I Will Show Unto You a God of Miracles

This is a talk I gave in church on 11/8/2020. The prompt came from the weekly Come Follow Me Lesson.

In all the craziness, uncertainty, and inconsistency of this year, I’m grateful we have had studying Book of Mormon as our constant.

As we wind down our reading of the Book of Mormon, this week we studied the last few chapters in Mormon, however most of it was actually written by Moroni who was finishing his father’s life’s work.

Additionally, Moroni was granted a vision of our day so he would know what we needed to know and focus on so that we could endure the last days.

Here’s how he discusses one of these areas of focus:

“Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?

Behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles.” (Mormon 9)

Why of all things that we are faced with in our day would he want us to focus on miracles?

There are many in our day who deny God’s existence, deny his miracles, or claim that miracles ceased after the New Testament times.  We need to know that he continues to be a God of miracles because:

“If there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.” (Mormon 9)

Our understanding of the nature of God is a vital part of our doctrine and our testimonies.  To deny miracles is to deny the nature of God as being unchanging.  And yet:

“For every infirm man healed instantly as he waits to enter the Pool of Bethesda, someone else will spend 40 years in the desert waiting to enter the promised land. For every Nephi and Lehi divinely protected by an encircling flame of fire for their faith, we have an Abinadi burned at a stake of flaming fire for his.” (Elder Holland)

The same God who provided manna in the desert for the Israelites made Nephi hunt for his own food.

The same God who gave Hannah a son, lets others struggle through indefinite infertility.

The same God who visited Joseph Smith lets some of us struggle with deep questions for years, potentially our whole life.

The same God who protects faithful armies let the people of Ammon die.

The same God who makes weak things become strong would not remove Paul’s thorn in the flesh.

The same God who led the Prophet Samuel to anoint David a ruler by looking on his heart asks us to individually research and vote for our leaders.

Does this mean that God changes?

Mormon warned:

“The reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.” (Mormon 9)

But was that Nephi’s problem?  Was that Abinadi or the People of Ammon’s problem?

Four years ago, the last time that we were studying the Book of Mormon as a church, a dear friend of mine was struggling through a fertility battle.  She was in her early 40s and had tried so many different fertility avenues as well as adoption, nothing was working.  When we studied this portion, she had just received more bad news, and when the Sunday School teacher said, “If you don’t have miracles happening in your life it’s because you aren’t righteous enough,” it crushed her.  She texted me after church needing to talk through what was going on.  She asked if the reason she wasn’t seeing this miracle come to pass was because she was doing something wrong.  But she felt like she was doing everything she could.

Has anyone else ever felt this?  And wondered where is my miracle? 

As I reflected on her questions and concerns two things came to me:

Timing and Type

Maybe the miracle just hasn’t come YET- and in her case that was what it was.  She now has a 2 ½ year old little miracle girl.

But what if it’s not just timing.  What if it’s one of those Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego “But if not…” moments.  Are we back to this question of if the day of miracles has ceased.

Where does our mind typically go first when we talk about miracles.  Insert special musical number from Fiddler on the Roof– Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles.

We like to think about the lion’s den, the parting of the Red Sea, the Walls of Jericho coming down, people saved from fiery furnaces, and other miracles of biblical proportion.

But what if the issue isn’t timing or the ceasing of miracles, what if we just need to look for a different type of miracle.

The Bible dictionary says: Miracles should not be regarded as deviations from the ordinary course of nature so much as manifestations of divine or spiritual power.

While the miracles that DO deviate from the ordinary course of nature are the easiest to recognize, they are not the only type.  Any time divine or spiritual power is manifest it is a miracle no matter how big or small.  The Bible dictionary goes on to say:

“Some lower law is in each case superseded by the action of a higher.”

I think what we need to do in most cases is think outside the miracle box.  After all, if miracles are a manifestation of God’s power and his higher laws- then let’s not box him in by the constraints of our lower lawed minds.

Let’s consider a few of the examples I brought up earlier.  Joseph Smith was granted a remarkable vision in response to his question- he certainly got one of those deviations from the ordinary.  When I have questions that’s not how it goes for me- anyone else???  In fact, Heavenly Father rarely actually gives me a straight answer.  He likes to play jeopardy or something and responds to me in the form of a question for me to contemplate.  So let’s play that question game right now…

What if the miracle of the Restoration isn’t just about the vision, what if it’s not just about the answer?  What if the bigger miracle is that a 14 year old boy was so concerned about the state of his soul that he poured himself into the scriptures all on his own?  I don’t know any of the 14 year old young men here, but I have two brothers and I taught high school for a little while, and I can tell you that this is not typical 14 year old boy behavior. 

And what if part of the miracle was also being led to ask the right question? 

Throughout the scriptures we read about groups who were protected in war because of their faithfulness.  However, the People of Ammon converted then made a covenant with the Lord that they would never fight again and buried their weapons of war in order to keep that covenant.  It was within God’s ability to keep them safe, and yet the Lamanites came upon and killed them- unarmed.  Where was the miracle?  What if the miracle wasn’t about their lives being spared? What if the miracle was their strength to keep their covenant at all costs.  What if it was that more people were converted that day than were slaughtered?

In the Oct. 2007 Women’s broadcast Pres. Monson said “My dear sisters [and brothers], do not pray for tasks equal to your abilities, but pray for abilities equal to your tasks. Then the performance of your tasks will be no miracle, but you will be the miracle.”

 Early in my mission I developed what I have coined as my “angel complex.”  Maybe it’s a sister thing, maybe it’s a Southern thing, but people called me an angel all the time.  And I know it was meant as a compliment, but I felt like a fraud.  I was no angel.  I struggled with a bad attitude and disillusionment from the awkwardness and constant rejection that came from tracting.  If I were an angel then people would actually listen to me instead of shutting me down.  Then to make things even more frustrating, when I was studying in Alma and came across the familiar “Oh that I were an angel” verse it had never dawned on me before that a few verses later he says, “But I do sin in my wish.”  So I already felt like a fraud being called an Angel.  Now Alma’s telling me that it’s a sin to even wish you were an angel.  And I was like, “Seriously Alma, it is not a SIN to wish you were an Angel!!!!”

So this sort of boiled in the back of my mind for several months until I hit a particularly rough day and I thought, “I just want an angel to come down and tell these people…..”  And then it hit me….but I do sin in my wish, because if God wanted to send an angel, he would, but instead he sent me.  What if the miracle of my mission was less about getting all of Florida to listen?  What if the miracle of my mission was me?  That maybe, not in spite of, but perhaps because of my weaknesses the Lord chose me.  That like the Brother of Jared and his ordinary stones made to shine in darkness, the Lord took ordinary me and used me to light people’s way.  And so while I still struggled with accepting being called an angel, if you operate under the definition of an angel being a messenger from God, then to a select few- but very important and amazing people, that’s what I was.  And they were my miracle, and I was theirs.

And you, each and everyone of you can be a miracle every day.

This week has been collectively stressful as we have watched and waited for election results.  Especially here in AZ, where last I checked we were still too close to call.  There are good and faithful people on both sides of this election who have been hoping and praying for the outcome they think is best.  For those who will inevitably be disappointed by the results- will it seem that miracles have ceased?

But what if the miracle is less about who ends up in the white house?  What if the miracle is more about us looking deep down inside to determine what we can do individually to heal and unite our nation?  What if the miracle will be found in following the recent counsel of our leaders to love our enemies, to forgo the anger and hatred with which political choices are debated or denounced in many settings, to avoid anger and hostility toward those with whom we disagree and even be willing to learn from them, to peacefully accept the results of the election, to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice, and to choose to let God be the most powerful influence in our lives? [Taken from Pres. Oaks’ Love Your Enemies and Pres. Nelson’s Let God Prevail.]

In closing let’s bring it back to Moroni.  He doesn’t actually discuss very many specific miracles in this passage, the ones that he does are the Creation, the Fall, Redemption, Resurrection, Judgment, and our final reward.  Let us remember and keep in perspective that the most important miracle is the Plan of Salvation.  So when All You Need is a Miracle and it seems that it isn’t happening- consider the timing, look outside the miracle box, and then look forward with hope in Redemption and Resurrection through Jesus Christ because he is the miracle and then you will also be a miracle.

Photo Credit to Laci Gibbs

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones Nov and Dec 2020

The end is in sight! 2020 is almost done, and for all it’s crazy and inconsistency, I’m glad that this one area- Book of Mormon Family Home Evenings- has been our one constant.

I figured life doesn’t get any less busy and crazy through the holiday season so I’m just going to finish out the year right here.

Side note- sorry that the songs and Book of Mormon Stories don’t have links- I’m struggling with getting those pages from the Church Website to load- have been for a few weeks???? Other things load fine, but not those.

Nov 2-8 “I Speak Unto You As If Ye Were Here”

Scriptures: Nothing specific for this week

Song: Book of Mormon Stories- 119, The Books in the Book of Mormon- 118, The Books in the New Testament- 116, The Books in the Old Testament- 114

Materials: World Map, Pictures of Book of Mormon and Bible Stories

Post a world map on the wall. Put a picture of the Book of Mormon by the Americas and a picture of the Bible by Israel. Or just use the printout from Come Follow Me for Primary. Print or pull pictures from the Gospel Art Book and help the kids to sort the stories into the Bible or Book of Mormon by hanging them on the wall on the side of the Earth they came from. Talk about the different stories. Explain that while there are different people and stories because they happened on different parts of the Earth, they both tell us about Jesus and how much he loves us.

Nov 9-15 “Rend That Veil of Unbelief”

Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 50-51; Book of Mormon Stories for Young Readers Traveling to the Promised Land; My First Scripture Stories The Jaredites, Shining Stones; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon The Brother of Jared

Song: Faith 96

Materials: glow in the dark paint, rocks (or just glow in the dark rocks), blocks, popsicle sticks (or other boat making materials)

Do some activities to discuss the events at the beginning of Ether. Build a tall tower out of blocks or legos and explain that they were trying to build a tower to get to Heaven instead of keeping the commandments. Knock over the tower and then begin saying phrases in languages that the kids don’t understand (or just gibberish). Discuss what it would feel like if we couldn’t understand each other in our own family. Explain that the Brother of Jared was commanded to take his family and righteous followers across the sea. Build some small boats. Discuss the darkness inside and tell the story of Jesus touching the stones and making them shine. Either paint rocks with glow in the dark paint or give them a glow in the dark rock (glow in the dark stuff should be easy to find on clearance right after Halloween!) Save the rocks for next week!

Nov 16-22 “That Evil May Be Done Away”

Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 52 (first 4 frames); review last week’s

Song: Thanksgiving songs

Materials: Glowing rocks, boat

Go in a dark room with your glowing rocks and pretend you are on a boat. Discuss the preparations that the Jaredites made to cross the ocean- the things that they did on their own or had to figure out and the things that the Lord did for them. Then “arrive” at the promised land and sing their favorite Primary songs as hymns of praise. Then ask the kids if they can think about any other groups who crossed the ocean by boat to get to the promised land (Nephites and Pilgrims!) Make the Thanksgiving connection by talking about the Pilgrims coming to America for religious freedom. Then talk about our own journeys and how we can work hard to prepare ourselves and also watch for how Heavenly Father helps us.

Nov 23- 29 “By Faith All Things Are Fulfilled”

Scripture: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 52

Song: Our Primary Colors 258

Materials: identical boxes/containers, weights

Find identical boxes or containers. Put weights or other heavy objects in one and leave the other empty. Have the kids try to lift the heavy box (try to make it heavy enough that they can not lift it). Explain that they are too weak to lift it because their bodies are still growing. Sometimes we have things that are hard for us to do that don’t have to do with lifting. Discuss some things that can be difficult for everyone in the family. Then explain that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can make weak things strong. Give the kids small hand weights or cans and take turns calling out things we can do to strengthen our spiritual muscles (church, pray, read, temple, FHE, listening, etc.) lift the weights as you call them out. Now ask the kids if they think they are strong enough to lift the other box. Mom and Dad can take a turn and make it appear that they are struggling to pick up the box so the kids feel extra strong when they pick it up with no problem.

Nov 30- Dec 6 “To Keep Them in the Right Way”

Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 53

Song: I like My Birthday 104, I Love to See the Temple 95

Use the Covenant Path printable to discuss the covenants and ordinances Moroni discusses- plus the temple. You could create an actual path around your house for the kids to follow. The full size sheets are the ordinances, the smaller pictures are the promises, blessings, and opportunities that come from the ordinances.

Dec 7- 13 “May Christ Lift Thee Up”

Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 49 (the end goes over Mormon’s teachings recorded by Moroni)

Song: Christmas

Materials: Service Project materials

Have your kids repeat the phrases “Charity is the pure love of Christ,” and “Charity never faileth.” Talk about what it means to have charity. Show love by completing a service project to get ready for Christmas. Some ideas to help get kids involved:

-If you live close to a giving machine let them pick out an item

-Grab a Christmas Tree Angel

-Make cards for elderly members of the ward

Dec 14-20 “Come Unto Christ”

Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 53 (the end)-54; Book of Mormon Stories for Young Readers Moroni’s Special Promise; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon Moroni; My Book of Mormon Friends Me

Song: The Golden Plates 86

Materials: Cake, licorice, yellow frosting, Black frosting (to write Book of Mormon on the the cake), Gifts of the Spirit supplies

Stealing this idea from my in-laws. When my husband was growing up, every time they finished the Book of Mormon as a family they would have a Book of Mormon party. They would make the gold plates out of cake by putting two cakes next to each other, frosting them with yellow frosting, and then using pull and peel black licorice to connect them to look like the rings the plates were bound with.

I’m going to add gifts to go along with the gifts of the Spirit described in Moroni 10. Gather little items and wrap them up:

Teaching– pencils or other school supplies

Great faith– a pocket sized picture of Christ

Healing– fun bandaids

Miracles– something color changing, or the markers that only work on certain paper (like Melissa and Doug Color Blast- there’s a few different types made by other companies- these are perfect for the church bag!)

Prophesy– something to help them follow the Prophet- like something small for the 72 hour kit (whistle, mini flashlight, pocket poncho, etc.), or a scripture marker, pocket sized scriptures, etc.

Tongues/ Interpretation of Tongues– a treat from a different country

To make the party extra fun you could make other treats to go along with different stories. Here’s some ideas I thought of with help from Pinterest and my Sister-in-Law:

-Honey with sopapillas for the Jaredites

-White treats to represent the fruit from the Tree of Life- divinity, Oreos dipped in white chocolate, etc.

-Pretzel rods for the Iron Rod

-Rare steak for dinner- for when they were able to eat raw meat in the wilderness

-Sunflower or other seeds for the seeds of faith

-Something with peanut butter or other high protein snacks for all of the stories about strength

If you come up with other cute ideas please share!!!!!

Dec 21-27 “He Shall Come Into the World to Redeem His People”

Scriptures: Book of Mormon for Young Readers Samuel Teaches about JesusBook of Mormon Stories Chap 40My First Scripture Stories Samuel the Lamanite; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon Samuel the Lamanite;  Book of Mormon Stories Chap 41My First Scripture Stories Jesus is Born

Song: Christmas Songs

Materials: Costumes or toys for acting out the Nativity

Act out the Christmas story using costumes, figurines, or pictures. Make sure to include Samuel and the Nephites side of the story. Check out my Christmas countdown post when it’s up for more ideas on making Christmas Christ centered throughout the month. You can start perusing old ones if you want for ideas:

2017

2018

2019

How General Conference Helped Secure My Decision for the Election

In recent years I have been grappling with political issues and my place in political parties. I grew up leaning Republican, I’ve trifled with the Libertarian Party, I find myself now most assuredly an Independent (however there were a couple months there where I was registered as a Democrat so I could vote in the Primary.)

I’ve been very vocal about being in the Never-Trump camp since the very beginning of his candidacy. In 2016 I voted 3rd Party because picking between the lesser of the two evils is still picking evil.

As this election has approached I have struggled with what to do as none of the options are ideal. One day while wrestling with questions and concerns, trying to figure out the right choice, a voice came to my mind that said, “Your decision of who to vote for in this election will not determine your eternal destiny or reward, however, the rhetoric and attitudes you develop and align with could lead you and others off the path.”

Ultimately between the first debate and General Conference my decision to vote for Vice President Biden has been secured. I do not presume to speak for the church, these are my personal insights based on our doctrine and the words of our leaders. I respect that others have reached different conclusions despite accessing the same information. I love you and I respect our differences and I request the same respect.

I have seen several members of the church question how members could vote for a Democrat. Through posts, memes, and comments they call us stupid, spread misinformation or over simplifications of our concerns about President Trump, accuse us of being overly influenced by the media, and some have even gone so far as to say that members who vote for Democrats should not hold temple recommends. I first want to remind you of an official church statement regarding politics and then I would like to address how General Conference solidified my vote for Joe Biden and my severance with the Republican Party.

From the First Presidency 6 Oct 2020: “Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties, and members should seek candidates who best embody those principles.”

CHARITY

President Dallin H. Oaks- Love Your Enemies: “Among other ways to develop the power to love others is the simple method described in a long-ago musical. When we are trying to understand and relate to people of a different culture, we should try getting to know them. In countless circumstances, strangers’ suspicion or even hostility give way to friendship or even love when personal contacts produce understanding and mutual respect.

An even greater help in learning to love our adversaries and our enemies is to seek to understand the power of love”

For several years now I have been on a journey of getting to know people of different backgrounds, listening to their stories, and striving to see them as Christ sees them. As I have journeyed deeper into the power of Christ’s love for me and ALL our brothers and sisters, that journey has taken me straight out of the Republican party. Truly out of parties in general, but furthest from the Republican Party’s rhetoric.

President Henry B Eyring- Sisters In Zion “It is not by accident that the Relief Society, the first Church organization specifically for Heavenly Father’s daughters, has as its motto ‘Charity Never Faileth.’ Charity is the pure love of Christ.”

I have seen my concerns about President Trump misrepresented and simplified down to him “just not being nice.” That is most definitely a concern, but it’s much deeper than that. His attitudes, the way he interacts with people, his rhetoric, and the rhetoric adopted by the Republican Party at large is devoid of charity. It is instead filled with anger, dehumanization, mockery, and trivialization of individual’s and groups’ deep heartaches and concerns.

Sister Sharon Eubank By Union of Feeling We Obtain Power with GodJacob 2:17 reads, “Think of your [brothers and sisters] like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.” Let’s replace the word substance with mercy—be free with your mercy that they may be rich like unto you.

We often think of substance in terms of food or money, but perhaps what we all need more of in our ministering is mercy.”

I will come back to being free with substance and the poor later, but will focus on thinking of others like unto yourselves and free with your mercy. Too frequently I am seeing Pres. Trump and his supporters defining individuals by their “otherness,” the dems, the libtards, the blacks, the gays, the Muslims, the welfare queens, etc. The rhetoric is dehumanizing rather than seeing them “like unto yourselves” and too rarely is mercy applied. This dehumanizing rhetoric also incites violence.

“President Donald Trump has repeatedly distanced himself from acts of violence in communities across America, dismissing critics who point to his rhetoric as a potential source of inspiration or comfort for anyone acting on even long-held beliefs of bigotry and hate.

But a nationwide review conducted by ABC News has identified at least 54 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.” ABC New 2018

Elder Quentin L. Cook- Hearts Knit in Righteousness and Unity “With our all-inclusive doctrine, we can be an oasis of unity and celebrate diversity. Unity and diversity are not opposites. We can achieve greater unity as we foster an atmosphere of inclusion and respect for diversity”

One of my greatest concerns about President Obama was that I felt that he was very divisive. But to be frank, President Trump has taken that to a whole new level of division. It would take hours to point out every divisive comment so I will limit to the one that was most concerning to me personally. On Oct. 23, 2019 President Trump tweeted “The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats. Watch out for them, they are human scum!”

I am not on a respirator, though I’m not sure why it would matter if I was. My friends and family in the Democratic party do a whole lot more than nothing. And I am not human scum. This type of tweet and rhetoric is by no means an isolated event. It promotes division rather than seeking unity and it is completely lacking in charity.

Elder Dale G. Renlund- Do Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God: “To be Christlike, a person loves mercy. People who love mercy are not judgmental; they manifest compassion for others, especially for those who are less fortunate; they are gracious, kind, and honorable. These individuals treat everyone with love and understanding, regardless of characteristics such as race, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and tribal, clan, or national differences. These are superseded by Christlike love.”

This leads me to my next major concern with Pres. Trump…

RACISM

President Russell M. Nelson- Let God Prevail: “Brothers and sisters, please listen carefully to what I am about to say. God does not love one race more than another. His doctrine on this matter is clear. He invites all to come unto Him, ‘black and white, bond and free, male and female.'”

In case there was any confusion- this is how one denounces racism/ white supremacy. Directly, without deflecting to other issues, and without having to be asked repeatedly.

President Dallin H. Oaks- Love Your Enemies: “One reason the recent protests in the United States were shocking to so many was that the hostilities and illegalities felt among different ethnicities in other nations should not be felt in the United States. This country should be better in eliminating racism not only against Black Americans, who were most visible in the recent protests, but also against Latinos, Asians, and other groups. This nation’s history of racism is not a happy one, and we must do better.”

President Trump refuses to recognize the issues of systemic racism within our country and condemns those who bring up issues of racism in our country going so far as to ban racial sensitivity trainings.

On the other hand, President Nelson extended this challenge to us as Latter-day Saints: “I grieve that our Black brothers and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice. Today I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children.”

While President Trump has come back and said that he denounces racism and white supremacy after his repeated miscommunications (such as after calling the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville very fine people and failing to condemn white supremacy then instructing them to stand-by during the debate) he is perpetuating and emboldening attitudes and actions of racism.

“Federal law enforcement authorities have privately told ABC News they worry that – although Trump has offered public denunciations of violence – his statements have been inconsistent and Trump’s style could inspire violence-prone individuals to take action against minorities or others they perceive to be against the president’s agenda.”

This style caused this horrific situation recently in Provo, Utah. Tamu Smith, an amazing sister who I have had the privilege to hear and follow as one of the Sistas in Zion shared this experience Sept. 8, 2020 (trigger warning- Racial Epithet):

“I had to go get a few items from the beauty supply today. As I was crossing the parking lot I saw a gray or white truck (to be honest I actually don’t know what color the truck was. I do know it was light.) It had a huge American flag and a blue lives matter flag on it. As the truck passed someone yelled “We’re taking our country back Nigger!” I didn’t give them the satisfaction of a response. I didn’t change my pace. I didn’t look toward the truck. I can’t tell you if the person was light white or dark white. I just knew they were racist white.”

Is this how we make America great again?????

This is also not an isolated incident. In June President Trump retweeted a video of some of his supporters yelling “White Power” at protestors. Meanwhile I have seen Latter-day Saint Trump supporters posting memes with racist tones such as joking that the rioters stole everything but the work boots, or suggesting that we take down statues of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Is that how we lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice?

As President Oaks stated this is not limited to racism and prejudice against blacks. In March of 2015 President Trump tweeted “I want nothing to do with Mexico other than to build an impenetrable WALL and stop them from ripping off U.S.” In June 2015 he said, “I love the Mexican people, but Mexico is not our friend. They’re killing us at the border and they’re killing us on jobs and trade. FIGHT!” In May 2019 at a rally in “Panama City Beach, Florida, Trump spoke about the border patrol agents working to stop migrants from crossing the border illegally. When he asked the crowd, “How do you stop these people?” one rally attendee shouted, “Shoot them.” At first laughing, Trump responded, ‘That’s only in the [Florida] panhandle, can you get away with that statement.'” He didn’t denounce it, he laughed. And it didn’t stay in the panhandle. In Aug 2019 a man opened fire targeting Hispanics in a Walmart. This man posted a manifesto justifying his attack due to Hispanic Invasion and their resulting Democratic votes.

He employs racist rhetoric, calls on people to fight, then laughs about shooting, are we then surprised when someone follows through with it.

Constitution

One of the frequent defenses I see given for why people support President Trump is their support of the Constitution. I am by no means a Constitutional expert. My husband is the history buff in the family and studies our founding fathers and our founding documents for fun (yes I married a nerd and yes that’s part of the reason I married him!) He recently wrote up his own response to these issues if you want to read more.

I will however bring up the issues that were addressed in General Conference.

President Dallin H. Oaks- Love Your Enemies: “At one extreme, some seem to have forgotten that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That is the authorized way to raise public awareness and to focus on injustices in the content or administration of the laws. And there have been injustices. In public actions and in our personal attitudes, we have had racism and related grievances. In a persuasive personal essay, the Reverend Theresa A. Dear of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has reminded us that “racism thrives on hatred, oppression, collusion, passivity, indifference and silence.”11 As citizens and as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we must do better to help root out racism.”

The treatment that the protestors have received from President Trump and his supporters seems to forget this right. This spectrum goes from just wishing they would stop protesting, mocking their protest, trivializing their concerns, up to firing tear gas at those who were peacefully assembled, and killing protestors.

President Oaks continues: “At the other extreme, a minority of participants and supporters of these protests and the illegal acts that followed them seem to have forgotten that the protests protected by the Constitution are peaceful protests. Protesters have no right to destroy, deface, or steal property or to undermine the government’s legitimate police powers. The Constitution and laws contain no invitation to revolution or anarchy. All of us—police, protesters, supporters, and spectators—should understand the limits of our rights and the importance of our duties to stay within the boundaries of existing law. Abraham Lincoln was right when he said, “There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.” Redress of grievances by mobs is redress by illegal means. That is anarchy, a condition that has no effective governance and no formal police, which undermines rather than protects individual rights.”

Vice President Biden has repeatedly denounced the violence that is occurring. So while this minority is failing to listen to him, the flames of violence are being fanned by President Trump himself as he calls for more violence via his tweets about shooting looters and taking over with strength.

Vice President Biden said these words that follow suit with President Oaks remarks:

“The deadly violence we saw overnight in Portland is unacceptable. Shooting in the streets of a great American city is unacceptable. I condemn this violence unequivocally. I condemn violence of every kind by any one, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same. It does not matter if you find the political views of your opponents abhorrent, any loss of life is a tragedy. Today there is another family grieving in America, and Jill and I offer our deepest condolences.

We must not become a country at war with ourselves. A country that accepts the killing of fellow Americans who do not agree with you. A country that vows vengeance toward one another. But that is the America that President Trump wants us to be, the America he believes we are.

As a country, we must condemn the incitement of hate and resentment that led to this deadly clash. It is not a peaceful protest when you go out spoiling for a fight.”

President Oaks went on to say, “It also means that we peacefully accept the results of elections.”

This is perhaps the issue I find most frightening right now. President Trump has repeatedly refused to promise a peaceful transition of power. I am aware that there have been leftist groups that have threatened violence, I denounce them, and as pointed out above, Vice President Biden denounces this behavior. The main difference between the two sides is that one has fringe groups threatening and the other has THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. In the debate he was asked “Will you urge your supporters to stay calm during this extended period, not to engage in any civil unrest? And will you pledge tonight that you will not declare victory until the election has been independently certified?”

This was his response:

“I’m urging my supporters to go in to the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it. As you know, today there was a big problem. In Philadelphia, they went in to watch. They’re called poll watchers, a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren’t allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia. Bad things. And I am urging my people.”

He wouldn’t say it. He wouldn’t urge his supporters to stay calm, he urged them to do the opposite.

Additionally he tweeted on Sept. 3rd asking people to volunteer to be poll watchers with an image that reads “Fight for Trump” and the website to sign up is called “armyfortrump.com”

And here are two specific instances that show the effects of President Trump’s rhetoric:

  1. A self proclaimed Militia group in Michigan made a plot to kidnap the Governor and then place her on “trial” for treason.
  2. A close friend of mine, a single mom, recently went to drop her ballot off. She had nothing on her car or her person designating her political affiliation (truth be told, we’ve been friends for 25 years and I couldn’t tell you her political affiliation.) As she crossed the street towards the ballot box, a man in a large truck honked then yelled at her, “If you’re voting for Biden you better just go get back in your car. Don’t waste your time!” Then he revved his truck and let it lurch forward a few inches as if intending to hit her, while he laughed loudly.

You may argue that they don’t speak for President Trump, but it would appear that President Trump speaks for them.

I would like to point out that Vice President Biden, when asked the same question about telling his supporters to remain calm immediately responded, “Yes.” Then continued with “And if it’s me, in fact, fine. If it’s not me, I’ll support the outcome. And I’ll be a president, not just for the Democrats. I’ll be a president for Democrats and Republicans.”

As President Trump’s rhetoric is consistently divisive, Vice President Biden seeks to unite the country and work across the aisle. Which brings me to my next point…

Loyalty and Priorities

Elder D. Todd Christofferson- Sustainable Societies, referring to the fate of the Nephites, “By the end of another century, millions had died in internecine warfare, and their once harmonious nation had been reduced to warring tribes.”

Both sides are very guilty of tribalism. I fear that if we can’t get work through the tribalism it won’t matter who is elected, we will just tear ourselves apart, which is why I find it extra disturbing when I see Latter-day Saints prioritizing party and politics over the Prophet.

Prophetic CounselRhetoric from President Trump and his supporters
We value our Muslim neighbors across the world and hope that those who live by the tenets of their faith will not suffer. I ask particularly that our own people do not become a party in any way to the persecution of the innocent. Rather, let us be friendly and helpful, protective and supportive.Frequent Islamophobic messages and memes including calling for mosques in America to be shut down.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long expressed its position that immigration reform should strengthen families and keep them together,” the Church said. “The forced separation of children from their parents now occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border is harmful to families, especially to young children. We are deeply troubled by the aggressive and insensitive treatment of these families.”Continuing to separate families. Memes shared trivializing the concerns of those presenting themselves at the border or that they deserve to be separated. Or just turning a blind eye.
It is therefore with great concern and compassion that we observe the plight of more than 70 million people around the world who have fled their homes seeking relief from violence, war, or religious persecution.
We encourage Church members and friends to respond appropriately and legally, to help create welcoming communities by volunteering their time, talents and friendship to individuals and families who are integrating into our societies.
President Trump’s (pre-Covid) significantly limited the number of refugees allowed in. His supporters regularly post anti-refugee material.
Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. With the exception of current law enforcement officers, the carrying of lethal weapons on church property, concealed or otherwise, is prohibited.When this wording in the handbook was updated many people were up in arms about it (pun intended). I saw individuals call the church stupid for this and said that they would continue to carry despite the prohibition.
We ask all Latter-day Saints in the Utah Area to be good citizens by wearing face coverings when in public.Individuals have suggested that this is living in fear instead of faith and evidence. There have been protests about wearing masks. Members have stated that the church should stay out of politics and that this statement damaged their testimony.

Elder D. Todd Chrisofferson- Sustainable Societies: “I think it safe to say that when people turn from a sense of accountability to God and begin to trust instead in the “arm of flesh,” disaster lurks. Trusting in the arm of flesh is to ignore the divine Author of human rights and human dignity and to give highest priority to riches, power, and the praise of the world (while often mocking and persecuting those who follow a different standard).”

President Trump is well documented in expecting loyalty to HIMSELF. Mitt Romney has been a great example of putting his morals and loyalty to God above his loyalty to the party and to President Trump. Others who have attempted this have been fired and even now there are groups attempting to recall Brother Romney. Some claim he flip flops, but rather he just is not “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.” He has a higher loyalty and he’s sticking to it.

President Trump has shown time and again to give priority to riches, power, and the praise of the world. The recent finding regarding his income tax evasion is an example of this. His defense is that he has paid millions of dollars in taxes, but Vice President Pence admitted in the Vice Presidential debate that those were payroll and other taxes. Those are different than personal income tax. He lied and manipulated the system to pay as little as taxes as possible. As I have been reminded several times by leaders and teachers at church, “Anything with the intent to deceive is a lie.” His other defense was “I don’t want to pay tax. Before I came here, I was a private developer, I was a private business people. Like every other private person, unless they’re stupid.” Thus mocking those who follow a different standard.

President Trump’s pattern of mockery leads me to my next concern:

Morality

President Dallin H. Oaks- Love Your Enemies: “In a democratic government we will always have differences over proposed candidates and policies. However, as followers of Christ we must forgo the anger and hatred with which political choices are debated or denounced in many settings.”

President Trump’s conduct in the debate was completely unacceptable. While Biden did interrupt a few dozen times (primarily to correct false information or to get a word in) President Trump interrupted 128 times despite frequent reminders of the rules he agreed to follow.

One of the interruptions that sent chills down my spine was President Trump saying, “Did you use the word smart? … Don’t ever use the word smart with me. Don’t ever use that word….Because you know what? There’s nothing smart about you, Joe.”

This is the behavior of a bully. It’s immoral, there is nothing Christlike about it, and it is part of a pattern of mockery and name calling that President Trump has engaged in from the beginning.

Recently an article came out with sources claiming that President Trump mocks religious supporters behind closed doors. Most of the sources were anonymous which brings credibility to question. However Michael Cohen reported that President Trump, “frequently made fun of Romney’s faith in private—and was especially vicious when he learned about the religious undergarments worn by many Latter-day Saints.”

I saw many question Cohen’s credibility in response to this article as Cohen has fallen out of favor with the President, however my question is then- if there was hard evidence that President Trump was mocking our sacred garments of the Holy Priesthood would that bother you? Even if it wasn’t enough to completely remove your support, would you hold him accountable for it and expect him to stop? If the answer yes it would bother you but you don’t believe it actually happened- what about all of the times that he has mocked individuals and groups that ARE verifiable? Does it only matter if he’s mocking you?

Elder D. Todd Christofferson- Sustainable Societies: “A society, for example, in which individual consent is the only constraint on sexual activity is a society in decay. Adultery, promiscuity, out-of-wedlock births, and elective abortions are but some of the bitter fruits that grow out of the ongoing sexual revolution.”

Abortion is a large issue, I know that this is a major issue that holds people back from feeling like they can vote for a Democratic candidate. This issue requires its own post but suffice it to say that it is complex and deep. But here’s the thing, I can advocate for the rights of the unborn and for legislation and programs that are proven to reduce abortions. What I don’t know how to fight is the culture of promiscuity perpetuated by electing a leader who is unabashedly promiscuous.

President Trump has had numerous affairs. He paid off a porn star. He makes inappropriate comments about his own daughter, “‘Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father . . .’” He made reference to the size of his genitals during a primary debate. He’s bragged about grabbing women’s genitals. He boasted about his behavior while owning the Miss USA pageant:

“Well, I’ll tell you the funniest is that I’ll go backstage before a show, and everyone’s getting dressed, and ready and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.

“You know, the dresses. ‘Is everyone okay?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody okay?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.””

Contrast President Trump’s words and actions with these words from President Henry B. Eyring- Sisters in Zion “You sisters, your daughters, your granddaughters, and the women you have nurtured will be at the heart of creating that society of people who will join in glorious association with the Savior. You will be an essential force in the gathering of Israel and in the creation of a Zion people who will dwell in peace in the New Jerusalem.”

President Trump’s words and actions are promoting a culture of misogyny. In addition to the number of times he has spoken cruelly and derisively towards women, I have witnessed more men being more open in their sexism. I am not naïve that this has always existed, but since President Trump has been in office, they are more forward and direct about it. Here is an example of a comment directed towards a female journalist:

“You are a stupid (expletive) closing dining rooms hurts people that have to eat out do you know how many people died from natural causes or accidents last year 2,736,000 so people die so shut the hell up we need to go back to the old days when women kept their mouths shut and stayed in the kitchen women with big mouths are ruining this country.”

Is that what is meant by making America great again? Going back to the ‘good old day’ when women’s voices didn’t count? That’s not an America I am interested in.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson- Sustainable Societies: “The Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”

The societies in these two examples [City of Enoch and 4th Nephi] were sustained by the blessings of heaven growing out of their exemplary devotion to the two great commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”6 They were obedient to God in their personal lives, and they looked after one another’s physical and spiritual welfare. In the words of the Doctrine and Covenants, these were societies with “every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.”

Bishop W. Chrisopher Waddell- There Was Bread: “It would be inconsistent with a compassionate Savior to ignore the reality that many are struggling and ask them to begin building a reserve of food and money for the future. However, that does not mean that we should permanently ignore principles of preparation—only that these principles should be applied “in wisdom and order” so that in the future we might say, as did Joseph in Egypt, “There was bread.”

President Trump instructed his representatives to stop negotiating a second stimulus bill until after the election despite the current struggles that individuals and families are facing. He and his supporters frequently speak very derisively of the poor. I frequently see memes calling the poor lazy or otherwise undeserving of our help.

I understand and support the church’s focus on self reliance. I have concerns with aspects of how government welfare is run. I respect concerns about Socialism and individuals losing the incentive to work. But I have never seen a statement from modern leaders or in scripture that says only help those that you think really deserve the help. Instead there are repeated commands to help the poor. And if a few receive it that don’t deserve it, or if a few become lazy- is that somehow worse or more sinful than violence, mockery, racism, sexual assault and harassment, and misogyny that is running rampant in President Trump’s actions and rhetoric.

Ultimately I keep coming back to the official statement from the church:

“Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties, and members should seek candidates who best embody those principles.”

I know a lot of people are voting for President Trump despite their concerns with his behavior because they feel that the Republican platforms align more closely with the church than some of the Democratic platforms. I’ve heard people say that they aren’t voting for the PERSON but for the PLATFORM. But that’s not what the letter says. It doesn’t say to seek the party or the platform that aligns with church standards. It says the CANDIDATE who best embodies the principles of the Gospel. While neither of them are perfect, in all the ways I have analyzed here and in so many others, Vice President Biden embodies the principles of the gospel in his charitable treatment of others, his desire to lead out in abandoning past attitudes of racism, his moral conduct, and his desire to unite our country in peace.

Image by Please Don’t sell My Artwork AS IS from Pixabay

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- Oct. 2020

October 12-18 “Ye Are Children of the Covenant”

Scriptures: Young Readers Faithful People Followed Jesus; Book of Mormon Stories Chap 46

Song: Family History pg. 94

Materials: Family Tree flashcards, time capsule items

Combining two corresponding topics from this week- Turn the hearts of the children to the fathers and fathers to the children, and Christ asking to see the records.

Last year I made two sets of family history flash cards using pictures going back to my kid’s great great grandparents. These come in handy for a lot of lessons so if you haven’t made some I definitely encourage you to do it. I made them using publisher, but word or paint would probably work as well. We like to play a matching game with them.

Create a time capsule with information about your family. Have the kids create pictures of the family and what they like to do. Older kids could write a little about the family and their interests, their testimony, what it’s like living during the pandemic and presidential election, etc.

If you want to get fancy here’s a cool idea. When I was in young women’s for an activity one of the leaders brought in #10 cans for us to fill with a questionnaire and anything else we wanted to bring. They then took the cans and sealed them up for us to open 10 years later. I found mine again right before we moved, it ended up being just shy of 20 years. It was less cringy than I thought it would be to open it and go through everything. But I have no idea where you actually go to get #10 cans sealed, so I’ll probably just use an empty container.

Oct. 19-25 “There Could Not be a Happier People”

Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 47-48; My First Scripture Stories The Three Nephites

Song: I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pg. 77

Materials:

Game Day! Play hide and seek to talk about 3 Nephi 27:30-31 “none of them were lost.” Play the Straight and Narrow path game to discuss the principles taught in 4th Nephi that righteousness leads to happiness and unity and wickedness leads to sadness and contention. Use the name of the church puzzle to help the kids learn the full name of the church.

Oct 26- Nov 1 “I Would That I could Persuade All to Repent”

Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 49; Young Readers Mormon Writes on the Golden Plates; My First Scripture Stories Mormon; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon Mormon; My Book of Mormon Friends Mormon

Song: Seek the Lord Early pg 108

Materials:

Make a timeline for the events and opportunities that Mormon had at a young age. Make similar timelines for yourself. Have the kids make a timeline up to now and then have them put future goals as well such as baptism, priesthood, mission, college/ career training, future family, etc. Crepe paper could make an excellent timeline, then use the pictures in the printable to match with ages or hopeful age ranges.

I tried to make the printable pretty generic but there’s a few things that are specific to our family as far as college (Go Cougars!) and careers. I’m a former teacher, my husband is a computer programmer, my son wants to be a farmer, and my 4 year old daughter wants to be a doctor. You can search for pictures specific to your family!

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening For Little Ones Sept 2020

Quick update- despite having taught for an online school for two years, doing virtual school with my first grader is kinda kicking my butt.  I might be (definitely am) going pretty crazy.  Please send Dr. Pepper and ice cream, that’s about the only thing standing between me and day drinking right now.  So definitely need to keep up with Home Church to keep me away from happy hour…..joking……mostly…..

Aug 31- Sept 6 Glad Tiding of Great Joy

Children’s Scriptures- Book of Mormon for Young Readers Samuel Teaches about Jesus; Book of Mormon Stories Chap 40; My First Scripture Stories Samuel the Lamanite; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon Samuel the Lamanite

Materials- Samuel the Lamanite Script

Song- Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus pg 36

Acting out Samuel the Lamanite on the wall getting things thrown at him but missing has always been a favorite activity.  And don’t get me wrong, you should definitely get some soft balls, nurf products, etc. to use for this activity.  But…I also created a picture script for the kids to give a summary of what Samuel said on the wall before they started trying to kill him.

It’s interesting what sticks out to you when you’re trying to take something down to a kid level.  I had never really thought about the verses in Helaman 15 that talk about hiding up treasure and what they actually meant much less how they applied to today.  I didn’t have time (see above about virtual schooling) to dive into institute manuals etc. to see if anyone has explained this so if you have the time and want to do that, please point me in the direction of what you find.  But, based on what I could glean from it and how it might apply to today I likened it to paying tithing and living on a budget.  If you think I’m crazy- you’re probably right- you could totally just skip them or come up with your own interpretation.

 

Sept 7-13 Lift up Your Head and Be of Good Cheer

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 41My First Scripture Stories Jesus is Born

Materials: Christmas Decorations, treats, etc.

Song: Your favorite Christmas Carols

Think Christmas but Palm Trees.  Go as crazy or as simple as you want with decorations just mix some of your Christmas traditions with Tropical Ancient America.  Tell or read the story about the night without darkness.  There’s actually a beautiful children’s book that I love called A Night Without Darkness: A Nephite Christmas Story.  Make sure to create a new star!

 

Sept 14-20 Arise and Come Forth Unto Me

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 42-43Book of Mormon for Young Readers Jesus Visits the AmericasMy First Scripture Stories Jesus is Crucified, Jesus Visits the Promised Land; Girls Who Choose God Girls and Boys Blessed by Jesus

Materials: Easter stuff you might want to incorporate

Song: I Know that My Savior Loves Me

I gave links to some beautiful videos that depict the Savior coming to America back in April for Easter.  I would suggest watching those again.  Maybe include a few Easter traditions as well!

Before you get started turn off the lights and talk about the big storm that happened and ask the kids how it feels to be in the dark during a storm.  Then watch one or both f the video and ask them what it would be like to sit on Jesus lap and what they might say to him.

Sept 21-27 I Am the Law and the Light

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon for Young Readers  Jesus Visits the Nephites

Materials: Treasures on Earth and Heaven Printable, treasures in Heaven objects

Song: If With All Your Hearts pg 15

Have the kids help decorate boxes to be treasure chests.  Put the picture of the Earth from the printable on one and the picture of the Sun to represent the Celestial Kingdom on the other.  Cut up the pictures and gather other objects to hide around the room.  Have the kids pick them up and then sort them together between the two boxes.

Have the kids do another activity (like watching a church related video or color etc.) for a few minutes while one parent goes and hides the treasure boxes.   While hiding them take out all of the papers from the treasures on Earth box and dispose of them- make sure the kids don’t see you!  Create a treasure map and have them go find their two treasure chests, open them up and see that the treasures in Heaven are still there but the treasures on Earth disappeared.  Emphasize that while the Earthly things aren’t necessarily bad, we just have to remember we can’t take them with us and focus more of our time and energy on the things that we can.

Ideas for items for the Treasures in Heaven box:

I made pictures for some that might be hard to get a tangible item, but if you have one to substitute I think tangible items would be a better example if possible.

  • Love
  • Family
  • Knowledge
  • Talents
  • Strong and healthy bodies
  • Service
  • Scriptures
  • Prophet
  • Ordinances (you could do a piece of bread/sacrament cup)
  • Missionary work

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay 

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- Aug. 2020

Sorry I missed July, we were in the middle of moving into our new house!  I’m going to try really hard to keep up the next couple of months, but if you see my last post, we made the very difficult decision to do online school for first quarter so….. I’ll probably have tons of time and not be crazy at all….Please send prayers, chocolate, and some Dr. Pepper.

July 27- Aug 2 The Great Plan of Happiness

Materials: Bury Swords, Showing and Strengthening Faith, Baptismal Covenants, 10 Commandments, People of Zeniff Preparations, Natural Man-Saint Printable, Straight and Narrow Path Printables, Manner of Happiness Printable, Fruits of the Spirit, Righteous ammo

One of the suggestions for this week is to go over the law of chastity.  This discussion needs to happen repeatedly, I’ve already posted a lesson plan for it in the past so you can go over that again and use the videos they suggest in the manual.

Here’s another fun activity for this week:

Print out some or all of the old printables I linked above, cut out the pictures and spread them around the room.  Set a timer and have the kids pick up as many as they can in the time given (you could repeat the activity with a few different times set on the timer).  Then talk about Alma 42:4.  We have been given a certain amount of time in this life and we’re supposed to use it to improve ourselves and serve Heavenly Father.  Talk about the pictures and how each of them helps us be better and serve.

 

Aug 3-9 Stand Fast in the Faith of Christ

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 31- 33; Book of Mormon for Young Readers Captain Moroni’s Flag; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon- Captain Moroni; My First Scripture Stories- Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty; My Book of Mormon Friends- Captain Moroni; Girls Who Choose God- The Maidservant Spy

Materials: fabric, paint/ markers

Make your own Title of Liberty using pieces of fabric (if you sew you probably have a closet full of random fabric like my mom, but you could also cut up an old worn out sheet, pillow cases, old towels, etc) or large pieces of paper.  Pull out fabric paint or permanent markers.  This is great for varied ages because everyone can draw or write on their own level.  For little ones the pictures can be super simple like a heart for love, stick figures for a family, the Sun to remind us of Jesus, a rectangle with squiggles for the scriptures, etc.

 

Aug 10-16 Preserved by His Marvelous Power

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 34-36; Book of Mormon for Young Readers The Stripling Warriors; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon- Helaman; My First Scripture Stories- The Army of Helaman; My Book of Mormon Friends- A Lamanite Mother; Girls Who Choose God- Mothers of the Stripling Warriors

Materials: Pin the Shield to the Stripling Warrior

Use the shields from the printable to talk about different attributes of the Stripling Warriors.  Then post the picture of the Stripling Warriors on the wall and play pin the shield (like pin the tail on the donkey).

 

Aug 17-23 Rock of Our Redeemer

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 37; My First Scripture Stories- Nephi and Lehi

Materials: Rock, sand, house materials (legos, cardboard, etc.)

Build two little houses.  Put one on some sand (or sugar) and one on a rock (or brick) in a large plastic container.  Then read Helaman 5:12 and create some of the storm conditions it talks about and see which house is able to stand.  (You might need to use tape or something to ensure that the house on the rock doesn’t move.)

 

Aug 24-30 Remember the Lord

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 38-39

Materials:Prophet Counsel Printable

Show the kids a picture of President Nelson, explain that he is the Prophet.  Prophets warn us and tell us what Heavenly Father wants us to know.  Use the printable to go over his counsel from last General Conference. Maybe tape the pictures around a picture of Pres. Nelson.

Note: I did leave out fasting which was a major point he made, but because fasting is generally not recommended for young children I did not include it (my kids would LOVE an excuse to not eat meals).

Mask and social distancing– General Conference April 2020 Opening Message “…as part of our efforts to be good global citizens and do all we can to limit the spread of COVID-19.”

Church Newsroom Follow public health agency recommendations for using a face mask. Maintain at least six feet (two meters) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

First Vision- Opening Message This year, we commemorate the 200th anniversary of one of the most significant events in the history of the world—namely, the appearance of God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to Joseph Smith.

Hear Him– Now as we contemplate this significant time in the history of the world and the Lord’s charge to gather scattered Israel in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles, issue the following proclamation.

(The video of him reading the Proclamation is embedded in the talk, I would suggest watching that with the kids).

Silos- Opening Message The Lord has told us that “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”1 Of course, we can store our own reserves of food, water, and savings. But equally crucial is our need to fill our personal spiritual storehouses with faith, truth, and testimony.

Church Name- Opening the Heavens for Help As we commemorate the event that was launched in 1820, it is important to remember that while we revere Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, this is not the church of Joseph Smith, nor is it the church of Mormon. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. He decreed exactly what His Church should be called: “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”2

I have spoken previously about a needed course correction in the way we refer to the name of the Church.

Picture of Christ- Hear Him However, messages from our Heavenly Father are strikingly different. He communicates simply, quietly, and with such stunning plainness that we cannot misunderstand Him.  As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional. It takes conscious and consistent effort to fill our daily lives with His words, His teachings, His truths.

Temple- Hear Him We can also hear Him in the temple. When these temporary COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, please schedule regular time to worship and serve in the temple. Every minute of that time will bless you and your family in ways nothing else can.

Family History- Hear Him While worshipping in the temple is presently not possible, I invite you to increase your participation in family history, including family history research and indexing. I promise that as you increase your time in temple and family history work, you will increase and improve your ability to hear Him.

Dove- Hear Him We also hear Him more clearly as we refine our ability to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now.

First Presidency- Hear Him And, finally, we hear Him as we heed the words of prophets, seers, and revelators. Ordained Apostles of Jesus Christ always testify of Him. They point the way as we make our way through the heart-wrenching maze of our mortal experiences.

Home- Go Forward in Faith make your homes true sanctuaries of faith, where the Spirit of the Lord may dwell.

Gavel- Go Forward in Faith In every country, this Church teaches its members to honor, obey, and sustain the law.5 We teach the importance of the family, of being good parents and exemplary citizens.

Blessing- Go Forward in Faith (Read the whole blessing) Dear brothers and sisters, I express my love for you. During this time of tension and uncertainty, and invoking the authority vested in me, I would like to confer upon you an apostolic blessing.

I bless you with peace and increasing faith in the Lord.7

I bless you with a desire to repent and become a little more like Him each day.8

I bless you to know that the Prophet Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness.

Should there be illness among you or your loved ones, I leave a blessing of healing, consistent with the will of the Lord.

Heart- Go Forward in Faith I so bless you, adding once more my expression of love for each of you, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Photo credit

For the Record, I Don’t Want to Do This

My son was supposed to start First grade today.  July 22nd.  It felt a little early to me so I really didn’t mind when they pushed it back to Aug. 5.

And then in person got pushed back to Aug. 17 so the district decided to have everyone start online on Aug. 5 with two options- start online and start in person as soon as they can open or go fully online with the option to change back to in person on a quarter by quarter basis.

Initially my plan was to for sure send him to school in person ASAP- we’re all going crazy here.  I’ll put on a mask on him, but please, take my kid for several hours a day.  We’re new here, and I’m eager for him to start making friends.  I have never ever had a desire to homeschool.  I even taught for an online school, and never had a desire to have my kids do school that way.  I’ve sacrificed and grieved a lot of plans during this pandemic, and I’m certainly ready to get back to normal!!

But as the day to make the selection came closer and we looked at the numbers for Arizona, I became less sure.  I joked a few times that I was going back and forth on my decision multiple times an hour- that really wasn’t much of an exaggeration.

I had a huge mental pros and cons list going on that I was constantly discussing with God:

He needs the socialization and I need my sanity.

But is social distancing actually feasible?  Will he keep a mask on?  What will the discipline be like for messing with your mask?

But it’s gonna fine.  Kids are very unlikely to have complications.

But complications aren’t out of the question for kids. How will his surgery earlier this year to remove his adenoids and tonsils play in the odds of complications- maybe it makes it better, maybe it makes it worse?  What about the baby?  What about me with my asthma?  I am considered medically obese at this point- another risk factor.

But my kid and I butt heads bad when I try to teach him things.

But…but….but

So many unanswered questions for our family and for the teachers.  I’m a former teacher and I wouldn’t want to be doing what teachers are being asked to do- would it be hypocritical of me to ask them to do it?

I’m a stay at home mom so I don’t need my kids out of the house so that I can work so should I take one for the team?  But just because I don’t work outside the home doesn’t mean that I don’t have projects for the home and for myself that I want to work on.

And where does this end?

And then we watched the numbers get worse, and looked into the hospital capacity so close to full, and the crisis triage plan that would be enacted if we go beyond capacity, and them ordering refrigerated trucks because the morgues are reaching capacity.  And my heart sank.

I became less certain that we would be able to open up on Aug. 17th without pushing into that beyond capacity triage zone.  Will they just continuously string us along 2 weeks at a time until hospital capacity is stable enough to handle what will certainly be an influx of new patients related to the schools reopening.

If they do open on the 17th and we have a spike will they just close down again?  Hopefully they are better equipped for that than they were in March, but here’s the thing for our family:

Last year my son started Kindergarten at a charter school that just wasn’t a good fit for him, our family situation, or my educational philosophy.  So I did something I never I thought I would do, and I switched him to a different school at the beginning of October.  I was newly pregnant and in the morning sickness zone.  It was around this time that we also started to realize he was dealing with more than just allergies with a constant cough, sleeping problems, and frequent ear infections.  Also my husband got a new job which increased his commute substantially so he wasn’t home as much.

January hit and we all just took turns getting sick with this and that over and over and over again.  In the first 6 weeks of the year we had been to the doctor 5 times.  We scheduled his adenoid and tonsil surgery for the day before spring break started to minimize time out of school but with how often he was getting sick we had already gotten the nasty gram from the district about missing too many days and I wondered if we should have scheduled it earlier since he was missing days anyway.

I went in to the school a few days before his surgery to give them documentation and discuss the plan for coming back to school in case he would need to miss beyond spring break and the accommodations he would need when he returned.  Arizona had just discovered community spread, we had gotten a few emails about figuring out childcare just in case in the very unlikely event that they maybe had to consider closing the schools.  While talking to the principal about the options after spring break I made a little quip about “if” they even opened up after spring break.  She said she was sure they were reopening- no worries on that.

That was Wednesday, Friday morning he had his surgery, and by Friday afternoon they announced that schools would be closed for two weeks.  I was kind of grateful at first because now we didn’t need to worry about what to do if he needed more time to heal.  But we all know what that two weeks turned into.

So here’s the thing.  I planned my pregnancy around the school year because I knew I would need the break allotted by having my older kids out of the house at least a few hours a day.  So for them to suddenly not have school was rough.  I was still hopeful for our plans when they pushed back to the beginning of April but quickly started losing hope.

If they pushed back any more, would it really be worth going back?  Would I want him to go back when I was about to have a baby?  Etc. Etc. Etc.

On top of that we were planning to move right after the school year ended.  As we watched things unfold and realized school was unlikely to start we made the difficult decision to move in with family almost 2 months earlier than originally planned.  But not wanting to over stay our welcome anywhere, we decided to split that time between our families.

So after changing schools mid year, then having surgery, then not going back to school, having a pregnant and barely functional mother, we moved, moved again, had a baby, and moved again.

This poor kid has had ZERO consistency in his life for about a year now.  And it breaks my heart.  So then to risk putting him into school and pulling him back out sounded cruel and potentially even more traumatizing than what I’m sure he’s already feeling.

The night before we had to submit our decision my husband and I sat down to talk about it.  I thought we’d have this long debate or something, but we just quietly looked at each other and realized we both knew that we needed to do online for the first quarter.  We needed to pull ourselves out of this devil’s arithmetic.

I sighed and said, “Ok, I know it’s what we need to do but can I just complain for a minute.”

I don’t want to do this.

I feel like I’m taking one for the team of society and it doesn’t feel fair.

I’m scared for my mental health which is miraculously holding on by string- but that string is getting pulled tight.

I’m sad that with no school and no primary that there’s not opportunities to make friends in our new neighborhood.

I’m hurt that this wasn’t handled correctly or swiftly by leadership and by the community so that we’re here in this position.

I’m mad that years of neglect of the education system has created an impossible scenario.

I’m confused why they didn’t start figuring this out in March.

It feels like, “I volunteer as tribute!”

And for the record, I don’t want to do this.

 

Now I by no means want to suggest that this is what everyone should do.  Your family situations are your own and chances are your kindergartner didn’t changes schools, have surgery, move three times, ANNNND get a new sibling.  But you had your own craziness to deal with.  And you might look at the same data and interpret it differently.  And your mental health might not be holding on by a thread- your thread might have already broken been tied back together, broken again, been taped sloppily back together just to fall apart again.

I can’t tell you what’s best for you, and what’s best might be different even from kid to kid in the same family.  I can only tell you the questions we considered and how we came to this very complicated decisions.

When discussing this topic recently a friend said that we should assume competence, I agreed and suggested that we also need to assume complexity.

No one’s decision is as simple as we might want to make it.

When someone decides to send their kid to school don’t simplify their struggle down to them not caring about teachers or not caring about the spread of Covid.

Likewise I don’t appreciate the assumption or insinuation that my choice to keep my kid at home is living my life in fear.  It’s not that simple.

I would definitely appreciate if we could band together and do our part to contain this.

Good luck everyone!  Long distance hugs and prayers and large tubs of ice cream all around as we all figure out what we’re gonna do.  And may the odds be ever in your favor.

 

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- June 2020

Happy June! Sorry this is late but…. I had a baby last month!  She sleeps really well at night- but not so much during the day.  Which obviously if she’s going to have a hard time sleeping I would rather it be during the day, but it makes it hard to get much done.IMG_20200510_170702

 

June 1-7 Have Ye Experienced this Mighty Change in Your Hearts?

Children’s Scriptures: sorry I got nothing

Song: Family History pg 94

Materials: Pictures of Ancestors

Get together pictures of Ancestors.  I made flash cards with names and pictures going back to our great grand-parents (great great for the kids).  Have the kids pick out pictures and talk about that ancestor and share stories of faith, courage, etc.  If you feel up to making them into flash cards, I made two copies so we can play an ancestor matching game.

 

June 8-14 Jesus Christ will Come to Redeem His People

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 22; My First Scripture Stories– Zeezrom

Song: I will Follow God’s Plan for Me pg. 164

Materials:Plan of Salvation Printable

Review the Plan of Salvation.  I paste my kids’ faces on the blank “gingerbread” man to be their physical bodies

 

June 15-21 Enter Into the Rest of the Lord

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 22; My Book of Mormon Friends- Alma and Amulek; My First Scripture Stories– Alma and Amulek in Prison

Song: Faith pg 96

Materials: Showing and Strengthening Faith

Tell the story of Alma and Amulek in prison.  Emphasize that they were strengthened to break out because of their faith.  Make a prison out of couch cushions or boxes, etc.  Use the printable above to discuss ways we show and strengthen our faith.  Have the kids pick out some of the pictures then when they are “strong enough” let them break out of their prison.

 

June 22-28 I will Make an Instrument of Thee

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 23-25; Book of Mormon for Young Readers Ammon’s Good Example, Abish Shared the Gospel; Girls Who Choose God– A Lamanite Queen of Great Faith, Abish the Daring Missionary; My Book of Mormon Friends– Ammon, Abish; My First Scripture Stories– Ammon and King Lamoni, King Lamoni’s Father, Lamoni’s Father’s Conversion; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon– Ammon, Abish

Song: I Want to Be a Missionary Now pg 168

Materials: Ammon Sequencing Abish Sequencing

Read/watch/tell the stories of Ammon and Abish.  Then cut out the sequencing pages and have the kids put the stories together and tell them in their own words.

 

This is not so much for the kids, but the woman who plays Abish in the new Book of Mormon videos made a video about the thoughts and insights she gained as she prepared for the role.  I have always loved Abish, but after watching this, I love her even more!

 

June 29-July 5 They Never Did Fall Away

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 26, Girls Who Choose God– Mothers of the Stripling Warriors; My Book of Mormon Friends– A Lamanite Mother; My First Scripture Stories– The People of Ammon

Song: I’m Trying to be Like Jesus pg. 78

Materials: Bury Swords

Read/watch/tell the story of the People of Ammon burying their swords.  Using the bury swords printable discuss ways that we might hurt other people.  Talk about ways to stop doing those things, model and talk through good behaviors.  Then go outside, dig a hole, and bury the swords.  I left one page with blank swords so you can add more that you think about, or adults and older kids can think of their own things to bury.

I included a sword specifically for racism besides exclusion and mocking (which certainly go hand and hand with racism.)  This is a difficult topic to discuss with young kids, and typically I try to just focus on positives, but I feel like that just isn’t enough.  We need to be having deeper talks.  I found three books read on Youtube that work well for younger kids:

Something Happened in Our Town

The Day You Begin

We’re Different, We’re the Same (best for toddlers)

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- May 2020

I am SOOOOOO pregnant right now.  For the record, I do not recommend homeschooling while pregnant during a pandemic and then selling your house on top of that.  But here we are!!!!  Baby is coming super soon, really tired, and to be frank, very grumpy.  So, this month’s ideas are going to be much simpler than others, but I figured I needed a plan or else it won’t happen so I’m getting something together and sharing it.

All the good birthing thoughts, prayers, and vibes would be much appreciated!

 

May 4-10 A Light that Can Never Be Darkened

 

Use the 10 Commandments printable to go over and teach these concepts.  You could cut out big heart shaped tablets to glue them on so we can keep the commandments in our hearts.

I used a picture of fighting for “thou shalt not kill” because on a kid level they need to understand more that we don’t use our bodies to hurt other people.

To explain “thou shalt not commit adultery” go back and review the concepts from the law of chastity lesson– we don’t keep secrets; if someone touches you in a private place tell them to stop, get away, and tell an adult right away; grown ups who are married may share their private places only with each other.

 

May 11-17 We Have Entered into a Covenant with Him

 

Sing a few of the baptism songs from the Children’s Songbook.  Use the Baptismal Covenants printable to discuss the covenants we make when we are baptized and how they can start preparing now.

 

May 18-24 They Were Called the People of God

 

Probably just going to watch the video on Living Scriptures.  Could be fun to pull out some makeshift costumes and act it out after watching the video or reading the story.

 

May 25-31 They Were Steadfast and Immovable

Use the activity page at the end of the Come Follow Me for Primary lesson for this week- but cut out and discard the distractors.  For young kids, well, they’ll just be distracting, especially for toddlers and preschoolers it’s better to just focus on the right things to do.  Have them pick a few that they want to include and color and paste them on a paper.  Have them practice talking about them in their own words and make plans for them to share at a family testimony meeting for the upcoming Fast Sunday.

 

This activity is a good example of something that works really well for multiple age groups.  For your emerging talkers, they could just identify the pictures.  For your toddlers they can give one liners.  Preschool and early elementary could explain a little in their own words.  Upper elementary could differentiate what does and does not belong in a testimony and then write theirs out a little more.  Teenagers could write out their own.

 

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- April 2020

Soooo…..how’s quarantine going???  Anyone else going crazy yet?  Anyone else have cute Easter outfits hanging in closets that will only be seen on Social Media?

I’m gonna come right out and say it- I’m not digging this whole quarantine thing.  I’m respecting it, I understand the need, but I am a pretty social person.  Also I’m pregnant and I specifically planned this pregnancy around the school year so I could have a break from my older kids.  So…..Covid-19, you are kinda the worst.

I’m going to try and give a few ideas for activities each week now that we have a lot more time to fill.

 

March 30- April 12 Easter: He Shall Rise with Healing in His Wings

Children’s Scriptures: New Testament Stories Chap 44 (begins the last week of Christ’s mortal life)- 54; Book of Mormon Stories Chap 42-47; New Testament Stories for Young Readers Jesus Taught about the Sacrament, Jesus Gave Us the Sacrament, The Easter Story; Book of Mormon Stories for Young Readers: Jesus Visits the Nephites; My First Scripture Stories: The Last Supper, The Atonement, The Crucifixion, The Resurrection, Jesus is Crucifies, Jesus Visits the Promised Land, The Three Nephites; My Book of Mormon Friends: A Young Girl in Bountiful; Girls Who Choose God: Girls and Boys Blessed by Jesus

Song: Easter Hosanna pg 68

Materials: Ingredients for Resurrection Rolls (start putting in a grocery order early in case things are out of stock so you can try again-One can of crescent roll dough, 8 large marshmallows, Melted butter, Cinnamon sugar), selected movies, glove, Gospel Art Book

-Make Resurrection Rolls, and tell the Easter story as you do it

-Easter Movie Night, we will probably watch To This End Was I Born, and one of the VeggieTales Easter shows

-Use a glove and your hand to explain the Resurrection.  Explain that your hand is like your spirit, wiggle it and talk about the pre-earth life.  Show a picture of Christ’s birth and explain that when you are born you receive a body, put the glove on your hand- the glove is like your body.  Show that they can now wiggle and move together.  Show a picture of Christ when he was grown and explain that our bodies grow with us.  Show Christ in the garden, explain that sometimes our bodies feel pain and that we can use our bodies to pray.  Show Christ on the cross and explain that he died for us.  Take the glove off and put it in a tomb (under a bowl or something), explain that when we die our body stays here on earth and can’t move anymore but our spirit goes to Heaven and waits.  Show Christ resurrected, explain that after 3 days Christ was resurrected and because of that, someday (a long time from now) everyone will also be resurrected, put the glove back on.

-Book of Mormon connection- watch videos depicting Christ’s visit to the people in America:

  • Testaments Of One Fold and One Shepherd (this is over an hour long so kids might have a hard time sitting through it, you might just want to show some highlights)
  • Living Scriptures Savior in America- if you have the subscription watch the whole thing there, but there are also some clips available on Youtube
  • Mark Mabry Photography slideshows:
    8 minutes all still images from his Another Testament Shoot- very thorough representation of 3rd Nephi
    7 minutes images and video from his Reflections (New Testament) and Another Testament shoots set to my FAVORITE song pretty much ever

 

April 13-19 Filled with Love Towards God and All Men

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon for Young Readers: King Benjamin Teaches his People; Book of Mormon Stories Chap 12 (first half); My First Scripture Stories: King Benjamin; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon: King Benjamin,

Song: When We’re Helping We’re Happy pg. 198

Materials: tent or fort making supplies, service project supplies, Natural Man-Saint Printable

-Set up a tent in your living room and watch videos about King Benjamin- Book of Mormon Stories for Young Readers, Book of Mormon Stories, Book of Mormon Videos

– Discuss some ways you can serve people while still social distancing.  There’s a lot of projects that can be done from home based on age and skill level

  • older kids (and if you know how to sew- which is not me) could help with making masks or hospital gowns
  • draw pictures or make cards to mail to people
  • draw pictures and/or write inspirational sayings on the sidewalk in your neighborhood

-Use this printable to discuss the natural man vs. a saint

 

April 20-26 A Mighty Change

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 12 (second half)

Song: I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus pg 78

Materials: Steps of Repentance, Grinch book or video, candy or other treats

  • Use the Grinch to help children understand repentance and a change of heart.  Read the book or watch the movie (the old classic one is available on YouTube).  Then use the Grinch steps of repentance printable to talk about the steps of repentance and having a change of heart.
  • Give a parent a bag of candy or plate of treats, don’t share them around yet.  Have the kids take turns asking for treats.  Explain that in life some people have more than others, and people with less sometimes need to ask for help.  What should we do when they ask? Find a way to help.  Discuss different ways your family can help- donate fast offerings, donate old toys or clothes that you aren’t using, etc.  If possible make a donation or pick something out to donate. (Some places are not accepting donations in kind right now, but you can still do some spring cleaning and hide it until things open back up, or select a group to make a monetary donation to.)

 

April 27- May 3 In the Strength of the Lord

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 13

Song: Latter-day Prophets pg 134

Materials: looking devices, toilet paper rolls, tape, picture of Jesus, People of Zeniff Preparations printable

  • Gather whatever devices you can- glasses, binoculars, telescope, microscope, magnifying glass, anything that helps you see things you couldn’t otherwise see.  Make binoculars out of empty toilet paper rolls.  Use the devices you can find to look at different items.  Explain that these help us see things on Earth and in Space that we couldn’t see without them.  A seer is able to see spiritual things that Heavenly Father needs us to know.  Use the binoculars you made.  When the kids put them on put a picture of Jesus in front of them.  A seer uses his gifts to help us come closer to Jesus Christ and do what He wants us to do.
  • Use the People of Zeniff Preparations printable to discuss what they had and did in their battle with the Lamanites and what tools we have today to be safe in our battles.

 

Consolidated Materials List:

Ingredients for Resurrection Rolls (One can of crescent roll dough, 8 large marshmallows, Melted butter, Cinnamon sugar)

selected movies

glove

Gospel Art Book

tent or fort making supplies

service project supplies

Natural Man-Saint Printable

Steps of Repentance

Grinch book or video

candy or other treats

looking devices

toilet paper rolls

tape

picture of Jesus

People of Zeniff Preparations printable