CFM: Restoration of the church AND Relief Society!

from Cebu, Philippines, muahristreasures.blogspot.com

In this week’s Come Follow Me (March 1-7), we learn about the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ. Here’s your chance to add the women!

Just before the Prophet Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society on March 17, 1842, he said: “I will organize the women under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood. … The Church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized” (Sarah Granger Kimball, “Auto-biography,” Woman’s Exponent, Sept. 1, 1883, p. 51). This means that the restoration of the Relief Society *IS* part of the restoration of the church!

March — Relief Society’s birthday month — is the perfect time for children to learn about this organization, one of the world’s oldest continuing organization for women. This year the Relief Society turns 179 years old! Children may have a hard time imagining a birthday cake with 179 candles.

Here are some ideas for activities for children to understand a little about Relief Society:

  • Have the children repeat with you the 3-word version of the Relief Society purpose: “Faith, Family, Relief.” Or go for all 42 words: “Relief Society helps prepare women for the blessings of eternal life as they increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement; strengthen individuals, families, and homes through ordinances and covenants; and work in unity to help those in need.”
  • Teach the Relief Society motto: “Charity Never Faileth” (1 Corinthians 13:8). Explain what “charity” and “faileth” mean.

If you have more time, try these activities:

  • Have the children make and deliver birthday cards to Relief Society in March, drawing a picture of what any of the words above mean to them (faith, family, relief, charity) or how those Relief Society words help them choose the right. Each child could give a card to one of the women in Relief Society. If you are meeting in person, you may want to do this at the very end of the Relief Society/Primary hour. The Relief Society secretary could pre-label blank cards before the children decorate them, to make sure the sisters who need them most receive a card. Or you could let each child give the card to any sister in Relief Society (except their mom? including their mom? your choice).
  •  Consider teaching this marvelous lesson about the history and purpose of Relief Society and its powerful women leaders, past and present, complete with visuals and games for younger and older children: Women and Service in the Kingdom: a Sharing Time or family night lesson for girls AND boys

By the way, when is Primary’s birthday? It’s August 25, 1878 (see history.churchofjesuschrist.org). You may want to start planning ahead to celebrate! Read about one of the original members of the first Primary from his descendant, our guest blogger Emma Lu: Scamps to saints: mischievous children DO grow up!

Happy birthday, Relief Society! from your pint-sized fans in Primary.

-Marci

 

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Favorite teaching tips and tricks!

Looking for something to liven up your lesson or Singing Time? Here’s a few ideas from my collection of favorites!

  1. Write a thank-you note to God. Children may be learning at home to write thank-you notes to relatives and friends for gifts given — but they might like to make a thank-you note to God for his blessings (based on the topic of the lesson).
  2. Library books about character traits. Your local library or your bookshelf at home likely has children’s books about honesty, kindness, selfishness, etc. Even older children like an engaging picture book from time to time.
  3. Bring in a musical instrument and sing a song to drive home the point of a lesson. Any new instrument adds variety and interest. Children might like to bring in an instrument they’re learning to play to accompany the singing, remembering that the purpose is worship, not performance. (The church handbook about instruments in church doesn’t prohibits instrument in Primary, but you might want to clear this with the bishopric or branch presidency first.)
  4. An angel on one shoulder, a devil on the other, with the characters “whispering” into their ear while a child considers various choices. Print out or draw your own angel and devil, or look for plush stuffed ones online.
  5. Flip chart. Yup, the old-fashioned paper kind available at any dollar store, or make your own from cardstock. List the main ideas of your lesson in words or pictures. Children love to see what’s next on the flip chart.
  6. Interview the children, either ahead of time or in Primary! Children love to have their ideas spotlighted. You can do this ahead of time and report on their ideas, or actually record their voice or do a video. Make sure that the medium doesn’t overwhelm the message; i.e. the children get so focused on hearing their voices that they’re distracted from the message of the lesson.
  7. Guess the gospel picture. Try drawing a gospel picture while the children watch. They try to guess what it is before the drawing is finished. Then let the children take a turn! No artistic ability is needed to draw a book of scriptures, a boat (Noah, Nephi, the brother of Jared, or Jesus on the Sea of Galilee), a temple, sacrament, prayer, animals and food (God’s creations that we’re thankful for), etc. This is especially a good time filler for those too young to play the classic “hangman” game (guessing letters to make up a gospel word).

Looking for more ideas to add variety to your teaching or Singing Time? Try these:

Potatoes every night: Variety in Teaching

Presents!! adding variety in singing

 

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CFM: first witness – Mary Whitmer!

“Mary Whitmer and Moroni” by Robert T. Pack

Download the printable Mary Whitmer’s witness from Saints, vol. 1, also in Spanish: Mary Whitmer’s Witness Espanol. It’s just the right size to glue or tuck into your standard-sized paper scriptures, right next to the testimony of the Three Witnesses and Eight Witnesses!

Come Follow Me for this week (Feb 15-21, 2021) discusses the witnesses to the Book of Mormon. Did you know that after Joseph received the plates, the first person to see the plates was Mary Whitmer? Girls and boys need to know! Just as the first witness to the risen Lord was a woman (Mary Magdalene, in John 20), the first witness of the gold plates was a woman.

Here’s the story, straight from Saints, volume 1, page 70:

Once Joseph, Emma, and Oliver moved to Fayette, David’s mother had her hands full. Mary Whitmer and her husband, Peter, already had eight children between the ages of fifteen and thirty, and the few who did not still live at home resided nearby. Tending to their needs filled Mary’s days with work, and the three houseguests added more labor. Mary had faith in Joseph’s calling and did not complain, but she was getting tired.

The heat in Fayette that summer was sweltering. As Mary washed clothes and prepared meals, Joseph dictated the translation in an upstairs room. Oliver usually wrote for him, but occasionally Emma or one of the Whitmers took a turn with the pen. Sometimes, when Joseph and Oliver tired of the strain of translating, they would walk out to a nearby pond and skip stones across the surface of the water.

Mary had little time to relax herself, and the added work and the strain placed on her were hard to bear.

One day, while she was out by the barn where the cows were milked, she saw a gray-haired man with a knapsack slung across his shoulder. His sudden appearance frightened her, but as he approached, he spoke to her in a kind voice that set her at ease.

“My name is Moroni,” he said. “You have become pretty tired with all the extra work you have to do.” He swung the knapsack off his shoulder, and Mary watched as he started to untie it.

“You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors,” he continued. “It is proper, therefore, that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened.”

Moroni opened his knapsack and removed the gold plates. He held them in front of her and turned their pages so she could see the writings on them. After he turned the last page, he urged her to be patient and faithful as she carried the extra burden a little longer. He promised she would be blessed for it.

The old man vanished a moment later, leaving Mary alone. She still had work to do, but that no longer troubled her.

How many official witnesses to the Book of Mormon? 1+3+8 = 12!

I have glued this story into my paper scriptures next to the testimony of the Three and Eight Witnesses (download the printable Mary Whitmer’s witness). When I read about those eleven faithful men, I can also read the story of the first witness — Mary Whitmer. Thanks, God, for including a woman witness, and thanks for this life-changing Book of Mormon.

-Marci

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Bullying: Listen for the Hidden Message — and know what to do

Friend, March 2013, illustration by Bryan Beach

“When some boys at school were saying rude things to me, Mom told me to hear the hidden message.”

Amanda wrinkled her face. “What hidden message?”

“Those boys are saying one thing with their mouths and hands, but Mom says the real message they’re sending is they don’t feel good about themselves. So they try to feel more powerful by being mean to others. My teacher said the same thing. She said people who bully others are really insecure.”

Read the whole story at ““The Hidden Message,” by Brad Wilcox, Friend, March 2013.

What to do? Here’s suggestions from the same article:

What to do if you are being bullied:

  1. Tell the bully to stop. In a firm voice, tell him or her never to treat you that way again. Do not try to hurt theperson back unless you have no other way to protect yourself.
  2. Tell an adult right away. This is especially important if someone hits, pushes, or threatens you. Some people won’t stop bullying until they know an adult is watching. Talk to your parents about what is going on.
  3. Try to stay in safe places. As often as possible, make sure you are near other children and adults who know you.
  4. Pray to feel Heavenly Father’s love. You are an important child of God, and you deserve to be treated with love and respect! Heavenly Father knows what you are going through and will strengthen you as you turn to Him.
  5. Remember that this bullying won’t last forever. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better . . . To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve” (October 1999).
  6. Put on spiritual armor. What can you do to strengthen yourself before you leave home each day? Praying, reading scriptures, singing Primary songs or hymns, and reading uplifting books and magazines can help you throughout the day.

I will confess that this topic is one of the hardest to write about — but so important. I wish NO child ever had to be mistreated, but I’m glad to share these steps that children and grownups can take to keep kids safe.

-Marci

Looking for more? Read

 

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Do Your Best for Jesus – but what is my best?

Guest author Emma Lu strikes again! She is a wife, mother, grandmother, writer and music therapist who is inspired by children.

How do Primary leaders and parents set standards high without setting them too high? Children (and adults themselves) may be silently asking, Dear Lord, what do you want me to do? And what does “Do your best” mean?”

My parents often told me that my best is none too good. I guess they said it so that one would try harder. In my family what was done was never good enough. I found myself trying to reach perfection, which always presented a sense of failure. I try to remove this thought but find it a pesty challenge.

I learned to relax and enjoy life through the wisdom of Sister Chieko N. Okazaki, former counselor in the general Relief Society presidency. She wrote:

If you’re doing the best you can, that’s good enough. I don’t know many women who aren’t doing their absolute level best in every way, but plenty of those women keep track only of the things they don’t do perfectly. (Chieko N. Okazaki, Lighten Up, Deseret Book, 1993, Page 5)

Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley, wife of President Gordon B. Hinckley, added:

We each do the best we can. My best may not be as good as your best, but it’s my best. The fact is that we know when we are doing our best and when we are not. If we are not doing our best, it leaves us with a gnawing hunger and frustration. But when we do our level best, we experience a peace. (Virginia H. Pearce, Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley, Deseret Book, 1999)

Jesus accepts all our sincere efforts and does not judge us. Perhaps the key to doing our best is to do it to please Jesus. I need to stand tall with determination like a true warrior and adjust myself. No longer do I push for perfection, just give my personal best to Christ. Now my quest is to help others, especially young children, learn what it means to do your best.

Recall the wonderful song “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” (Children’s Song Book, 60). Jesus asks every child to “try to please Him at home, at school, at play.”

“I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” (CS, 78) reads, “Try to show kindness in all that you do. Be gentle and loving in deed and thought. For these are the things Jesus taught.”

“I Feel My Savior’s Love” (CS, 74) adds, “His spirit warms my soul through everything I see. He knows I will follow Him, give all my life to Him. I feel my Savior’s love, the love He freely gives me.”

Jesus does love the children and in their innocent way, they love Him too.

Dear teacher, you are incredibly wise. Listen and the Holy Ghost will guide you as you teach the children these two powerful concepts:

  • Jesus wants you to help Him.
  • Your best is doing it for Jesus.

In my mind’s eye, I see you, precious Primary worker, teaching children to reach out to Jesus in all they do. I imagine you sitting with the Primary children, these precious souls of Christ, sitting around you. Oh, I know they seem hard to understand at times; some may be wiggling or somber, others teasing or irreverent, but they are with you now! Our Lord and Savior, the good Shepherd, truly rejoices as He gathers each child into His magnificent fold.

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CFM: courage to do good – Pornography Prevention

Come Follow Me for Jan. 25-31 includes this observation about Doctrine & Covenants 6: “Discuss why someone might fear to do good. Help children find words or phrases in verses 33-37 that help give them the courage to do good” (Primary manual, 19).

One of the toughest challenges for kids today is saying NO to looking at bad pictures that are everywhere in their world. The above video produced by the church is to be used IN THE HOME, not in Primary, to help families have these tough-but-good conversations. Check out the Pornography Prevention tab on the toolbar above for fast facts, ready-to-use conversation starters, and even an original song published on this blog, “My Mind’s a Sacred Place.”

Even with this weapon in the arsenal of the powers of darkness, God is still stronger than Satan, and He will help you protect His precious children. Armed with the right tools, these conversations can be sweet and strengthening.

-Marci

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CFM: “I Dare You” vs. “Dare to do Right”

This week’s Come Follow Me lesson (January 18-24) reminds us “I can choose the right when others try to get me to do wrong” (D&C 3:7-10), Primary manual, page 13.

Buckle up your seat belt – here comes a scary story from Rex D. Pinegar, a former member of the First Council of the Seventy, from the Friend.

My dear friends,

“I dare you!” are words boys and girls often hear from friends who want you to prove to them that you are brave or strong or daring. They may ask you to do something that your parents or teachers have told you not to do—something that you know is wrong to do. I have learned that when we do something we know is wrong, we show weakness rather than strength. A person shows true bravery and strength only when he has the courage to do right.

Once, when I was about seven years old, I had a pal whom I liked very much. We often walked home from school together. We talked about such things as what happened at school that day or what we were going to be when we grew up. We talked of being brave and of being able to do many things. Sometimes we would dare each other to jump across a ditch or to climb a tree just to prove that we were brave or that we could do things we had seen older boys and girls do.

As we came to my home one day we stood out by the road and talked about who was the fastest runner in the school. The discussion got a little louder as both of us began boasting. When I strongly insisted that I could run faster than my friend, he turned to me and said, “If you’re so fast, I dare you to run across the road before that car gets here!”

I looked up the road and saw a car a short distance away. Without another word I dashed into the road to prove that I was fast and brave. A moment later the car’s brakes squealed! Its bumper hit me, and I landed in an unconscious heap.

When I opened my eyes, my aching body, a hurt pride, and my mother’s anxious face made me realize that I had been neither fast nor brave. I had only been foolish. I had brought sadness to myself and to others.

Fortunately, my injuries healed quickly. Of greater importance was the lesson I learned that has been valuable to me throughout my life. I learned that the only dare a person should ever accept is the DARE TO DO RIGHT.

If you accept a dare to do something that is not right, something that Heavenly Father or your parents would not want you to do, you will be left with a sad and disappointed feeling. When you dare to do right you will have a good feeling about yourself.

As one friend to another I encourage you to be obedient to your parents and to the teachings of the Lord. Your parents and friends will respect you and will have confidence in you. You will have respect for yourself and will grow up with confidence in the Lord. By daring to do right you will become a friend of Jesus Christ and you will enjoy His greatest blessings.

May you always DARE TO DO RIGHT.

With love, your friend,

Rex D. Pinegar  (“Friend to Friend,” Friend, October 1974, 10-11, emphasis added)

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“Why does your hair look like that? [why is] your arm so brown?”

Friend, January 2017, illustration by Brad Teare

Next Monday, January 11, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States. Let’s talk about the beauty of ALL of God’s children!

This story from the Friend begins with a classmate named Felicity asking Dinah, “Your hair is different than mine. Why does your hair look like that? [And] your arms are so brown!” Later Dinah asked, “Mom, do you ever think about how people look different? How everyone has different hair and skin and eyes?”

Mom replied, “It sounds like Felicity was curious about you,” Mom said. “Everyone has their own unique skin color. And hair and eyes too. We’re all Heavenly Father’s children, and there’s no right or wrong way to look. But sometimes people need to get used to the beauty of different colors.”

“All peoples’ colors are beautiful?” Dinah asked.

“Definitely. Everyone’s color shows something special about their family and their history. The way you act represents our family to others. And who do we always say we follow in our family? Jesus Christ, right? So you also represent the Savior.”

Read the whole story here: “This Little LIGHT of Mine,” (Friend, Jan. 2017, 16-17).

This little light of mine? “Let your light so shine!”

Looking for more resources to teach children these important principles of equality? See this from byu.edu: “Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race”.

And to our friends in the USA – Happy Martin Luther King Day!

-Marci

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CFM: Ready-to-use ideas for teaching First Vision in Primary or at home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week’s Come Follow Me (CFM) lesson is full of great ideas for teaching Joseph Smith’s First Vision! And to make it easier, we’ve made a few of those ideas ready-to-use. Download the printable here: First Vision lesson for children

Come Follow Me: First Vision (JSH 1:1-26) for January 4-10, 2021 (ideas to supplement CFM 2021 for Primary, page 5-7)

  1. God can answer my questions through the scriptures. Show the children a cookbook and a dictionary. What questions can these books answer? Then show the children the scriptures. What questions can these books answer?
  2. Joseph Smith was an ordinary boy with a big question. To help the children get to know Joseph Smith as a person, invite a teen to pretend to be Joseph, so the children can ask him the following questions. OR you can give children the questions, and let them each pretend to be Joseph and find the answer in their scriptures.

What’s your birthday? (JSH 1:3 – December 23, 1805 – near the winter solstice, as light is coming into the world)

How many sisters do you have? How many brothers? (I’ll name them while you count: JSH 1:4 – Alvin, Hyrum, Samuel Harrison [that’s one person], William, Don Carlos = 5 brothers; Sophronia, Catherine and Lucy = 3 sisters).

What church did your family attend when you were growing up? (JSH 1:7 – my mother and my siblings Hyrum, Samuel Harrison, and Sophronia joined the Presbyterian church.)

What church interested you the most growing up? (JSH 1:8 – I was somewhat partial to the Methodist church. This is one reason I had a big question for God. Should I join a different church from my family?)

What scripture influenced you the most as a youth? (JSH 1:11 – James 1:5 in the Bible: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Upbraid means to scold. This scripture told me that if I asked God my question, He wouldn’t get mad at me.)

What happened when you first tried to pray out loud and ask God which church to join? (JSH 1:15 – evil powers tried to get me.)

How did you get delivered from the evil powers? (JSH 1:16 – I “exerted all my powers to call upon God to deliver me.” It worked. I saw Heavenly Father and Jesus gradually come down from heaven.)

What was Heavenly Father’s first word to you? (JSH 1:17 – my name.)

What else did Heavenly Father say? (JSH 1:17 – God spoke seven more words: “This is My Beloved Son: Hear Him!” Then Jesus explained a lot of things to me.)

What was the answer to your big question about which church to join? (JSH 1:19 – I shouldn’t join any of them. Later I found out God wanted me to help Him restore Jesus’ original church on the earth.)

 

3. God hears and answers my prayers in different ways. Just like Joseph, we can ask God our big questions and small questions. God will answer and won’t get mad at us for asking. He answers in different ways.

ACTIVITY: Invite a parent to stand or sit outside the room with a phone, a piece of paper and a pencil. Then they answer these questions from the children in the following different ways. Feel free to substitute other questions for these:

Child 1: “What is one thing you have learned about living a happy life?” (Parent answers via text message.)

Child 2: “What storybook do you like best?” (Parent answers via phone call.)

Child 3: “Who is your hero, living or dead?” (Parent writes a note and brings it into the room, then returns to outside the room.)

Child 4: “What is one way I can do better in school?” (Parent calls for another child to come outside and be their messenger. The parent tells the messenger their answer, then the messenger tells the children.)

Then the parent returns to the room.

Explain that just like the parent answered these questions in different ways, God answers our prayers in different ways. The Guide to the Scriptures, “Revelation,” lists these ways: inspiration (a thought in your mind), a vision, a dream, or a visit by an angel.

Share a time when God has answered a prayer for you. Invite the children to share when God has answered their prayer. Here are some of our favorites from PrimaryinZion:

“Joseph came to realize that the Bible did not contain all the answers to life’s experiences, rather, it taught men and women how they could find answers to their questions by communicating directly with God in prayer” M. Russell Ballard, “Shall We Not Go On in So Great a Cause?” April 2020.

God answered Joseph’s prayer, He answered my prayers, and He will answer yours.

-Marci

Download the ready-to-use printable here: First Vision lesson for children

New Era, April 2020

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How can I magnify my calling AND simplify the work?

latterdaysoprano.com

A guiding light for my own church service has always been this marvelous Ensign article answering the question, “How can we magnify our callings while at the same time following the counsel of Church leaders to reduce and simplify the work?”

Particularly notice this response from Dorothy Moore in Malad, Idaho: “When I served as Primary president, I learned that fasting and praying as a presidency helped my counselors and me to serve far more effectively than spending the same amount of time planning grandiose activities and making extravagant visual aids. Not only did we receive new ideas for dealing with problems, but the Spirit touched the children in greater measure and prepared them to learn what we taught” (emphasis added).

And of course, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s “Parable of the Quilt” from his October 2015 address provides this memorable insight:

Are we making our discipleship too complicated? . . .

One lovely sister, a Relief Society instructor, was known for preparing flawless lessons. One time, she decided to create a beautiful quilt that would serve as the perfect backdrop to the theme of her lesson. But life intervened. There were children to pick up from school, a neighbor who needed help moving, a husband with a fever, and a friend who felt lonely. So the day of the lesson approached and the quilt was not completed.

Finally, the night before her lesson, she did not sleep much as she worked all night on the quilt. The next day she was exhausted and barely able to organize her thoughts, but she bravely stood and delivered her perfect lesson.

And the quilt was stunning — the stitches were perfect, the colors vibrant, the design intricate. And at the center of it all was a single word that triumphantly echoed the theme of her lesson: Simplify!

Brothers and sisters, living the gospel doesn’t need to be complicated! It is beautifully simple, and it works beautifully! [Let us] focus on ‘the simplicity that is in Christ’ (2 Corinthians 11:3) and allow His grace to lift and carry us during our journey from where we are now to our glorious destiny in our Father’s presence!

For more “back to basics” ideas, see this Quick Start Kit for New Primary Presidencies.

Breathe in, breathe out . . .  simplify!

-Marci

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