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Thomas S. Monson, 1927-2018

I put this together several years ago when the Home Teaching message was about President Monson. President Monson set apart my Opi to be a temple president. He performed that ordinance with much of our extended family present and clearly took great joy and delight in the moment. My husband and I also ran into him many years later at a dinner at Grand America. He passed by my husband, who is 6’4″ and shook our hands, telling him “I wouldn’t want to guard you on the basketball court.” His bodyguards, at least two of them, laughed and hustled him onward.

He was a true servant of the Lord and I will miss him.

I love this quote of his that I read this morning on Facebook: “Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life.”

Thomas Spencer Monson

1927-2018

Temple and Priesthood Preparation

I am thrilled with the newly announced Temple and Priesthood Preparation meeting, which takes the place of the Priesthood Preview. After discussions with our ward council today, we are making plans to hold ours in early February. The imagery I’m working on is pulled from the title of Quentin L. Cook’s talk referenced in the handbook. Below you’ll find this same image on a half page, designed to be formatted into a printed program that you could fold in half and hand out at your event.

I wanted to put together a couple of different color variations together. Here’s one in full color. You’ll need to design and print your own interior program. Just FYI, the fonts I used were Pacifico (the swirly “Roots and Branches” font) and Avenir.

And here’s one in blue and white.

I also put together quarter page invitations in all three colors, meant to be printed front to back. There are six pages: two are in the black and white, two are full color, and two are blue and white. Just print what you need. I left the date, time and location for you to fill in with a pen! I like the low tech customization: I think it’s kind of personal and also super flexible.

The doctrine outlined in the talks and references recommended for this meeting is quite dense. The best way to prepare for this meeting is to read all of the talks and scripture references! I especially love Dallin H. Oaks talk from 2014, The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood.

I’m interested both in simplifying the recommended resources and making them practical.  We plan to invite the bishopric, YM and YW presidents, all 11-year-olds turning 12 in 2018, all the current Beehives, all the current Deacons, and members of the Primary presidency.

For the program:

Opening Song and Pianist: (we always have the youth choose the music, play the piano, and act as chorister)

Opening Prayer: Beehive class member

Thoughts from the Primary: Roots and Branches, Primary Presidency. (This is the most untested and undefined part of the evening. I’m sharing notes about what I think I’ll say, but, like all of us, this is new to me! I’ll adjust this after we hold our first evening if it turns out differently.)

Personal story of my grandparents: my Opi was a convert to the gospel. I will likely share a photo as well.

We are blessed in the church of Jesus Christ to understand the importance of roots: roots that deeply connect us to Christ through the power of the priesthood. For some of us, these roots are intertwined with the faith of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, who also find steadiness and strength in the gospel. These roots connect us to each other and to our faith.

But the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is more than that. Our roots connect us to the ancient prophets, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Our spiritual roots connect us to the house of Israel, Noah, Enoch, and our first parents Adam and Eve. We are all blessed with roots that connect us to the pioneers who sacrificed everything to establish the kingdom of God: their own Zion in the mountains. We are connected to these prophets and saints through the holy priesthood of God.

Having this kind of root system means that our branches can reach the greatest heights!

With these kinds of roots, we have what we need to make sealing covenants in the temple of God. Our branches can reach as far as they need to go to connect our past with our future. It sounds like a really big deal because IT IS.

You started making covenants with Heavenly Father when you turned 8. Turning 12 in our church means you’re ready to do more! You’re ready to serve more: serving our ancestors by doing baptisms at the temple. In this way, you’re taking care of the roots.

But you’re also at the age when you’ll be getting the chance to serve more in our ward. You’ll have more assignments and responsibilities and you’re old enough that you can (and should) be looking for ways you can pitch in and help. Looking for ways to help is a big part of serving in the kingdom of God. The power of the priesthood will help you serve those around you, whether you’re officiating in priesthood ordinances or utilizing the power of the priesthood to fulfill your duties. When you’re serving those around you, that is part of taking care of the branches.

Past and present, present and future: it’s all connected through the power of the priesthood of God.

You’ll hear more about these responsibilities, covenants, and privileges from our YM and YW leaders tonight. I know you are ready for more and I know you can find it here in our church community.

In closing… (I always talk a little bit about how this graduating class is special–in what ways they are uniquely gifted and challenged. Usually I leave them with 1 or 2 pieces of counsel: things I think their class especially needs to hear or would benefit from. I love giving this message! So I will include some of these thoughts here: personal thoughts on what I love about the class (big personalities, bright and inquisitive, curious or obedient) and what I think about their potential.)

 

Priesthood Preparation: YM Presidency member over Deacon’s Quorum or YM President.  (Generally, we anticipate that this message will include an overview of priesthood authority. My husband is actually the second counselor in the YM in our ward: he is over the deacons. So I asked him to write up what he think he would say! He’s brilliant. Here’s a link to his thoughts.)

Priesthood Duties: Deacons Quorum (This portion always includes a visit to the sacrament table in the chapel. The Deacons Quorum president explains the procedures and practices of sacrament preparation and passing. We will continue this pattern, as this information is valuable for both boys and girls.)

Temple Preparation: YW President or presidency member. (Generally, we anticipate that this message will include an overview of the covenant path, from baptism through endowments, through sealings.)

Temple Baptisms: Beehive Presidency (We’ll include temple baptism clothing and practical tips for how to prepare for a youth temple trip. The Beehive president will explain procedures and practices of baptisms by proxy at the temple.)

Thoughts from the Bishop:

Closing Prayer: Deacon Quorum member

 

Our ward chooses to hold a Baptism Preview. One of the ways we keep the focus on the ordinance of the baptism during this meeting is by separately discussing the programs and activities which also begin at age 8. After a mostly spiritually centered fireside, we close the meeting for refreshments and *at the back of the room* we have two tables set up: one for Activity Days and one for Cubs. Kids and parents can stop by these tables and pick up literature and talk to the leaders of those programs.

In the same way, the Temple and Priesthood Preview could quickly become procedural if we start discussing Personal Progress and Duty to God. Rather than focusing on the details of these programs, we’ll have three tables set up in the back of the room: one for Personal Progress, one for Duty to God, and one for Scouting. After our more spiritually oriented presentation, families can stop by these three tables and chat with leaders about how these goal-setting programs can help support Temple and Priesthood blessings.

We’ll also be giving out small gift bags with a couple of helpful church booklets:

At our Priesthood Preview we typically hand out Duty to God booklets, For the Strength of Youth pamphlets, and True to the Faith booklets. For our girls we’ll switch out the Duty to God for a Personal Progress booklet and keep the other two. Tying things back into our Roots and Branches imagery, here’s a full page that you could print and use as tags. I’ll use these tags, below, and tie them on to the little paper gift bags we send home with the kids at the event.

I created this visual myself: feel free to use, photocopy, and share.

I really love the work Rosalynde did here in thinking through how to present Temple and Priesthood Preparation to her Primary children. Very thoughtful and inclusive. Check it out if you’re looking for a different approach: I love hers as well.

 

Career Night for Cub Scouts and Activity Days

This year we hosted a Career Night for our Cub Scouts and Activity Day children. We combine all the 8-12 year old children for this kind of activity about once or twice a year. This is something I plan way in advance with our Cub and AD leaders and it replaces a pack meeting or activity.

For the event, we invited four members of our ward to talk about how developing talents through school or other work is meaningful. We had a Disney artist, a firefighter, a marketing manager, and a TV production assistant (we are adjacent to Los Angeles, ha ha). I prepped our visitors with four questions:

1) Name and what you do (include dad/mom/family here as well)

2) What was your very first job? or What was your favorite job?
3) What kind of preparations did you do for your job (or whatever kind of work/life you’re doing)
4) What other talents and skills have you developed that make you more useful in the kingdom of God?
Even though the kids are only 8-11 years old, I really wanted to drive home two ideas. 1) Education and preparation is important. 2) The more you can do, the more helpful you can be. Plan to develop a variety of skills that you can use at work, home, and church.
I began the night with the idea that our life is a long journey and you’re going to have to cover long distances. If you have a pair of sneakers, you’re going to be better prepared to walk a long way. If you are even better prepared and you have a bike, you’re going to go a lot farther a lot faster. If you’ve really put in the time, saved the money, and are willing to do the work you can get a CAR. This will take you much farther and it will even allow you to take others along with you. When you are well prepared with schooling and hard work, you will be well prepared to go as far as you need to go and take friends and family with you!
We set up the room so that each child was sitting at table with a chair (seminary meets in our room during the week, so we have these cool thin tables available). We gave each kid the worksheet above to doodle on and fill out during the interview, along with some colored pencils. It’s large: 11×17 because I wanted something a little different and memorable for the kids to work on.
I put together a flyer to advertise our event that I’m sharing here just in case you want to use it. The PDF below has a blank blue box (no pizza icon, either). You’ll have to add your own text in PDF or some other kind of image editing software.
I also enlarged and reprinted all of the icons you see above for our event and taped them up to a rolling whiteboards that we have in our building. You can see them above, behind our panel. They served as backdrop for our speakers. There are 20 of them and they are available below. I didn’t create these icons: the original artist is www.freepik.com and I got them at www.flaticon.com.
If you’re interested in something a bit more sophisticated, check out this Career Interest Survey. It’s better suited for ages 12 and up, in my opinion. Check it out, though, if you’re looking for something a bit more complex.

Printable Starburst Treat Tag

We have a fun tradition with the Primary with whom we share a Primary Room: they meet right after us on Sundays in the same room. On program day, we leave treats for each other! A small candy treat or poster wishing the other ward Good Luck or Congratulations! It’s fun. This year my counselor left Starburst for the kids: a little pair of Starburst for each child. We attached this fun Starburst tag. I thought it would be easy to share in case you want to use them for another event: Primary class, school class, young men or young women.

They are about 3 inches by 1.5 inches.

 

Easy to Print 2018 Primary Sharing Time Program

For the life of me, I do not understand why the Primary Sharing Time program booklet is limited in quantities. As far as I can ascertain, each ward gets 3. Which seems like enough unless you’d like each member of the Primary presidency (3) to get one, plus your secretary (1), plus your music leaders (we have 4–2 pianists and 2 choristers). At a minimum I’d like 8.

Not to mention what happens if someone moves or gets released and you need an additional copy.

Every. Year. I beg my little sister to please buy a couple extra copies if she sees any at Deseret Book. I live in California and there is no Deseret Book or Seagull or anything within 2 hours. So, so aggravating.

The problem with printing the full color PDF that is provided online is that (OBVIOUSLY) it is in FULL COLOR. The text is in orange! And green on green! It doesn’t print well or photocopy well in black and white. It costs $8 to print in full color!!!!

I could go on, but lets focus on solutions instead.

Here’s the solution. The complete booklet with all text in easy-to-print black and white and grayscale photos. The PDF is below.

A second solution! The complete booklet formatted into a half page booklet. The page numbers are organized so you could photocopy the pages front to back, stack the pages together and fold it in half to have a complete booklet with half as many pages. There may be some issues with this depending on how your printer handles 2-sided printing, but it works with my set up here.

The CTR Bear

This year our Primary had an ongoing program called the CTR Bear. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this done before, but it’s similar to lots of school classroom projects like Flat Stanley. A stuffed teddy bear with a CTR t-shirt goes home with one family per week. This project is best suited for Junior Primary, I think, but we sell it to the older children by reminding them of the importance of setting a good example by choosing the right. I also like that it’s best for our Junior kiddos: many extra activities (like Cubs and Activity Days) are for the Senior children and so it feels like a nice balance that this activity resonates especially well with the younger ones.

The family hosts the bear for a week and takes a few quick pics of the children “choosing the right” with the CTR bear. The picture above is my son Jonah. He was choosing the right by sharing the video game controller (our standards are high at the Davis house). We have a private Primary Facebook page where we share these photos with each other. It’s not the most critical part of the program, but it is really fun! I have the cutest collection of pictures of our Primary kids reading scriptures with the CTR Bear, at the LA temple, riding bikes, eating good food, helping clear the table with the CTR Bear and so on. Adorable.

After their week is up, the kids report on their experience during Primary opening exercises. If all the children in one family are in Junior, they just report in Junior. If there are kids in both Junior and Senior, we have a report in both opening exercises. It’s really fluid. No one writes down a talk about their CTR Bear experience–often the presidency member conducting prompts the child with questions. It’s very casual.

Our secretary set up this super cute bulletin board in our Primary room. All the bears start out with no shirt, just their family name on the bear. After they’ve had a turn with the CTR bear the kids put a t-shirt on their family bear. It helps us keep track of whose turn it is and it’s just so darn cute.

We included this letter in the Relief Society binders when we first started this program so that parents would know what was going on. Download the PDF below.

One useful tip: start the year with TWO CTR bears. It’s super helpful to keep the program rolling in case someone forgets to bring it back to church and it also allows time to wash the bear and bag!! I also spray the bears down with Lysol regularly. It occurs to me that if you didn’t want to have a stuffed bear for whatever reason you could do this exact program with a paper bear, too.

We have really enjoyed this CTR Bear program this year. Especially in Junior Primary the kids really look forward to their turn. It’s very low cost and there is no sugar or candy involved! Win-win-win. We love it.

Choose the Right Primary Program 2017

I promised a friend I’d share a version of our 2017 Primary program, “Choose the Right,” by the end of July! Ha. The last day of the month still counts, as we all know from Home and Visiting Teaching.

 

Today I’m sharing a copy of our program, available in Word or as a PDF. It’s more specific to our ward than the generic one I usually share for a couple of reasons. 1) I incorporated classroom experiences into the program. You’ll see what I mean if you read the program: one child from each class is sharing a story about something they learned in their Primary classroom. I think it’s a great way to share what the children learned during the year and really highlight the work our wonderful teachers are doing in a more public setting. 2) We had an ongoing program called the CTR Bear. Perhaps I’ll share more about that later this week. It’s sort of a twist on Flat Stanley, where a stuffed teddy bear with a CTR t-shirt goes home with one family per week. The family takes a few quick pics of the children “choosing the right” with the CTR bear and shares the pics on our private Facebook page. The kids report on their experience during Primary opening exercises. We have a  section where the kids report on their CTR Bear experience during the program. I doubt it will be applicable to you! You could switch these up for personalized lines from children about a time they chose the right. 3) We had a 10 Commandments Summer Challenge. So the kids are going to repeat the 10 Commandments as part of the program. I’m not sure if your primary did that? You could adjust a few of the lines and keep the same framework.

 

Please feel free to use, share, and copy.

I also put together an easy to photocopy program cover to be used on the day of the program. Fold them in half and place announcements and the bulletin info inside. These would be adorable colored in by the Primary kids. *Don’t use crayons if you’re going to run them through the copy machine AFTER they are colored in. The crayon will melt the copy machine.

There’s also a PDF of a quarter page invite/flyer. You’ll need Acrobat or a photo editor to adapt these for your ward.

Good luck friends!

Book of Mormon Doctrinal Mastery 2017

As promised, I put together a set of Doctrinal Mastery printables for The Book of Mormon. These are scriptural references that LDS seminary students will be studying during 2017.

Obviously these work well in a seminary classroom, but I use these often for FHE and this year I’ll be throwing them in letters and packages I send to my missionary son, too.

There’s also a set here that are sized to a quarter page. The first set is what I call “personal” so if you printed seven pages you’d have all 25.

And then this set is what I call a “classroom” set. It has only one scripture per page, so it’s 25 pages with four of the same scripture per page. It would work well if you wanted to print the smaller size off for a whole classroom.

Then there’s a quick one page printable with the icons and a summary phrase. I think this is perfect for study and review.

I know I’ve mentioned before how much I appreciate seminary teachers. They played a fundamental role in my son Josh’s testimony. I know it’s different depending on the person and the circumstance, but for a variety of reasons Josh’s seminary teachers were much more influential on him than his Young Men or Sunday School leaders. I am so grateful seminary filled the void.

When I make any additions to the Book of Mormon Doctrinal Mastery set, I’ll just add them to this post. I find it makes Pinterest link backs easier and keeps everything in one spot. So the next variation is the condensed one-page printable. The text is very small but if your printer is worth it’s salt, it’ll be readable.

Mission Prep

Our eldest son, Josh, is preparing for a mission to the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo East. He enters the Dominican Republic MTC mid-August.

Josh graduated from high school over a year ago and completed his freshman year at college away from home. He didn’t go to a BYU school, but he participated meaningfully in a student ward and institute. He took a few road trips, got a job, and played a lot of pick-up basketball. This summer before he leaves he is spending time on splits with our local missionaries here in SoCal. He is working and drinking deeply the magic of Los Angeles in the summer. He’s excited and happy.

When I ask him if he’s worried about his mission, he says he’s worried about teaching and baptizing. His answer makes me feel relief. How does he already know that these are the only two things worth worrying about?

As always, Josh is doing things at his own pace, with or without our help, ignoring peer influence. I’m sharing how this is all working out just in case someone needs to hear that this kind of timing might be a blessing. Make no mistake: my husband and I were only peripherally involved in Josh’s decision to attend school before a mission. He made it a matter of personal prayer. But I do believe this past year at school has been a key turning point in Josh’s life. Irreplaceable. I don’t know if this gap year is right for you or your missionary, but I’m an advocate of giving it true consideration.

Additional thoughts about missions and the temple here.