Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My God, My Heavenly Father.....

I pray Heavenly Father will bless me with the spirit to guide me in what I say, feel, and think. Because all these things lead me to know.

One day, my kids' kids are going to go to church and are going to be bored. Another day they are going to run across something in the church's history, and it's not going to make sense. One time they might have a close LDS friend who decides to leave the church. Another time they may just feel utterly and completely lost. One time someone might die. Or divorce might happen. Maybe they will lose a library book, and pray for a miracle and have faith to find it... but they just don't find it. $20 bucks later man.... $20 bucks later....

Life can be a giant boulder that is launched at you and completely smashes you under it's weight. And while you are underneath- your legs broken, lungs crushed, and liver in organ failure.... sometimes all you can do is say, "Well shoot. This is janky."

This is what I know. While you are under that boulder, there is going to be a man who helps you. He loves you. He loves me. You might feel Him close by, you might not.... but no matter what, He is right by your side. He will not leave you.

Some people say there is no God.

They can believe what they want. There is a God and He is great. He is good and kind. He is fair and loving. He has created a beautiful world for us, put angels nearby to lift us up, given us guides to help us along the way, and just wants us to be happy.

People make their choices. Their choices don't make them bad people. All people are good, sometimes their choices are just "janky". And you know what, you don't need to worry about their choices. Love the person, hate the sin? Naw. Don't even go there. Let Heavenly Father deal with sins. You worry about your own. You know what you need to do? Love. Love some more. Then love some more.

We are in good hands. Even though times may seem like "rocks gone wild", no matter how broken you feel, you can be healed by The Master. You may be bleeding out, but hang in there. In the end, everything is going to work out. In the mean time, just do your best and know that God is over all.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Book Review: Quick Tips for Busy Families

I love easy to read books. Books that make me smile, books that have good points. Jay Payleitner did an excellent job of giving me new ideas for parenting. A lot were common sense, but it was good to read nonetheless.

Should one simply pass by a tree stump on an afternoon walk with the children?? I loved his idea to make it into a temporary podium, a words of wisdom spot whatnot. Easy. Simple. Fun.

I laughed when one chapter suggested that young children will always choose scissors. I tried it out with my 5 year old, and sure enough- the first 4 times he chose scissors!! He was amazed that I was beating him!!!

There were some really inspiring Christian thoughts WITHOUT a holier-than-thou type of preaching. Amen. Thank you. Loved it.

A good reminder was his chapter on compliments. A business practice is to sandwich a negative between 2 compliments. But his idea was that the negative supersedes the positive and I tend to agree. Sometimes we need to just give compliments and leave it at that.

I would definitely recommend this book!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

2017 March LDS Primary Sharing Time Helps and Ideas

Monthly Theme: Living Prophets Teach Me to Choose the Right
Monthly Scripture: “O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God” Alma 37:35

Week 1 God speaks through living prophets.

* Put a picture of Noah's ark on the board and a picture of President Monson. Why do you think President Monson wasn't commanded to build an ark? Do we need an ark in our day and age?
     President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency discussed the necessity for constant revelation:
“Much revelation received, in this time as well as anciently, has been doctrinal. Some of it has been operational and tactical. Much of it is not spectacular. President John Taylor reminds us: ‘Adam’s revelation did not instruct Noah to build his ark; nor did Noah’s revelation tell Lot to forsake Sodom; nor did either of these speak of the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. These all had revelations for themselves(Millennial Star, 1 Nov. 1847, 323)” (“Continuing Revelation,” Ensign, Aug. 1996).
       "These all had revelations for themselves."!!! Prophets of all ages are important, but for us to receive current revelations for our times, we need living prophets. God speaks through living prophets.
Divide into 5-6 groups. Give each group a picture of a living apostle and a highlighted talk from that apostle. Encourage the group to read the highlighted quotes and be able to share with the entire primary what that living prophet has commanded or encouraged us to do in our lives today. 

* Blind in the forest- 4 people are blindfolded. One person will guide them by telling them how far to walk, so that they can come together.
     From Gospel Topics on lds.org it says, "We can always trust the living prophets. Their teachings reflect the will of the Lord, who declared: “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” (D&C 1:38).
      HERE is a story from The Friend about President Monson. It has some good visuals of things he has done to show us how to live our lives. Can we trust his example? Absolutely!! He will lead us to The Savior if we trust him. But don't take my word for it. Encourage the children to go home and pray to know for themselves. Any happy or peaceful feelings they get are the spirit saying, "Yes! This is right!"

* Match the voice! Have some audio clips of the apostles and first presidency speaking. Have their pictures up front. Can anyone match the voice with the picture? God speaks through living prophets.... do we know them? Have simple facts/stories about the apostles to share with the children when they make a match to help them get to know them better.
Week 2: The First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles are prophets.

* Fact or Fiction!! Come up with 3 facts and 1 fiction about the First Presidency and 12 apostles. Have a primary friend come up front and guess which statement is the fiction!! Make sure there are pictures so everyone can put a name to the face!
For example:
President Monson -
One time played with matches and lit a field on fire.
He served in the US Navy.
Used to have pigeons he raised.
Served as Mission President in Paris, France. (Fiction, it was the Canadian Mission headquartered in Toronto)
President Eyring -
Played tennis in highschool. (Fiction, it was basketball)
Loves to paint and sketch drawings.
Has a wife named Kathy and 6 children.
HERE and HERE are links to LDS.org for more information on each apostle

* I SPY!!! Print off the following for partners or small groups. Have children circle the first presidency and 12 apostles. Have one copy with all of them circled correctly. Have some quotes or fun stories to share with the children about our modern day prophets.

Week 3: God’s prophets and apostles speak to us in general conference.

* "In order for the messages of general conference to change our lives, we need to be willing to follow the counsel we hear. The Lord explained in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith “that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know … how to act upon the points of my law and commandment.” But knowing “how to act” isn’t enough. The Lord in the next verse said, “Ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me.” This willingness to take action on what we have learned opens the doors for marvelous blessings." (The Blessings of General Conference by Elder Paul V. Johnson October 2005)
      Have different quotes (short but meaningful) from the last General Conference throughout the room. Invite 2 children up front. "Bind" or tie one leg of each child to the other. (Like a 3 legged race, but NO RUNNING!) Invite them to work together to choose a quote and go get it. Read the quote and ask them a question pertaining to it.
    We need to be willing to do what Heavenly Father asks us during General Conference! We need to tie our leg with His and walk His path!!

* " Several years ago, as this Conference Center was being built and nearing completion, I entered this sacred building on the balcony level in a hard hat and safety glasses, ready to vacuum the carpet that my husband was helping to install. Where the rostrum now stands was a front-end loader moving dirt, and the dust in this building was thick. When it settled, it did so on the new carpet. My part was to vacuum. And so I vacuumed and vacuumed and vacuumed. After three days my little vacuum burned up!
     The afternoon before the first general conference in this beautiful building, my husband called me. He was about to install the last piece of carpet—under this historic pulpit. He asked, “What scripture should I write on the back of this carpet?” And I said, “Mosiah 18:9: ‘Stand as [a witness] of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.’”
     Bring in your vacuum. Yes. Your vibrant sunbeams will either be thrilled or terrified. Did you know that at General Conference, under the carpet is a scripture written? Pretty fun! Invite a primary friend to vacuum for 20 seconds, then answer a question or read a scripture about General Conference. Life can get pretty messy, but General Conference is like the vacuum, it helps us clean up our lives if we'll listen!!

Week 4: I am blessed when I choose to follow the prophet.

* Invite some special guests (3-4) in to share a short experience of a time they were blessed when they followed the prophet.

* “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” 2 Chr. 20:20
     What does it mean to prosper? To make successful! Have children draw a picture of themselves in the future. What do they imagine their lives will be like? What are some things they must do to be successful? How can our lives be blessed when we follow the prophets? Invite children to share who their favorite prophet is with a partner and why. Switch partners as time permits, they can also share their artwork too!

* HERE is another super sharing time from The Friend on how obedience to the prophets brings blessings. Thanks Sister Nichols!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Book Review: The Mark of the King by Joceyln Green

I receive free books from Bethany House Publishing in turn for writing reviews.
All opinions are my own.
This book came at just the perfect time for me. We've been having snow storm after snow storm, and it was nice to cozy up under a blanket and fade away!
First off, I loved the cover. It was simple, elegant, and caught my attention.
The Mark of the King is a historical fiction novel that will grab you right off the bat. Julianne Chevalier is a midwife in France who is very good at what she does, yet she is young. She is confident and careful, but something happens one day that will alter her path dramatically.
She finds herself heading to New Orleans among supposed, less desirable company. It's nothing like she imagined once she arrives, and on her shoulder she carries something that sets her apart from the rest. Something that if other's know about could ruin her life, yet again.
Will she be able to survive this new place? Will she be able to keep to her values and do what she loves? Will she find someone to share in her hope?
The story was excellent. I thought the characters could have been more developed. I liked them, but I didn't love them. I learned a ton of new information and the book had me looking up more and more about New Orleans. I would definitely recommend reading this book because it's clean. There are a few moments where women are treated severely, but the author Jocelyn Green writes with a dignified voice. Nothing crude or explicit. And that, for me right there, is such a breath of fresh air!!
I'd also recommend reading the book if you like stories that promote faith. This is definitely a Christian book with scriptures quoted, singing the tune that even though we have trials, we can have help from above.
On a 5 star scale, I'd give it a 3.5.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

February 2017 LDS Primary Sharing Time Helps and Ideas

Noah's Ark by Colin Thompson
He makes art for jigsaw puzzles!

Monthly Theme: When We Choose the Right, We Are Blessed.
Monthly Scripture:“If ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you” Mosiah 2:22

Week 1 Noah was blessed for choosing the right.

 * Tiger, Moose, Elephant. This is a great game for large primaries where you invite 10-15 children up front. In between each round of the game ask questions about the story of Noah and about the obedience he and his family showed. The children up front will need to be good examples in between each round and listen, or even raise their hand to share an answer.
     This is how you play the game. Tiger makes hands in a clawing shape. Moose puts hands on head spread out. Elephant bends over and drops arm like a long nose. On the count of 3, and they have to do it on 3 or they are automatically out, they choose whether they want to be tiger, moose, or elephant. Whatever animal there is the most of, all those children are out. You can play until there are 2 winners.
      Aren't we so grateful for animals? Bear testimony of Noah and his life as a prophet. He was blessed for choosing the right, and we are blessed because of his choices too!!

* Have children draw pictures of different animals or of Noah and his family or of an ark. Have an "ARK SHOW" where you display their animal art on the front board. (Bring in plenty of small magnets!!) Have the primary pianist choose a piece of art they really like and why. Have the primary child who drew it come up front and answer a question or read a scripture having to do with the story of Noah. Repeat the process of choosing art with different people like teachers or fellow primary friends, and they have to say why they like the "ark" piece.
       Oh my. This is such a cheesy idea, but I kinda love it. It sounds like fun!!

* Divide the primary into 5 sections. You're going to make a rain storm today!
Section 1:  Rub your hands together.  (This is the wind)
Section 2:  Tap one finger on the palm of your hand.  (These are the first raindrops.)
Section 3:  Tap all 4 fingers.  (Many more rain drops.)
Section 4:  Full out clapping.  (It’s getting more intense!)
Section 5:  Slap on the floor, or your thighs.  (Thunder enters!)
After a big crescendo (getting louder), repeat all the activities in reverse order (1 section will drop out at a time) as the storm dies down, until you’re rubbing hands together.
Then quietly stop, and there should be absolutely silence.
    Can anyone think of scripture stories that have to do with rain? Wow!!! Great answers. Today we're going to talk about the story of Noah!! Give each section ONE of the following questions and 2 minutes to come up with an answer- Who was in this scripture story? What happened in this scripture story? Why is this scripture story important to us today? When did this scripture story happen? How can we be like Noah? Have each section choose a representative to come up front after and share.
     If you have time afterwards maybe you can make another rain shower!!

Week 2 Jesus’s disciples were blessed by choosing the right.

* HERE is a great talk to read for this week. What is discipleship? Great  thoughts and inspiration! “The word disciple comes from the Latin [meaning] a learner. A disciple of Christ is one who is learning to be like Christ—learning to think, to feel, and to act [like] he does” (Ensign, Sept. 1974, 81).

* “He that receiveth my law and doeth it, the same is my disciple; and he that saith he receiveth it and doeth it not, the same is not my disciple...” D&C 41:5
     Have 4 stories from the scriptures about different disciples. Write a short paragraph describing that person and how they were blessed by choosing the right. Choose 5 words from your paragraph to leave out/fill in the blank. Write the 5 words on the chalk board. Invite a child to come up front and read the paragraph nice and clear, when they come to a blank invite them to choose another primary friend who thinks they know what word will fill in the blank. You can have one primary friend be in charge of erasing the words that were chosen.
      You will have to switch readers for the next story, and write the new set of words on the chalk board. Choose a new primary friend to erase the next set! (Yes, some little friends can't read.... so point to the words and say them out loud!!)

* Choose the Right! When a choice is placed before you!!
   Sing Choose the Right!! Hymns 239
   A reverent primary friend will come up front and act as a certain disciple from the scriptures. You can have a few simple props or costumes for them to wear while they read and answer. A choice (a small piece of paper with a sentence on it) will be placed before them and they will have to tell what choice they made and why it was a good one.
For example:
Nephi- Getting the brass plates was not easy, my brothers wanted to quit. What was my choice?
Esther- My people were all going to be killed by an unfair decree. I would lose my life if I spoke to the king when not spoken to. What was my choice?
Widow of Zarephath- A wicked king and queen sought the prophet Elijah's life. He had to hide. He wanted to stay with me and my son, but we had no food. What was my choice?
Ammon- I was a brand new missionary and ran into some thieves. They wanted to kill and scatter the king's sheep. What was my choice?
Alma the Elder- My whole life I believed a certain way and wanted to live the way I knew how. When I heard Abinadi speak, the Holy Ghost testified what he said was true, it was much different from what I had believed. What was my choice?
Stephen- I knew that Christ lived. He loved and is my Savior. Some men were very angry with me and want to kill me with stones. I had a testimony and knew I should speak. What was my choice?
Moses- I thought I was a prince of Egypt, but found out I was a Hebew son. I could have lived a life of luxury and richness or freed my people who were slaves. What was my choice?
     For senior primary you could even have the children themselves come up with a disciple and what their choice was.

Week 3 Nephi was blessed for choosing the right.

* Make a memory match game with words/pictures that have to do with Nephi's life. When a match is made, a primary friend can tell us a little more about that story and how Nephi chose the right. How was he blessed?
Some ideas for matches: Broken Bow, Brass Plates, Build a Ship, Tree of Life, Nephi Writes the Things of God,  Frank Forgiveness, and Respect for Parents

* HERE is a short clip about President Monson talking about Nephi and the blessings of obedience.

* Nephi, a scripture hero!! THIS ARTICLE is from The Friend and would be a great read for the primary. After sharing it, invite the children to take a piece of paper and design a super hero cape for Nephi. They can write words on it or just do a design with pictures. Invite some children up front to share their work and ideas.

Week 4 Church members today are blessed for choosing the right.
* “Of all the lessons we learn from the life of the Savior, none is more clear and powerful than the lesson of obedience” (“If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 35).
    Sing Choose the Right Way, CS 160      
"I am learning the teachings of Jesus; They will help me and show me the way" Have a scavenger type hunt in the primary room. Have different manila sized envelopes with pictures of The Savior showing different things He did to show obedience, and also directions to another envelope in the room. When we follow Christ and choose the right, we will be blessed and like the song says... be happy!!
*HERE is an excellent talk with a story of a Mission President who chooses to wear a special CTR tie tack. You can tell the story to the children. Is anyone in primary wearing a CTR ring? Can they show us?? A quote that stands out from the talk is, “Likewise, my dear young friends, the positive things you will want to accomplish need be decided upon only once—like going on a mission and living worthily in order to get married in the temple—and then all other decisions related to these goals can fall into line. Otherwise, each consideration is risky....There are some things Latter-day Saints do and other things we just don’t do. The sooner you take a stand, the taller you will be!(President Kimball Speaks Out, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, p. 94).
      Bring in some building blocks and have the children name a good choice, then stack their block. How tall can it get? An interesting lesson in this is sometimes we aren't perfect and fall, like our block towers, but we just keep on going. Pick ourselves up and continue to make good choices. What is something you can do this week to take a stand and choose the right?

* Get some stories (this idea is very similar to the one in the outline) of friends or family members of the primary children who made a good choice and were blessed by it. You'll need to prepare and call the week before to get everything ready. In primary, tell the children that you are going to be sharing a very important story of a church member today who chose the right and was blessed... and then they can guess who the person is! Have a couple clues to maybe help them figure out who the story is about. Maybe you can even get some pictures to go along with the story from that person!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

January 2017 LDS Primary Sharing Time Helps & Ideas

Image NASA Hubble Crab Nebula
"This supernova remnant contains a strong pulsar wind nebula that is not visible to the naked eye but it can be viewed by using binoculars on a clear night. The pulsar situated at the center of the nebula is the celestial object that remains after the supernova, spinning at a rate of around 30 times per second."

Monthly Theme: Agency is the Gift to Choose for Ourselves
Monthly Scripture: “Wherefore, men are free … to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men” 2 Nephi 2:27

Weeks 1 and 2 Agency is the gift to choose for ourselves.

* "Consider how we use our time in the choices we make." Elder Dallin H. Oaks Good, Better, Best Bring in a portable clock with an alarm. Invite a primary friend to leave the room while you set the alarm for two minutes and have someone hide it. The friend will then come in and try to answer a question about agency and find the clock before the alarm goes off!!

* HERE is a really great video to show the children. I could definitely see some younger children getting scared, so pray about it. You could even just bring in a picture of a scorpion and tell the story. Have a pair of shoes and a pair of flip flops up front. Have some different case scenarios. Invite a primary friend up front to hear the scenario and then stand by the pair of shoes depending on the choice made in the scenario- good at shoes, bad at flip flops.
   Some examples of case scenarios could be:
   John was watching TV. A show came on that was not appropriate and had swearing. He shut it off and decided to go write in his journal.
   Kate was skating outside. She was not supposed go past her neighbor's house. Since there wasn't anyone on the street she went to the end of the block. No one saw her.
    Mike broke his mom's lamp. He didn't want to get in trouble, so when she asked if he knew what happened, he shook his head.

* HERE is a Friend article that talks about a basketball player who made a good choice. "Decide right NOW!" says President Monson! We can make the choice beforehand to do what's right ALWAYS!! Have a basked and 3 balls. Mark 3 spots on the carpet each getting closer to the basket. N for the first spot. O for the second. W for the third. A child will come up front and answer a question or read a scripture about agency, then get 3 balls to throw at each spot. What if a child doesn't get the ball in? That's OK. It's a tricky game!! Just get up nice and close and toss 'em in!! Try to do this at home and see how your family does!!

* Have 7 small wrapped boxes with a letter in each box- F R E E D O M. Mix them up. Divide the primary into 7 groups and have talk about an experiences where they made a good choices. Have one person speak for the group and share a story about where good agency was used. Have that person unwrap a box. Once all the groups have shared and the letters up front, invite the primary to try to figure out the word. Agency is the gift to choose for ourselves!
     2 Nephi 2:27 "Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself."

* "Your choices are the mirror of your self-control. They will lead you to your eternal destination if they are made with divine direction and control."
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf On The Wings of Eagles Liahona July 2006
    Have everyone find a partner. Have one child do some simple actions and the primary friend sits across from them and tries to mirror what they do!! Have them imagine a mirror in between their hands and try to move as the other person does.
    Like President Uctdorf said, our choices are the mirror of our self control.... what our hearts are made of! Today we are going to talk about agency but during the lesson I'm going to repeat that quote and when I do, you have 10 seconds to find a partner and mirror each other!! If we do this quickly and reverently, we can play the game many times!!
   Have some quotes, scriptures, and questions prepared about agency. Can anyone recite the quote by memory at the end of sharing time and who said it??

Week 3 In the premortal life, I chose to follow God’s plan.

* HERE is an awesome video about a scientist who believes in the premortal existence! Excellent visuals and scriptures!!
    Have children design artwork about what they picture the premortal life to have been like. Ask some to share their work and details about what did happen during the premortal existence.

* Today we have some very special guests in primary. They have some very big questions and I told them I know the most brilliant children who can answer those questions. Introduce the children to 5 stuffed animals who have a question attached to them.
   We are going to divide into 5 groups and pass 1 stuffed animal to each group. Someone will read the question and then you can all take turns to answer the special guest's question. After a minute or so we will rotate the guests between the groups.
     The questions each stuffed animal has is:
Who is Heavenly Father?
Where did we come from?
What is the meaning/purpose of life?
What am I supposed to do with my life?
What is the plan of salvation? (This stuffed animal comes with a dry erase board and marker for anyone who would like to draw it out!)
     It may seem silly that stuffed animals would ask these questions, but in real life, many people don't know the answers. They ask these questions and it's up to us to help spread knowledge and truth!

* Arrange children as parts of the plan of salvation up front. Have large signs (with pictures if possible) to label the different parts and invite primary friends to figure out who represents what in the plan of salvation. Once one is figured out, hand that child his/her sign... what do we know about the premortal world? Earth life? Paradise and Prison? The final judgment... etc. You can line up 11 kids like this picture.

Week 4 Jesus Christ created the earth as a place where I can learn to choose the right.

* Have 10 different places from all over the world. Make 2 of each picture and turn it into a matching game. Invite a primary friend to come up and try to find a match. Jesus Christ organized/created the earth as a place where I can learn to choose the right. If they make a match they can share an example of a time when they chose the right or a story of another person who chose the right!

* Creation Charades
Adam & Eve, Tree of Life, Water, Land, Mountains, River, flowers, sun and moon, elephant, wolf
   Invite 1 child to pick a creation charade to act out and have the primary guess. Before they choose the charade though, they can tell the primary something that is a good choice to make or do. Some children might even want to do their own ideas for creation charades... just have them whisper it to you first to make sure it's appropriate.

* Bring in a large cardboard box with a top. Ask your primary pianist to come sit inside it and shut the top. Ask her if she thinks this would be a good place to learn to choose the right. Could she make a lot of choices in there? Probably not. Aren't we glad Jesus didn't create  boxes for us to live and dwell in!!! He created this beautiful earth as a place where we can learn to choose the right!! Have everyone offer a round of reverent applause for our stunning demonstration from our stunning primary pianist.
    Have 15 different questions/scriptures about the creation and agency written on the box. Invite a child to choose one question and answer it, or scripture and read it, then they can take a marker and make a checkmark by it! (Choose a different color for junior primary and senior primary)
     Boxes?? Boring!! Earth?? We are so blessed!! Let's make good choices always to show our appreciation for all The Lord has given us!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Easy Nursery Games

This is a list of games that are easy to play with toddlers.

1. Red Light, Green Light
2. Bean Bag Toss in a Basket
3. Stations with cones & picture instructions- Jump, jog in place, clap, kick, wiggle. Lead all the children to each cone and do it along with them.
4. Puppet Switch- Have 2 baskets with puppets in each one. (go through the puppets and figure out what the puppets would say, like ribbit for a frog or moo for a cow) When I say switch, they bring back their puppet and get a new one.
5. 4 squares with colors
6. Balancing on Tape on the Floor
7. Red Rover, Red Rover, Send ________ (name of nursery friend) right over!! (no breaking through hands, just coming to join hands and swing them)
8. Teddy Bear Hunt- During the walk, another leader can hide 3 bears or even a CTR ring like The Friend. Who can find them??
9. 3 of These Things Belong Together (post to come soon)
10. Limbo

Nursery Leader!!

Ella, my 2 year old.
Her face basically summarizes how I felt when I was first called to be Nursery Leader.
Just keepin' it real.

In August our Sparks Stake split because of new growth. We didn't move, but we were reorganized into a new ward. We love it!! Tons of awesome people. I was in Relief Society as a teacher for 3 months. I was worried about how I would do teaching adults, but I enjoyed it.

And then..... drumroll.... back to primary!! I gotta say, I did cry when they called me to Nursery. And not out of joy (collective gasp). This year has been the hardest year of my life. I'm hoping one day that I can write about my experience, but it's still ongoing. A tad too fresh still. All I can say is that loving a person with depression is a whole different level of life. Hence the hard day, hence the tears.

But, of course I accepted. God is the only way I live. And as I prayed for direction, it was quick to come. I knew that once I was organized that all would be well.

So, to the drawing board, prayerfully I went!! It helps that my mom owned her own preschool for 20 years.

Here is the Nursery Schedule I've used one week and will probably tweak as needed. Everything went by super fast!!!

2:15- 2:30 Gathering Activity of play dough & puzzles.
    Welcome in all little friends by name.

2:30 - 2:40 Attendance & Books
   We sing to the tune of Here We are Together -Here we are in Nursery, Nursery, Nursery, Here we are in Nursery with all our friends... there's Ella, and then we sing everyone's names including the adults in the room.
   Children will be able to put a happy face by their picture to show they are here. Who is missing? Review names of friends.
    I bring in 4 books, short and simple!! Always read with pages facing towards children and don't be afraid to move around so all the children can see. You can spread out a blanket or have carpet pads for friends to sit on.

2:40 - 3:00 Free Time with toys & clean up

3:00- 3:15 Healthy Snack
    Count how many friends are at the snack table. Encourage good manners, please and thank you!  
    I'm hoping to get parent participation and get some good fruits and veggies (no carrots!) going.
   Once a month I'm going to try "Chefs in Training", having them stir some fruit and yogurt or spoon hummus on a wrap then roll. We'll see, the possibility of fun is there.

3:15- 3:20 Lesson
    5 minutes? Yup.

3:20- 3:30 Art
   We take the time to do a craft that reinforces the lesson theme or something seasonal/holiday.

3:30- 3:40 Picture Walk
   Using the rope we stop by pictures in the hall and go through High Priests class to wave. One, because the old men can't hear if we make noise, and two because grandpas (most) are just plain friendly and kind. We make sure to wave!

3:40- 3:50 Singing Time

3:50- 4:00 End with a bang!!
   We end with something extra fun like bubbles, crawl through tunnels, scarves, bean bag toss or games.
   We all wave goodbye to our friends who leave nursery and by name say, "See you next week!"

     We are at a hard time for toddlers!! Many have missed nap and are tired. I'm going to have a couple small pillows and rolls for anyone that would like quiet time. No forced naps!! Some do just like to lie down!!

   This is a really great time to work on vocal skills. Learning and using words. Not every child is going to vocalize with words right away, but it doesn't mean that we can't teach them! And, use different languages!! They are little sponges at this age!!

   There are so many opportunities to teach about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the gospel. While the lesson may be 5 minutes, nursery really is the first learning opportunity at church and should be utilized. It doesn't have to be about babysitting, surviving biting, or rabid scream sessions. Get the proper help you need and divide and conquer your time. Use moments to integrate gospel vocabulary or stories or principles throughout the entire 2 hours.

   I may have been hesitant when I accepted, but of course, the very first week I felt the spirit so strongly. These children are close to the veil. They see and talk with angels. I'm so grateful for this opportunity to serve.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Easy Christmas Family Home Evenings

I ran across some ideas the other day that I thought would be easy for any last minute Family Home Evenings or Primary Singing Times.

1. Candy Cane Fishing - Make a simple fishing line and hook (pipe cleaners work!!), put numbered candy canes in a glass, and a child fishes one out. The numbers can correspond to certain songs, or questions about The Nativity.

2. Christmas Bells Matching Game - Have 2 sets of 12 Hershey's Kisses with numbers 1-12 written on the bottom. Sing Christmas Bells (CS 54). Each child gets one or two tries to find a set of matching numbers on the bottom of your bells. Once all the matches are made, have 12 pictures having to do with the story of Jesus' birth. Whoever has 1 tells about picture number one, and so on.
3. Christmas Card Puzzles-  Let the children cut up old Christmas cards into 10-12 pieces (4-5 pieces for younger children). Have them put their Christmas Puzzle in a Ziploc bag and pass to another family member. Who can put their puzzle together the fastest?? After, have each family member share a favorite memory about Christmas or something they love about the story of Jesus' birth. Switch puzzles and repeat a few times!!
4. Christmas is the Best! Jenga - Each family member shares their  favorite part of Christmas before they remove their block! If you have older children, you can add a small letter sticker to some blocks, so when they pull out a block with, say a T, they have to come up with a Christmas word starting with T... like treats or temple where baby Jesus was presented!
" Sometimes it seems that our efforts to have a perfect Christmas season are like a game of Jenga—you know, the one played with small wooden blocks that are precariously stacked up to a tower. As we try to increase the height of the tower, we pull out one wooden block before we can place it on top of the delicate structure.
     Each of those little wooden blocks is a symbol of the perfect Christmas events we so desperately want to have. We have in our minds a picture of how everything should be—the perfect tree, the perfect lights, the perfect gifts, and the perfect family events. We might even want to re-create some magical moment we remember from Christmases past, and nothing short of perfection will do.
      Sooner or later, something unpleasant occurs—the wooden blocks tumble, the drapes catch fire, the turkey burns, the sweater is the wrong size, the toys are missing batteries, the children quarrel, the pressure rises—and the picture-perfect Christmas we had imagined, the magic we had intended to create, shatters around us. As a result, the Christmas season is often a time of stress, anxiety, frustration, and perhaps even disappointment.
      But then, if we are only willing to open our hearts and minds to the spirit of Christmas, we will recognize wonderful things happening around us that will direct or redirect our attention to the sublime. It is usually something small—we read a verse of scripture; we hear a sacred carol and really listen, perhaps for the first time, to its words; or we witness a sincere expression of love. In one way or another, the Spirit touches our hearts, and we see that Christmas, in its essence, is much more sturdy and enduring than the many minor things of life we too often use to adorn it." President Uchtdorf    Of Curtains, Contentment, and Christmas 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

December 2016 LDS Primary Sharing Time Helps & Ideas

But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart (1888)
by Alice Havers

Monthly Theme: The Scriptures Teach Me about the Savior’s Birth and Second Coming
Monthly Scripture: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” Matthew 16:27

Week 1 Prophets prophesied about the birth of Jesus Christ.

* Have a box with a picture of baby Jesus in it. You will be wrapping the box 13 times. In between each layer of wrapping paper, have a small envelope with a question (or scripture) having to do with the week's topic.
HERE is a link to information that can help you develop questions.
      "Heavenly Father gave this gift to all of us, young or old, rich or poor. We did not have to search the shops for it. It did not cost us a single penny. It did not come wrapped in shiny wrapping paper. The most treasured gift of all was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. It was sent to all of us with love from our Heavenly Father." The Gift Ensign Dec. 2010

* HERE is an "Advent Calendar: Prophecies of Christ’s Coming,” NewEra, Dec 2008, 21–25. It'd be a great handout for the children to take home to families.

* Numbers 24:17 "I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob..." Who was the prophet Balaam, from the Old Testament, prophesying would be born? Who was that Star?? Jesus!!
Have 10 different glow in the dark stars throughout the room. Turn off the lights and invite one Primary friend to choose one. Turn on the light. Have scriptures, songs and questions having to do with this week's theme attached to the stars. (OR you could just put up these STARS)

* HERE is a mobile children can make from The Friend about different prophecies.

Week 2 Jesus Christ was born.

* Bring in some paper for the primary children and blindfolds. (If possible!) Have everyone help each other get ready with the blindfolds. You'll need pencils too. You are going to do a blind drawing of a Christmas tree. They will have 1 minute to draw the tree, ornaments, star, presents.
    After the minute is up, have them look at their art. What do they think??
    Read John 9:1,5-7, 25 "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth....As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing...one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."
     Jesus Christ was born into this world as the light of the world!! Because of Him, we can see!! We don't have to be blind, stumbling to know what to do each day. Hold up a picture of The Savior's birth. Now take a minute to draw a Christmas tree with ornaments, star, and presents... but with no blindfold!! Which one was better??

* Gather 15 medium sized pictures having to do with the nativity story. Place them on the chalk board with magnets. Invite one child to leave the room and one child up front. The primary child up front will choose a picture to take down, then the other primary friend who was outside will come in and see if they can remember what picture was taken down. In between each round, ask some questions or have the children read scriptures having to do with Jesus being born on earth!

* Trip to Bethlehem!! As each primary friend comes into the room, give them an index card with a letter on it. Divide into groups and tell them you are going to play a game! Does anyone play the alphabet game when they go on a car trip? Well today we are taking a trip to Bethlehem and are going to come up with a word that starts with that letter. Give everyone 2-3 minutes to help each other in their group.
     Next, call up the letters one at a time and invite the primary children to share their word and what it has to do with Jesus being born. Try to have pictures or a nativity displayed so they can hold up something if it has to do with what they are talking about.  (Like A for Angel, they hold up an angel figurine)

Week 3 Jesus Christ will someday return to the earth.

* Will Earth Be White with Snow?? Sing I Wonder When He Comes Again and ask the children to repeat/fill in the blank... "Will earth be...." they say, "white with snow?"
     Today, we've got some snowballs (crumpled paper, or Styrofoam balls) and a basket to toss them in. Have 15 questions and scriptures (total) for children to answer about the week's topic- Jesus Christ will someday return to the earth. Let 1 reverent primary friend come up front, answer a question, then take a turn to throw 5 snowballs in the basket!! Can anyone get all 5? Don't worry if you miss, you're doing better than I would do!!
Some questions could include:
What is the parable of the 10 virgins and what does it have to do with Jesus' 2nd coming?
How will we know that Jesus is coming again? (SIGNS)
Will ALL the words of the prophets be fulfilled? (Yes!)
Some wonderful things will happen before the Lord comes- Fill in the blank:“Light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my.......” (D&C 45:28). (Gospel)
Where will the gospel be preached before Jesus comes again? (In all the world, in all the languages)
Before the Savior comes again, Elijah will appear on earth.... has this happened? (Yes, in 1836 in the temple)
A new city will be built before the 2nd coming, what will it's name be and where will it be? (New Jerusalem, Missouri)
Do the prophets know when the 2nd coming will be? (D&C 49:7)
How can we remain calm and at peace even when some of the signs are devastating?
What will no longer be when Jesus comes again? There is something big that will be done away with.... (Death)
How does the following scripture make you feel D&C 45:57–59?

* Create a small Welcome Back party for the Savior. Divide into groups. Have one group make an invitation, another few groups plan some simple games, another few groups can work on gifts to give, one group can plan decorations, one can do a food list (remember no meat!!).... give them plenty of paper and crayons!! Have them share their work as a whole group after 7 minutes!!

* Awesome idea from Sister Sydney Reynolds:
"To learn more about what life will be like in the Millennium, when Christ returns to earth to reign for a thousand years, choose 2 children to role-play TV news anchor persons, and assign each class to choose a “field reporter” to report the class’s findings on the following subjects in the scriptures: • animals / Isa. 11:6–9; Hosea 2:18 • people / Isa. 54:heading, 3; Micah 4:4; D&C 63:50–51 • nations, government / Micah 4:1–3; Jer. 31:33; D&C 29:11 • miscellaneous—time of His coming / Matt. 24:36, 44; Zion and the return of the city of Enoch / D&C 45:66, 71; Moses 7:62–64. Have the anchor persons make up questions for each field reporter to tell what his/her class learned about their subject. Tell the children that we do not know exactly when the Savior will come, but we must be preparing to meet Him (see Matt. 25:1–13). Sing “When He Comes Again” (CS, pp. 82–83) and discuss what the things are that we need to do to “be ready there.” (Dec. 1999 Friend)

Week 4 To prepare for the Second Coming, I will follow Jesus Christ.

* Make a huge saran-wrap ball with things inside it that have to do with the Second coming. Pass it around to some piano music and when the music stops, that child gets to unwrap until they find a surprise inside.
Some objects could include:
stop sign (signs)
flashlight (we don't have to be scared, we have the light)
Book of Mormon (the gospel will be restored)
water gun (lots of wars and rumors of war)
keys (priesthood will be restored)
clock (no one knows when the 2nd coming will be)
toy trump (trump will sound to signal Jesus is coming)
red cloth (what Jesus will be wearing when He comes again)
lamb & lion (they shall lie down together in peace)
happy face (in the millennium, all will be happy and righteous on earth)
picture of Jesus (how can we prepare for the 2nd coming??)

* Secret Service Time!! Today in primary we are going to follow Jesus Christ by doing something kind. Did you know this helps us prepare for the 2nd coming?? Don't sign their name on the paper!!
   Invite the children to draw a picture and write something nice down on a note. Go into Relief Society, with the cards and with the children!! Randomly hand out the notes and have the children sing a song. (You'll have to speak with the Relief Society President beforehand to see if this is OK) It should only take about 5 minutes.
     When you get back to the primary room, ask the children how it felt to do something without a person knowing you did it? How do you think Heavenly Father feels today knowing that you did this? Is this something you can do often?? Why is this important for when Jesus comes to earth again?

* HERE is a simple illustrated story talking about the second coming. You can make copies and have the children read in small groups. Draw a simple stick figure on the chalk board, this is Forgetful Fred. Forgetful Fred just read this story too, but can't remember what it was about!! Let's raise our hands and I'll write on the board some important things Forgetful Fred should remember from the story we read!!! (And us too!!)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Little Derek

This is our cousin, Derek. He is 3 years old and loves sports! Which is so fitting, because his dad was obsessive and is obsessive about anything that involves a ball.

His dad Daren, is my cousin, and was nicknamed Cheeseboy. When we were little, he'd either be glued to the game on TV or outside with a bat and ball. He always, always, always had the happiest smile and most free-hearted laugh!! Even just thinking about it brings a smile to my face!!

I love my cousin dearly. I hate to see them suffer. I'm so sad that they have to watch their little boy be sick.

Just 2 weeks ago, Derek was diagnosed with Leukemia. Derek was life-flighted to San Francisco. He was so confused, "Mommy please. I'll be a good boy if we can just go home." My heart was broken when I heard that. Hannah and Daren, Derek's parents, have not left his side.

Sometimes life can be so hard. But we know. We know God lives. We know He loves us. We know that through Christ, all things are possible.

I just wanted to do what I can to help. And maybe you might feel the same. Thanks so much!!