we discussed the following questions:
  • How hard was it to shake the jar?
  • How did your arm feel?
  • How long would you say it took the milk to turn to ice cream?
  • How does it taste?
  • What can making ice cream teach us about reaching our goals?
  • Should we just quit when it becomes hard? Why or why not?
  • What are the rewards of finishing a task?
(Questions adapted from this lesson on

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Recently Read: The Last Olympian

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

This is the fifth (and last) book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. This is a wonderful adventure series which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I'm a little sad to reach the end of the story, but it looks like there will still be more to come about the Olympians by Rick Riordan.

My Gospel Study in June 2009

2009 Outline for Sharing Time and the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation
June Theme (and weekly gospel principles): Faith, prayer, repentance, and forgiveness strengthen me and my family.

June Scripture: “Successful...families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, [and] forgiveness” (“Proclamation,” paragraph 7).

Lesson 20: The Kingdoms of Glory
Lesson 21: “Looking Forth for the Great Day of the Lord to Come”

Chapter 34: The Power of Forgiving
Chapter 35: Redemption for the Dead

General Conference Addresses April 2009

Margaret S. Lifferth, “Respect and Reverence,” Ensign, May 2009, 11–13

"As parents and leaders exemplify and teach respect for others, we confirm in the hearts of our children that each of us is truly a child of God and all are brothers and sisters through eternity."

"However, reverent behavior is not a natural tendency for most children. It is a quality that is taught by parents and leaders through example and training. But remember, if reverence is rooted in love, so is the teaching of it. Harshness in our training begets resentment, not reverence. So begin early and have reasonable expectations. A toddler can learn to fold his arms and get ready for prayer. But it takes time, patience, and consistency. Remember that we are not only teaching a child his first lessons in reverence, but the child may be mastering his first attempts at self-discipline."

Rafael E. Pino, “Faith in Adversity,” Ensign, May 2009, 41–42

"President Howard W. Hunter said: “If our lives and our faith are centered on Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1997], 40)."

"It is interesting to notice that the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew against both houses! Living the gospel does not mean that we will everlastingly escape adversity. Rather, it means that we will be prepared to face and endure adversity more confidently."

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Way of the Disciple,” Ensign, May 2009, 75–78

"In contrast, the gospel of Jesus Christ has the answers to all of our problems. The gospel is not a secret. It is not complicated or hidden. It can unlock the door to true happiness. It is not someone’s theory or proposition. It does not come from man at all. It springs from the pure and everlasting waters of the Creator of the universe, who knows truths we cannot even begin to comprehend. And with that knowledge, He has given us the gospel—a divine gift, the ultimate formula for happiness and success."

"Brothers and sisters, we have to stay with it. We don’t acquire eternal life in a sprint—this is a race of endurance. We have to apply and reapply the divine gospel principles. Day after day we need to make them part of our normal life."

"You and I can walk in the path of discipleship today. Let us be humble; let us pray to our Father in Heaven with all our heart and express our desire to draw close to Him and learn of Him.

Have faith. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened.10 Serve the Lord by serving others. Become an active participant in your ward or branch. Strengthen your family by committing to live the principles of the gospel. Be of one heart and of one mind in your marriage and in your family.

Now is the time to adjust your lives to be able to have a temple recommend and use it. Now is the time to have meaningful family home evenings, to read the word of God, and to speak to our Heavenly Father in earnest prayer. Now is the time to fill our hearts with gratitude for the Restoration of His Church, for living prophets, the Book of Mormon, and the priesthood power that blesses our lives. Now is the time to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, become His disciples, and walk in His way."

Neil L. Andersen, “Come unto Him,” Ensign, May 2009, 78–80

"Above all, we proclaim our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. All that we are—all that we will ever be—we owe to Him. While we gaze in awe at His majesty, He does not ask us to stay our distance but bids us to come unto Him. “I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:20)."

Gary E. Stevenson, “Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples,” Ensign, May 2009, 101–3

"You are never lost when you can see the temple. The temple will provide direction for you and your family in a world filled with chaos. It is an eternal guidepost which will help you from getting lost in the “mist of darkness.”1 It is the house of the Lord.2 It is a place where covenants are made and eternal ordinances are performed."

Ensign, June 2009

The Friend, June 2009