My Mormonism runs deep in my bones: it is the faith of my fathers. My life’s work–my children–is bearing the fruit of this faith. Undeniably one of the more unique aspects of my religion is the doctrine of family. A child of divorced parents, a great-great-great-grandchild of polygamists and pioneers: my understanding of family has been subject to a mature interpretation of Mormonism itself. Capturing the clarity of our doctrine on family while simultaneously allowing room for the complexity of true family life is this lovely book by McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spalding, the authors of Girls Who Choose God.
The book is not a narrative story: it’s organized around fifteen key ideas that would easily lend themselves to lessons for Family Home Evening, Primary Sharing Time or Visiting Teaching. Short paragraphs support these key ideas, reinforced by quotes from leaders. Similar to their earlier books, each key idea also includes questions that provoke discussion and thought. For example, in the section titled “Families Creat and Celebrate,” the questions include: How do you create with your family? What is one of your favorite family traditions? And, what tradition would you like to start? The quote is from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Our birthright… is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things….Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before–colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.”
It’s hard to over exaggerate how lovely the illustrations are, all by Caitlin Connolly. Each one is imbued with rich symbolism and imagery that complements the key idea at hand. The art is a stark departure from much recent work for LDS children. It is so much more brave and opinionated. It reminds me of the kind of art work in My Turn on Earth: memorable, evocative and bold. Highly stylized, but purposeful. I love it.
Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families is exactly the kind of book I am happy to support in every way and will treasure in my home for years to come. Pick up a copy online or at your local church bookstore.
Hey guys! I have a friend who is volunteering in Russia where they just changed the law about proselytizing. She sent a quick note hoping for feedback about how to fill the hours with service when she can’t teach! I asked for her permission to share the request here. This is what she wrote:
Hello everybody! I hope all is well. As many of you know there has been a lot of changes in Russia regarding the work. We are no longer able to Preach the Gospel. We are trying to do a lot more service. I know many of you served missions or are currently serving a mission or maybe never served a mission but have done service in the past. I wanted to ask you all for suggestions of what you would do for service or what you did on your missions that worked well. If you could let me know that would be awesome. We have run out of ideas. Also if you have friends or family that you know that have served or are serving in Russia or any other place like Russia that it is a little bit tricky with the law maybe you could talk to them and see what they have done in the past or are doing? Thanks for all your help. If you have any suggestions let me know and I would greatly appreciate it!
– Cecтра Jeanette Bierman
I love this cute sister! If you have any ideas or suggestions, please leave a comment here (I approve all comments so don’t be alarmed if you don’t see it appear right away) or send me an email at email@example.com.
Just for more context, here is the letter from Sister Bierman’s mission president:
As you know, laws signed by President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, July 7, include a section of regulations and restrictions affecting our customary proselyting efforts in Russia. The new law goes into effect beginning July 20, 2016.
In correspondence, including any of your postings on social media, we kindly ask that you refer to you son or daughter serving in the Russia Samara Mission as a “volunteer” in keeping with the spirit of the new law. We also request that your communications refrain from any negative commentary about the Russian government. Beginning on Tuesday, July 20, the manner in which our young volunteers in Russia Samara perform service will change fundamentally. Instead of proselyting, they will now engage in activities aimed at developing the Church and supporting Church members. They will all serve in Church callings and will build closer bonds with members than in the past. For our part, we will need to strive together to ensure that their service is productive and spiritually fulfilling.
We feel nothing but joy and peace in this effort. We are confident that the Lord will continue to pour forth his blessings on his Saints and upon the Church in Russia. We will see miracles take place and the hand of the Lord made manifest in prospering His Church in this beautiful land. “Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail” (D&C 6:34.)
President and Sister Ottesen
Russia Samara Mission
As per tradition, I put together an easy-to-print set scriptures for seminary. In 2016 the church is moving towards a “Doctrinal Mastery” program. I am sure there will be some changes, but the seminary teachers I spoke to are planing to emphasize these doctrinal mastery verses in ways that are similar to the scripture mastery verses. They are hoping to display the verses and work on memorizing them with their seminary classes. I formatted each verse in a way that is clean and simple, along with an icon that I hope captures an important doctrinal element of the verse itself. They are black and white so they should be easy to photocopy.
I have a freshman in early morning seminary this year (hello again, 5:50 am) so I am happy to have a set of these printables around the house. I really like to have the whole set ready to print at the beginning of the year and then we can easily incorporate them into FHE or scripture study as a family without much prep.
The full set of 25 are available in a PDF below. Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll reformat these into quarter page sizes. Check out the past three sets (for Old Testament, D&C and Book of Mormon) in the “Scripture Study” tab of this website.
I like to keep editing and adding to this specific post with New Testament Doctrinal Mastery helps. I think it makes it simpler for all Pinterest links to lead here and for readers and teachers to find everything in one place. The first edit is an update on John 3:5! I think the imagery is easy to interpret. But just in case you’re sensitive to confusion with the infant baptism doctrine, there’s another version available below!
Next up is the quarter page size of all 25 (plus the alternate image) New Testament doctrinal mastery verses. I really like this size a lot: very portable. There are two variations. First is what I call the individual set: it’s 7 pages with all 26 (plus 1) scriptures formatted to fit four-per-page. You can see what I mean below.
The next one I call the classroom version. It’s the same size (quarter page, four-per-page) but there are four of the same verse on each page. So it’s more like what you’d copy for a classroom. There are 26 total pages (25 plus the edit).
Our Primary Program is really early this year–at the end of September. I’ve been working on a draft for our Primary and thought I’d share it here! It will go through some tweaks and changes. It also still needs approval from our bishop. But I love to read what others are putting together so I thought I’d share ours as well.
It’s available as a Word document and a PDF below.
Last year I put together a post about how to write your own Primary program! Check it out if you’re wondering where to start.
I also put together a super simple program cover. It would be easy to adapt for the ward bulletin that Sunday.
Today I’m sharing some “Travel Scriptures” over at Or So She Says! I really like this set of scriptures and they’re formatted in a cool travel sign format. Like this:
I really like this set! Go check it out and pick up the free printables for yourself.
Last summer our Primary planned a “Summer of Service” challenge, where we encouraged the kids to find ways to serve others around them. This summer I wanted to maintain our scripture reading momentum, so I thought it would be great to have a scripture oriented challenge. The challenge we settled on is to learn the names and order of the books of scripture!
I’m hoping that the reward for this challenge will help motivate the kids: we’re planning a cereal party at the end of the summer! The plan is to have a dozen different sugar cereals (Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, Trix) and the kids can mix and match and eat their fill. We’ll have strawberry and chocolate milk, sprinkles, chocolate syrup and more. Our event will be at 11 am, so it will be a kind of cereal brunch. I’m hoping we can have some crafts (Fruit Loop necklaces?) and games. Check out my Pinterest board for more ideas.
Everyone in our Primary is invited to our cereal party, but we’ll also award a special prize to the kids who have learned all the books of scripture (to be determined)! I think it should be lots of fun.
There are lots of songs and games that can help with this task. Check out some links below.
Books of the Book of Mormon (to 10 Little Indians)
Books of the New Testament (to Praise to the Man)
Books of the Old Testament (to Do What is Right)
Books of Mormon Hand Clapping game on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ao8NW46JDBo
Book of Mormon song on YouTube: https://youtu.be/gq4f8j3fLCg
I also created some worksheets and a bookshelf that I hope will help. Type in “bookshelf” in the search box on the right hand column to get the full set.
This cereal pun just keeps giving and giving
At the beginning of the year, our Primary kicked off a program to Feast Upon the Words designed to help encourage the kids and their families to read the scriptures every day! You can find the business card sized printables here, and a quarter page printable here. We continue to reward the kids with 1-inch buttons, but we also added the option of choosing one of these fun squeezable fruit stress toys. The kids love this new prize.
Tomorrow I’ll share our ward Summer Scripture Challenge–it’s cereal-sly cool. Stay tuned.
For our fifth Sunday lesson in May I decided that I wanted to re-emphasize this program, so we discussed how to improve scripture study. I sent the kids home with a new bookmark. The front has the same food imagery that you find on the Feast Upon the Words cards.
Obviously, the kids are meant to color in the images above. I made this bookmark in two parts: I printed the food images on white card stock and cut them out. Then I printed the back (below) with ways to study the scriptures better on green card stock, cut them out and glued the front and back together.
The reverse side of the bookmarks included a list of ways to make scripture study better, found on lds.org. I taught a slightly different lesson to the Junior Primary and the Senior Primary, so there are two versions. The more complex version is for the older kids.
This Sunday is the “faith is like a seed” Sharing Time. I think this lesson is one of the first object lessons out there! It’s a great way to connect a concrete process (growing a plant) to a more abstract, spiritual idea (faith). I’m going to be emphasizing how some things help seeds grow and some things prevent seeds from growing: just like our faith. Things that help our faith grow might include prayer, scripture study, attending church, taking the sacrament, FHE, serving a mission, preparing to attend the temple, serving others, choosing good friends, or keeping the commandments. Things that might prevent our faith from growing: forgetting to pray, thinking you’re too busy to read scriptures, being mean to others at school, starting fights with your brothers or sisters, skipping church meetings, or using bad language.
For Junior Primary I started looking for a simple science worksheet about how seeds grow. I found a lot of dead leads and old images online, so I decided to put one together myself. It’s designed to be printed two per page and cut in half and it’s available for you below. I titled it The Tiny Seed because I may be sharing Eric Carle’s book by the same name. Depending on how much time we have.
Just for clarity, the images that are good for the seed are wind (to blow the seed to a good spot), sun, rain, and soil. The bad images are a bird, mouse, weed, and a boot or foot.
I also enlarged all ten images on the worksheet so they are about the size of a quarter page. I’ll use them to talk about the worksheet on the chalkboard while the littles are working on the worksheet in their laps. There are three pages in the following PDF to fit all ten images.
With our Senior Primary I am going to introduce the same metaphor (plants, seeds, faith) but we’ll round it out by reading Alma 32:27-43 together. If we have time we’ll get the kids to memorize Alma 32:21.
This would make a great Family Home Evening too…
Trying to figure out what to do about screens (TV, iPhones, xbox and all that jazz) this summer? Me too. I don’t think this checklist will work for my sullen teenage boys, but I’m thinking it’s a great fit for my 10 year old! Grab your printable copy below.
You could laminate this and use a dry erase marker every day, or slip it into a sheet protector for the same affect.
Two of my boys are going on a Pioneer Trek in the next two weeks! Our stake has done an amazing job of putting together families and organizing our event in California. It seems like just about every stake we’ve ever lived in has a Pioneer Trek on the schedule for youth conference every few years. Meanwhile, a friend of mine is helping organize the Trek in her stake! She asked if I could put together a Completion Certificate that they can award at a stake fireside which will follow their journey. I thought I’d share the certificate here in case any of you are in the same boat.
It’s crisp and clean in black and white so you can make hundreds of photocopies and they’ll all look sharp! The blank spaces are meant to be filled in with the name of the youth and their ward. The bottom line is supposed to be the date (1oth or 28th, etc).
And just for kicks I used the same design to make a program cover. It’s exactly what you’d need for the testimony meeting following Trek. Or the fireside you might hold before you take off. I was thinking you’d photocopy the program inside. It is a full page and it’s meant to be folded in half.
Actually, you could also use it as a booklet cover for a journal on Trek as well!