Understanding Virtue: A Scripture Chain

In my ward, we are doing a Book of Mormon Summer reading challenge. This will help the young women to complete their value project for virtue: to read the Book of Mormon. The challenge is to read the Book of Mormon in 70 days – during the summer. (It is roughly 7.5 pages a day).

I’m going to start my summer reading challenge tomorrow. Today, I wanted to figure out what to study as I read the Book of Mormon. So…I’m thinking about the Virtue value project. I’m struck by the following question:

“What did He and those who followed Him do to live virtuous lives?” – from Virtue, Personal Progress Value Experience

And I think that’s what I want to study/learn about

Virtue!!!

Virtue!!!

Personally, I feel like we have a pretty limited understanding of virtue. I think that many of us feel like virtue means chastity. If so, then why not simply call it chastity? Maybe then we’ll elaborate and say, “Purity.” Still. Virtue is not really interchangeable for either chastity or purity. Sure, virtue includes chastity and purity, but I really think that it is that and more.

Here is a quick scripture chain that might help to shed a little light on virtue.

Proverbs 31:10

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” – Proverbs 31:1

This is the “virtue” scripture that usually comes to mind. It seems nice. I don’t know. We might have some stereotypes or even wrong impressions about this scripture. This isn’t a scripture that describes a woman who is quiet and appeased by a bunch of gems. This isn’t a scripture that describes a woman who is property that can be bought.

The rest of 31 describes the many “virtues” of this virtuous woman. They include:

  • She is trustworthy.
  • She does good – especially within the context of her marriage.
  • She works with her hands.
  • She brings food. She physically nourishes her family.
  • She wakes up early and takes care of her stewardship.
  • She is a wise investor.
  • She is a gardener – or creator.
  • She is a hard worker.
  • She knows that her merchandise is good. She is confident.
  • She has many skills – she is knowledgable.
  • She is charitable to the poor.
  • She is not afraid or helpless.
  • She provides well for her household.
  • She is elegant.
  • She causes her household to be elegant as well.
  • She brings fame and honor to her husband because of her many strengths.
  • She is strong.
  • She is honorable.
  • She is wise.
  • She is kind.
  • She is not idle.
  • She is a mother.
  • She is prolific in good works (of all kinds).
  • She fears the Lord.
  • She is praised.

All of these items in this list are ways that this woman is virtuous. You could say it another way – she is powerful. Her purity and chastity are part of what makes her virtuous, but she is more than that, too. She gets stuff done. I want to be like her, you know?!

Really look through this list with an open heart and mind. Today, we’d call the virtuous woman a “super-woman,” perhaps. She has a lot going on, for sure, but these things are all achievable – not all at once, but over time. (That’s nearly always the way). We can become wise, elegant, chaste, charitable, honorable, and strong. We don’t have to throw all of the balls in the air and do them at once. We have a lifetime to develop these qualities. And, while we’re striving, I believe we can consider ourselves to be virtuous women.

Doctrine and Covenants 121:45

“Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.” – Doctrine and Covenants 121:45

Now, lest you think that the charge to be virtuous only applies to women, here is an example where men are told to be virtuous, too.

Throughout verses 41-46, the Lord instructs Joseph Smith on the use of the Priesthood. In verse 39, the Lord warns Joseph of the nature of most men in regards to the Priesthood and to power, in general:

“We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” – Doctrine and Covenants 121:39

So – the Lord then tutors Joseph Smith on how to be a man who righteously bears the Priesthood of God. Since we made a list for the ladies, we’ll make a list for the men.

  • Not power hungry
  • Long-suffering
  • gentle
  • meek
  • loving to others – unconditionally
  • kind
  • exhibiting pure knowledge
  • without hypocrisy
  • without guile
  • reproving – which means GENTLE CORRECTION
  • sharp – exact and quick – so the dude who reproves with sharpness will correct gently with exactness. He won’t do a “hack job” of it. “Reproving at times with sharpness” doesn’t mean being a bully. Quite the opposite.
  • guided by the Holy Ghost
  • loving, especially to those whom he has gently corrected
  • knows that “faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.”
  • bowels are full of charity
  • virtue garnishes his thoughts at all times – his mind is pure and chaste which makes it poweful
  • confident in God
  • gains an understanding of the doctrine of the Priesthood
  • has the Holy Ghost as a constant companion
  • righteous
  • a father

So – men also have high standards. Both men and women are expected to be not only virtuous, but to strive to be the best people that they can be. We are all expected to be not only pure and chaste, but also motivated by faith and filled with charity. This enables us to be empowered by God.

Virtue figures into this greatly. I think that virtue is not only a commitment to be righteous (pure and chaste), but it becomes a well of power within us.

Luke 6:19

“And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.” – Luke 6:19

This scripture is about Christ – when He healed some people “vexed with unclean Spirits.” I find this use of the word “virtue” particularly interesting because it challenges our modern notion of virtue.

Here, we wouldn’t describe Christ’s virtue as “chastity.” It is something else. It is a power to heal others.

His healing power is described as virtue also when the woman touches His hem and is healed:

“And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.” – Luke 8:46

Christ was traveling in a throng of people. Undoubtedly many were touching Him. But only one was healed, and when that healing took place, He could feel his power being physically transferred to this woman.

There is a connection between virtue and power.

We will study one final example like this.

Alma 31:5

“And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.” – Alma 31:5, emphasis added.

God’s word, as Alma knew, was virtuous. Not only does virtue, in this context, mean pure, righteous or chaste, we learn that virtue is a power that is stronger than the sword.

***

Now that we have studied these verses, I think that we can make better sense of virtue. Virtue is power that is rooted in righteousness and purity. It’s power comes from our decision to be righteous, chaste, and made pure through the Atonement of Christ. So, virtue is definitely related to chastity and purity, but it is a little bit more than that!!! Virtue is a source of power.

Virtue is not a power of force. It is not a power of material wealth. It is a power that surpasses the understanding of this world. Virtue is a power that can enable us to heal, to nourish, to strengthen, and to provide. Virtue is a power that is rooted in our Savior and can only be accessed when we are doing what we can to be like Him.

Really, virtue is pretty awesome. So I will agree with the proverb. The price of a virtuous woman is far above rubies. The price of a virtuous man is far above titanium.

I want to develop this quality.

Okay, I’ll end with one last scripture – because it is applicable and might give us a hint on how to develop virtue for ourselves.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:38-40

“And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.

All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified.

For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things. – Doctrine and Covenants 88:38-40

So – if we want to have virtue, then we have to identify that it is built upon laws and principles. Virtue is only built upon the very highest principles of righteousness.

Additionally, if we want to be virtuous, then we must learn to love virtue. I have a feeling it is one of those qualities that continues to add to itself as we continue to progress and apply the Atonement in our lives.

***
What are your thoughts on virtue? Do you think it is an outdated stereotype or a source of strength and power? How can you work to develop virtue in your life?

Come Unto Christ Scripture Study Guide

Well, this is a little late, but it’s finally here!!!

Youth 2014 Scripture Study Series

Youth 2014 Scripture Study Series

Introducing a new Scripture Study guide, program, series…whatever you want to call it. This scripture study program is divided into 8 parts. You can complete them at your own pace.

Even though I’m not serving in the Youth program anymore, Tiger is a young woman. I wanted to create another scripture study series that would help me to understand more about the youth theme for the year so that I could reinforce it in the home.

The scripture study program is broken up in the following assignments/categories:

  1. Introduction to the Series – This includes a quick overview of the scripture and we study supplemental material from the General Young Men’s and General Young Women’s presidencies.
  2. The Invitation Part One – This assignment will explore the first part of Moroni’s invitation – to come unto Christ.
  3. The Invitation Part Two – This assignment will explore the second part of Moroni’s invitation – to be perfected in Him.
  4. The Invitation Part Three – This assignment will explore the third part of Moroni’s invitation – to deny yourselves of all ungodliness.
  5. Logic Statement – If… – In this assignment, we will study what it means to deny yourself of all ungodliness, and why that’s important.
  6. Logic Statement – If… – In this assignment, we will continue studying the “if” portion of Moroni’s logic statement – to love God will all your might, mind, and strength.
  7. Logic Statement – Then… – In this assignment, we will study the next portion of the Logic statement – which is receiving grace.
  8. Second Logic Statement–If, then – Moroni concludes this verse with a second logic statement. This assignment will explore an practical example of this logic statement. We will see how this whole scripture comes together in this assignment.

You can download this entire scripture study series here:

Or Click on this link.

By the way – this would be a great value project!!!

***
So, download the scripture study program and complete it. Let me know how it goes. Also, if you notice any mistakes, please email me or leave a comment below!!! Also, be on the lookout. I hope to make this scripture study series into an App soon. 🙂

A Daughter of God (Individual Worth Value Experience 1) – and a Give-Away

I’m working on Personal Progress with my daughter. It is really a nice experience.

Today, I’m working on Individual Worth Value Experience 1. Before I even began I was touched by the first sentence:You are a daughter of Heavenly Father, who knows you and loves you.”. It’s funny. When I read that, I want to tell my own daughter that it’s true, that she is loved so much. That I know she is a daughter of God. Yet, as I read it, myself, I feel the Spirit whisper to me to remember that I am a daughter of God, He knows me and loves me. Why is it so easy for me to remember how much my own daughters or others are known of and loved by God, yet it is easy for me to forget the same about myself?

But I know that I’m a daughter of God, and I know He loves me.

This value experience assigns the following scriptures: Psalms 8:4-6, Jeremiah 1:5, John 13:34, Doctrine and Covenants 18:10, Abraham 3:22-23, and Joseph Smith-History 1:1-20. After studying these scriptures, we are to “Write in your journal how these scriptures teach you that Heavenly Father knows you, loves you, and is mindful of you.”

Honestly, I get a good feeling when I’m reading these scriptures, but it is the final verse in the final scripture that really stood out to me:

“It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?” – Joseph Smith History 1:20

What I realize in this scripture is that not only is Heavenly Father mindful of me, but that the Adversary is, too. Just as Heavenly Father pleads with us to know that we are His children, that we, his daughters are beloved and of infinite value; the adversary tries to get us to believe the opposite that our value and love are somehow conditional (usually on our physical traits). This simply is not true, but it doesn’t stop Satan from trying to get us to believe it!

I am reminded of something Elaine Dalton said in a recent conference talk:

“Again I renew the call for a return to virtue. Virtue is the strength and power of daughters of God. What would the world be like if virtue—a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards, including chastity8—were reinstated in our society as a most highly prized value? If immorality, pornography, and abuse decreased, would there be fewer broken marriages, broken lives, and broken hearts? Would media ennoble and enable rather than objectify and degrade God’s precious daughters? If all humanity really understood the importance of the statement “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father,” how would women be regarded and treated?” – Elaine Dalton

I love the line of questioning here, and I want to add a question of my own, How would my life change, how would I regard myself and treat myself, if I really understood that I was a daughter of Heavenly Father, and that He loves me?

Of course, at some level, I know this. But there are times I let myself forget. I get caught up in supposed expectations, I get caught up in chores, and most of all, I get caught up in perfectionism and comparing myself to others. And getting caught up in these things is so insidious because I forget my relationship with God, I forget the love He has for me, I forget that He wants me to be happy.

I know that Heavenly Father is mindful of me. I know that He loves me. I know that He wants me to cleave unto Him as he cleaves unto me (See Jacob 6:5). And I know that if I will accept this truth in my life, I will be able to feel the satisfaction and happiness from knowing that I am loved by an Eternal Father in Heaven.

***
I mentioned in the title of this blog post that there is a give-away…and there is!

Win this!

Win this!

Please head over to Tiger’s blog at Personal Progress Perspectives to enter the contest. She’s giving away a red (for Individual worth) tie-dye tee-shirt. While you may not be all that into tie-dye, the kids love it! So check it out, comment, and win! 🙂

Handmade Gospel Book for Youth–Knowledge (Part 5)

This is the fifth part of the gospel book for my daughter that just turned twelve. You can also see Part One (Introduction and About the book), Part Two (Faith), Part Three (Divine Nature), and Part Four (Individual Worth).

Knowledge

I have formatted this book to kind of follow the values from the Young Woman’s theme, so this section is all about knowledge. Included in this section are some of the standards included in For the Strength of the Youth that seem to be associated with the value knowledge. I hope you enjoy this little look!

Knowledge

A few thoughts on knowledge.

A few thoughts on knowledge.

So, this page is all about knowledge–gaining knowledge and why it is important. I have always valued the chance I had to receive an education, and I wanted Tiger to understand that everything in the world around her will give her knowledge – not only what she does in school.

Tiger is a very curious individual, and I encouraged her to continue to satisfy her curiosities in a smart way. This time in her life is especially geared for obtaining knowledge. Though she will have chances to be more social, and it is fun, I encouraged her to remember to keep those interests balanced with gaining knowledge.

Education

About receiving an education.

About receiving an education.

This page is closely related to knowledge, but I wanted this to focus more on her goals in life and how an education will help her to obtain those goals. I understand that a 12 year old girl might not know exactly what she wants to do in life, but I wanted her also to understand that if she wants to keep her future options open, then she needs to make wise decisions now. Receiving an education is a big part of this.

Word of Wisdom 1

A cute quote about health.

A cute quote about health.

This little nursery rhyme is a nice little reminder on how to live a happy healthy life:

The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If you are only willing
Your mind they’ll ease
Your heart they’ll mend
And charge you not a shilling.

Cute and true!

Word of Wisdom 2

My thoughts to Tiger on the Word of Wisdom.

My thoughts to Tiger on the Word of Wisdom.

In this layout, I wanted to make sure that there is more to the Word of Wisdom than “don’t drink, don’t smoke.” Right now, I know that those aren’t temptations to Tiger. That might change, and perhaps there will be a time when she needs more guidance about the temptation to break the word of wisdom, but for now, I wanted to help her concentrate on how everything we put into our mouths effects us. This is often hard for me to remember.

I also wanted her to know that when we treat our bodies well, then we are also treating our spirits well. There is a connection between out bodies and spirits. If we smoke, drink, eat too much junk food, don’t get enough rest or exercise, then not only does our body suffer, but our Spirit also suffers.

I’m hoping that if she understands “why” the Word of Wisdom is so beneficial, then she will be more apt to keep it in the future.

Receiving Revelation

Pattern to Receiving Revelation

Pattern to Receiving Revelation

Finally, I wrote about receiving revelation. Here, I wrote/illustrated the pattern to receiving revelation- as taught in the Doctrine Covenants 9:7-9.
Pattern for receiving revelation

  1. Study – instead of expecting the Lord to solve all of our problems, we need to be proactive. We study our problem and the solution; we study the choice that we are trying to make; we study what it is we are going to learn; then we come up with our own solution that makes sense to us based on the information that we have gathered. This doesn’t have to take days or weeks. It may only take a few minutes. What matters most is that we study it out in our minds.
  2. Ask – After studying out the issue in our minds, then we are ready to counsel with the Lord. We can ask Him if our decision is right. We ask through prayer, fasting, and through seeking answers in the scriptures or at the temple. While the Lord wants us to be think more independently, He still wants to be a part of the process.
  3. Recognize the Lord’s Answer – After doing this, then the Lord will answer us in one of the following ways:
    • No – if it is wrong, then we will not feel right about the solution we have prayed about. We won’t feel confident or empowered. We will feel confused or blank. We have to learn how the Spirit speaks to us.
    • Yes – If the solution is good, and God endorses it, then we will feel happy. The scriptures say that our “bosoms will burn,” and I’m not exactly sure what it means, but I know that I feel happy, enlightened, hopeful, and as if everything is completely clear.

Understanding the pattern to receiving revelation is very helpful. Soon enough, Tiger will be making big decisions in her life. This pattern can help answer any of the questions she will have.

***
Well, that’s it for the knowledge section. I’ve actually finished the book, Tiger is 12 and has it, but I wanted to make sure that I updated it here, too. 🙂 Next up is Choice and Accountability. Check back later to see it!

We Are Daughters of Our Heavenly Father

Don't You Love Her?!

Don’t You Love Her?!

As you may know, my oldest daughter turns twelve next month. I’ve been thinking about it a lot for well over a year, now. I’m feeling excited, scared, worried, happy…a little bit of everything. Last week, Tiger went to girl’s camp. I’ve been working feverishly on her Gospel Art Book (more updates to come on that very soon). I’ve been thinking about her testimony, how I’m pretty much handing everything over to her now. Of course, I know that I still have a profound impact and influence on her life, but I also know that she is going to have to rely less on “borrowed light” and begin to cultivate a testimony of her own. This scares me. Not in an I don’t trust her way, or even in an I don’t trust God way. But in a did I do enough? way.

Oh…and I don’t want to forget to mention…18 months after Tiger turns 12, Panda will be 12. I feel like it’s showtime.

So, they’re maturation and upcoming exposure to new temptations, experimentation, and soul-searching has got me thinking. What am I teaching them now? What do I need to impart above and beyond everything else? If there is only one thing that they really learn in the next six years, what should it be?

I think that Sister Dalton’s talk from this last General Conference (“We Are Daughters of Our Heavenly Father”) is the best place to start. If there is anything I want my children to know, it is that they are beloved Daughters of God.

Our Identity: Daughters of God

Regarding the statement made by young women each Sunday: That we are daughters of Heavenly Father- who loves us- and we love Him, Sister Dalton says:

“It is not only an affirmation of our identity—who we are—but also an acknowledgment of whose we are. We are daughters of an exalted being!”

I love this idea: Who we are and whose we are.

You may already be aware that there are times when I’ve got a bit of this whole “identity crisis” thing going. For the first 31 years of my life, I didn’t know my biological father. Although I was raised by a good man, a great father, I still didn’t really know who I was. The knowledge of my biological father remained a mystery for me. I didn’t want to replace my dad (who had adopted me). I love him. But there is something about not knowing your physical parent.

Because of this experience (and a few other experiences that I don’t really want to get into here), I found myself going to my Heavenly Father. Though I felt confused by my physical situation of fathers, step-fathers, and adopted fathers, I knew that there was no confusion in regards to my spiritual ancestry. I knew, and I know that I’m a daughter of God. This knowledge buoyed me up during times of difficulty and depression.

So much hope and peace comes from this simple fact: that we are daughters of Heavenly Father who loves us.

From Identity to Purpose

I have found that when I become more sure of my own identity–especially spiritual identity, then I also become more aware of my purpose as a daughter of God. In fact, I’m solidly sure of my divine nature: I know that I have a Heavenly Father, and I know that he loves me. Because I know this, I know that my creation and coming to this earth was not an accident. As a bi-product of this knowledge, I know that I have a divine purpose, and that He expects me to do the work that I was sent here to do. I feel that the same is true for all of us.

And, this is my personal belief, but I also think that as we grow closer to the Lord, His Spirit inspires our desire to do the work that we have been sent here to do.

I love what Sister Dalton teaches:

“As daughters of God we are each unique and different in our circumstances and experiences. And yet our part matters—because we matter. Our daily contributions of nurturing, teaching, and caring for others may seem mundane, diminished, difficult, and demeaning at times, and yet as we remember that first line in the Young Women theme—“We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us”—it will make all the difference in our relationships and our responses.”

We do have a divine purpose and work to complete. Yet, we are not all expected to do the same thing. We have unique circumstances and unique expectations.

The thing I love about this quote by Sister Dalton is that she recognizes the importance of the “little things” that we do–how these “little things” matter to Heavenly Father precisely because we matter.

This is so hard for me to remember. As I spend my life changing diapers, wiping noses, saying things like, “please don’t lick the carpet”, driving to activities, stopping fights, cooking, cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning, I have to remember that what I’m doing matters. It matters that we live in a clean home, that my kids are clean, that they are developing, getting along, and eating. Though what I do may not seem powerful or important, I’m changing lives, one at a time.

Last night, T-Rex was in a crazy mood. (Cute but Crazy!) Homey wasn’t feeling well, and I wanted to help keep the T-Rex out of Homey’s hair. We made brownies. Then he was back to harassing his dad. So, I scooped this little two-year-old boy up into my arms and took him to the piano. We started playing and singing all of his favorite primary songs. Song after song. He patiently sat on my lap as we sang. It was one of rare those moments where I was able to recognize the blessing as it was occurring. I loved listening to the T-Rex’s voice quietly sing along with me (using his extra-cute-hard-to-decipher words).

What I was doing wasn’t really important–in a worldly way. It lasted only a few minutes. We didn’t sing particularly well or to practice for some upcoming event. The dishes still needed to be done, and the dinner needed cooking. But the T-Rex and I sat, singing, and spending time together. And though it wasn’t important in a worldly way, I knew it mattered. It mattered to me. It mattered to T-Rex. It mattered to Homey. Above all, It mattered to God. Though I can’t quantify my experience in dollars, I know it was more valuable than most material things.

I write this because it’s hard for me to remember that what I’m doing matters. I hate to admit it, but it’s true. Sometimes I forget that singing a few songs, happily together, is more important than checking instagram (again).

From Identity to Purpose to Power

Some people have this mistaken notion that the women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are unempowered, belittled, and side-lined. Of course, the idea that women are marginalized in the church is nothing more than a fallacy.

Sister Dalton recounts her mother’s experience:

“She kept her covenants, and because she did, she called down the powers of heaven to bless our home and to send miracles. She relied on the power of prayer, priesthood, and covenant promises.”

We see a pattern here: When we keep our covenants, we receive power. This is how it works. The power of the Lord–the Power of the Priesthood–infuses our lives when we make and keep covenants. Sister Julie B. Beck reminded us: “Don’t confuse the power with the keys and the offices of the priesthood..” She continues to explain:

“God’s power is limitless and it is shared with those who make and keep covenants. Too much is said and misunderstood about what the brothers have and the sisters don’t have. This is Satan’s way of confusing both men and women so neither understands what they really have. Sisters and brothers each have every ordinance, every gift, and every blessing available to them to get back to our Father in Heaven, and no one, male or female, is left outside of those blessings to qualify for exaltation.” Julie B. Beck (2011 BYU Women’s Conference

The Lord empowers us through the covenants we make. I think that another name for this power that the Lord blesses us with is virtue.

Sister Dalton states, “Virtue is the strength and power of daughters of God.” This power is within us because we are daughters of God. When we understand our identity and begin to fulfill our purpose, we are blessed with an enabling power. Virtue garnishes our thoughts, words, and actions, and we become the kind of woman whose value is “far above rubies.” As we become virtuous, powerful women, we learn more of our identity and purpose, which strengthens our power for good.

***

This is a long blog post…sorry about that…but it is what I want my daughter to understand. It is what I’m still seeking to understand and put into effect in my own life. We are daughters of God. We have a divine purpose and responsibility. As we make and keep covenants, and as we do our duty, we are blessed with power and virtue. And the best part of all: this procession will make us happy.

***

Check out sister Dalton’s talk here. What stood out to you? What do you think about the identity of women as daughters of God? Their purpose? Their power?

Also, click here to learn more about women in the Church.

Handmade Gospel Book for Youth – Individual Worth (Part 4)

This is the fourth part of the gospel book for my daughter that will be turning twelve later this year. You can also see Part One (Introduction and About), Part Two (Faith), and Part Three (Divine Nature).

Individual Worth

This book is following the format of the Young Women’s theme, so the next value is Individual Nature. Additionally, in this section, I’ve found some of the standards from For the Strength of the Youth that seem associated with Individual Worth. I hope you enjoy this sneak peak!

Individual Worth

A few thoughts on what Individual Worth actually means.

A few thoughts on what Individual Worth actually means.


These two pages are about what individual worth is. I’m not sure I actually understood it when I was a teenager. I definitely had a hard time really understanding the difference between divine nature and individual worth.

Really, I think that they work in tandem. Divine nature = we are children of God. Individual worth = He loves us. We are valuable to Him.

I wanted Tiger to understand that she is valuable. So much of the world tells us the exact opposite. I mean, advertising is all about exploiting our doubts so that we buy a product that will make us happier, thinner, prettier, hairier, less hairy, taller, better smelling people with really bright, shiny, white teeth.

While I’m not really against many products (I like smelling good, for example), I do not agree with the messages that we are surrounded by. Additionally, I wanted Tiger to remember that she is talented, spiritual, happy, and loved. I think that when we understand our individual worth, we become more confident. We also can endure trials better because we are secure in the love Heavenly Father has for us and we know that it will be for our good.

Friends 1

A cute quote on friendship.

A cute quote on friendship.

Another angle of the same layout.  Glittery and pretty!

Another angle of the same layout. Glittery and pretty!


The next two pages are a pretty picture…heavily influenced by this painting. I’m not one who usually likes to “copy”, but I’m trying to be realistic about this book for Tiger. I have a lot going on in my life right now. I want it to be cute. And I know that if I try to come up with completely original content for every single page, then I won’t finish this book until she’s 26. So…I’m kind of borrowing a lot of ideas… 🙂

Oh – and the quote says, “Nothing but Heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend.” – Plautus.

Friends 2

A little advice about friends.

A little advice about friends.


In these pages, I wrote to Tiger about the blessing of friends. I wanted her to know that friends are good and she should pursue these relationships. Often, we focus so much on family, I think that we forget the value of friends.

I pointed out a scripture from 2 Nephi…where Lehi was speaking to Zoram:

“And now, Zoram, I speak unto you: Behold, thou art the servant of Laban; nevertheless, thou hast been brought out of the land of Jerusalem, and I know that thou art a true friend unto my son, Nephi, forever.” – 2 Nephi 1:30

I love this scripture because we often think of Nephi going it alone. We think of how he was treated by his brothers. There is a lot we don’t know about Nephi, but this blessing given to Zoram is a small insight. Even though Nephi had some pretty mean brothers, the Lord had blessed Nephi with a true friend.

I feel like our friends are an important part of who we become – especially in our teen years. I want Tiger to choose to find friends who will be true friends – that will help her, have fun, learn from her, teach her, and respect her.

Work

The importance of Work...a Good Reminder.

The importance of Work…a Good Reminder.


In this set of pages, I wrote to Tiger about the value of work. Sometimes, it is easy to overlook this principle. I think that a lot of people value professional work, but not all kinds of work. We should learn to value all forms of work – whether it is in a job, dishes, or even a “work out”.

Personal progress will help to give her experiences where she will have to work hard in order to learn and complete the requirements for the program. It is a good experience with work.

Work is a deeply satisfying thing, but often not until we are finished (or close to it). It is so hard to remember that because work also typically requires some kind of sacrifice. I hope that Tiger will learn to work and see the blessings that it brings into her life.

Work 2

Balancing everything is an important part of work.

Balancing everything is an important part of work.


Finally, I made a layout talking about the importance of balance in our lives. This is a principle that should be taught with work. If we work too hard or inefficiently, then we lose strength, time, and we may not even obtain the goal we are looking for. Balance helps us to prioritize and find happiness in the work we do.

I found an article at lds.org about balancing things in our life, and adapted it for this layout. I gave her eight tips: establishing priorities, setting attainable goals, budgeting wisely, building relationships, studying the scriptures, taking care of yourself, living the gospel, and praying always.

***
Well…I’m making real progress on the book. I like it. I’m sure that it is helping me more than it will help her. Next up will be knowledge! Check in later to see it.

Handmade Gospel Book for Youth – Part 3

This is the third part of the gospel book I’m making for my daughter who will be twelve next summer. You can also see part one, and part two.

Divine Nature

This book is, generally, following the pattern of the young women’s values. So, naturally, after faith is Divine Nature. Additionally, in this section, are a few of the standards from For the Strength of the Youth that I felt could be grouped with Divine Nature.

Divine Nature 1

A few thoughts and explanation of Divine Nature

A few thoughts and explanation of Divine Nature

These pages are all about Divine Nature. Personally, I think that it can be a little bit tough to really understand what it means. It isn’t as obvious as something like faith or knowledge. Divine nature is understanding that we are children of God.

I wanted Tiger to understand that She is a daughter of God. No one can ever change that about her. It isn’t some kind of fleeting interest or hobby. It is her make-up. She is, always has been, and always will be a daughter of God.

I shared a personal experience – from when she was a baby. I was feeling overwhelmed with motherhood (she was only about a week old). I was overwhelmed with joy, emotions, and the responsibility that was before me. I prayed for comfort and guidance, and was reminded that though Tiger had been born to me, she was actually a daughter of God – my spiritual sister. I had a spiritual witness of her divine origins, and wanted her to know of this in detail.

Daughter of God

Daughter of God

Sometimes it is easy to forget this amazing truth.

Divine Nature II

A cute Poem and Picture of Tiger

A cute Poem and Picture of Tiger

For the next layout of pages, I found a cute poem – Who I really Am, by Cindy Maybon. I also drew a picture of Tanner, influenced by a picture I found online, but can’t find the link to now…

Entertainment and Media I

Advice about choosing entertainment and media.

Advice about choosing entertainment and media.

I felt that the standard entertainment and media would be good as a part of the Divine Nature group. I guess that it is because entertainment and media have a strong effect on us.

I wanted Tiger to understand that entertainment and media are not bad, but they are powerful, so we must be wise. I told her a story that I once heard at a youth conference when I was a youth (the story was told by one of the men in our stake presidency). He related a story of a woman who had gone into a coma for some reason, and before she was totally conscious, she started speaking, but no one could understand her. It turns out she was speaking Ancient Greek. Yet she hadn’t learned the language. She was actually reciting the words of a poem in Ancient Greek. The Doctors and her family were stunned. Finally, they made the connection. For years, she had been a housekeeper for a professor of Classical Languages/Literature. She must have overheard him recite the poem. And now, in her coma, she could recite it perfectly.

The point of the story was the power of our brains: to consume and keep information. Even though we aren’t the best at recalling information, once we consume something, it is stored away somewhere in our brains. I remember having a strong reaction to this story when I was a youth – realizing that I needed to be more careful about what I was choosing to listen to and watch. I didn’t want to fill my brain with trash!

Entertainment and Media II

Tips on how to CTR when it comes to entertainment and media.

Tips on how to CTR when it comes to entertainment and media.

...More tips...

…More tips…

...and more tips...

…and more tips…

...finally more tips.

…finally more tips.

For this layout, I wrote down tips that will help Tiger Choose The Right when it came to choosing entertainment and media. I found the list here at lds.org.

Family I

About Families

About Families

For the next subject, I chose family. It also seemed to fit in with Divine Nature. On these pages, I drew a cute little design, then wrote about all of the family that she has and loves her (which is a lot!). I also told her how much I regret that I didn’t spend more time cultivating my relationship with Sean before he passed away. I encouraged her to build her relationship with her siblings, to spend time with them, and to be forgiving of all of us. I know that our greatest joys and happiness will come in the walls of our homes – with our families.

Family II

Love this!

Love this!

Finally, for the last layout of the Divine Nature section, I found and wrote this quote by Joseph F. Smith. It was fun to make. 🙂 I also drew little drawings of the members of our family on the following page.

***
So…that’s it for this update. You can find more in the section for Individual Worth. I’m really happy about this book so far. I can’t wait to give it to her

Using Journaling to Magnify your Calling

In the Church, not only are we asked to serve in callings, but the Lord also expects us to magnify them.

I don’t really think that this is a hard thing to want to do. I love my Heavenly Father. I’m always happy to serve Him in various ways. However, sometimes it is hard to know how to magnify our callings. I’ve found that we can effectively magnify our callings when we are keeping a journal.

Here’s a quick background to how journaling came about for me…

A little while ago, I was serving in a Young Women’s Presidency. I loved the calling, I loved the young women, and I felt like I always magnified my calling. Our Bishop gave us a charge to be sure that we were always inviting the Spirit into every activity. I knew that he was right, but I also knew that I was working with 14 and 15 year old young women. I remember being that age. I was a little…fun! I was a vibrant young woman. Maybe some would say I was a little talkative. After a day of early morning seminary and school, I would come to Young Women’s ready to see my friends and be active. I wanted to chat, play, and be a 15-year-old-girl. I loved the gospel, and never minded doing spiritual things, but often, during the mid-week activity, I didn’t want to sit around and listen to a talk. I couldn’t help it. I was just not able to sit still after a long day.

When the Bishop gave us the charge to make our meetings more spiritual, I couldn’t help but think of the challenge I faced. It wouldn’t be as simple as he suggested. I knew how I would have acted as a youth, and I knew that I needed to fulfill his charge in a way that was still engaging and fun.

Sometimes, it was hard to defend my choice of activity, and I didn’t want to get in trouble. We had one activity – in particular – that the girls loved, but I knew didn’t fit into the advice I had just received: We made tie-dye tee shirts.

The activity was crazy. It was colorful. We had fun, talked, and made cute clothes. We had an opening song and prayer, but that was it as far as a Spiritual experience was concerned. I went home that evening, worried that I hadn’t magnified my calling.

That’s when I got the idea to start a journal – I found a notebook and dedicated it to recording and evaluating each activity (and later lesson).

My Young Women’s Activities Journal

It was nothing fancy – just some $.20 journal from my local box store. I proceeded to write in the journal, and evaluate the tie-dye activity. Something miraculous happened – the spirit confirmed to me that what we did was a good activity: I didn’t need to worry. I also learned the lesson of the activity. I had the tie-dye shirts – the girls hadn’t seen them yet, and wouldn’t get them until Sunday. Because I unwrapped them and washed them, I was able to see how amazing the shirts turned out. It was an act of faith on Wednesday night – to make the shirt, hoping it would be cute.

On Sunday, when I gave the shirts to the young women, I also gave a quick Spiritual thought – reminding them of how they hadn’t tie-dyed shirts, yet they trusted me because I had. Because they had listened and trusted, they were now the owners of really great tie-dye shirts! Our activity indeed had spiritual application!

The point of this post isn’t to talk about the tie-dye shirts (even though I’ve spent a lot of time talking about them), but is to explain journaling in regards to callings. As I started using this journal to record my experiences with activities, I became more aware of the needs of the youth I was serving. I was able to be more forward thinking, too. I was filled with confidence to know that many of the things that I was doing was good, even if we didn’t always get feedback. Keeping the journal was my way of being accountable to myself (and the Lord) on how I was magnifying my calling. I began to use this journal – not only for activities, but also lessons and other meetings associated with my calling at that time.

So – here’s how you do it!

Making a “Callings” Journal
One: Get a notebook. Anything will do. Make sure you set it aside, specifically for your calling.
Two: On the top of the page, write the date and the title of the activity, lesson, or whatever you are reporting and evaluating.

Describe the activity and Evaluate.


Three: First, describe the activity. The more details, the better. If you write it out, you will have this as a reference in the future – if you decide to do the activity again (which could easily happen). This step also helps in future planning, as you’re better able to recall details that sometimes are overlooked but have a big impact.
Four: Write the evaluation of the activity. Was the purpose of the activity achieved? Did it run well? Was it organized? How could it improve? What went well? Make sure that you not only take time to notice where you need to improve, but what worked. When you take time to really think about the positive points of your activity (lesson, talk, whatever), then you will feel the happiness and accomplishment that comes from serving the Lord as well as you can.

Even though this example is for a youth calling, I have also started a journal for my current calling of Primary Chorister. Having a Journal to help me review and evaluate my calling is kind of like “returning and reporting.” I’m able to really think about what happened, and hold myself accountable for the kind of offering I gave to the Lord and to those whom I have been called to serve.

Do you keep track of your activities/lessons/meetings in a journal? What do you include? If you decide to try this out, let me know how it goes!

Young Women’s Lesson 1-10: Supporting Family Members

This is the last lesson I taught the young women of my ward. I’m moving to a new state, and this was my last week. It is a little sad, but I was happy to teach. My favorite thing about serving in the Young Women’s has been teaching on Sundays.

The objective of lesson 1-10 is: Each young woman will learn how to support and be loyal to her family.

As I think about this – I know that in some ways I may not be the best to teach it. I mean, I love my family, but I don’t have the best relationships with them. I know that I have a lot of room to grow. I realized that, as usual, I’d learn more from the lesson than I could possibly teach the Young Women. Amazing how it always happens that way.

I didn’t really follow the lesson plan as outlined. Here is an idea of what I did – in case it helps you.

Introduction
I began with a similar introduction. Instead of asking the young women to think about a time when they were ignored or felt like a friend wasn’t listening, we did a little bit of an object lesson/role play. I had one girl start talking to another. After a few seconds, a third young woman interrupted them. The first girl then ignored the young woman who was talking to her and only paid attention to the young woman who had interrupted them.

They got frustrated, it was funny, and we had a good time.

We talked about the situation. I asked the young woman, who had been ignored, how she felt about being ignored. The reaction was obvious.

I related – talking to a person on the phone when you know that they are watching T.V. or are on the computer. We all agreed: we hate that! Then, we talked about what we would like instead. We came to the conclusion: in our relationships, we want approval, support, loyalty, and encouragement.

After that, I brought up the fact that these qualities – (approval, support, loyalty, and encouragement) should also be in our family relationships. Unfortunately, we don’t always work hard to show proper respect and love to our family members. Because of this, our relationships with them often suffer.

Scripture Discussion

“Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings.” – Doctrine and Covenants 108:7

Consider asking the following questions:

  • Who are our brethren?
  • What do you think that it means to strengthen them?
  • In what ways should we strengthen our brothers, sisters, and parents?
  • What do you think that the outcome would be if we did this?

Application
It sounds strange, but I then encouraged them to be mindful of applying this lesson before I even finished it. We read the following Value Experience from Personal Progress

“Make your home life better. For two weeks make a special effort to strengthen your relationship with a family member by showing love through your actions. Refrain from judging, criticizing, or speaking unkindly, and watch for positive qualities in that family member. Write notes of encouragement, pray for this family member, find ways to be helpful, and verbally express your love. Share your experiences and the divine qualities you’ve discovered with that family member or with a parent or leader.” – Divine Nature Value Experience 3

Explain that you are about to watch two videos. You will discuss them after, but as you watch them, think about the relationships you have in your families. Let the Spirit guide you to know which family member you should pick to complete this goal.

After you have explained what they should be mindful of, show the first video:

After the video, discuss it a little bit with the young women. When we talked about it today, I felt impressed to mention the following:

  • They were both unhappy with the relationship at first.
  • Even though Dylan was the son, he took initiative to make the relationship better.
  • Dylan listened to the prophets, and applied their teachings to his life.
  • I explained to the young women that we, parents, aren’t perfect. We get scared. We want the approval of our children, and sometimes don’t know how to go about it. If they make the first move, they may find that the relatinoship improves. Often, children teach their parents.
  • I also let them know that even if their parents don’t respond to their efforts, they shouldn’t give up. They will need to pray, and the Lord will bless them for their efforts – even if their parents never appreciate the work they put into it.

After discussing this video, show the following video.

Discuss this video with them, too.

A few things I felt impressed by:

  • Neither brother was happy about the relationship at first.
  • Luke felt like there was no hope in his relationship with Sam.
  • They worked together on the Student council campaign.
  • Sam let his guard down – let Luke know about his depression.
  • Luke made a sacrifice for his brother – dressed like a Bee and danced in front of the whole school!
  • As Sam changed himself, this enabled him to change his relationship with his brother.
  • Because Luke was understanding, he was able to build a relationship with Sam.

Follow the Spirit, of course, and encourage the young women to share their reactions and feelings. Help them to see how each relationship was healed. Also, if you find appropriate experiences to share, share them. You may invite a young women to share an appropriate experience. I’m sure that the Spirit will guide you as you teach.

I closed the lesson with the quote given in the book:

“Be one who nurtures and builds. Be one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.” – Marvin J. Ashton

Conclusion
Close with your testimony and with encouragement – for the young women to find a relationship that they can strengthen in their family. Testify of the love we can have in our lives as we strive to strengthen and develop better relationship with our brothers, sisters, and parents.

Young Women New Beginnings Carnival

A few weeks ago, we had our New Beginnings. We decided to do something a little different than usual. Since New Beginnings is supposed to get everyone excited about the Young Women’s Program, Personal Progress, and the Theme, we thought it would be fun to do a carnival.

Everyone had fun!

When each young woman walked into the gym, they could find a name tag (color-coded) with ten tickets. She could take her tag, put it on, and then we sat down in the gym to open the activity.

We started all together in the gym and sang a song written by one of the young women. After the song, we introduced our newest “carnies” – the new Beehives. We brought up each girl one by one – along with their “carnival job” (eg: tight rope walkers, clown crew, pony guide…). We told a few fun facts about each young women, and also some cute things like what they would have as a superpower if they could have one.

After we introduced the new Beehives, we separated into groups (according to the color on the nametag). We had four stations: Camp and Activities, Personal Progress, Games, and Themes.

Camp and Activities
For this “booth” we showed this video:

(Before this activity, we interviewed our young women, then edited the movies to be watched during the activity).

The young women and their parents also received information like the dates for camp, youth conference, and other “big” activities.

Personal Progress
For the Personal Progress “booth” – we separated the parents and the Young Women. In both “booths” we showed this video:

Don’t you love this video? The young women were able to see their peers testify of their experiences with the Personal Progress Program. We also talked about how to overcome the problems the Young Women face when trying to accomplish Personal Progress.

The adults were able to watch this video – and see their own children’s testimonies of the Personal Progress Program. Who wouldn’t want this for their daughters? We encouraged the parents, especially the mothers, to work on Personal Progress and to have personal conversations about Personal Progress – rather than nagging their daughters.

Themes
In this booth, we showed the following video:

We talked about themes – the Young Women’s theme, the theme for each class, the theme for the year. We talked about how themes help us have direction in our lives and understand our purposes.

Games
One rotation in the evening was games.

Carnie - Basketball


The girls played basketball (using a fisher-price hoop), tossed ping-pong balls into cups, and we also had a photo booth set up:

Fun in the Photo Booth.

More Fun in the Photo Booth!

At the photo booth, we had wigs (including a mullet wig!), hats, and other fun “dress-up” items. The Young Women especially loved the wigs, so if you do the photo booth, don’t forget them! The photo booth was fun. We had a woman in the ward come to the event to take pictures. We are so grateful for her hard work and awesome pictures. 🙂

Prizes and Conclusion
At the end of the evening, we got back together. Remember how each young woman received tickets at the beginning of the activity? Well, every time they went to a booth, they would give the leader a ticket. All of the tickets were collected and we had a raffle! We raffled off four items: a framed picture of the Nauvoo Temple, cute framed word-art (I am – a daughter of God, silly, happy, spiritual, smart, sensitive, cute, etc.), a Young Women Values Pennant Necklace, and a Pioneer Bonnet (we are doing Trek this year).

The young women were so excited for the raffle.

We also had consolation prizes for everyone.

No one left empty-handed.


These cute packs included a CD, bookmark, and a set of value-colored beaded bracelets.

Finally, the Bishop spoke, closed the event, we had a prayer, and then – best for last: Refreshments!

Popcorn, Pretzels, Caramel Apples...Yum!

New Beginnings is always a special activity, so we tend to get a little bit more detailed for it. This year we went all out, but we did what we felt was best for us. The most important thing to do is follow the Spirit. We had a lot of fun with this carnival. It was great to have a balance of spiritual and fun. The young women loved it. They were excited for it. They were able to play games and be edified by their own testimonies and the testimonies of their peers. And, it never hurts when an activity has amazing food!

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