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’s Lesson 1-7: Homemaking

I am not unlike the many people who have a hard time teaching the lessons. I find that they are antiquated (they were when I was a youth!)…This lesson on Homemaking was no exception.

The objective of the Lesson is Each Young Woman will better appreciate the joys that can come from homemaking.

As I read through the lesson, I felt like I wanted to emphasize what the young women can do now to help with “homemaking.” I, personally, don’t really remember these lessons as a youth. I know that they didn’t really teach me how to be a homemaker. Learning how to be a homemaker came after years of experience. So, as I prepared this lesson, I felt that I needed to help them learn something useful now. If they can learn to help with homemaking now, perhaps they will have good experiences with it, and will implement it later in life.

Online, Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples, by Elder Gary E. Stevenson was suggested as an additional resource. I particularly loved the following:

“Recently, in a stake conference, all present were invited by the visiting authority, Elder Glen Jenson, an Area Seventy, to take a virtual tour of their homes using their spiritual eyes. I would like to invite each of you to do this also. Wherever your home may be and whatever its configuration, the application of eternal gospel principles within its walls is universal. Let’s begin. Imagine that you are opening your front door and walking inside your home. What do you see, and how do you feel? Is it a place of love, peace, and refuge from the world, as is the temple? Is it clean and orderly? As you walk through the rooms of your home, do you see uplifting images which include appropriate pictures of the temple and the Savior? Is your bedroom or sleeping area a place for personal prayer? Is your gathering area or kitchen a place where food is prepared and enjoyed together, allowing uplifting conversation and family time? Are scriptures found in a room where the family can study, pray, and learn together? Can you find your personal gospel study space? Does the music you hear or the entertainment you see, online or otherwise, offend the Spirit? Is the conversation uplifting and without contention? That concludes our tour. Perhaps you, as I, found a few spots that need some ‘home improvement’ — hopefully not an ‘extreme home makeover.'” – Gary E. Stevenson

Based on this, I created a modified lesson that would still teach the objective, and the points that:

  • Homemaking is more than housekeeping
  • Homemaking is an important and sacred responsibility
  • You can help make a home now

To teach this lesson, I decided to to an object lesson. I got a big tool box, and put the several items in. Each item had a post-it note on it with a scripture reference or a quote. Each item represented what we need to make a home. (Hence the tool-box!). Each of the young women found her scripture, presented the tool needed to make a home, and then we discussed why this is important in the home, and how we could do it now. I also let the girls draw a part of a house on the board. Additionally, I gave the girls this handout, so that they could keep any notes that they want to remember from the class.

Print this out for your young women!

The Tools and Corresponding Scriptures

  • Scrub Brush

    “Set in order your houses; keep slothfulness and uncleanness far from you.” – Doctrine and Covenants 90:18

  • Prayer Rock

    “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.” – 3 Nephi 18:21

  • Scriptures

    “Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.” – Doctrine and Covenants 1:37

    Another scripture to keep in mind – on the importance of scripture in families and homes:

    “I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.” – Mosiah 1:5

  • A piece of beautiful artwork

    ” And the greater house he cieled with fir tree, which he overlaid with fine gold, and set thereon palm trees and chains.

    And he garnished the house with precious stones for beauty: and the gold was gold of Parvaim.

    He overlaid also the house, the beams, the posts, and the walls thereof, and the doors thereof, with gold; and graved cherubims on the walls.” – 2 Chronicles 3:5-7

  • A piece of music

    “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” – Doctrine and Covenants 25:12

  • Cell Phone

    “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

    Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

    Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” – James 3:3-5

  • A banana or item of food

    “Studies show that the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders, and consider suicide, and the more likely they are to do well in school, delay having sex, eat their vegetables, learn big words, and know which fork to use.” – Time Magazine.

    “Make the honoring of family traditions and the development of new ones a priority throughout your lives.” – L. Tom Perry

  • A valentine (or heart)Love at Home – Hymn 294

You could add as much or as little discussion as you would like concerning these items. Some of them are pretty obvious. Of course, follow the Spirit.

Also, many of these subjects have entries in For the Strength of the Youth. You may consider discussing these topics.

I feel like the main point of this lesson and activity is that we want to Have the Spirit of the Lord in our Homes. There are many things that can distract from the Spirit – from housekeeping to music to language. The young women can work hard in each of these areas now. Making a home a place for the Savior is why homemaking is an important and sacred responsibility.

I closed by bearing my testimony of my own desire to make a home a refuge, a place where my children and husband want to be. I told them of two examples of homes I’ve experienced in my life – one home: no Spirit – only contention and unhappiness. Another home: happiness. I told the young women to do what they can to contribute to their home, and to notice the homes of their friends – they will be making a home of their own one day, and it will be good for them to think now of what they want it to be like.

Preparing and Teaching a Young Women’s Lesson

I’ve been thinking about the Young Women’s lessons for a while (I’ve been serving with the Young women for nearly 2 years…). I think that a lot of people have the same complaints about the Young Women’s lessons. The manual is a bit outdated, so the lessons can be a challenge to teach.

If you are feeling challenged, I hope that the following will help you in preparing your Young Women’s Lessons.

1. Have a good foundation. By this, I mean, pray every day. Read your scriptures every day. You don’t need to have a lesson plan in mind when doing so, but work on gaining your own spiritual knowledge. We have been taught:

” 21 Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.” – Doctrine and Covenants 11:21

We cannot possibly teach others the gospel if we do not have a deep, abiding knowledge or testimony ourselves. And if we don’t have a deep knowledge, we must begin working on it. The Lord will compensate for our weakness, but only if we go to Him. We do this through our own daily scripture study and prayer.

I will give a quick example. Last year, I had to teach lesson 29 (Exaltation) from Manual 2. As I read through the lesson, I found that this was exactly what I had been studying in my personal study. I felt like I should relate some scriptures to the lesson that weren’t necessarily included in the lesson manual. You can see the lesson I gave here. Even though the way it is presented differs from the layout given in the Manual, the Young women still understood the principles that were to be taught. The lesson went very well. The Spirit was strong. I knew that had I not been studying my scriptures on my own, I wouldn’t have been guided in the way to teach this lesson as effectively.

Strive for personal worthiness and preparation before worrying about your lessons!

2. Read through the suggested lesson plan prayerfully. Read through the lesson outline, and pray to be directed. Do this before you actually sit down and hash out the lesson. Often, I do this a week before I actually plan out my lesson – with a prayer that I will be directed throughout the week – in my life and personal scripture study – to notice the things that will be helpful for the lesson.

I don’t go too in-depth at this point. I have four kids. Life is busy. I don’t usually sit and think of a hand-out I want to make. I just read the lesson plan and pray that I can receive general inspiration. Usually, throughout the week either things will stick out to me that I’ll “file away” mentally, or if I think of a good object lesson/handout the idea will come to me during the week.

Keep in mind to pray for the needs of the young women you teach. Be specific. The Lord will guide you.

3. Prepare the Lesson. Now you are finally ready to prepare the lesson. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind.

  • Avoid printing the entire lesson and giving it straight from the book/print-out. I’m not saying that the lessons are un-inspired, but I think that this is a pretty un-inspired way to give a lesson. As a youth, it was easy to spot when a teacher was reading straight from the manual…BOR-ING! Also, when you are reading straight from the manual, it can be harder to hear the nuanced whisperings of the Spirit. Sometimes we rely on the words, discussions, and points of the lesson plan more than we rely on the spirit. If you avoid printing it out and reading from it directly, you will be less likely to use it as a crutch.
  • Notice the Objective in the lesson. This is the overarching principle to be taught in the lesson. In Lesson 2-29, the Objective is: Each young woman will desire to receive exaltation. So, with this being the objective, you now know what your purpose is. You aren’t teaching a lesson on exaltation. You are teaching a lesson that will inspire young women to desire exaltation. These are two vastly different things! When I’m preparing a lesson, I open a word document, and type, in bold, the objective of the Lesson. As you prepare your lesson, be sure that everything you do and say fulfills this purpose.
  • For now, ignore the intro/preparation, and look for the “subheads” – I know that this may sound a little crazy, but hold off on starting with the introduction. Instead, plan the meat of your lesson first. To do this, look for the “subheads”. These are the little phrases that divide up the lesson. For example, in Lesson 2-29, the subheads are “All those born on earth receive immortality, but only the obedient receive exaltation.”, “We must receive ordinances and make covenants”, and “Exaltation is worth all our efforts.”. As you begin planning your lesson, you now know 1) the objective and 2) a suggested development for this objective. You can better shape your lesson if you really understand these points.
  • Plan the “meat” of your lesson. At this point, you may read through the specific material in the lesson again. Because you are more familiar with the objective of the lesson and the ways to develop it, you are not going to be obssessing about the stories and discussion that is included. Also, you haven’t planned the intro, so you aren’t busying yourself, yet, on the suggested minutia of the lesson. This helps as you plan. You can then look to the suggested materials through a better lens – thinking about your young women, specifically, and the purpose of the lesson.
    • For example, when I read through Lesson 2-29, I noticed that the subheads didn’t mention something that really mattered – especially when you consider that the objective of the lesson is for the Young Women to desire eternal life. I also knew my young women, and I knew that they would notice this ommission, too…Why? Why? Exaltation? What is keeping us from receiving exaltation? In this lesson, there is an assumption being made: that the Young Women already know that they can have immortality without exaltation.

      You may find that your young women do know this, but I wanted to be sure that we were all on track. As I said earlier, I had been reading the Book of Mormon in personal study, and as I was planning this lesson I was inspired by the way Lehi and Alma had taught their sons this very lesson. Lehi taught Jacob a lot about the fall of Adam – and the resulting need for an atonement.

      As the Lesson Manual proceeds, it goes on – saying we need to make covenants in order to receive exaltation. Which is true. But I felt like the young women would learn this true principle better on their own, if I give them the sad state of man after the fall (and before the atonement), than if I just stood up at the front of class and said, “we need to receive ordinances and make covenants.” In other words, I gave them the answer to “why” before giving them the answer to “what”. Because I took this approach, the Young Women, themselves came upon the conclusion that the lesson outlined. The Lesson plan in the manual wasn’t bad, but I knew my young women. I have a young woman who asks questions. Deep questions. She wants to know. I knew that I couldn’t just “fluff” this up. Besides, I believe the youth would rather have the substance of the gospel rather than some sugary-sweet version of it. So…I was prompted to take a more direct, doctrinal route in teaching this lesson. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this if I hadn’t been reading my scriptures. I also wasn’t overly-worried about the minutia of the lesson because I was honing in on the points of the lesson, and incorporating the ideas as they fit, rather than trying to make my young women and lesson fit the manual.

  • Stick to the scriptures. In the introduction of each young women’s manual, There is a quote by Elder M. Russell Ballard –

    Teachers would be well advised to study carefully the scriptures and their manuals before reaching out for supplemental materials. Far too many teachers seem to stray from the approved curriculum materials without fully reviewing them. If teachers feel a need to use some good supplemental resources beyond the scriptures and manuals in presenting a lesson, they should first consider the use of the Church magazines” M. Russell Ballard (emphasis added)

    You don’t need to go find crazy examples or stories elsewhere. Look first to the scriptures.

    I have found that the lesson manuals can be pretty skimpy as far as scriptural examples go, so this can be tough, but try to think of ways to incorporate scripture stories in the lessons. I find that the scriptural examples and study is better, usually, than the stories in the manual. The young women love going to the scriptures. There is power in the scriptures. The Spirit can speak to the hearts of the young women through the scriptures.

    • As a quick example. A while ago, I taught a lesson on Optimism (Lesson 2-41). The lesson included only One verse as scripture reference. The rest of the lesson was stories and quotes from prophets in the seventies…Yet, the principle of optimism is a good one, and the Lord counsels us to be cheerful. I decided that this lesson would be better taught and received by using two examples from the scriptures: The people of Limhi and the people of Alma (while in bondage to the Lamanites). You can see the full lesson plan here. The young women were in the scriptures learning the importance of optimism. We also discussed a lot from Elder Wirthlin’s talk, “Come What May and Love It.” This lesson plan was okay, but with a little bit of tweaking, our lesson went from okay to really great. We didn’t need any fancy stories. We just needed the scriptures.
  • After your lesson plan is well formed, think of an appropriate introduction or “attention getter” – It is easier to think of the introduction when you really know what you’re teaching. You may find that you want an introduction that is woven throughout the lesson. You may think of using an object lesson for an introduction. You may even realize you don’t really need a complicated introduction. Do this part near the end of planning, so that it really goes well.

    Many of the introductions in the manual are just fine, but only need a little tweaking – to make them more current or relevant.

    • For example: In lesson 2-34 (Hold Fast to the Lord’s Standards), the lesson is introduced with a story of someone surviving a tsunami. I was struck by the quote given by Spencer W. Kimball, but I only gave the final part of his quote. Instead of giving his account of Tsunami survivors, I found some stories of those who survived the tsunami in Sri Lanka and Indonesia back in 2006. I knew that this Tsunami happened in our collective recent memory. The young women saw the pictures of the survivors, I showed pictures of destruction, and they were immediately drawn in. I’m sure that the story given in the lesson would have been okay, but I felt that a more recent, relevant example would be more effective, and it was. The idea behind the example didn’t change, and I finished the intro using President Kimball’s words, as quoted in the Lesson manual.
  • Make a conclusion and testify. Always end your lesson with your own testimony. In fact, bear your testimony often, throughout the lesson, but end with your testimony. Be solid. Be a conduit of the Sprit. If you bear your testimony with the Spirit, then the young women will have the choice to receive it with the Spirit.

4. Present Your Lesson – Present your lesson with confidence, yet with reliance on the Spirit. Be close to the Spirit while teaching. You may find that you planned a lesson, and then give something that isn’t anything like what you planned. Maybe you will have a young woman who is investigating the church come – this kind of situation can drastically change the course of a planned lesson. Don’t let circumstances frustrate you. Instead, be confident in your preparation and, above all, confident in the Lord. He will guide you if you will let Him.

  • Don’t be afraid to “veer” off, but also stay on course. Sometimes young women will ask questions that seem to be off topic. If the Spirit guides your discussion to a topic that seems to be tangential, follow it. If a tangent occurs, but doesn’t seem to be the direction that the Spirit is inclined to take, then carefully lead your class back to where the Spirit is guiding. There is no solid answer to this problem because each case may be different. Spiritual preparation is necessary for times like these.
  • Also, while presenting your lesson, bear your testimony often. You may not formally say, “I bear my testimony that [this] is true.” But you may find ways to bear testimony – either through sharing personal experiences or other forms of communication. Again, be close to the Spirit, he may remind you of a personal experience you can share with the young women – that is appropriate – and will help them to learn the principle being taught.
  • Don’t give “personal experiences” for the sake of telling personal experiences. Follow the Spirit. Sometimes too many personal experiences can be a distraction. Make sure that you share your own personal insights with care.
  • Wait. When you ask a question – wait for the answer. Remember, you have prepared this lesson, and you are in the frame of mind to answer your questions. Your young women are hearing the questions for the first time, and if you are asking a question that requires some serious thought, then wait. If the Young Women seem stumped, then avoid answering the question yourself, and, instead, rephrase the question. If you are asking a “no-brainer” question, then you may preface it, “I know that this may seem like a dumb question, but [ask the question].” Make sure that your obvious/no-brainer questions are going somewhere. Maybe there is a follow up question. Maybe you have a point.
    • For example, I asked the young women how we can receive inspiration from God and the Holy Ghost. This is a dumb question. They know – prayer, scripture study. Standard seminary answers. And I wanted the seminary answers. After they gave me the standard answers, we discussed Jesus Christ – what he did in the Garden of Gethsemane to bear the pain of the atonement – he Prayed! We also discussed Jesus Christ – what he did to overcome the temptations of Satan in the wilderness – he quoted scripture! We discussed that – if prayer and scripture study worked for the Savior, then it would work for us. A “dumb” question became meaningful…
  • Thank your participants. Validate comments made by Young women. They want acceptance. They look up to you. Validation will encourage more dialogue.

I hope that this helps in preparing your lessons. Let me know if there are any more tips that could be included! What do you do to teach your lessons?

Spiritual 72 Hour Kit

Recently, the devastation in neighboring Joplin, MO has been on everyone’s mind. In fact, many parts of the country have been experiencing extreme weather, so, you start thinking am I prepared?

My husband was able to go to Joplin, MO, and help begin the long task of cleaning. When he came home, we discussed the experiences and stories he heard there. I realized, not only do you need to be prepared physically, but you need be prepared emotionally and spiritually.

There were over 100 people who died at Joplin. Even if they had a 72 hour kit, food storage, or savings it really didn’t matter. They needed to be prepared for something much different. And, when I think about it – the people who lived through the storms have had to be prepared spiritually, too. I mean, can you imagine – everything is destroyed. This will take months, years, to overcome. Surviving the tornado was step one. Faith will need to help them make it through this aftermath.

So…we need to be prepared – not only with food and goods to sustain us physically, but we need to be prepared to die, or to remain faithful in the face of trial.

I recently taught the young men and young women a lesson on spiritual preparation – based on this idea – of trial or tragedy striking at any time. We talk so much about physical preparedness. I felt like it would be helpful to also emphasize spiritual preparedness.

In the lesson, I used the following items from a physical 72 hour kit, and talked about spiritual corollaries. You can use this as a basis for a lesson for youth or FHE. When presenting this, have the actual items. Discuss the purpose of having the item in a physical 72 hour kit. Talk about the scripture and discover what is needed in the “Spiritual 72 hour Kit.” Let the children pack the bag while you present the lesson.

Preparing – Spiritual 72 Hour Kit

“I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear. – Doctrine and Covenants 38:30

Just as we can prepare for trials physically, we need to prepare spiritually.

Pack a small 72 hour kit. Include:
Water
Food
Flashlight
Radio
Map
First Aid Kit
Knife/Multi-purpose tool
Wipes
Cash
Clothing

Ask questions that will lead them to the 72 hour kit (ie – what is something your parents or you might have in case of a time of emergency?)

Now, make the relationship between the need for a physical 72 hour kit, and being spiritually prepared. (You may wish to bring up Alma 27:28-29 – the Righteous Lamanites were not afraid to die – this is because of their faith in God. They were spiritually prepared.)

Use the 72 hour kit to teach what each of us needs in our “spiritual 72 hour kit” – each item in the 72 hour kit represents something we need in our spiritual 72 hour kits. Here are the basics. You may want to adapt this by adding questions and discussion.

  • Water/Food – Jesus Christ
    • “Jesus answered and said unto her, if thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. … But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” – John 4:10, 14
    • “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” – John 6:35
  • Flashlight – The Light of Christ
    • “12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” – John 8:12
  • Radio – The Gift of the Holy Ghost
    • “3 And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.

      4 And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.

      5 And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.”- 3 Nephi 11:3-5

  • Map – The Scriptures
    • “3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” – 2 Nephi 32:3
  • First Aid Kit – Faith
    • “22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.” – Matthew 9:22
  • Wipes (sanitary/antibacterial wipes) – Repentance
    • “86 Abide ye in the liberty wherewith ye are made free; entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord comes.” – Doctrine and Covenants 88:86
  • Swiss-Army Knife or multi-purpose tool – Spiritual Gifts
    • “8 Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;

      9 For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts.” – Doctrine and Covenants 46:8-9

  • Cash – Knowledge
    • ” 19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” – Doctrine and Covenants 130:19
  • Clothes – Priesthood
    • “17 Which priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.

      18 And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.

      19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

      20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

      21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;

      22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.” – Doctrine and Covenants 84:17-22

***
This lesson seemed to go well with the youth. It was timely and easy to relate to. I think that we’ll have a similar family home evening lesson, too. If you have any other ideas, please share!

Young Women’s Lesson 3-13 – The Priesthood Can Bless Families

This lesson can be very sensitive. I, for one, grew up in a family with no Priesthood bearer. Of course, it is important to follow the spirit and the needs of your class while preparing and giving this lesson. In my class, the circumstances and situations range. Also, as usual, I wanted to be sure that we spent a majority of our time studying and discussing the scriptures – which are the doctrinal basis of the objective of the lesson. (The objective: Each young woman will understand how the priesthood can bless families.)

You can find the lesson plan I created here.

A quick note: When I actually presented this lesson, we had four young women who come from families with priesthood present and active in their lives. We also had two young women who are not members of the church. One of the young women does not have a relationship with her father, and is raised by a single mom. Another young woman is pregnant. As I was presenting this lesson, I found myself focusing on the most basic aspect of all: the duties of a father. We spent most of our time studying and discussing the quote given in The Family: A Proclamation to the World:

“Fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.”

According to this quote, fathers have the responsibility to preside, provide, and protect. We discussed the importance of these duties in the family. I drew largely upon my own experiences – especially when I was a single mom. I also testified how the Priesthood helps men to accomplish these duties.

Follow the spirit and Good luck with this lesson!

Young Women’s Lesson 3-10 – Encouraging Enjoyable Family Activities

This lesson was pretty simple to teach. However, as I am always looking for a little doctrine or scripture to back up every lesson, I modified it a little bit – using a quote from this talk by Elder Uchtdorf as the main point of reference.

You can find the lesson plan here.

Like some of the other “family” lessons we’ve had, I found that this lesson really seems geared more towards parents than youth. I wanted to be sure that the youth felt that it was important for them to have an active role in their families now. I wanted them to see that they really do play a part in enjoyable activities. So, I spent a little bit of time discussing the points from Elder Uchtdorf’s talk from the point of view of the youth. I think that it helped them stay focused on the lesson.

In general, the lesson went well. They young women like sharing stories about their family’s experiences.

Young Women’s Lesson 3-9 – Encouraging Family Unity

For this lesson, as usual, I veered from some of the lesson development suggestions given in the manual, and, instead, created a lesson that fits the objective: Each young woman will encourage and strengthen unity in her family by studying parts of The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

You can find the lesson plan I created here

We went through most of the paragraphs, discussing what was taught. I especially focused on the paragraph that includes the text: Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.. This portion of the proclamation is the most relevant to young women – this is where they can contribute to their families.

In discussing this portion, I did an object lesson (that I got from our missionaries) You need a board with a nail nailed into it. You then have 9 nails (of the same size) that you must balance on the nail. Have one of the young women try to balance all nails. Most likely (unless they have done this object lesson before), they will fail.

In order to have the nails balance, you must stack them as follows (I will describe it the best I can for now, and put pictures up a little later). Before placing a single nail onto the nail that is in the board, lay one nail down. Now, stagger 7 more nails on that nail, perpendicular to the way that the nail is laying. Finally, lay the last nail over the 7 nails (parallel to the first, bottom nail). Carefully pick up all of the nails, they will kind of droop down, and look like the roof of a house, and balance them on the nail that is in the board. Explain that these nails each represent the qualities that successful families have. If you try to take one out, then they all fall. The young women really liked this object lesson.

Anyways…I hope your lesson goes well. Remember, to bear testimony on the importance of families, and how, even if they are children, their influence in the home is profound.

Young Women’s Lesson 3-6 – A Woman’s Responsibility to Teach

I love teaching about teaching – mostly because I think that teaching is so important. Teaching is more than a “woman’s responsibility,” and I wanted to be sure that the young women actively participated in this lesson. I wanted to see the relevance for them, now – rather than have them file this lesson away in the “when I’m a mom…” box. The young women are teachers. They teach their friends, siblings, and others.

So, I created the following lesson plan that you can access here.

I also felt like rather than focusing on the stories of mothers teaching (nothing against them) that are included in the lesson manual, I wanted to focus on Christ – who is the Master Teacher.

Most likely, you will not be able to get through the entire lesson plan (I never can, anyways), but being prepared in this way helped – as I was sure to include what I felt was most important in the lesson. We spent a lot of time on “Love” – as loving those whom you teach is probably the most important aspect of teaching.

Anyways – I hope this helps you in your class!

The Power of Modesty

Recently, in our ward, the young women had a fashion show. Our laurel advisor planned the entire activity, and it turned out really great. The fashion show was really laid back, cute, and fun. All of the girls modeled a school outfit and a Sunday outfit. We had treats, cute pom-pom flower decorations, and fun “runway” music. The entire night went really well.

As part of the activity, I was asked to speak a little bit on Modesty. I was grateful for the opportunity because I’ve been thinking about it. Here is the talk.

How many of you have heard that we need to be modest before tonight? [They will all raise their hands…]

So – you’re saying that tonight isn’t the first time you’ve heard about being modest?

Why do you think that the leaders/church make such a big deal about being Modest? I mean, you’re not actually doing something horrible, right? It doesn’t hurt anyone, right?

Not really.

In the for strength of youth, we read, “Prophets of God have always counseled His children to dress modestly.” – ALWAYS – This advice isn’t something new. I guess the Nephite young women also had fashion show activities where they heard about Modesty! … “The way you dress is a reflection of what you are on the inside. Your dress and grooming send messages about you to others and influence the way you and others act.” – Is this really true? Do we send messages to others by the way we dress? [At this point, I showed various pictures, and we discussed them. I showed a picture of a Punk Rocker. The discussion went a little like this: What kind of reaction is he trying to get? Do you think that he is really into the Republican Party?… Maybe a little anti-establishment. Do you think that his outfit says, “I enjoy Jeopardy and the Opera?” … not really. We discussed a few other pictures of people dressed in styles or uniforms. So…we can agree – how we dress will send a message to other people.

Think about the message you are sending? Is it, “I don’t care”? or is it, “I care wayyy too much”? Maybe the message you’re sending is, “I’m not sure what a shower is…”. While it isn’t right for us to judge others based on appearances, we still want to be sure that we are sending the right message to those who see us. Our appearance can even affect how we eventually see ourselves. We want our outer image to reflect what is on the inside.

“When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and can exercise a good influence on those around you.” – Be a good influence. You have a lot of power. Choose to influence others in a positive way. How do you think that the way you are dressed may influence other young women? Young men?

I would like to bring up two scriptural examples of two very powerful women. The first is Esther. Anciently, there was a king – King Ahasuerus – who was seeking a new queen. So – he had some of his servants look throughout the kingdom to gather fair virgins. Esther was included in this group. [Pause here – and reinforce that Esther was 1) fair 2) a virgin. – sure was beautiful and pure]

The servants of the king gathered these women, and before showing them to the king, the women went through a period of “purification” – the scriptures explain, “Now when every maid’s turn was come to go into King Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, an six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)”…[12 months of purification! 12 months of “getting ready”!] …”And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head.”

Esther was beautiful and pure, and both her beauty and purity was reflected by how she appeared before the king.

As the queen, Esther faced a major challenge. One of the King’s men hated Jews and had persuaded the King to make an edict to have all of the Jews in the kingdom killed. Unknown to the king was the fact that Esther was a Jew. When she heard about the order, she was in a major dilemma – she and all of her people were sentenced to death.

She decided to have the people fast and pray, and then she would go to the king.

Oh – and another twist – she risked her life in “going to the king”. Then, the king had the power to have someone killed if they came to him without being summoned. She knew that she risked execution by going before the king, but it was all she could do to save her people. She resolved to face him, and she was prepared for any outcome.

The scriptures tell, “Now it came to pass on the third day, [of fasting] that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the kings house, …And…when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favor in his sight.”

What was Esther wearing? Do you think that she was dressed modestly? Do you think that she went some extra lengths to make sure her appearance was at its best? Why do you think that she did? Why did it matter – how she looked or was dressed? Do you think that this possibly made an impact on the king?

Because of the beauty, purity, faith and courage of Esther, she was able to save an entire nation. Esther was powerful.

Here’s another story of another powerful woman – who had a power similar to Esther’s, but she used it very differently.

In the Book of Mormon was a pretty wicked dude – named Jared – who wanted to be king, but his dad was king. Jared was pretty upset by the fact that his father was in power. In fact, he wasn’t just upset, he was jealous.

Jared’s daughter noticed this. She wanted Jared, to be king, too.

The scriptures tell, “Now the daughter of Jared being exceedingly expert, and seeing the sorrows of her father, thought to devise a plan whereby she could redeem the kingdom unto her father.” So – guess, do you think that this is going to be a good plan…or evil? Continuing on, “Now the daughter of Jared was exceedingly fair….” – [How do the scriptures describe her? exceedingly fair. Hottie. Well, she talks to her dad and asks him why he’s so upset. She then asks, “Behold, is there not an account concerning them of old, that they by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory?”

So – What is she trying to get her dad to do? She wants him to start a secret combination – what do you know about secret combinations? So – what do you think of Jared’s daughter now? Do you think that her plan will be good? Effective, maybe, but not good. She, certainly, isn’t fasting for three days and nights…

Here’s her plan, “And now, therefore, let my father send for Akish, the son of Kimnor; and behold, I am fair, and I will dance before him, and I will please him, that he will desire me to wife; wherefore if he shall desire of thee that ye shall give unto him me to wife, then shall ye say: I will give her if ye will bring unto me the head of my father, the king.” What do you think about this plan? Well – this is what happened, she danced for Akish, he wanted her, and her father asked for her grandfather’s head…

So…do you think that, when Jared’s daughter danced for Akish, she was dressed modestly? I think that we can safely assume the dance was pornographic. It would have to be…Otherwise, why would Akish think that murdering her grandfather would be reasonable.

Jared’s daughter was attractive and she knew it. She knew that she had great power – in her body. And she used this power to introduce secret combinations. Moroni tells us that these secret combinations, “have caused the destruction of this people.” Jared’s daughter used her power to destroy a nation.

We can see the stark contrast here – between a modest woman and an immodest one. Both were beautiful. Both were powerful. But in one instance, the beauty and appearance of a woman saved a nation. In the second, her beauty and appearance destroyed her people.

We have power in our bodies. We really do. We have the power to attract men. I didn’t want this talk to be all about, “dress modestly so that you don’t turn on men.” Because dressing modestly is about more than how it affects men. Dressing modestly will also affect you. You have the power to create human life. You have the power to become like God. You have many powers within you, so make sure that how you dress accurately reflects the beauty you currently have and the potential of what you will be. Keep your power sacred – like Esther did. As you do so, you will develop a true sense of confidence – one that is based on who you actually are rather than what you appear to be.

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