Sep 29, 2014

Service (FHE)

We had a really great family home evening this last week.  I based my lesson on the Gospel Principles manual chapter 28: Service.

Song: We sang song #236: Give Said the Little Stream, from the Primary Children's Songbook.  It goes as follows:

1. "Give," said the little stream,
"Give, oh! give, give, oh! give."

"Give," said the little stream,

As it hurried down the hill;

"I'm small, I know, but wherever I go

The fields grow greener still."
2. "Give," said the little rain,

"Give, oh! give, give, oh! give."

"Give," said the little rain,

As it fell upon the flow'rs;

"I'll raise their drooping heads again,"

As it fell upon the flow'rs.
3. "Give, then, as Jesus gives,

Give, oh! give, give, oh! give.

Give, then, as Jesus gives;

There is something all can give.

Do as the streams and blossoms do:

For God and others live.
Chorus: Singing, singing all the day,

"Give away, oh! give away."

Singing, singing all the day,

"Give, oh! give away."

Lesson: Service is helping others who need assistance. Christlike service grows out of genuine love for the Savior and of love and concern for those whom He gives us opportunities and direction to help. Love is more than a feeling; when we love others, we want to help them.  Jesus even said, “I am among you as he that serveth” (Luke 22:27). As true followers of Jesus, we also must serve others.  

There are many ways to serve. We can help others economically, socially, physically, and spiritually.  We can do small and large acts of service. We should never fail to help someone because we are unable to do great things. Sometimes, however, we must sacrifice greatly to serve someone. The Savior gave up His life in serving us.

Through the service of men and women and boys and girls, God’s work is done. President Spencer W. Kimball explained: “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.”

When we serve others we gain important blessings. Through service we increase our ability to love. We become less selfish. As we think of the problems of others, our own problems seem less serious. We must serve others to gain eternal life. God has said that those who live with Him must love and serve His children (Matthew 25:34–40).

Jesus Christ loves all of us more than we can understand. When He was on earth He served the poor, the ignorant, the sinner, the despised. He taught the gospel to all who would listen, fed crowds of hungry people who came to hear Him, healed the sick, and raised the dead.  When we willingly serve others in the spirit of love, we become more like Christ.

Activity:  The obvious choice for an activity with a service lesson is to do a service project.  At first, I was trying to think of some other activity to do instead.  Something I could do from the comfort of my own home.  But then I realized that, although obvious, there is not better way to teach service to June is to do service.  So, I stepped out of my comfort zone and after the lesson, June and I brainstormed different acts of service we could do for our friends and family.  We decided to made a delicious treat and drop them off at a friend's house, and this person has been on our minds a lot.  June had the best time baking with me, even though I'm not much of a baker.  After three tries, one batch turned out near perfect.  June got to eat the not-so-perfect batches.  Still, her favorite part was dropping them off and seeing how happy our friends were.  Additionally, we also had the opportunity to take dinner to another friend's house, baby-sit for someone else, and to help yet another friend clean her home since she was moving.  This was a week of service activities, and it was the most perfect timing.

Sep 28, 2014

How I'm going to make Halloween spook-tacular

My mom would go out of her way to make Halloween, and really every holiday, memorable.  Her favorite holiday was Halloween as well, so she would try and out do herself each year.  I'd say she was pretty successful there.  Her costumes were Amazing!  My favorites were her Snow White costume--as Mom was pretty much the living embodiment of Snow White with her dark hair, light skin, and sweet innocence-- and especially Ms. Frizzle!  She even wore a red wig, sciencey-themed over-the-top every-color-ever dress, and super fun crazy shoes.  Again, the fact that I love school comes up with this costume since Magic School Bus was my favorite show for years.  She dressed up as Ms Frizzle just for me and to this day, that small act means so much.  Oh how I miss my Mother.
My dad and mom all dressed up for Halloween 2005

Since Mom made Halloween so fun for me and my brothers, I want to make it just as awesome for my daughter.  For this, I have a 5 step plan:

She's already in her Halloween jammies
#1) Build Halloween anticipation by talking up my fun Halloweens-past, watching old Halloween family videos, watching at least one Halloween themed kids' movie per night, listening randomly to Halloween-themed songs, and decorating the house with all sorts of fun Halloween decorations.

Last year's trunk-or-treat
 #2) Participate in as many fall/Halloween related activities as possible!  This includes:  visit the corn maze, visit a pumpkin patch, go to a Spook Alley, go to the Trunk-or-Treat, go to the annual Taylor Halloween party, Mommy gets to go to a Haunted House and then tell June all about it, visit the Halloween stores as frequently as possible just to look at the decorations, drink hot apple cider, eat plenty of candy corn, make tootsie pop spiders and hand them out, and play dress-up in old Halloween costumes.

June wants a purple and pink witch Halloween party

#3) Hold my own kids' Halloween party.  <= This one makes me a bit nervous.  Although I absolutely love planning and organizing events, I'm not a very good hostess or implementer...nor do I like clean-up.  But, for June I will do it!  For my first year hosting one, I'm going to keep it smaller with just 3-4 of June's friends of choice.  Maybe as I get braver, I'll be able to hold huge parties in the years to come.  This year, June wants her Halloween party to be pink-and-purple witch themed.  This is perfect as all the decorations I have right now go along with that.
Already registered for the half marathon

#4) Compete in a Halloween-themed running event.  This year's race will be the Dallas Monster Dash the weekend before Halloween.  I will be running the half marathon and Travis will be running the 5K with June in the stroller.  At least June and I will participate in the costume contest, and we all will take part in the post-run Halloween celebration.  If there happens to be any local zombie-runs, June and I will run those as well.

June's costume!  We're just going to add pink and black striped tights.

#5) Halloween night!  Halloween will consist of: preparing the house for trick-or-treaters, getting into costume, eating Halloween-themed meals throughout the day, watching Halloween movies, trick-or-treating, and going to Haunted Houses (when older).  I will always dress up with June, and I will always try to make my costumes as fun as possible.  I will also always take her out trick-or-treating, at least around the neighborhood, especially to the fun-decorated houses.  I want the actual Halloween night to be the pinnacle of all the Halloween-anticipation-building I employed.

June has already picked out what she wants to be:  a pink witch.  If we can't find a pink witch costume, I think I can talk her into a colorful witch or maybe a purple witch.  I already have my costume.  I will be dressing as a female version of William Wallace, who is best known as Mel Gibson's character from Braveheart.  I've been getting into family history research quite a bit lately, so I wanted to dress up like one of my ancestors.  I'm actually related to William Wallace down the line, and I thought that the outfit would be a fun battle-type costume to run in.  I already have my kilt and sash, which are run-ready, and my blue face paint.  All I'm needing is a fun collapsible sword and make-up setting spray so the blue won't melt off as I run the half marathon.  At this point, it's a tie between me and June as to who is more excited for Halloween.  As we decorate the house this week, I'm sure that excitement will only grow.

My costume inspiration
My costume thus far

Sep 21, 2014

Work and Personal Responsibility (FHE)

Great Family Home Evening this week!  June and I got to spend it the Andrews family, which made it all the better.  June always has more fun with the activities when she has friends to play with, and she even listens more intently when someone closer to her age is commenting on the topic.  I loved having the older children chime in with questions and comments.  They really added to the lesson and made it more interactive and enjoyable.  This week's lesson came from the Gospel Principles manual chapter 27:  Work and Personal Responsibility.  Such a great message to teach our children!

Song:  I love how the Andrews use their song time.  Each kid gets to pick a fun song (or song that you can move and dance to), and then each kid picks a reverent song (or song that invites the spirit in).  June liked picking her own song.  She really put a lot of thought into her choices too; it was adorable!  I think I'm going to incorporate this into future FHE's.  The song that goes along with this lesson, though, comes from the Primary Children's Songbook, song #198: When We're Helping.  It goes as follows:

When we're helping, we're happy,
And we sing as we go;

And we like to help mother*,

For we all love her so.

Lesson: Work is an eternal principle.God worked to create the heavens and the earth.  Then He placed Adam and Eve on the earth to take care of it and to have dominion over all living things. (Genesis 1:1–28.)  Work has been the way of life on earth since Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. The Lord said to Adam, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Genesis 3:19).  Parents work together to provide for the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of their family.  Children should do their part in the work of the family. It is necessary for children to have work assignments to fit their abilities. They need to be praised for their successes. Good work attitudes, habits, and skills are learned through successful experiences in the home.

To some people work is a drudgery. To others it is an exciting part of life. One way to enjoy life’s fullest benefits is to learn to love work. We can help one another in our work. The heaviest load becomes lighter when someone shares it. Our attitude toward work is very important. In any honest work we can serve God. King Benjamin, a Nephite prophet, said, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). If our work provides only enough for necessities for ourselves or our families, we are still helping some of God’s children.
We should each find the proper balance between work, recreation, and rest.  Rest is important too, and we are even commanded to rest on the Sabbath Day.  On other days of the week, in addition to working, we may spend time to improve our talents and enjoy our hobbies, recreation, or other activities that will refresh us.
“Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Work is a key to full joy in the plan of God. If we are righteous, we will return to live with our Heavenly Father, and we will have work to do. As we become like Him, our work will become like His work. His work is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
Activity:  I used the activity pieces from LDS family fun called Labor with your Might, and just tweaked the game to fit better with this lesson and with the ages of our participants.  I printed out all the game pieces with the labels and cut each piece out.  Then, I scattered all the tool pieces around the floor with the labels lined up together on the border.  I explained that there are given tools to accomplish the different types of work we can do, and that some of those tools and tasks were on the carpet.  I then asked the children how long they think it would take for just one person at a time to sort the tool pieces.  They answered with, "a very very long time!"  I asked them how long they think it would take for all of them to sort together, which they answered with a snap of their fingers.  The kids are ages 8, 6, 4, and 3.  I had the oldest child in charge of showing the kids where the pieces go.  The younger kids would pick up one piece at a time, show the oldest girl what it was, and she would tell them where it went.  Before long, they had all the pieces sorted--and had a fun time working together to do so.  After their "work" was done, they each received a "blessing" from a job well done, some fruit snacks!  I think food incentives are always great blessings.

The kids had so much fun with this activity!  I need to get a better camera though, so my pictures turn out better.  This doesn't do justice to the cuteness that was happening!

It was such a joy to watch the kids work together and enjoy the activity.  They were all so eager to participate and make sure everyone got a chance to play.  This was a pretty successful FHE and I hope to do more with other families who have children June's age.  She really had a great time.

Sep 12, 2014

Sacrifice (FHE)

I know this is late in being posted, I've been under the weather lately.  But still, here it is!  Family Home Evening this week was based off of the Gospel Principles manual chapter 26: Sacrifice.

Song:  We sang song #34, He Sent His Son, from the Primary Children's Songbook.  It goes as follows:

How could the Father tell the world of love and tenderness?
He sent his Son, a newborn babe, with peace and holiness.

How could the Father show the world the pathway we should go?
He sent his Son to walk with men on earth, that we may know.
How could the Father tell the world of sacrifice, of death?
He sent his Son to die for us and rise with living breath.
What does the Father ask of us? What do the scriptures say?
Have faith, have hope, live like his Son, help others on their way.
What does he ask? Live like his Son.

Lesson:  Sacrifice means giving to the Lord whatever He requires of our time, our earthly possessions, and our energies to further His work.  Our willingness to sacrifice is an indication of our devotion to God.  From the time of Adam and Eve to the time of Jesus Christ, the Lord’s people practiced the law of sacrifice. They were commanded to offer as sacrifices the firstlings of their flocks. These animals had to be perfect, without blemish. The ordinance was given to remind the people that Jesus Christ, the Firstborn of the Father, would come into the world. He would be perfect in every way, and He would offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. (Moses 5:5–8.)  Christ’s atoning sacrifice marked the end of sacrifices by the shedding of blood. Such outward sacrifice was replaced by the ordinance of the sacrament. The ordinance of the sacrament was given to remind us of the Savior’s great sacrifice.

Even though sacrifice by the shedding of blood was ended, the Lord still asks us to sacrifice.  “Ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood, … and your burnt offerings shall be done away. … And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:19–20). A “broken heart and a contrite spirit” means that we offer deep sorrow for our sins as we humble ourselves and repent of them.  Only through sacrifice can we become worthy to live in the presence of God. Only through sacrifice can we enjoy eternal life. Many who have lived before us have sacrificed all they had. We must be willing to do the same if we would earn the rich reward they enjoy.

Many examples could be given of those who sacrifice for the Lord. Yet a place in our Heavenly Father’s kingdom is worth any sacrifice we have to make of our time, talents, energy, money, and lives. Through sacrifice we can obtain a knowledge from the Lord that we are acceptable to Him (D&C 97:8).

Activity:  I got this activity from LDS Family Fun.  We made up this paper alter, and on the word slips June helped me come up with ways we can sacrifice today to the Lord.  She came up with things like always be good no matter what, be nice, go to church all the time.  I taped them onto the alter with the little fire pieces and June now has it in her room.  She loved giving her own answers and taping the fire pieces to them.

Sep 5, 2014

Fasting (FHE)

This week's lesson was based on chapter 23 in the Gospel Principles manual, Fasting.  Perfect timing for this lesson as Sunday is Fast Sunday.  I plan on reminding June about the cotton balls as we start our fast.

Song: We sang song #177, Teach me to Walk in the Light, from the Primary Children's Songbook.  It goes as follows:
Teach me to walk in the light of his love;
Teach me to pray to my Father above;

Teach me to know of the things that are right;

Teach me, teach me to walk in the light.
Come, little child, and together we'll learn

Of his commandments, that we may return

Home to his presence, to live in his sight

Always, always to walk in the light.
Father in Heaven, we thank thee this day

For loving guidance to show us the way.

Grateful, we praise thee with songs of delight!

Gladly, gladly we'll walk in the light.

Lesson: Fasting means to go without food and drink. Occasional fasting is good for our bodies and helps our minds become more active.  The Savior taught us that purposeful fasting is more than just going without food and drink. We must also concentrate on spiritual matters.

We should pray when we fast.  Prayer is a necessary part of fasting. Our fasting should be accompanied by sincere prayer, and we should begin and end our fasting with prayer.  We should fast with a purpose.  We can fast for many things:  comfort, strength, faith, the benefit of others, to overcome illness, to overcome trials, to know the truth of things, for others to find the truth of things, etc.

One Sunday each month Latter-day Saints observe a fast day. On this day we neither eat nor drink for two consecutive meals. If we were to eat our evening meal on Saturday, then we would not eat or drink until the evening meal on Sunday.  On fast Sunday, members of the Church meet together and partake of the sacrament. They strengthen themselves and one another by bearing testimony in fast and testimony meeting.

When we fast wisely and prayerfully, we develop our faith.  Fasting helps us gain strength of character. When we fast properly, we will learn to control our appetites and passions.  The Savior has said to those who fast properly, “Thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:18).

Isaiah, wrote of the Lord’s rich promises to those who fast and help the needy. We are promised peace, improved health, and spiritual guidance. Isaiah tells us of the blessings that come when we fast: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am” (Isaiah 58:8–9).  Fasting improves our lives and gives us added strength. It helps us live other principles of the gospel because it draws us nearer to the Lord.

Activity: This activity came from Deseret Book.  I took two bowls and placed them on opposite sides of the room.  I filled one bowl with 10 cotton balls.  I told June she had to move the cotton balls, one at a time, to the other bowl using only a spoon, no hands.  And, she had to do it blind folded with me to help her.  She did pretty well with the first couple, but the blind fold kept slipping off and then I just let her play the game without the blindfold.  She said it was much easier when she could see.  I explained it was harder to find the cotton balls when she was blindfolded because she couldn't feel them.  I then told her that sometimes it's hard for us to recognize God's power in our own lives, but fasting helps us to better feel that power as we are guided and blessed by it.  Fasting is like removing the blindfold.
Step 1: pick up cotton ball with spoon
Step 2: carry cotton ball without dropping it

Step 3: Drop cotton ball into bowl