Book of Mormon for Teens – Timeline and Authors

This is the next installment of my Illustrated Book of Mormon Commentary for Teenagers. You can see the first one here.

Before I really get into the Book of Mormon, itself, I wanted to have a few pages showing the timelines and authors of the Book of Mormon. As I wrote in Tiger’s Book:

“Sometimes when you are reading the Book of Mormon, it can be a little confusing to keep track of what you are reading. There are accounts of things as they happen, flashbacks, and the changing of hands with the records.

Hopefully, this timeline and author chart will help you keep the events and authors of the Book of Mormon straight!”

image-41

The timeline – there is a lot to fit onto one page!!!

Several years ago, I did my own “story of the Book of Mormon” project. (You can read about it here.) As a part of this project, I created my own Book of Mormon timeline. I highly suggest this type of project. It really helped me to understand the Book of Mormon.

In any case, here is a copy of the timeline that I created: BoM Timeline (available as a PDF Download).

I also felt like Tiger should understand the authors of the Book of Mormon and the way that the plates were handed down. I found a very handy flowchart of the Book of Mormon Authors online here.

image-40

Authors of the Book of Mormon

These two pages are chock-full of information. I didn’t have much space to make anything “cute!” No worries, though. I really think that this information will be helpful.

Finally, I included a quote that I really love about the Book of Mormon:

“Would you like to have emblazoned on your soul an undeniable witness that the Savior descended beneath your sins and that there is no sin, no mortal plight outside the merciful reach of His Atonement – that for each of your struggles He has a remedy of superior healing power? Then read the Book of Mormon.” – Tad R. Callister (emphasis added)

Thanks for letting me share this project with you. I am so excited to actually get into the Book of Mormon now. I’m excited to be able to share my testimony with my daughter in a way that I hope she will be receptive to.  I’ll share more with you later!

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Illustrated Book of Mormon Commentary for a Teenager (Part One)

When my oldest daughter turned 12, I made her a special book. (You can read about it here .) – She will be turning 16 in a little over a year, and I’ve decided to start making another book for her. This time, it will be about the Book of Mormon. (In case you’re wondering, I made a book for her when she was 14. I’ll probably post it on here soon).

The Title Page

The Title Page

So, I just started this. I’m using one of my favorite – sketchbooks (although the one I’m using is hardbound rather than wirebound).

Why am I doing this? Is it because I’m crazy? No. I’ve thought a lot about how to teach my children the gospel. I’ve thought about lecturing them – and lectures weren’t particularly helpful in my life. I mean I honestly don’t remember if my parents lectured me. I know that they said stuff to me, but I zoned out very easily as a teenager.

I don’t particularly like lecturing my teens right now, either. It feels boring and pointless. But how do we teach our kids the gospel? How do I teach them the things that I know and understand and what them to know and understand?

In this quest, I’ve been inspired by the words of Nephi:

“And we talk of Christ we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” – 2 Nephi 25:26, emphasis added.

I feel like writing what I want to teach my children is an effective way (for me) to preach to them without seeming preachy! I can write lectures, make them cute and heartfelt, and instead of zoning out – my kids will treasure these lectures. That’s the idea, anyway. It’s not sneaky. I’m just being as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove. 🙂

So – this is a Book about the Book of Mormon. I’ve divided it as follows:

  • Title Page
  • Timeline of the Book of Mormon
  • Explanation of the Small and Large Plates and their Authors
  • 1 Nephi
  • 2 Nephi
  • Jacob
  • Enos
  • Jarom
  • Omni
  • Words of Mormon
  • Mosiah
  • Alma
  • Helaman
  • 3 Nephi
  • 4 Nephi
  • Mormon
  • Ether
  • Moroni
  • So – pretty straight forward.

    Title Page

    On this page, I just wrote that the Book of Mormon is another Testament of Jesus Christ. I wrote my hope for her – that she will continue to read the Book of Mormon in her life. I also told her about this book that I’m making for her:

    “This book is a gift to you from me. It’s kind of a “commentary” on the Book of Mormon. I’ve been inspired by Nephi’s words, ‘And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.’ (2 Nephi 25:26).

    I want you to know – not only do I want you to know the Book of Mormon for yourself, but I also want you to know my testimony of it.

    I hope that this book will be a blessing to you now and for years to come. Love, Mom.

    ***
    So – that’s the beginning of this fun ride. I anticipate that it will take me a little over a year to finish this book. It will require a lot of work and effort, but I’m sure that it will be worth it. Maybe you have a child who could use something like this? Try writing your testimonies and lessons you have learned in the Book of Mormon. I’d love to see what you come up with if you do it, too.

I’m the Canoe

canoe

I’ve been trying to figure out an analogy for a few days.

Imagine a canoe. There are people in it. One person is seated toward the front of the canoe, with a paddle. This person is strong. He/she is primarily required to paddle.

There is a person in the back of the canoe. This person is the most experienced of all in the canoe, but not necessarily the strongest, physically. This person is in charge of steering the canoe, and must be able to diplomatically lead the rest of the people in the canoe while directing their little boat.

Though not pictured, imagine that there is a person in the middle of the canoe. This person also has a paddle, but isn’t quite as strong as the person seated in the front, nor is this person as experienced as the paddler in the back of the canoe. The middle-person is learning about canoeing. As far as propelling the canoe goes, he may not be the most important canoe-er, but he is there.

I’ve been thinking about people in a canoe – in terms of family. In thinking about this, the question is, who is the paddler in the bow? In the stern? In the hull?

Well, it’s obvious to me that children are the paddlers in the hull. They are part of this team, they paddle from time to time, they help, but are not of critical importance…yet. They are training and gaining experience for when they will one day sit at the stern or the bow.

So. That leaves us with the person sitting in the front of the canoe and the person in the back. I’ve been wondering, which one am I?

There are days when I feel like I’m steering this ship. You know what I mean. I remember in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, when the mother explains to the daughter:
man is the head

Even though this is funny, and I admit that I can act somewhat “neck-like” at times (without being manipulative, of course!), I don’t know if I’m the one on the back of the canoe. We don’t always move according to my direction. Maybe I’m actually in front.

I’ll also admit that there are days, many days, when I feel like that I’m in the bow. I’m paddling, paddling, and paddling. I wake up, feed the kids, exercise, start homeschool (which is quite a list in and of itself), feed the kids lunch, keep them from fighting/destroying the house/general chaos, throw a load of laundry in, talk to my husband about the business, take the kids to the library, make dinner, … you get the idea. We all do this.

I’ll say that again. We all do this. As in, not only are mothers paddlers, but fathers are, too. I know that my husband has a billion things going on in his life: he has to paddle, paddle, paddle.

I don’t think I’m steering. I’m not sure if I’m the primary paddler either. But I know that I’m something in this little analogy that I’ve got swirling in my head.

***

Last night, I was feeling a little frustrated. It was Saturday, I had been looking forward to some time just sitting, breathing, and catching up. But, the whole day flashed before my eyes. Nothing particularly bad happened, but my expectations for the day weren’t quite met, and I needed a little encouragement. A little buoying up.

I was thinking and praying about my frustrations of the day when I realized the solution to my analogy. I’m not steering the ship, nor am I powering it forward. I’m not sitting idly in the hull. I’m not any of the oarsmen.

I’m the canoe.

I bear up my family, support them, stabilize them. My role isn’t particularly glorious, neither is it obscure. I’m simultaneously a part of the action yet partially submerged under water.

Sometimes I feel tired and “waterlogged.” And then the question comes to my mind, who ever really takes time to appreciate the boat? I might spring a leak, which causes panic and maybe even a fair amount of cursing. 😉 Despite everything else that is going right, those paddlers in the boat can only see the one small fissure. Of course, that fissure is letting in water, so I can’t blame them. I just wish they could see how often everything goes right.

This line of thinking isn’t necessarily helpful as it usually leads to further temptation – It’s a temptation for me to imagine life without them for a moment. No burden to bear. No dirty feet, no rocking back and forth. No bickering about who is paddling, about who splashed whom. I’m tempted to think of a life other than carrying my people, their needs, their worries, their weight back and forth – all done without much of a thought of that vessel that carried them.

It’s tempting to imagine life in the middle of a peaceful lake, with me just floating aimlessly.

Yet, the truth is, I am the canoe, and when you see a canoe in the middle of the lake, empty, it’s a problem. Typically, an empty canoe looks like this:

docked canoe

An empty canoe is docked. It’s going nowhere. While it’s not useless, you could say that an empty canoe doesn’t have much of a purpose. A canoe’s purpose comes into play with every person that boards it: Children, spouse, friends, siblings, students, and more. While it can be tiring to bear the weight of these people, I must admit that I’m honored. I don’t mind being partially submerged, stepped on, sat upon. I don’t mind being weighed down and directed. Without them, I’m going nowhere.

And I also know that without me, they aren’t going anywhere, either.

***
This morning, still a little down, I decided to re-read the talk, Behold Thy Mother, by Jeffery R. Holland, one of the current Twelve Apostles.

Anyone who is familiar with General Conference (A meeting for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where we hear from a living prophet and apostles) knows that there are talks for women or about women/motherhood from time to time. I have to admit that I’ve always liked these talks. They encourage me. They motivate and inspire me.

However, I will admit that I’ve had this sneaking suspicion from time to time – are these talks just “pep talks?” Are they obligatory, “keep the women happy” talks?

This morning, I re-read Elder Holland’s talk, and I was reminded, this isn’t just some pep talk to tide me over until next conference. No. These talks are messages from God. The Lord knows that I am a canoe, and He is grateful for my decision to be this kind of a woman.

Elder Holland taught:

“Bear, borne, carry, deliver. These are powerful, heartening messianic words. They convey help and hope for safe movement from where we are to where we need to be—but cannot get without assistance. These words also connote burden, struggle, and fatigue—words most appropriate in describing the mission of Him who, at unspeakable cost, lifts us up when we have fallen, carries us forward when strength is gone, delivers us safely home when safety seems far beyond our reach. “My Father sent me,” He said, “that I might be lifted up upon the cross; … that as I have been lifted up … even so should men be lifted up … to … me.”

But can you hear in this language another arena of human endeavor in which we use words like bear and borne, carry and lift, labor and deliver? As Jesus said to John while in the very act of Atonement, so He says to us all, ‘Behold thy mother!'” – Jeffrey R. Holland

We women are all “canoes.” I don’t mean only mothers, either. I know other women who have born others up, strengthened them, and even delivered them. I’ve had these types of women in my life. Of course my own mother, I’ve had others, too. Kerri, Stephanie, Kara, Sister Chisholm, Vanessa, Chandra, Donna, Jocelyn, Hillary, Janay, Rachelle, Krista, Niki, Celeste, and sooo many more women. They have helped to bear me up and deliver me along when I’ve needed some support. At times, I’ve been a willing paddler, while they have acted as my canoe.

Elder Holland continues:

“You see, it is not only that they bear us, but they continue bearing with us. It is not only the prenatal carrying but the lifelong carrying that makes mothering such a staggering feat. Of course, there are heartbreaking exceptions, but most mothers know intuitively, instinctively that this is a sacred trust of the highest order. The weight of that realization, especially on young maternal shoulders, can be very daunting.

A wonderful young mother recently wrote to me: “How is it that a human being can love a child so deeply that you willingly give up a major portion of your freedom for it? How can mortal love be so strong that you voluntarily subject yourself to responsibility, vulnerability, anxiety, and heartache and just keep coming back for more of the same? What kind of mortal love can make you feel, once you have a child, that your life is never, ever your own again? Maternal love has to be divine. There is no other explanation for it. What mothers do is an essential element of Christ’s work. Knowing that should be enough to tell us the impact of such love will range between unbearable and transcendent, over and over again, until with the safety and salvation of the very last child on earth, we can [then] say with Jesus, ‘[Father!] I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.’” – Jeffrey R. Holland

At first, last night, when I realized I was “the canoe,” I felt a quiet sadness wash over me. I thought of my roles as a woman: as someone who has given herself to her husband and children. Though I have done so willingly, last night I was feeling sorry for myself, wondering when it will be my turn to fulfill my own dreams and chart my own course. When will they support me?

Heavenly Father heard my frustrated prayer, and I was comforted in my heart, but I also felt a confirmation from the Spirit: Yes. You are a canoe. Yes, I’ve made sacrifices, and I will continue to do so. But the Lord would help me to understand more in the future.

As I said, I felt comfort wash over me, even though I was still a bit troubled at the thought of being a canoe. I decided I’d just be patient, go to sleep, and that I’d figure this out later.

***

This morning, as I read Elder Holland’s talk I felt confirmation of my thought last night. I am indeed a “canoe.” We women, who are choosing to righteously nurture those in our lives – our families, friends, and even strangers – we are canoes. It’s not particularly glamorous, but to the Lord and to the people in that boat it is valuable.

I am the canoe.

Three Steps to Accessing the Atonement (Mosiah 7:33)

Lately, I’ve been studying the Atonement more. (See here and here). The thing that is interesting to me about studying the Atonement is learning that I need to know more: that it could be a more potent source of power in my life.

This picture really has nothing to do with the post, but it is pretty!!!

This picture really has nothing to do with the post, but it is pretty!!!

Now, I have felt the power of the Atonement in my life. I have felt a change in my heart several times over the years. I have been a recipient of miracles and blessings. I have a testimony in the Savior and the love that He has expressed through the Atonement.

But, I know that there is more and that I need it. Lately, I have become very aware of some of my weaknesses. I know that weakness is not sin, yet it is the same Atonement that will forgive and heal us from our sins and strengthen us in our weakness. I know that I need to learn to access the Atonement in order to become the woman I want to be.

So, I prayed about this…how do I learn to put my burden on the Lord? The Lord implores,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Even though I have done this in the past, I needed to be reminded, How do I do this…how do I come unto Him so that he can make weak things strong for me?

The cool thing about sincere prayer is that it is answered.

So…today, I was reading:

“But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.” – Mosiah 7:33

I mean, in some ways I have already known this, but it is always great to get a reminder, and I’m comforted to know that no matter what our “problems” are, we always access the power and blessings of the Atonement in the same way.

So…here it is: the pattern to accessing the Atonement in our lives:

  1. Turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart – To me, this means prayer, scripture study. It means opening my heart to Him.
  2. Put your trust in Him – I find this interesting. I suppose this is where I really falter. We need to trust in Christ – which means even to trust in Him as we suffer. We need to trust that the difficulties we face are known unto the Lord and that they will help us as we strive to come closer to Him.

    There are times in my life that I’m tempted to counsel the Lord instead of trust Him. It is tempting to want to tell Heavenly Father what I think I need and what I think that He should do. However, according to this scripture, and in order to access the power of the Atonement that I seek, I need to trust Him and I need to realize that He understands where I am, the challenges I’m facing, and how my own weaknesses play a part in all of it. As I struggle to figure out what the Lord wants me to learn, I can trust that indeed He wants me to learn, that I’m simply being “pruned” “refined” or whatever you’d like to say. Though these things are hard, we can trust the Lord all along this process. If we put our trust in Him, and turn to Him, we will be made into better people – which is what I want, anyway…

  3. Serve Him with all diligence mind – This is where I can also take some action. There are times when I feel like I’m not doing enough, not serving enough. Yet, as I read this scripture, I realized that the work I do in my home is one of the greatest acts of service I’ll ever do, and that when I serve my children-through doing the dishes, cooking meals, teaching them, playing with them, bathing them, paying attention to them, driving them to activities, checking homework, the list goes on and on–when I serve my children, it is legitimate service, and that in serving my kids, I’m serving His children, and that this is the way I serve Him.

    I have a feeling that if I’m more mindful of how my daily service to my family is not only part of my duty, but can be consecrated in such a way that it will help me to access the power of the Atonement that I need, then I will be able to see my life change.

When we do these three things: turn to the Lord, put our trust in Him, and serve Him, then we will be delivered out of bondage. This may be physical bondage. Or, perhaps, it is the bondage of our weakness or other difficulties we face in our lives. No matter what kind of difficulty or bondage we feel trapped by, the Lord’s Atonement will help us to overcome it. We simply must access it in the proscribed method.

***
How do you find ways to turn to the Lord, put your trust in Him, and serve Him? As you have done these things, how has the power of Christ’s Atonement delivered you from the difficulties you face in your life?

Happy Father’s Day!

I’ll add my voice to all of the praises for Father’s Day today. First of all, though, watch this video.

I have my own fathers (yes, more than one) to be grateful for.

I’m Grateful for My Biological Father

I may be related to this guy. ;)

I may be related to this guy. 😉


This is a picture of my biological father, Jack. For over 30 years, I didn’t know who he was. When my mom found out she was pregnant, she made an arrangement with him, and so he was never a part of my life.

I know that it sounds strange that I would say that I’m grateful for him, and to be honest, for many years, my gratitude for him was limited.

For many years, I thought that he had abandoned me; that he didn’t want me. And I told myself that it was okay. I found other things to be grateful for – like my olive skin-tone; and my existence. Even though my birth may not have been in the best circumstances, I’m so grateful that it happened.

Thankfully, my gratitude for Jack doesn’t end there. Now I’ve known him for a little over three years. I’ve come to know the truth about the decision that he and my mom made before my birth. I know that for years he has wondered about me, and that though I never had a relationship with him, he has always been a good father. It is such a relief to know that he’s a good father. Though there are times that I regret I wasn’t able to have more experiences with him, I’m happy to know that I am the daughter of a very good man.

Not only that, it seems that I biologically inherited some pretty awesome traits, too – great taste in music and food. 🙂

I’m Grateful for My Dad

Me and My dad.

Me and My dad.

Me and My Dad

Me and My Dad

This is my dad. He is a great man; a great father. I probably don’t share that with him enough. But I love him, look up to him, and am grateful for him.

My very first memory, of my entire life, is when I was adopted. I was around four years old. My dad had already been in my life for about two years by that point. My memories are fuzzy (I mean, seriously, I was four!), but in my mind’s eye, I can remember a courthouse, a judge, and above all my dad buying me a yellow gumball.

The best part about this memory (besides the yellow gumball, obviously), is that although (as a child) I never knew my biological father, I have never known what it’s like not to have a dad. Even though I felt some feelings of abandonment at times (which, I’m assuming is what most children in my position feel), I also realized that I had something many children do not: someone who accepted me. Someone who wanted me enough to adopt me and give me candy.

My dad has always been there for me. He has taught me how to enjoy baseball games and play with my kids. He has taught me to be responsible and hard working. My dad has an amazing sense of humor, and is one of the funniest people I know. He has taught me how to laugh, and how to crack a good joke (especially puns!). I truly look up to him, and want to be like him.

How being a Single Mother Increased My Appreciation

Several years ago, when I got divorced, I experienced a sea-change in my life. I went from being primarily a mother, a nurturer, and partial contributor → to the mother, nurturer and breadwinner, sole-provider, and-well-everything else.

It was difficult.

I felt the immense burden of providing for my children on my own. No one else was there to help me bear my burden. I felt the pressure of providing for my daughters’ immediate needs, but I also understood that they’d need more for years–they’d need more food than just for today and tomorrow. I’d need to figure out a way to provide today, tomorrow, next week, next year, and longer. I had a decent job at the time, but I was still worried that I wouldn’t be able to adequately provide for them long-term. I knew that I needed a better plan. I was overwhelmed, but also realized that I simply needed to do what I could, pray for help, and accept that my meager offering to my children would have to be enough.

In those trying moments, my appreciation for my father grew even more. For the first time, I could truly understand, through my own experience, the stress, the worry, and the burden that my father had felt for his children.

I’m grateful for My Husband, Homey

Homey and T-Rex

Homey and T-Rex

There are loads of reasons that I’m grateful for Homey, but today, I’ll highlight that I’m grateful that he is such a great father.

Homey is an outstanding father. When we were first married, he stepped in and became a father to Tiger and Panda. I can still remember how Panda would beg Homey to hold her, and then when he did, she would press her nose against his, forcing him to gaze into her eyes, and she’d just smile.

When we were married, he didn’t ask questions or complain, he simply stepped in. He took the girls on daddy-daughter dates, he played with them, he laughed with them, he disciplined them, he supported them, he loved them.

A few years later, Sasquatch and T-Rex came along. And he treats all of his four children (biological or not) as his children. He is loving, hilarious, fun, and fair. He takes seriously his responsibility to teach his children to pray, and to lead our family in studying the scriptures, going to church, and holding FHE.

Homey works, prays, and lives for his children.

I’m Grateful for my Heavenly Father

Through all of these experiences – with my own fathers, husband, and experiences, I know, above all that I am a daughter of Heavenly Father who loves me, and I love Him.

I know that My Heavenly Father Loves Me

I know that My Heavenly Father Loves Me

Heavenly Father has blessed me in so many ways: materially, spiritually, emotionally. I can’t sit and list all of the ways right now (this post would be like triple it’s length), but I can say that I know I have a Heavenly Father, and I know that He loves me. I feel His love in my own family. I have felt his love when I’ve knelt in prayer. I have felt His love while hiking the Grand Canyon, sitting on the beach, or looking at the stars. I have felt His love in trying times and in times of plenty…All I can say is, I know that my Heavenly Father loves me. I know that He loves all of His children. And I know that He loves us perfectly, and with more depth and devotion than we can imagine.

I’m grateful for this knowledge, and for the peace that it has brought in my life.

I’m grateful for all my fathers and my experiences with them. Happy father’s day!

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 – 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

Handmade Gospel Book for Youth – Part 2

This is the second part of the gospel book I’m making for my daughter who will be twelve next summer. You can see part one here.

Faith

For the second major part of this book, I concentrated on Faith. Before starting this group, I studied a little bit about faith – what I wanted my daughter to understand about it. I tried to remember that she is turning 12 – I wanted to gear it toward her age. I also found a few of the standards from For the Strength of the Youth that could be grouped with Faith.

Faith I

A few thoughts about Faith.


These pages speak about faith in general terms. I thought back to when I was twelve. I couldn’t remember what I thought or knew about faith. I’m pretty sure that when I thought of faith, I thought of the object lesson where someone falls backwards – hoping that their friend will catch them.

I quoted Alma 32:21, and encouraged Tiger to memorize it. Then, I explained a little bit about the scripture. Finally, I encouraged her to do what she could to cultivate her faith.

Faith II

An Illustration of Alma’s lesson on a seed of faith.

In this layout, I wanted to help Tiger understand Alma 32, where Alma likens faith to a seed. I included eight steps: Experiment upon the word, plant a seed in your heart, a good seed will swell, the seed will sprout if it is good, the seed will grow and knowledge replaces faith, exercise more faith to nurture your testimony, if you neglect the tree it dies, and diligence brings for fruit.

The Plan of Salvation

Illustrated Plan of Salvation Part One

Illustration of the Plan of Salvation – Part Two

Illustrated plan of Salvation – Part three

Illustrated Plan of Salvation – Part Four

The Next four layouts (eight pages) are all about the plan of salvation. I had fun with this. In fact, when I was working on this, it spawned the idea I had to do a scripture study series on the Plan of Salvation. I felt compelled to teach about this divine plan because when we understand it, we can be on a path that will help us to better understand our own specific purposes on this earth.

Sabbath Day

Sabbath Day Importance and Activity Ideas


In this layout, I included my own feelings about the Sabbath day. I also wrote down some good ideas of things to do on a Sabbath day.

Sacrament Meeting

My Favorite Sacrament Hymn and Thoughts on Sacrament Meeting


Sabbath day and Sacrament Meeting are closely related, but I wanted the two to have their own complete layouts. In this layout, about Sacrament meeting, I shared with my daughter a powerful experience I had at a baptism – and how that translated into my increased understanding of sacrament meeting. I also included the lyrics to one of my all-time favorite sacrament hymns: Jesus Once of Humble Birth.

Gratitude Challenge

The Gratitude Challenge: The ten places on earth and Modern-day Inventions I’m grateful for.

The Gratitude Challenge the ten physical abilities, material possessions, things about today, foods, and things about the gospel I’m grateful for … plus a scripture.

I took the gratitude challenge and included it in this layout. Fun!

More on Gratitude

Ways to have gratitude in your heart.


I feel like gratitude is important, so I used it for two layouts (four pages total). In this layout, I included a quote from President Monson: “To express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.”

On the next page, I wrote a fun list of things to do that will help us to have gratitude in our hearts.

Go Forward with Faith

Encouragement to press forward with faith.

On this layout, I drew a cute picture that was heavily inspired (read: basically copied) by Judy Kaufman. Then, on the next page, I wrote a page about pressing forward with faith. It is kind of like a letter/note. I included this inspiring quote: “To help you become all that the Lord wants you to become, kneel each morning and night in prayer to your Father in Heaven. Express to Him your gratitude and the desires of your heart. He is the source of all wisdom. He will answer your prayers. His answers will seldom come while you are on your knees praying. Even when you may plead for an immediate response. Rather, He will prompt you in the quiet moments when the Spirit can most effectively touch your mind and heart. You should find quiet times to recognize when you are being instructed and strengthened. Be thankful that God lets you struggle for a long time before that answer comes.” – Richard G. Scott.

This quote was basically the inspiration for the entire layout.

***
So – that’s it for faith. Check in later, for the next section based on Divine Nature.

Handmade Gospel and Art Book for My 12-Year-Old – About and Introduction (Part 1)

I didn’t really know how to title this post, so sorry it is pretty awkward.

My oldest daughter will be 12 next July. I know that seems like it is far away, but I know that it will be here before I know it.

A few years ago, I read (somewhere) that Bruce R. McConkie would give his grandchildren a set of his own scriptures. I don’t know where I heard that or if it is even true, but I remember thinking I want to do something special for my kids when they are twelve. It is an exciting time. In the LDS church, when kids are 12, they “graduate” from primary and begin to attend Young Men’s or Young Women’s. It is a pretty exciting time. At first I was thinking, maybe I’d give them my scriptures, but I haven’t felt compelled to do that…So, I thought of some other ideas, and inspiration struck: I have decided to make my daughter a book for her 12th birthday. This is a pretty special book – it is handwritten and hand-drawn. I’ve decided that I will share what I’ve done – in case it is something that you might like to do for your children.

The Physical Journal
First of all, I bought a journal. I bought a Moleskine – the 5″x8 1/4″ size. I wanted it to be big enough for me to write in, but not overly huge. I also wanted it to be something that looked nice, and I like the look of Moleskine journals. You, of course, could do whatever you wanted.

After choosing the Journal, I counted out how many layouts I would need. Since this is for the Moleskine, I found that I’d need 53/54 layouts. I will give ideas on these, so if you choose to make a book with more or fewer pages, you can adjust accordingly.

The Basic Plan
As I contemplated the basic plan of the book, I felt like I wanted Tiger to have a good idea of young woman’s and the standards that would be expected of her. I decided to use the personal progress values and the standards from For the Strength of the Youth as an outline. The book that I’m creating has ten major parts:

I will continue to create blog posts that will show samples from each section throughout the year.

***
I have to say – I’m so excited about this book. I have enjoyed sharing my testimony on various subjects with my daughter, and I’m glad that I’m thinking about this now. I know that I need to be thinking about Personal Progress and the things that my children are doing so that I can better prepare them to enter into the temple. I know that the benefits of Young Women’s and Seminary are really obvious when they are emphasized in the home. In fact, I feel funny writing it because Personal Progress and Seminary were designed to help families – not the other way around. Sometimes we forget this and figure that our children are doing their own thing in Young Women’s or in Activity Days. In fact, our children need us. The Church should be supplementing the family, not the other way around. It is nice to really think about the programs of the church and integrate them in our family life so that it is more than just a “church program.”

All of that being said, sometimes kids don’t want to listen to their parents. This is where church is helpful. And, this is where the book idea is helpful. Essentially, I’ll be giving my daughter a book full of “sermons” and testimonies. And she will have access to them at any time. She will be able to read them when she needs comfort or when her heart is open to it. She will be able to really think about these subjects. I feel like this book will help overcome the natural tendency for things to “go in one ear and out the other.”

So, that’s about the book…And here is the first part of the Book.

Introduction

The contents of this portion of the book include:

  • Title Page
  • Letter to child
  • The Young Woman’s Theme
  • The Young Woman’s Motto

Title Page and Letter

So, the first two pages, I will admit, I haven’t done yet. As far as the title page goes, I’m not sure what I’m calling this book yet. I figure that as I work on this project, it will come to me. I may simply title it her name. I don’t know.

And with her letter – my daughter’s birthday isn’t until next summer. I figure that I want the letter I write to her to be current. I will write the letter last. But I have set aside these pages for these specific purposes.

Young Woman’s Theme

The Young Woman’s theme – My thoughts and impressions for my daughter.

I love the Young Woman’s theme. If there is anything I want my daughters to know – it is what the young women recite every week in the theme: they are daughters of their Heavenly Father, and He Loves them. Sometimes, it is hard to remember that we are daughters of God. I admit that there are times that I forget this amazing fact. So, this layout is a list of 5 hints that will help my daughter to remember that She is a daughter of God, and that He loves her. In the list, I included Pray often, Read Your Scriptures, Keep a Journal, Notice the World Around You (especially nature), Ask for a Priesthood Blessing.

Oh – and I decorated this page with a cute beach scene. Sometimes the drawings on the page correlate to the message. Other times, I just did anything that seemed cute.

The Young Woman’s Motto

A fun layout depicting the Young Women’s Motto and Logo.

For the next spread, I wrote the Young Women’s Motto with colorful lettering. I also drew a “cartoon-y” picture of Tiger. On the next page, you can see the logo and text. Here I included a personal story when I had to stand for truth and righteousness. My experience happened while I was in college. It was nice to take the chance to share my experience with my daughter.

***
So, that is the first section. Stay tuned for the rest of the book – I will update it throughout the year – as I create it. I wasn’t originally going to post this on my blog, but I kept thinking that it may be an idea that another may benefit from. So, I hope it does. I feel so excited to make this and give it to my daughter. And – yes – I’m planning on making one for each of them. Have you done something like this? If so, what are some of the things you included? Or what would you like to see?

FHE – Faith

Last night, homey taught FHE. He taught a simple lesson on Faith.

He referred to Alma 32 where Alma taught that having faith is like planting a seed. It requires work. It requires an experiment. It requires us taking a chance.

But, our chance will be rewarded. We will know whether or not that seed is good. It will either grow or it will not grow. Faith is worth that chance.

As we spoke about faith, our two older daughters have the “standard” answers down pat. But I had this feeling, like I really needed to probe a little bit more. I’ve had that feeling a lot lately. As they get older, I can see that they know what they are supposed to say. But I want that to begin to transition into them saying what they believe.

So we talked about that. Homey shared a time when he really started to feel his faith grow into a testimony. It was when he was fourteen and he went to EFY. I told the girls that sometimes, when my faith is being confirmed by the Spirit, I feel enlightened – like everything just makes sense. We encouraged them to do the things that would help them to cultivate their faith and testimony.

We talked about how, if you plant a seed, and it begins to grow, it is good. But, if you don’t take care of it, then it will die. If our plant dies because of our negligence, then it is foolish to blame the seed. Likewise, if our testimony dies because of negligence, it is foolish to say that the gospel isn’t true. The gospel didn’t fail us. We failed in nurturing our testimony. The girls seemed to understand this concept (it helps that we have dying basil plants on our back porch!). We talked about the things that they need to do if they want to feel more of the Spirit in their lives.

Anyways. FHE wasn’t anything crazy or spectacular. I’m still pretty down and out – getting better, but I still get tired and am not contributing as much as normal. So, Homey had to go it alone. Plus, Tiger had a volleyball game, so we got a late start. But the discussion on faith was the perfect thing…

I’m not sure what the girls took from FHE, but I had my own thoughts. Again, I realized that we are nearing a threshold. They are getting older. Tiger will be a young woman next year. I felt impressed that there is much I need to keep teaching them. And I won’t be able to do it the same way that I teach Sasquatch and Rex (the three year old and one-year-old, respectively). I will need to be more attentive and flexible. I will need to open up a discourse for my daughters. I will need to be able to be the kind of parent that they can trust, but without being too “friendly” or permissive. There is a lot to learn, but I am hopeful.

Since my kids were really little, I’ve had the thought that what I did with them as a child would lay the groundwork for what our lives would be like when they became teenagers. That time is nearing. I know that I need to improve. I want our home to be filled with love, acceptance, and kindness. I want it to be a place where they feel free to grow and learn. I want them to develop their own testimonies. I want them to learn to love the scriptures. I want them to develop their own relationships with the Savior. I feel a heavy burden as their teenage years near, but I am also really comforted. We have instituted the practice of FHE. We speak openly about the gospel and scriptures. We pray together. I know that these small and simple things will bring to pass great things for the lives of every member of our family.

Anyways…a simple FHE. We had no special activity or treat. And that’s totally okay. We did have the Spirit – that is the key ingredient. 🙂 I’m amazed at how much FHE teaches me.

What did you do for FHE? As you prepare and execute FHE, what are some of the things that you learn? How does FHE help you?

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