Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Faith and Fear

Learned something this week...or should I say I re-learned something this week.  A lot of my epiphany's and words of wisdom actually come from re-learning.

All I want to say is ...."ahhhhhhh"  That is a peaceful BIG sigh of relief "ahh" not the other.

Ahhhhhhhhhh! Let the peace flow!! 

Faith and fear cannot exist at the same time on the same principle. Either you have faith and are going in the right direction, OR you have fear and you are awaiting your own worst case scenario to just happen to you.  I prefer FAITH.  It is a happier, better place to be.

I know you are now wondering what? which I can't tell you...just know I am loving the road of faith vs. the road of fear.

I think we should all try it!

It brings to mind one of my most favorite stories from President Packer:
Shortly after I was called as a General Authority, I went to Elder Harold B. Lee for counsel.
He listened very carefully to my problem and suggested that I see President David O. McKay. 
President McKay counseled me as to the direction I should go. I was very willing to be obedient but saw no way possible for me to do as he counseled me to do. 
I returned to Elder Lee and told him that I saw no way to move in the direction I was counseled to go. 
He said, "The trouble with you is you want to see the end from the beginning." I replied that I would like to see at least a step or two ahead. Then came the lesson of a lifetime: "You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you." 
Then he quoted these eighteen words from the Book of Mormon: "Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."

Those eighteen words from Moroni have been like a beacon light to me. Let me put them in their setting:

And it came to pass that Ether did prophesy great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not. And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. (Ether 12:5­6)

During the twenty-nine years following that experience, I have learned over and over again that all of us must walk by faith--near the edge of the light. Like Nephi, who said, "I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do" (1 Ne. 4:6), each of us must learn to take a few steps into the darkness of the unknown.

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Power in the New Curriculum: What I am Learning

This past Sunday, in teaching the New Curriculum, Come Follow Me, in Sunday School,  I found power in:
  • Starting with what they know...and going from there
  • Trying to use several senses in teaching-visual, touch, and listening
  • Going back over a topic that I felt wasn't well understood
  • Asking they youth what they learned in class today
  • Challenging them for next week-return and report

This past week I focused on

"How I Can I learn to see Heavenly Father's Hand in My Life?"

First off I LOVE this topic for EVERYONE and was so excited to focus on it this past week.

Starting with what they know...
To start things off, I had them write their testimony... what they already know or already believe.   I told them I only want them to write what THEY know and what THEY believe today. At the end of this post, you can see how one boy learned and grew from this exercise.

Trying to use several senses in teaching-visual, touch, and listening...
I had several visuals up on the chalkboard of the Savior, the First Vision, and Joseph Smith that I felt covered the topics I wanted to cover in class. [Testimony, the Savior, Prayer, Recognizing God's hand in our lives] As well as President Eyring's talk O Remember, Remember  [love that talk!] which I passed out for each of them to have.[touch] And tried hard to help them listen!  Not always easy with 13 year old boys, but with this New Curriculum I have been very impressed with how well these goofy, squirmy 13 year-old boys focus, participate, and are engaged.

Going back over a topic that I felt wasn't well understood...
This week I chose to  re-visit talking about the First Vision this week although we briefly touched on in last week.  I wasn't fully convinced that the boys had a  firm grasp on it. It is so important and so basic to our testimony, that I felt we couldn't move on without understanding the First Vision more. We went into a lot of detail. I  followed the counsel found in Preach My Gospel to quote Joseph's account of the actual vision ..." I saw a pillar of light..." and to memorize it.  I tried, but I have it so ingrained in my brain in Spanish from my mission, I had to read part of it, to get it completely right.  There is such a power in those verses from the mouth of Joseph Smith.

From there we then talked about the principles of prayer.  I went super basic because I feel we do a lot of assuming in our lessons that the youth have a full understanding, when often times they are lacking in the very basic principles.  I asked a lot of questions and they were basically teaching it although I don't think they realized it.

We read and covered the scriptures listed and  then we made the connection of recognizing God's Hand in our lives and writing down spiritual experiences with Joseph Smith's first vision and President Eyring's talk O Remember, Remember. We talked about how Joseph Smith wrote down a very spiritual experience and how God answered his prayer.  Anyway, you get the idea.

Asking the youth what they learned in class today...
I was surprised with how effective and powerfully applying this one question was.  Each one of the boys shot their arms up in the air wanting to share what they learned, and each of them picked something different!  My favorite response was, "My testimony grew today" 

Challenging them for next week-return and report...

The challenge for next week is to try to recognize God's hand in your lives, and we will share at the beginning of class next week. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Moving Forward With Faith

1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

2 And very early in the morning the afirst day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the brising of the sun.
3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
  • I imagine these women on their walk to toward the tomb, with the spices in their hands and arms, preparing themselves for the task ahead, anointing the body of Christ. 
  • Maybe they started talking amongst themselves about the stone they knew was there, guarding the tomb. How were they going to move the stone out of the way?
  • I am impressed by their faith as they moved forward with faith towards their goal not knowing really how it was all going to work out.
  • They didn't turn let their fears, or lack of knowledge in what was ahead of them, or their obvious inability to move such a large stone stop them from moving forward with faith.
  • They trusted. They believed. They had faith.

When they reached the tomb, they realized the stone had already been moved out of the way.
4 aAnd when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
  • They were blessed for their faith, as they became the first women to see the Savior after His resurrection.
Moving forward with faith blessed their lives,
and it can bless ours.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Family Scriptures..Making it Work


What makes family scriptures effective?


How do we follow the spirit of the law vs. the letter of the law?

  What makes it effective?

  • Having it! 
This takes divine intervention sometimes as your family gets so busy, knowing when it will work best for your family.

  • Doing it with an understanding that your children are getting more out of it than you think.
  • Knowing that reading the scriptures together as a family is extremely bonding.
  • Understanding that the outcome desired is for your children to establish a habit of reading on their own, everyday.
  • Keep it short.  We usually go around having everyone read 2 -3 verses each. 
  • Keeping the right balance of what you expect from family scriptures.
If there is a negative or really stringent spirit about showing up, participating, responding appropriately..then you might be disappointed, and you children will feel frusterated, and [gasp] might even resent family scriptures.

That's not what we it?!

This is one of those commandments that is supposed to bring us JOY and happiness! 

Following the Spirit of the law with family scriptures

is the approach we have chosen to take...
There might be a tendency as parents wanting to follow this commandment and instill obedience upon our children to go a little strict on this principle.
 We have seen better end results by being slightly flexible and understanding with this principle.
Family scriptures is kind of like carrying a bowl of Jell-o to the fridge.  It is a careful balancing act the whole way there. If you push too hard, you have a mess.  If you don't keep the bowl balanced the whole time, you will lovely red Jell-o juice all over the floor, fridge, or even you!
So you have to keep it balanced--giving and taking--ever so carefully.

 An example of family scriptures at our house-- over the coarse of a week or two.


Sunday: Announce were are reading scriptures before our 1:00 pm church schedule. Last week we didn't get ready in time, and didn't make it. Try better next Sunday or read at night.

Monday: [Late start school] Scriptures at 7:00am. Everyone is there. We start off with a kneeling down prayer (this seems to wake everyone up) and we read for 10 minutes or so. Off we go for the day!

Tuesday: Wake-up at 6:00am. Everyone stumbles to the family room, including our 20 year old college age girl. We start off with prayer to wake-everyone up. 18 year old twins have missionary prep at 6:30 am, so they only stay for prayer.

Wednesday: 6:00 am wake-up for scriptures and prayer. Worked pretty good. We read Mosiah 4: 14 and talked about why we aren't supposed to fight with each other. 7 year old slept through it all.

Thursday: 6:30 am...Ahh! We all had a hard time waking up. We show up for prayers only. Hope everyone is OK for the day. I feel alright knowing we can't be perfect everyday and the older ones are all reading scriptures every night on their own.

Thursday: 6:00 am again! Everyone is there, participating well. Off we go for another day!

Friday: What is it about Fridays? Everyone was tired! 2 were in the shower, so we had scriptures with those who were there. We said prayers in separate groups as everyone left.

Saturday: oops...we usually skip Saturdays. We are usually working early at jobs or projects.
Not perfect, but we are making the effort! 

The end result with Family Scriptures is to read them because they are true!!  And also to be endowed with the Spirit, to gain a testimony and apply the truths to our lives for our own conversion, and for our children to establish a habit of reading on their own, everyday!

What do you do to make Family Scriptures work in your family?

 see also: Family Scripture Study and Following the Prophet
               Gospel Outcomes

Monday, January 14, 2013

Teaching Youth to Testify


This year I am teaching a youth Sunday School class which happens to be 9, 13-14 year old young men: Future Missionaries!!  My goal is to make each Sunday a mini-MTC experience for them.

From Preach My Gospel, you'll find these Baptismal Interview Questions:

  • Do you believe that God is our Eternal Father?
  • Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world?
  • Do you believe that the Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith?
  • Do you believe that [current Church President] is a prophet of God? What does this mean to you?
I asked 4 youth to pretend one of their friends or non-member family member asked them one of those questions. How would they answer?  I also told them to put their answer in the form of a testimony.

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world?

The young man assigned  shared several important truths about Christ, then ended his remarks with:  "so, ya"  Which has an open-ended, non-convincing feeling to it.
Me: "Very good, but are  you going to end it with,  so ya?"
Young man: awkward
Me: How would be a better way to end your testimony?
Young man: silent
Me: How about, I KNOW...testify.   I know that Jesus Christ lives...
Now, try it again. Let's practice it.
Young man: I know that Jesus Christ lives.
Me: Great!
Young man: big smile

Do you believe that God is our Eternal Father?

Young man: "Uh...I know that God is real" [said in almost a question form] ...that He is there. [another question form]
Me: Very good, but How do you know? What experience have you had?  When has the Lord shown you that He is real?  I'd like you to share an experience.  Have you had a prayer answered? 
Young man: Recognition across his eyes...Yes I have!.
Me: Could you share it with us right now?
Young man: shares experience of praying for help during a time of trouble, and his prayer being answered.
Me: So what did you learn because of that experience?
Young man:  That God  answers my prayers
Me: And because He answers your prayers, what does that mean?
Young Man: That He is real and that He cares about me.
Me: And if you know that He is real and cares about you, what do you know?
Young man:That He lives. 
Me: Exactly!  Now how are you going to end your testimony?  Do you need to say, "in the name of Jesus-Christ, amen"? 
Young man:  giggles..."no"
[Because in a setting with friends you are not going to be that formal]
Young man: I know that God does live and answers prayers.
Me: Perfect!
How are  you teaching the New Curriculum?



Thursday, January 10, 2013

Feeling Joy

" [and women] are that they might have joy."

Lately I have been feeling so much joy.
I keep visualizing myself at the tree in Lehi's dream,
scooping up the fruit with both hands taking it all in.
The tree we are taught represents, the love of God, or in other words, the Savior.
The fruit which is the most joyous to the soul, represents the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  The fruit tastes so sweet and is so desirable, that it is something that once we have tasted it for ourselves, we want others to taste it too.
The Savior is so giving, so kind, so merciful, so redeeming, and so extremely loving.  Feeling and recognizing the Lord's blessings and Hand in our lives, fills us with joy unspeakable.

One of our greatest purposes is to feel and have joy through the Atonement of Jesus Christ as we live the gospel in our lives.