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Simple Missionary Family Home Evening Ideas

Next month the youth in our ward are participating in a missionary month. The Young Women and Young Men leaders have planned special lessons and activities to help familiarize them with missionary life. Many of these will take place on Sunday, others will replace weekly mutual activities. Some of these activities will naturally include our Primary children: families will be inviting youth to their homes for dinner, just like the real missionaries. Families will also be taught by the youth as they practice sharing the gospel.

To help make this missionary month a more full family experience, we’re switching March to the November Sharing Time theme: I Can Choose to Be a Missionary Now. Our sharing time lessons will be pulled from November. We’re also going to send home the following one-page outline with several simple ideas for Family Home Evening. It’s meant to be photocopied and folded in half. I pulled the story from The Friend (July 2016) and the other resources from various spots on lds.org.

It’s so simple that I thought I’d share it below.

Choose the Sprite gift tags

 

I like the way my “Choose the Rite” logo tag turned out so I’m sharing it here. It’s meant to be attached to a bottle or can of Sprite! I am using one that is black and white printed on yellow card stock (clean and cheap, just the way I like it).

There’s a full size version PDF below (if you want the jpeg, just right click on the image above and save it, sweetie). There’s also a full page version with nine of these images per page that you could easily cut into nine separate tags. Easy.

Are you into the full color? It’s available below.

We give a small token gift to our Primary kids on their birthday! In 2014 we did pencils and silicone CTR rings. Last year we did these fun whack-a-pack self inflating balloons. This year every kid is getting a vinyl CTR sticker in one form or another. I ordered them from Heather at JDM Designs. They were inexpensive (about $25 for 100 vinyl stickers). Email her for more info: heather@myjdmdesigns.com.

My original idea was to give everyone a block with the CTR sticker on it. Something decorative you could put by your bedside or at your desk–something that would just show up around the house and remind kids to choose the right. But when my 11-year-old saw the vinyl sticker he wanted to stick it on his phone, on his mirror, on his notebook. Basically he was way more interested in the vinyl sticker and way less interested in the block. So I quickly switched gears and decided to give the Senior Primary the vinyl sticker itself… with a small can of Sprite, just to make it fun.

And that’s why I have “Remember to Choose the …rite” gift tags 🙂

 

2017 Youth Theme Poster

I had a request for a scripture poster for the youth theme for 2017. This version doesn’t even have a title because the theme for the youth this year is just “Ask.” Check out the details on lds.org. So this is just the first page of James blown up to poster size. Available below in 18 x 24 and 24 x 36 poster sizes in case you want to use it in your Young Women or Young Men’s room. Obviously I would use a marker, colored pencil, or some cool washi tape to mark verses 5 and 6.

 

Merry Christmas 2016!

2016 was full of new chapters for the Davis family. Our first high school graduate and subsequently our first college drop off. My first job since college! I’ve been working part time since spring. We have our first Eagle Scout. Our last preschool graduation. We became a band family (that’s a thing) because Lucas plays the euphonium in the high school marching band. We had an epic trip to Lake Powell. Lots of Disneyland. EFY. Basketball. Pioneer Trek. Refugee Relief. Yoga. Lots of low brass. Lots of noise! Lots of boys.

We’ve never been so busy. I feel like we’ve never juggled so many big changes for so many of us. I’m learning to find a new kind of balance. Grappling with the necessity to choose best rather than good. Coming to terms with living in the middle of life, where the end seems closer than the beginning. Leaning in to the changes makes it easier to say: 2016. Was. Awesome.

With love from my family to yours, Merry Christmas.

Wagons West book review

Wagons West by Turley and Littke

When my oldest son started kindergarten we lived in Emigration Canyon in Salt Lake City. It was there that I came to deeply love my Mormon pioneer heritage. Something about the site of the Last Camp just yards from my driveway, the thick scrub oak in my yard, and driving past This is the Place monument every day–it made me feel connected to that determined bunch of Saints who made their way through my canyon to their promised land.

Importantly, it was there that I began some casual research of the pioneer journals. Soon after I strayed from the Sunday School lessons and wandered around in the original sources I discovered that the pioneers weren’t preachy or perfect. They were real people. People of faith who, nevertheless, struggled to live their faith. Each with distinct experiences and life views. I discovered in their journals and memoirs that it’s presumptuous to lump these emigrants together or create a composite Pioneer-with-a-capital-P Experience.

Thankfully, over the years the Mormon church has done excellent work in making these writings accessible online with an extensive database found here. Recently released Wagons West is a repackaging of these original documents, easy to read with a quick pace and a narrative style that organizes the journey west chronologically. The writing is simple enough even for younger readers, but the genius of this book is that it pulls a new set of stories, anecdotes and quotes into an already familiar account.

For example, have you ever heard “The Way We Crossed the Plains”? I hadn’t either. It’s a song the pioneers came up with on the journey. It goes like this:

In a shake wagon we ride,

For to cross the prairie wide.

As slowly the oxen moved along,

We walloped them well with a good leather thong.

The way we crossed the plains. (p. 31)

I have sung “Pioneer Children” a million times and it’s nice to hear a new one! There’s also a copy of the Eliza R. Snow’s Journeying Song, drawings, photos and images pulled in to help tell the story. As a whole, the book is graphically well designed and not too heavy on text.

Aside from the “new” stories and facts, I wholeheartedly adore the careful exposition of the true pioneer journey. The authors did not shy away from nuance that adds fullness to our commonly shared history. For example, did you know that Brigham Young rejoiced when the Mormon men were asked to form the Mormon battalion because it would bring in funds? The men would be paid for their service to the United States ($16 a month) and the Mormons needed the money (p. 40)! Somehow this detail has eluded me in past studies, but it’s a piece of the picture that makes sense.

There’s also much more detail about steps the Saints took as they left Nauvoo, unvarnished and somehow new to me. For example, I had never heard the specific threats to the Saints that 1) Brigham Young and other Church leaders were being accused of running a counterfeiting operation and 2) Governor Ford warned Mormons that federal troops might try to stop the Saints from heading west (p. 16). These threats are part of the reason the Saints left Nauvoo in such adverse winter conditions.

Remember, though, this is all done in a writing style that is easy to digest so these facts are woven into a broader, familiar story we all know. The authors do excellent work in retelling a huge portion of Mormon history with enough familiar ground that most will be able to maintain their bearings while easily absorbing some of the fresh angles and facts.

Later there are some frank stories about Porter Rockwell’s egregious bragging and the conflict between the Saints in camp (p. 118). There have always been a few throw away lines about conflict amongst the Saints on the trail, but the stories in Wagons West are specific. And they resonate with my modern day experience with Latter-day Saints in all the wards where we’ve lived. The truth is, it’s not always a graceful journey. We struggle together to be civil to one another, to be faithful to our God, to be righteous and kind. We make mistakes. We hurt each other. We fall and sometimes, some Saints don’t ever come back. We are the pioneers and they are us. The more honestly we can look at their dichotomous experience on the trail the more fully we can accept our own spiritual journey today.

If you have any affection for the Mormon pioneers, you’ll enjoy this quick read. Pick up Wagons West to enhance your understanding of the early Saints, to aid in your teaching of Church History in Sunday School next year, or to give as a gift.

 

2016 Cub Scout Updates

Cub Scouts just revamped their whole program. Fun!

Below you’ll find updated tracking sheets as well as a “Welcome to Cubs” booklet. It’s designed specifically for LDS Cub Scout packs, so there is no Tiger tracking and there is Religious Knot and LDS Faith in God info too. If you’re interested in a one-page Faith in God printable, I created one that is available here.

The biggest difference is that there are 3 fewer adventures required during the Webelos/Arrow of Light year, but they also shifted and reorganized almost all of the other requirements for every adventure in all three dens. Why not? The details are here and the FAQ’s are here.

Just to be clear, though, the ENTIRE program is now different. For example, check out Call of the Wild for Wolves, old compared to new. You can’t say to your den “Complete Requirement 6 in Call of the Wild.” They are completely different with this revamp. I would say about 80% of the requirements and advancements have been reshuffled and changed. I don’t think the changes will feel very different to the boys–the activities they do at den meetings will feel about the same. But the organization and tracking is VASTLY different. All the printed materials are obsolete. This is not a minor shift. Heads up.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-5-13-27-pm

Here’s the one-page update. This one page could follow one (LDS) child through his whole Cub Scout career. Assuming that the Cub Scouts don’t revamp the entire program again in one year. There’s also some space for various electives at the bottom. Click to get the printable below.

2016-individual-cub-tracking

Then I’ve got one sheet for each pack: the Wolf and Bear dens have three tracking boxes per page. The Webelos/Arrow of Light pack has two per page. These are better suited for use with a whole den. You could fit 2-3 boys per page.

I like the simple pamphlet I put together for our pack. It explains Cubs in very broad strokes. It’s updated with the new details. It’s designed to be printed in color, two-sided, and then folded in half. I like to use this at our Baptism Preview.

2016-welcome-to-cubs

welcome-to-cubs-interior

Good luck!

 

My Gospel Standards printable posters

my-gospel-standards-printable-postersI pulled the images and format from the My Gospel Standards printables into three sizes of black and white posters. The first one is just standard letter size–easy to print and photocopy. The other sizes should all be inexpensive and easy to print at your copy shop–we’ll be using the black and white on a bulletin board in my ward!

The 24×36 size should be printed as an “engineering print” and should be about $4.

My Gospel Standards Full Color Printables

In 2017 the worldwide Primary theme is “Choose the Right.” I love it! The CTR shield is so iconic and we’ll be using it in many ways all year long.

We’ll also be using My Gospel Standards as the framework to discuss how to choose the right, month by month. If you aren’t in Primary, you may not be familiar with these! They are part of the Faith in God program, a goal setting program for Senior Primary. They are sort of like For the Strength of Youth but simplified for a younger crowd. We’ll use these 13 mini-subjects as the theme for bishopric visits and more during the year. I was also delighted to hear that The Friend will be offering a CTR Challenge every month in 2017 that correlates with the My Gospel Standards subjects.

my-gospel-standards-free-full-color-printables

I’m sharing this all to explain that our Primary is going to be spending time with each of these 13 gospel standards next year. Because of that I wanted to make them easy to understand for children as young as the Sunbeams! So I paired up each standard with a simple, easy to understand icon, as you can see above.

The first printable is a sort of mini poster and is available below in full color in tabloid (11×17) size.

I also made each of these standards available as individual letter size, full color printables, like the one you see below. You can print these at home on a color printer if you want. Printing all 13 would make an easy bulletin board and would only cost about $7.

gospel-standards-follow-heavenly-fathers-planThere are 13 standards, plus a couple of extras below. First a kind of cover page:

gospel-standards-front-pageAnd the I am a Child of God postscript:
gospel-standards-i-am-a-child-of-god

I also made an easier to print poster–you can print it on two sheets of regular, letter-size paper if you don’t have easy access to a print shop that can print 11×17 sizes.

gospel-standard-easy-to-print-poster gospel-standards-easy-print-poster-2

So with these four extras plus the 13 gospel standards, there are a total of 17 full color pages available in this Gospel Standards packet.

I think this is all I will offer of the full color variety, but over the next week or so I’ll post these icons and formats in an easy to photocopy black and white version. I also have a poster size (engineering print) in the works… stay tuned!

2016 Service Advent

2016-advent

About five years ago I put together this super simple Service advent for my family and posted it on my personal family blog. I still really like it. It is so simple and every single activity is inexpensive (or free) and quick. Because at the beginning of December I have lots of energy for extra festivities. But by the end I am just hanging on, getting the essentials finished up.

This calendar is perfect for busy families because it is so simple. I thought carefully about each day’s service activity: I think each one can be completed by a child (about 8+) with very little help from an adult. More importantly, I think the small but meaningful service activities could really add to the spirit of peace and giving that we are all striving for at Christmas time.

It would be perfect for a Primary class, Family Home Evening, and even useful with the Young Women or Young Men.

Free Priesthood Preview printables

One of the first projects I shared on The Mormon Home was our ward Priesthood Preview–about two years ago! Those printables were overdue for an update and I really like the new look I’m sharing here today. Feel free to use for your ward, print, and share!

priesthood-preview-packet-free

The main look is the same across the printable set and there are several options. First the invitation. An email or Evite works well, but I am always a fan of printing something on paper to be sure everyone has the relevant information. There are two options. One is four per page, a sort of post card, made to copy front to back. You fill in the Date, Time, and Location with a pen. Old school!

pp-postcard

The second is also mean to be copied front to back and then cut and folded in half. More like a standard invitation.

At the Priesthood Preview, I usually make the agenda or “program” that is handed out at the door. I made a super simple letter head style see that you can fill in with your own agenda. I included ours below so you can see how we run our Priesthood Preview. The PDF you can download is blank (like on the right side) except for the top black letterhead section.

priesthood-preview-programs

I like to give this handout to the boys. These are five “To Do” items that are found in the Faith in God booklet. They are meant to be completed in preparation for priesthood ordination. These handouts are two per page, meant to be cut in half. We also give the boys a For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, a True to the Faith booklet, a Duty to God booklet and sometimes a Preach My Gospel mini-book.

Preisthood Preview Handout

Finally, I added something new! A bunch of quotes and scriptures about the Aaronic Priesthood with the same “look.” They would make a great backdrop behind the refreshment table or at the front of the room. You could hang them from a string, banner style. There are 6 that are standard letter size and four that are tabloid (11×17). You’ll probably need to get the 11×17 ones printed at the copy shop. I think they would look great in a sort of puzzle together.

pp-printable-pdf

Additional Note:

Also: Here’s the handbook section on Priesthood Preview. I read it to mean the bishopric is in charge of the meeting, but it’s not really crystal clear! In our ward currently, the Primary plans the event (invitations, refreshments, room scheduling, buying the Duty to God and Preach my Gospel books), the Young Men organize the Deacons Quorum to present the program (opening and closing prayers, leading music and playing the piano if possible, intro to the priesthood, welcome to the quorum are all executed by Deacons Quorum members), and the bishopric member conducts the meeting. The bishop makes remarks as does the Primary President.

Priesthood Preview

A meeting called Priesthood Preview is held each year for 11-year-old boys and their parents. The purpose of this meeting is to help boys understand the priesthood and strengthen their commitment to prepare to receive it. Possible topics for the meeting include priesthood purposes, responsibilities, and blessings (for some ideas, see Faith in God for Boys, pages 12–13).

A member of the bishopric conducts the Priesthood Preview, and at least one member of the Primary presidency attends. Other leaders, including members of the deacons quorum presidency and Young Men presidency, may also attend.

If a ward has very few 11-year-old boys, the meeting may be held, under the direction of the stake presidency, with other wards or with the entire stake. According to local needs, it may be held on a Sunday evening, as part of a deacons quorum meeting on Sunday, or at another time.