Sunday, November 20, 2011

Family Home Evening Lessons on The Family: A Proclamation to the World, Lesson #3

As adults, we're all familiar with the different stages of human life: infant, toddler, rugrat, pre and adolescent, full-on know-it-all, still-think-we-know-it-all, starting-to-realize-our-parents-were-right (and that they got their wish of us getting a child just like we were), summer, autumn, winter, etcetera, etcetera…

Well, I have come to believe that we are spiritual beings sent to earth for a mortal experience, not mortal beings randomly here to maybe try and make it a spiritual experience. This is what is told to us in the third paragraph in "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". A simple summary:

1. We lived in Heaven a long time ago with our Eternal Father and lots of other loved ones.
2. Father created a plan for us which we accepted.
3. We each are given a physical body here on Earth to gain experience and prove ourselves worthy of the same glory that our Heavenly Father has.
4. Family relationships are part of the Divine Plan and we will be able to be united eternally through sacred ordinances received in holy temples, and by staying true to covenants that we make with our Heavenly Father.

Is it so hard to believe that we, too, are eternal beings? Eternal beings going through the stages of eternal life? I wish it were as easy for everyone to believe as it is for me.

Anywho, I had no idea how to turn this topic into a fun family home evening. I have done numerous activities with the children on the Plan of Salvation so it was old hat. So, I stood there in the living room looking at the carving on the mantle, just thinking. Waiting for the Spirit to communicate with me. Slowly… it came.

"What if we make a movie?"

This didn't get much of a response.

"We could pretend we are in Heaven and we hear the news that we are going to get a physical body and come to earth."

This got their attention. I kept blabbering all my ideas and their eyes kept getting bigger and they started smiling and interjecting their own ideas. So, we spent the afternoon making up scripts, and outfits, and filming.We were inside, in Heaven, where the furniture is all draped in white.

Then we were in a newsroom, where Didi Doorama did the nightly news report.

Then we were outside where Suzie Buttercup interviewed people on the streets, and Bob did a report on making worlds.

Then we were back inside with Harper Finkle who interviewed Professor Doright, an expert on all things celestial.

As I got the dvd put together, the children made movie tickets and popcorn. Our family had a Movie Night. We watched it a few times and enjoyed many laughs together.

My 11 year old daughter said this will be something she remembers for the rest of her life.

I'm way too self-conscious to share the whole movie because I'm really good at acting like a dork, but I am thankful for the spiritual guidance I receive as a mom and for the fun time we had together creating this memory.

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Very First Value Project!

The Young Womens program in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is akin to the Scouting Program for boys. A young woman enters at the age of twelve and stays in until she turns eighteen or graduates high school. It is based on eight different values: Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue. In each value, six "Experiences" are performed and passed off before a "Project" can be completed. The Experiences vary in requirements from as easy as reading scripture and writing in your journal, to studying certain Christlike characteristics and working on developing them in yourself for a few weeks. Each Project requires at least ten hours of investment.

After completing all the required Experiences and then a Project for each value, a Young Woman then earns her Young Women Medallion. This is similar to a Young Man earning his Eagle Scout.

Since I did not grow up in the LDS Church, and since I was called as the First Counselor in the Young Womens Presidency, I have decided to work on earning my own Young Women Medallion. It is an amazing experience. I have gained invaluable insight to the importance of not only a woman's role in the family, but also been illuminated to just how valuable and essential the youth of these latter days are to our Heavenly Father. I can totally believe it when prophets and scripture tells us that the most valiant of Heavenly Father's spiritual children have been saved to come forth during this last dispensation before the second coming of our great Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I feel the immense influence of the Spirit when I come in contact with any type of media, or talk, or program that is aimed at the youth of the church. Why is that? Could it be because the adversary, Lucifer, is also aiming his greatest weapons at this chosen generation?

Whatever the answer, I am proof that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can help a person change their very nature. I stand and share with women, young and old, my personal recommendation for a program that will help you become the best you that you could possibly be.

Transformed in the Warm Sunlight
by Tiana Galloway
Faith Value Project

My very first value project is on faith. I planted some Jim Dandy peppers in seedling trays that I created using egg cartons.

I watered them every day and kept them on the sill of a very sunny window. They took for ever to germinate. My husband lost hope that they would ever come up, but I had faith that they would.

My plan was to plant a garden with the children but because of timing my husband planted it with them while I was gone one weekend. I had bought seeds for carrots, beets, peas, onion starts, and strawberry plants. When I returned home there was an adorable patch of garden dirt on one side of the raspberries and an even more adorable patch on the other side containing our bright new strawberry plants, some of which already had berries on.

We, the parents made sure the garden was well watered. I, the mom, made sure my peppers in the seed trays stayed watered.

The onions were first to germinate. This brought a lot of excitement to the children. The carrots were next to poke their little green spikes up through the white-speckled dirt. Again, my husband stated that the peppers were a failure and should be thrown away, but I didn't give up.

Then, one day when I devotedly went to water the peppers, just like magic there were a few half inch starts, each with two leaves. It was amazing, The night before, there was nothing and then -poof-, tiny plants. I kept them indoors until I was sure we were past the point of frost then transplanted them in among the other veggies in the small rectangular patch. My tiny peppers were dwarfed by the carrot fronds and beet greens.

I was very much looking forward to the sweetness of the carrots, and the dirt-like flavor of the beats, and using our onions in our meals, and for the children to eat peas like they're candy, and adding flavor to salsa with my own peppers.

Diligently, I watered and weeded. Patiently, I waited for the peppers to have a growth spurt. Even through the hail storms, our garden grew.

The peas did not disappoint. The onions are bigger than previous years. The beets' leaves have been “pestered” so they are aren't as large but should still taste good. The carrots are bright orange; awaiting the cold to fill them with sweetness. My poor little peppers, however, never changed from the two inch seedlings with the perfect pair of leaves. Obviously, there was something that hindered their growth, but I don't have a clue as to what.

It is very rewarding to eat and enjoy food that you have grown yourself. And how can you not be impressed by the miracle of a tiny seed becoming a carrot or beet? Each plant taking in the water we give it; using the nutrients that surround it; and being transformed in the warm sunlight. Each plant containing everything it needs to survive and fill its measure by filling our bellies.

My poor little pepper plants must have been denied something that they needed to thrive and grow while the rest of the garden has grown despite the hardships that were working against it. Faith is very much like a garden.

If we will allow the seed of faith to be planted in our hearts and not hinder its growth it will spring forth seeking the light. Some days, we will be too busy, or too distracted, or too tired to water and feed our faith. Or we might think, “This is too much work. This is not fun. The Lord requires too much.”

This is where diligence and patience comes in. If we continue to trust in God and allow the perfect love of His son, Jesus Christ, into our hearts, we will feel a swelling within our hearts. We will know that this is a good seed because it begins to enlarge our souls.

God's love is like the sunlight. Studying the scriptures and praying every day gives nutrients to our testimonies. With diligence and patience we can be transformed. We can become beautiful and full of goodness, fulfilling our purposes in the plan of God.

Alma 32:27- “...if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.”

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Family Home Evening Lessons on The Family: A Proclamation to the World, Lesson #2

The second paragraph in the the Proclamation on the family contains only three sentences, but tells us so much about ourselves, our purposes, and our destinies. I'll just quote it here and let you ruminate at your will:

"All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."

I love knowing that God is not a vague, mysterious being, but is the Father of my spirit. Not only am I His daughter, I am his beloved daughter. I know what I am capable of because I know the characteristics of my Heavenly Father.

So, we as a family read this together and talked about our divine natures verses our human natures. For the activity, we each drew a picture of ourselves and put them onto a poster that now hangs in our kitchen.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Family Home Evening Lessons on The Family: A Proclamation to the World #1

I did a lot of searching for ideas on the first paragraph of the family proclamation. It was a rocky start because most of my children are young and I didn't want to make it all serious. Porter saw me researching and he saw a picture of a paper family tree. He asked me what it was and I told him I was thinking of doing that for family night. He popped up and offered to make it himself. Of course, I took him up on that offer.

So, we started by having the kids read aloud the first paragraph right off of the wood carving we have on our mantle.The younger five were already standing in the middle of the room so I stood behind Morgan, our rambunctious seven year old, and kept him occupied by keeping my hands on him and moving around the room as we faced different directions depending on who our focus was on.

We began by discussing what it means for something to be "ordained of God". I won't tell you specifics because your family would have to handle that based on your own situation like your children's ages; they're attention spans (your husband's attention span); and how deeply you want to explore these principles.

We then discussed that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children. We talked about what a plan is. We brought up the adversary to God's plan, best known as the devil, commonly known as Satan, and to Latter-Day Saints known as Lucifer, another of God's spirit children who was cast out of Father's presence for rebellion.

We talked about how America has enemies like the terrorists, who destroyed the Twin Towers and hundreds of lives, and how an enemy would attack where ever it would cause the greatest debilitation.

"So," I posed the question, "if the family is central to God's plan, where would the adversary focus most of his attention?"

They quickly caught on and we discussed the many, many, many ways that families can become vulnerable and how the world's status quo disagrees with the principles of truth and righteousness.

It was then time to pull out the adorable family tree that Porter designed for us (I'm sorry Shanelle!), and we each glued our own leaf on. I wrapped up our discussion by looking each of my children in the eyes and telling them that we loved them very much; that they are the most important aspect of our lives. And that even though family life is not always fun and pleasant they are worth all the frustrations and hardships that we face as parents. I also opened up my heart and expressed to them my personal belief that Father has given us a Plan of Happiness and that if we will strive to live by the teachings of Christ and obey the commandments our lives will be so much easier and happier.

I haven't yet planned next week's Family Home Evening, but as we learned from doing the 6 B's from President Hinckley, it is really neat having a themed series because the kids know that next week is going to be connected to last week and they are interested in what is coming next. I'll try to keep you posted.

Sparkling Reflections

It's wonderful here at Bear lake today. There are only a handful of vehicles on the entire beach. The sun is shining and the water calm. But not completely calm. There is just enough rippling to create that tranquilizing sound of water lapping against the sand. Such a lovely sound as to enhance the peacefulness of this moment in time.

I look out at my five young children far off in what they call the "hot sand". The boys with a two foot shovel, no doubt searching for treasure. The girls with a big wad of... sea moss? What is their plan for that?

As I see them out there playing I am vividly reminded of how I used to be transported by my imagination to any world, time, or situation I desired. I love days like today when the only thing on the agenda is to allow the children the freedom to magically transform themselves into any character they want to be. Their mode of transportation is to simply follow any whim of their imaginations.

Sparkling reflections on the water; the sounds of splashing, laughter, and seagulls; and my one lone beach umbrella all come together creating a fulness of heart and a smile in my eyes. Today will be stored in an imaginary heart pendant to be opened on some future cold day.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Family Home Evening Lesson idea for this month.

Family home evenings have always been a challenge for our multi-aged family. It used to be that I would just come up with something real quick in the 15 minutes before we gather.Usually, something preschoolish. However, my 16 yr old son has been going to football workouts and practices which usually run til 8 pm. After fuming about our LDS coaches who are missing out on an opportunity to teach our boys a greater lesson, we told our son that he was required to be home by 7 pm on Mondays and Tuesdays for FHE and Mutual, respectively. This has made me take Family Home Evening much more seriously and I've been following all the inspirations the Spirit gives me for lessons that my family needs.

After 6 weeks of great discussions and very moving character lessons using the 6 B's of Pres. Hinckley, I am now leaning towards using The Family: A Proclamation to the World for a while. The great news is that there are bloggers out there holding a "Celebrate the Family" celebration. I first discovered this last year on Latter-Day Homeschooling. Chocolate on My Cranium is the blog hosting it this year, I believe. There is a Family Proclamation blog-hop and lots of inspiring posts.

I'm so glad for those inspired parents who are willing to share their ideas and look forward to helping my children understand the significance of the document that their father has been carving into wood for the past year. They have even helped to apply the glaze onto the plaques to earn some money.

I am thankful for the divine qualities inherent in each member of the family and for the word of God which testifies of the purpose for family.