It’s never too early for children to learn of the poor AND their own power

I want to shield our precious children from hate and want in the world. I want to raise them in the utopian loving world I can imagine. Problem is, that world didn’t exist for me, and it doesn’t exist for them. It is never too early for children to become aware that some children go to bed hungry every night. And it’s never too early for children to discover that they can be change agents — that no one is too little, no act is too small, to improve the lot of another.

I really love these kids, and I really want them to discover their own power for good in the world. As Elder Bradley D. Foster said, “it’s never too early and it’s never too late.”

Looking for service ideas? See Serving as Jesus Served: Sharing Time project or family activity and Pint-Sized Service Projects , a free download of a chapter from the book Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids, the book that was born on this blog! The “Chalk Service” idea in the November 2018 Friend magazine is particularly easy and fun. Nathan H., age 10, Arizona USA, suggested doing “nice sidewalk chalk messages at homes of people who needed encouragement.”

My mantra when my own children were growing up was this poem by Carol Lynn Pearson. I still think of it often:

"The Vow"
How could I hide you
From hate?
I would
Though my arms break
with the trying.

Life leans in
At the window there
With its bag
Of dark treasures
Trying for your eyes
So utterly open
So unaware.

You will see
Men smile over blood
And you will know
There is hate.
You may see bombs
And butcheries
And you will know
There is horror.

Against all this
What can I do?
Only vow
That before you
Leave my arms
You will know
Past ever doubting
That there is 
Love, too.

(from Beginnings & Beyond, by Carol Lynn Pearson, 159)

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Children as our investigators, listening or not

TheChurchofJesusChrist.org

“Parents, you are called to be loving teachers and missionaries to your children and youth. They are your investigators. You bear the responsibility to help them become converted — which means being filled with our Savior’s love,” said Elder Robert D. Hales in October 2016.

Think about the attitudes with which you have taught investigators in bigger bodies: patience, respect for agency, building on their knowledge and adding to it. And love — lots of love. Those same attitudes serve you well with what Michelle calls our “mini-investigators.”

But there is one big difference with our “mini-investigators.” When youth or adult investigators decide they’re not interested, we stop and let those ideas percolate; perhaps they’ll return wanting to learn more, perhaps they won’t. But with our children at home or in Primary, we never give up. This memorable story comes from Elder K. Brett Nattress:

 

“To help you understand the challenge my parents faced in raising our family, let me tell you about our family scripture reading. Each morning, my mother read the Book of Mormon to us during breakfast. During this time, my older brother, Dave, and I would sit quietly but irreverently. To be completely honest, we weren’t listening. We were reading the print on the cereal boxes.

“Finally, one morning, I decided to square up with my mother. I exclaimed, “Mom, why are you doing this to us? Why are you reading the Book of Mormon every morning?” I then made a statement that I am embarrassed to admit to. In fact, I can’t believe I actually said it. I told her, “Mom, I am not listening!”

“Her loving response was a defining moment in my life. She said, “Son, I was at a meeting where President Marion G. Romney taught about the blessings of scripture reading. During this meeting, I received a promise that if I would read the Book of Mormon to my children every day, I would not lose them.” She then looked me straight in the eyes and, with absolute determination, said, “And I will not lose you!”

“Her words pierced my heart. Notwithstanding my imperfections, I was worth saving! She taught me the eternal truth that I am a son of a loving Heavenly Father. I learned that no matter what the circumstance, I was worth it. This was a perfect moment for an imperfect little boy.”

Elder Nattress goes on to ask, “If all that your children knew of the gospel came from you—as their only source—how much would they know? This question applies to all those who love, mentor, and influence children. Is there any greater gift that we can impart to our children than a memory burned deep into their hearts that we know that our Redeemer lives? Do they know that we know? And more important, have they come to know for themselves that He lives?”

We know. WE KNOW. We want our children to know. They are indeed worth saving.

-Marci

 

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“And please help us be more reverent next week than we will be today. . . “

Val Chadwick Bagley, from New Era, April 2018

Reverence! Hardly a week goes by that the average Primary doesn’t think of it.

Reverence is not an end in itself, but a way to create the environment for children to feel the Spirit and be ready to learn the gospel.

-Marci

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A world with no choice – a story by kids to enrich Come Follow Me

Come Follow Me for Feb 3-9 is full of grand doctrine from 2 Nephi 1-5.  Here’s an idea FROM kids FOR kids, to teach agency from 2 Nephi 2:27: “Wherefore, men are free … to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death.” The Come Follow Me:Primary manual asks this intriguing question on page 23: “Imagine what a life without choices would be like.” The children in your home and in your Primary might enjoy reading these scenarios from two sisters: Kate, age 7, and Grace, almost 10.

by Kate, age 7

From Kate:

One day, a girl named Sarah woke up at 5:20 a.m. She put on her old green dress. She made her bed. It was a gray blanket and a brown pillow. Those weren’t her favorite colors. Then she went downstairs to eat oatmeal. Again.

Then she went outside to jump rope. She had to do 27 in a row. She couldn’t do 15 or 30. She had to do exactly 27. Then she went inside to clean the whole house. For lunch she had a crunchy peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich even though she really wanted smooth peanut butter and strawberry jam. Then she had to do math with her black pencil, no eraser, and green notebook. All her friends had to do the same things.

Sarah felt not at all happy. What she really wanted to do was wake up at 7:47 (because she was 7 years old!) and wear a pink shirt with purple pants. She wanted a fancy room with a fancy bed, a blue pillow, a pink blanket, a fancy dresser, a mirror, silk curtains, and a big light. She wanted it to be big and have carpet. She wanted to eat crepes!

But she couldn’t choose. There were no choices to make.

by Grace, almost 10

From Grace:

If we had no choices, we wouldn’t be able to choose good or bad. If someone said, “Drink this,” you would have to drink it. If someone said, “Play this,” you would have to play that. You wouldn’t be able to choose who you hang out with. You would be told who your friends are. Even if you wanted to do something else, there would be no possible way you could do it. You would have to do the same routine day after day. Your friends would have to do it, too.

Because you couldn’t choose, you would be unhappy and bored. You wouldn’t get good at creating things, just good at following. Everyone would be the same and look the same except their face and hair color. We wouldn’t laugh much because everyone would know only the same jokes. And no one could make up any new jokes. Even if they could think of a new joke, no one would be able to decide if it was funny or not.

If someone asked you what your favorite color or favorite animal was, you wouldn’t be able to answer. You wouldn’t know what your favorite things are because you wouldn’t be able to decide.

I’m glad we have agency. Agency makes us happy.

 

Also see “When Bad Choices Seem to Work Out Just Fine (at least temporarily).

And for more resources, check out these ideas:

 

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Children: the leaders of TODAY

Russell M. Nelson as a young boy, from ChurchofJesusChrist.org

Children are not the leaders of tomorrow. They are the leaders of today. Who could resist a young child leading out in good ways?

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, former Young Women General President, put it this way: “All children . . . can encourage family home evenings and be full participants. You can be the first one on your knees as your family gathers for family prayer. Even if your homes are less than ideal, your personal examples of faithful gospel living can influence the lives of your family and friends.”

“A member of the Seventy was on assignment in Hong Kong,” said Sister Jean A. Stevens, former Primary General Presidency counselor. “He visited a very humble ward that was struggling in many ways, unable to provide for its own needs. As the bishop described their situation, the General Authority felt the impression to have the members pay their tithing. The bishop, knowing their dire circumstances, was concerned about how he could carry out that counsel. He decided he would approach some of the most faith-filled members of his ward and ask them to pay their tithing. The next Sunday he went to the Primary. He taught the children about the Lord’s law of tithing and asked if they would be willing to pay tithing on the money they earned. The children said they would. And they did.

“The bishop later went to the adults in the ward and shared with them that for the past six months their faithful children had been paying tithing. He asked them if they would be willing to follow the example of these children and do the same. The people were so touched by the sacrifices the children were willing to make that they did what was necessary to pay their tithing. And the windows of heaven were opened. With the example of these faithful children, a ward grew in obedience and in testimony.

“It was Jesus Christ Himself who taught us to look to children as an example. ‘Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 18:3) Our Heavenly Father knows children are a key to helping us become like Him.”

As leaders and parents, we can encourage children to step up and lead out, even with US! It’s good practice for life.

Also see Children leading the way and

“Is he REALLY a child of God? And who has sent him here?”

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RIGHT NOW: Please correct your print “Come Follow Me” manual regarding race

A heartbreaking error crept into the print manual “Come Follow Me 2020 for Individuals and Families.” It has been corrected online, but please take your orange manual, turn to page 24 in the lesson for February 3-9, and cross out the first paragraph explaining 2 Nephi 5:20-21, titled “What was the curse that came upon the Lamanites?” www.churchofjesuschrist.org/…/come-follow…/06…

Print out this text from the online “Come Follow Me” manual (below or online) and put it in your manual to replace it:

2 Nephi 5:20–21

What was the curse that came upon the Lamanites?

In Nephi’s day the curse of the Lamanites was that they were “cut off from [the Lord’s] presence … because of their iniquity” (2 Nephi 5:20–21). This meant the Spirit of the Lord was withdrawn from their lives. When Lamanites later embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, “the curse of God did no more follow them” (Alma 23:18).

The Book of Mormon also states that a mark of dark skin came upon the Lamanites after the Nephites separated from them. The nature and appearance of this mark are not fully understood. The mark initially distinguished the Lamanites from the Nephites. Later, as both the Nephites and Lamanites each went through periods of wickedness and righteousness, the mark became irrelevant as an indicator of the Lamanites’ standing before God.

Prophets affirm in our day that dark skin is not a sign of divine disfavor or cursing. The Church embraces Nephi’s teaching that the Lord “denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33). President Russell M. Nelson declared: “The Lord has stressed His essential doctrine of equal opportunity for His children. … Differences in culture, language, gender, race, and nationality fade into insignificance as the faithful enter the covenant path and come unto our beloved Redeemer” (“President Nelson Remarks at Worldwide Priesthood Celebration” [June 1, 2018], newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).

See also “Till We All Come in the Unity of the Faith” (video, ChurchofJesusChrist.org).

 

No corrections need to be made in the print Primary or Sunday School manuals.

If you’re interested in learning more about what this scripture 2 Nephi 5:20–21 means and other Hebrew idioms, visit BlacksInTheScriptures.com.

At the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Luncheon on January 20, 2020 with the NAACP Salt Lake Branch, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles “acknowledged that the 2020 ‘Come, Follow Me’ manual for use by everyone in the 16.3 million-member church for this year’s study of the Book of Mormon, ‘includes a paragraph with some outdated commentary on race.’ It was ‘mistakenly included in the printed version of the manual, which had been prepared for print nearly two years ago,’ Stevenson said. ‘When it was brought to the attention of church leaders late last year, they directed it be immediately removed in our annual online manual, which is used by the great majority of our members.’ The church’s top officials also “have directed that any future printed manuals will reflect this change,” he said. ‘We are asking members to disregard the paragraph in the printed manual.’ Stevenson said he was “deeply saddened and hurt by this error, and for any pain that it may have caused our members or others.’ The church ‘condemn[s] all racism past and present in any form,’ the apostle said, ‘and we disavow any theory that advances that black skin or dark skin is the sign of a curse.’” from “LDS Church and NAACP becoming closer allies, apostle says during MLK Day speech” by Peggy Fletcher Stack, Salt Lake Tribune.

I’m grateful that the Church corrected this heartbreaking error online, and I hope that YOU will correct this in your teaching the children in your family and your Primary.

-Marci

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A chain reaction of niceness, starting with running over a skateboard

Guest author Emily is a busy mother of 4 lively sons and 1 spunky daughter. We’re delighted to share her heart-warming story as part of our “Overheard in Primary” series.

We were rushing out the door to church, later than usual. This particular Sunday, as I was backing our big blue 12-passenger van out of the garage in turbo mode, I ran over something. We stopped. Peter (age 9) jumped out to investigate. It was his brand-new skateboard, the one he’d been wanting for months and had just received for his birthday, broken clean in half. I felt pretty terrible.

Later, I needed to stay after church, so our neighbor friends brought the kids home. When I got home an hour later, Peter ran up to me, hopping up and down with excitement, his eyes sparkling. “Look Mom!” he said triumphantly, pulling a freshly repaired skateboard from behind his back. “Ben fixed it! It works great!” And indeed he had. Ben (age 12), our family builder, loves to fix things, in fact, he often fixes things that his family members may not want fixed. (“What? I totally upgraded it! They should be thanking me!”) But this time he had made a solid repair to the skateboard, starting with a hot glue gun (because why on earth not?) and then reinforcing the board with straight metal brackets, alternating on the front and back. Peter took back the repaired skateboard and joyfully rode circles around the driveway.

About an hour later I went back outside and asked the kids if someone would come in and help me clean up and get dinner ready. The typical response is sudden-onset deafness, but this time, Peter offered to help right away. He cheerfully came inside and emptied the dishwasher. “What else can I do, Mom?” I asked him to clear off and set the kitchen table, which he happily started doing. “Wow!” I commented. “You must have had a really good lesson at church today, Peter! You’re being such an amazing helper!”

“No, Mom,” he replied, “it was Ben!”

“Ben? What do you mean?”

“Ben fixed my skateboard for me, and that was so nice that now I want to do something nice for you!” And he came over and gave me a big hug. He was so happy.

A few hours later when Ben and I were in the car together, I told him what Peter had said. I could tell Ben was pleased. “It’s a chain reaction of niceness,” he said, “and you started it all by running over the skateboard in the first place!”

 

Want to read more stories like this? Check out our “Overheard in Primary” series. – sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, sometimes inspiring, always charming.

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Add KidPower (in 11 languages) to your pornography prevention toolkit

kidpower.org

“We’re not talking about it enough,” said Sister. Joy D. Jones, Primary general president. “Pornography is a problem affecting our boys and our girls. The earlier the discussions the better, and children will come forward more readily when they know they are loved and nothing they say or do can change that love.”

Looking for something to add to your pornography prevention toolkit? KidPower.org offers FREE coloring books, “Using ‘STOP! Power” available in 11 languages: English, Spanish (bilingual English/Spanish or Spanish-only), German, French, Romanian, Dutch, Vietnamese, Swedish, Arabic, Hebrew, and Urdu. The coloring book contains important concepts such as:

  • “Touch or games for play, teasing or affection should be a choice.”
  • “When someone does something that makes you feel bad, keep telling to get help. If you have a problem, keep telling adults you trust, even if you have to tell a hundred people, until you get the help you need.”

More ideas here at the Pornography Prevention tab above, including “My Mind’s a Sacred Place” (new original song) – Arm your Children with the Power of Music to Fend off the Evils of Pornography!

Primary leaders, please forward this information to parents to give them the resources they need to have these important conversations in the home.

Pornography is a problem we CAN win. It takes inspiration and hard work, but parents in the last days are up to the task, with God’s help.

-Marci

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“a happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy birthday to you from me”

lovethispic.com

Here’s a fun twist on a favorite birthday song (Children’s Songbook, 284). Instead of:

“If I had one wish, then it would be a happy, happy birthday to you from me,” try singing as many “happy”s as the child is years old.

To an 11-year old, you’ll sing “a happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy birthday to you from me.”

To help you keep track, you can either count on your fingers OR assign a child volunteer to come up and be your counter.

If you need to get more kids out of their chairs and reduce the wiggles, invite other children to stand at the front — as many children as the birthday child is years old. Then you can pat each one on the head down the line as you sing. Depending upon the number, you might bring up the child’s whole class, or even recruit siblings in Primary too.

To sing to multiple children at once, do the math!

Don’t try this with grownups’ birthdays.

-Marci

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inhale, exhale — Christmas!

friend.churchofjesuschrist.org, colored by Abigail, age 6

It’s almost Christmas — and every once in awhile I need this reminder from Elder D. Todd Christofferson: “Just think about that baby in the manger. Do not be too concerned or overwhelmed with what is coming in His life or in yours. Instead, take time to relax, be at peace, and just think about that little baby.” (“Be at Peace,” Ensign, December 2015)

Looking for a ready-to-use idea for your family for today or tomorrow? Here’s our collection of favorites!

Merry, merry CHRISTmas, our readers and friends!

-Marci

PS – Yes, this blog has had a visitor from North Pole, Alaska – as well as the rest of the 50 states in the USA, 9 of 10 Canadian provinces and a total of 183 countries. Read more at What’s Primary like in Nepal or Bahrain?

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