Friday, November 25, 2011

Open The Gift

Sisters, do not take for granted the gifts God has given us. Sometimes the most delightful and enriching gifts come in very plain packages.

To download a free copy of Daughters of My Kingdom, click here

Come to Know Your Heavenly Father

I apologize for the long absence since my last post. Today I will catch up with November's Thursday Theology topic.

(From January 2010 Ensign magazine)

Ways We Can Come To Know Our Heavenly Father
1. Feast on the scriptures
Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. (2 Nephi 32:3)

2. Come to know Jesus Christ
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. (John 14:9)

3. Obey God's commandments and follow His prophets.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 
(John 14:21)

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. (Doctrine & Covenants 1:38)

4. With faith, pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you. (3 Nephi 18:20)

Take time to gaze into the heavens, where the courses of the stars and planets are evidence of "God moving in his majesty and power" (see Doctrine & Covenants 88:41-47)

Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth (Mosiah 4:9)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Doctrines That Testify of God the Father

(from January 2010 Ensign magazine)

We are created in God's image
And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so. And I, God, said: Let them have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Moses 2:26)

God is the Supreme Creator, and all things denote there is a God
But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator. (Alma 30:44)

God is our Heavenly Father, a literal spiritual parent
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Hebrews 12:9)

God the Father has a tangible body of flesh and bones
The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us. (Doctrine & Covenants 130:22)

Our Heavenly Father gave us a plan of salvation
For it is expedient that an aatonement should be made; for according to the great bplan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are cfallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made. (Alma 34:9)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Romans 8:16-17

"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."

I am a child of God — this song is well known and well beloved by every 3 year old I teach in nursery class on Sunday. It is a crucial principle of the gospel that explains the "why" of so many doctrines the prophets have taught. God provided a Savior for us, and Christ accepted the call to be our Savior, because we are His children and He loves us. He pours blessings upon us because we are His children and He loves us. He gives us weakness and challenges because we are His children and He loves us. We are heirs of the kingdom of God. That means, if we suffer with Christ, or take upon ourselves His name and His commandments, we are eligible to receive "all the Father hath", just as Christ will. We are eligible to receive of His glory and of His power. Why? Because we are His children, and He loves us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A testimony of the Book of Mormon

This is a beautifully made video about one man's testimony of the Book of Mormon, and how it has changed his life.

FHE Lesson - Reverence

Yesterday at church the chapel was fairly crowded. Since it was Fast Sunday, two families were blessing children. My family didn't arrive late, but when we got there, the only bench with enough room for all of us was the very front row. Ugh! Sometimes that's the worst row for a family with young kids to sit on, because you know the kids' irreverent behavior will be on public display for at least half of the room.

And that's what happened. After the deacons had passed the sacrament and sat down with their families, my two boys started bench-hopping all across the front of the room. One daughter was splayed all over our bench, moaning over her fate of having to come to church when she was so tired, and my other daughter was trying to play with her and crack jokes.


Needless to say, my husband and I have had it! No matter what we do or say, or things we allow to be smuggled into the chapel to keep the kids' attention, it was obvious to us we needed a new plan.

So last night at dinner, I announced that the entire family was going to take this week to practice sitting reverently in the chapel. Lucky for us, my husband's ward calling comes with a key to the building, so after dinner we all piled into the car, sans comic books and dinosaur toys, drove to the church, and sat quietly for 10 minutes in the chapel. I did bring scripture story books and Friend magazines, but that was it.

Tonight, for our FHE activity, we did this exercise again for 20 minutes. My goal is to increase our time by 10 minutes every evening until we can sit for a full 70 minutes. (Yes, you are fully within your rights to consider me mentally unstable!)

Before we left for the church, we had a short lesson about reverence in the chapel. We started by reading Leviticus 19:30, then I talked about how our meetinghouses have been dedicated to be sacred buildings, just like the temple. On special occasions, the chapel is even treated as a literal extension of the temple during temple dedication broadcasts. Next I read a story I found on Sugardoodle called Michael. This is a story originally published in the Friend magazine in 1974. My 6 year old particularly related to this story, which is about a boy who loves to run, climb, shout, wrestle, and be 100% boy. But when this boy goes to church, he knows how to sit quietly, keep his feet still, and not talk or even sing unless directed to (!) There are pictures for the story you can print out as well (click here.)

So far, this exercise/experiment in reverence is going well for us. I know it's not something any child can do, but I thank my God in heaven for helping me find a solution that actually seems to work for us!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Forget Me Not

On September 24th, Elder Uchtdorf of the First Presidency of the LDS Church gave a wonderful talk to all the women of the church. The talk is entitled Forget Me Not. He talked about the tiny forget-me-not flower, and used it as a metaphor to teach us five essential principles we, as women, should never forget. To see Elder Uchtdorf's full message, just click on the video at the bottom.
  • Forget not to be patient with yourself.
I want to tell you something that I hope you will take in the right way: God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect. Let me add: God is also fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not.And yet we spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others—usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths.Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It’s wonderful that you have strengths. And it is part of your mortal experience that you do have weaknesses.Dear sisters, many of you are endlessly compassionate and patient with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate and patient with yourself.
  • Forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice.
An acceptable sacrifice is when we give up something good for something of far greater worth.Every person and situation is different, and a good sacrifice in one instance might be a foolish sacrifice in another. How can we tell the difference for our own situation? We can ask ourselves, “Am I committing my time and energies to the things that matter most?” There are so many good things to do, but we can’t do all of them. Our Heavenly Father is most pleased when we sacrifice something good for something far greater with an eternal perspective.
  • Forget not to be happy now.
If we spend our days waiting for fabulous roses, we could miss the beauty and wonder of the tiny forget-me-nots that are all around us.This is not to say that we should abandon hope or temper our goals. Never stop striving for the best that is within you. Never stop hoping for all of the righteous desires of your heart. But don’t close your eyes and hearts to the simple and elegant beauties of each day’s ordinary moments that make up a rich, well-lived life.
  • Forget not the "why" of the gospel.
In our diligent efforts to fulfill all of the duties and obligations we take on as members of the Church, we sometimes see the gospel as a long list of tasks that we must add to our already impossibly long to-do list, as a block of time that we must somehow fit into our busy schedules. We focus on what the Lord wants us to do and how we might do it, but we sometimes forget why. My dear sisters, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not an obligation; it is a pathway, marked by our loving Father in Heaven, leading to happiness and peace in this life and glory and inexpressible fulfillment in the life to come. The gospel is a light that penetrates mortality and illuminates the way before us.
  • Forget not that the Lord loves you.
You are known and remembered by the most majestic, powerful, and glorious Being in the universe! You are loved by the King of infinite space and everlasting time! He who created and knows the stars knows you and your name—you are the daughters of His kingdom.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

God Is Truly Our Father

(from January 2010 Ensign magazine)

God is our Father in Heaven, the Father of our spirits. In the Godhead with Him are Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. They are distinct beings with distinct roles but are one in purpose. This truth, along with many others, was lost after the deaths of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, during a period known as the Apostasy.

The Lord began to restore these lost truths in the spring of 1820, when 14-year-old Joseph Smith prayed in a grove of trees near his home in Manchester Township, New York, to know which church to join. In answer to his prayer, he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. The Prophet Joseph Smith later wrote of this vision: "One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other — This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" (Joseph Smith–History 1:17)

On February 16, 1832, the Prophet and Sidney Rigdon received a revelation. To introduce the revelation, they testified of Jesus Christ and God the Father: "And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of [Jesus Christ], this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father." (Doctrine & Covenants 76: 22-23)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Psalm 1

"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish."
I love this psalm. It describes so well the character of a righteous person. I use this psalm as a personal standard, and for self analysis to see how I am doing as a disciple of Christ. The blessings of this psalm especially give me comfort – "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water...whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

Have you ever seen trees that grow along riverbanks? Their roots are thick and strong, and well established through the ground. They grow tall and beautiful because they have an unending supply of water. That is what we can be like when we plant ourselves in the Gospel's fertile soil. We are forever watered and nourished by Christ's atonement and mercy, which is like a river of water that never dries up. This is what I want to be like. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

FHE Lesson - Friendships

Since Monday was Halloween, we held Family Home Evening tonight. We had a lesson about friendships - what it means to be a good friend, and what we should look for in choosing our friends. We started by singing Love One Another, and after prayer, Dan read the following two scriptures:

John 15:12 – "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you."

Doctrine & Covenants 121:9 – "Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands."

Dan explained that the second scripture was God talking to Joseph Smith when he was imprisoned in Liberty Jail. He was in a cold, dark jail, with only a few friends with him, for several months. God told Joseph his friends still supported him, even though they couldn't be with him. Then we talked about what friends do. The kids came up with answers like sharing toys and playing together. We then talked about how friends help each other make good choices. An example Dan gave is if your friends are telling bad or dirty jokes, you can be a good friend by saying, "I don't like to hear those jokes. They aren't nice." I told the kids you have to be brave to speak up like that, but you are being a good friend when you set a good example.

Dan then concluded with this scripture:

John 15:14 – "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." 

He explained that God will consider us His friends when we obey the commandments. Yep, that's the ultimate friend I want!

After our lesson was done, we played The Friend Ship Game and made smores in the microwave. They were really yummy, but I still prefer campfire-toasted marshmallows the best.

The Friend Ship Game is a cute and simple game I found in a file folder game book years ago. The basic premise of the game is each person gets a "Friend Ship" with a big pocket in it. There are also Friend Ship cards and game cards. Each player, on their turn, picks a game card from the stack and either earns or loses Friend Ship cards based on what the game card says. The game cards have lots of cute examples of being a friend or not – eg. "You baked a goodie for a friend who was sick. Collect 1 Friend Ship card." The Friend Ship cards you collect are kept in your Friend Ship pocket. Whoever has the most Friend Ship cards at the end wins.

We hadn't played this game in forever (my youngest ones hadn't even seen the game before!) so it was lots of fun to play together and it helped emphasize the lesson of the evening.