Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for little ones- Jan 2019

Can I just say how excited I am for this Come Follow Me curriculum.¬† There’s a lot of reasons:

  • studying the same material across age groups
  • home focus- which goes right along with some of my feelings about deliberate parenting
  • multi-modal learning- it’s making my educator heart sing
  • lots of opportunities to use my laminator- also making my teacher heart happy ūüôā
  • FHE whenever works best for your family (which relieved all of the guilt I have had about having community choir on Monday nights!)
  • Family Home Evening ideas!

I keep thinking I should film the craziness that is Family Home Evening at our house but my 4-year-old is typically in his underwear and I’m not going to put that out there for the internet.¬† It’s kind of a circus and I’ll admit that I have gotten to the point of yelling, and threatening, and time out.¬† I’ve been better recently about keeping my patience and the kids have been a tiny bit better about listening.¬† One of the things I noticed was that they could smell fear and lack of preparation; the weeks where we were just throwing something together went really badly.¬† The past few months we started just using the Behold Your Little Ones manual, and that’s when I noticed that things started getting better and I think it has everything to do with my husband and I having a plan and being organized.

With the new curriculum I want to get even more organized and I figure if I take a day and get everything prepped for the coming month then we can have super low stress family home evenings after church on Sundays.¬† And if I’m already doing the work, I figured I’d share with others and hopefully make things a little easier for you as well.¬† So I’ll give you ideas for how to take what’s in the curriculum and make it work with little ones, and at the end of the post there’s a combined materials list for the whole month.

Dec. 31- Jan 6  We are Responsible for Our Own Learning

Prep Materials: plant, rocks, thorns/weeds, pot for planting, print/ laminate sower game

Song: Faith pg. 96

Lesson: Review the parable of the sower found in Matthew 13:1-23.¬† If you are a super overachiever you could plant seeds ahead of time in rocks, among weeds or thorns, and in good ground and compare how they have grown.¬† I’m not so good at the growing things from seeds thing, so I’ll probably just fill a cup with rocks, show the kids the weeds in the front yard (maybe pull some while we’re at it!), and buy a plant already growing in good soil.¬† We’ll compare how things grow in different types of soil and talk about needing to listen well at home and at church so we can learn about Jesus really well.¬† Then we’ll¬† dig a hole (a favorite activity for my kids), put our new plant in, water it, and get it some sunshine (but not too much!).

Activity: Sower game

 

Jan 7- 13 Be it Unto Me According to Thy Word

Prep Materials: Christ’s lineage print outs, Pictures of ancestors, optional names and titles for game

Song:¬† Family History- I Am Doing It pg. 94 (or go to the Family History Section in topics, there’s a surprising amount of songs in this category)

Lesson: Christ’s lineage is laid out.¬† Below you will find an attachment with His ENTIRE lineage, do with it as you please depending on your kids’ reading and comprehension level.¬† Then there are pictures that just have His most famous Ancestors.¬† I plan to print those out, laminate them, and turn them into ornaments.¬† I will do the same with pictures from our own family tree.¬† I’m just going to go ahead and leave our Christmas tree up until we get to this activity, but you could make a tree out of paper, or just do the activity on the floor.¬† We’ll first talk about Christ’s lineage and then put our own family tree together.

Christ’s Lineage Pictures

Christ’s Lineage¬†(this is the entire lineage given in Luke 3 as a list, if your kids can read and have a decent attention span you may want to put the names in a bigger font and print them to put together as well)

Activity: Let the kids play with the print outs.¬† I am going to print out 2 sets of our ancestor pictures and Christ’s lineage pictures and play a simple memory game.¬† If your kids can read you may want to have them match the picture with the name and title (great grandma, great-great grandpa, etc.)

 

Jan 14-20 We Have Come to Worship Him

Prep Materials: Kid friendly nativity set

Song: Picture a Christmas pg. 50 or Nativity Song pg. 52

Lesson: Hopefully they remember a lot from having just gone over the story, it’s like Christmas Eve round 2!¬† Use a kid friendly nativity set, if you don’t have one, you might be able to find one on clearance right now, or, I just have this little printable set.¬† Put the characters (yes even the animals) in a bag and have the kids pull them out at random then talk about that character’s contribution to the story.¬† Then have the kids tell the story the best they can (probably good to have the camera ready!!)

Activity: Just let them play with the nativity!

 

Jan 21-27 We Have Found the Messiah

Prep Materials: Flashlights (with pictures of Jesus if you want), Objects to find (could be church related, could just be for fun)

Song: Teach Me to Walk in the Light pg. 177

Lesson: Explain that Jesus is the Light of the World.¬† Either make a room in your house really dark or wait until it’s dark outside.¬† Give the kids a flashlight (you could tape a picture of Christ to it to help with the visual), then send them on a scavenger hunt.¬† You could do church related things like a picture of the Prophet, scriptures, church clothes, etc. or just fun items, or a mixture.¬† The final item could be some sort of Celestial treat!

 

Jan 28- Feb 3 Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord

Prep Materials: two mason jars, food coloring, water, bleach AND/OR a tea bag (with a string), a cup with water, a lighter

Song: When I am Baptized pg. 103

Lesson: You could do either of these object lessons or both to teach about baptism

#1- super simple and guaranteed to work.  Fill a mason jar with water, the other one with some bleach.  Talk about mistakes that we make and drop food coloring into the water with each mistake.  Then explain that when we are baptized our sins are washed away- dump the bleach in and the water will return to clear.

#2- sorta complicated, and sometimes it doesn’t work quite right- you should definitely do a practice run!¬† We used to do this on the mission a lot and would turn it into kind of a story and get really into it- until our mission president told us we had to stop playing with fire, I’m sure he didn’t expect to have that conversation with a set of sisters, but it’s really cool.

Take a tea bag (it can be any kind of herbal tea but the bag needs to be the kind that is folded in on itself with a staple and a string (as opposed to sealed around the edges) and preferably individually wrapped)

Tell the kids that the bag wants to get to heaven but it can’t.¬† Toss it up in the air a few times to show that it can’t get there.¬† It will need to go through some steps to get there.

1- It needs to have faith so first off it’s gotta leave the comfort of it’s wrapper (or box if they aren’t individually wrapped).

2- Now it’s out but it still can’t get there, put your finger on the string to “weigh it down.”¬† Explain that it’s going to need to let go of the things holding it back by repenting.¬† Take off the string.

3-¬† Toss it up and down again, see that it’s doing better now but still can’t make it to heaven.¬† Even though it repented and let go of the weight it still has some things that need to be washed away.¬† Carefully take out the staple and empty the contents into a cup of water and explain that baptism washes everything away (but do NOT get the bag itself wet!)¬† Now you should have a tube, carefully stand it on one end.

4- Explain that now it’s standing taller, it’s getting closer, but it still needs one more thing, the gift of the Holy Ghost.¬† Sometimes the scriptures call this the baptism by fire because fire also purifies.¬† Light the top end of the tea bag tube on fire and as it burns it should suddenly float into the air “up to heaven!”

Activity: Set up a washing station in the sink or bathtub with toys that are dirty.

 

Full materials list for the month

plant

rocks, thorns/weeds

pot for planting

Sower game

Pictures of ancestors

Names and titles for ancestor matching (optional)

Christ’s Lineage Pictures

Kid Friendly Nativity Set

Flashlights (with pictures of Jesus if you want)

Scavenger Hunt objects

2 mason jars

food coloring

water

bleach

AND/OR a tea bag (with a string)

cup with water

lighter

 

 

To Tremble Because of Pain

I introduced this idea in my post about my birth stories, but wanted to develop it further.

If you’re into birth stories then give it a read, but if you would like to be spared all of the TMI here’s the pertinent part of the story in a nutshell.

With my second pregnancy I developed symphysis pubis dysfunction at 10 weeks. ¬†Which basically meant that I was in debilitating pain for the last 30 weeks (plus the 2 days overdue) of my pregnancy. ¬†It was horrible and my doctor didn’t care/ wouldn’t listen.

The pain was sometimes mild and manageable but frequently jumped to excruciating, by the end it was mostly always excruciating.  But no matter what, it was constant.

I had a doctor’s appointment on my due date, which was a Monday and my doctor agreed to set an induction date. ¬†He initially said Wednesday then changed his mind and suggested Friday. ¬†I piped in, “Or Wednesday!” ¬†“No, Friday will be better schedule wise.” ¬†“Or we could do Wednesday.” ¬†“Why Wednesday, what’s two more days?”

Anyone who would suggest that it’s just two more days has clearly never experienced chronic debilitating pain. ¬†I mean he might as well have said, “What’s two more days in Hell?” ¬†It’s 4 MORE days in Hell, is what it is, because Wednesday is 2 more days.

He settled on Friday, I felt powerless to argue, so that was the plan. ¬†That’s not what ended up happening, but that starts getting way off topic. ¬†She did end up coming on her own on Wednesday.

The thought of having to be in pain longer caused me to reflect deeply on a favorite passage of scripture.  This comes from the Doctrine and Covenants and is a revelation given to Joseph Smith in which Christ explains and details His life and mission.  He explains His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to being crucified:

“Which¬†suffering¬†caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit‚ÄĒand would that I might¬†not¬†drink the bitter cup, and shrink‚ÄĒ

Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and¬†finished¬†my preparations unto the children of men.”

That phrase, “to tremble because of pain” has always struck me, but now it was striking with more meaning. ¬†I felt like my pain was being disregarded, that I was being treated as weak or foolish for expressing that I was in pain, and yet the Savior, even God, TREMBLED because of pain. ¬†I by no means want to compare my pain to what He must have gone through in that time, and yet, it was validating to realize that He was admitting to trembling in pain. ¬†I realized on a very personal level that He understood what I was going through which made me feel closer to Him.

The biggest thing it did was make me thing about how we, “mere mortals,” react to pain in ourselves and to others.

No one will get through this life without experiencing some form of debilitating pain, whether it be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, or really any combination of the above, because really they are all connected.  These painful trials can become a stepping stone that allows us to draw closer to our Savior making them sacred experiences.  But what about when you are in the middle of it, or someone around you is in the middle of it, too often we try to just make it go away or make it seem less awful than it is, I feel that this can take away from the sacred nature of pain, and unfortunately can make the situation harder in the moment.

I want to take a look at some of the mistakes we make when dealing with pain both our own and others. ¬†Like I’ve said in other posts, if you realize that this is something you have done to me or others, know that I am not upset, or holding a grudge. ¬†I know that people are for the most part well meaning. ¬†My hope is that we can learn together from these mistakes so that we can be more helpful to others in the future.

What not to do:

Putting things in perspective

Having an Eternal perspective is so important when dealing with trials. ¬†Knowing that God is there and on your side and that “all these things shall give thee experience and work for thy good,” can be the only thing that keeps you going sometimes. ¬†I feel like developing an Eternal perspective is something that you should be working on constantly, especially during the “down time” when you aren’t in the middle of a crisis so it’s there to get you through the crisis. ¬†When the crisis comes, the Eternal perspective becomes a very personal relationship with God through mighty prayer and faith.

Sometimes people say things, well meaning of course, to try and spin the Eternal perspective, or put things in perspective during the crisis. ¬†Things like, “Well it could always be worse….you could have….” ¬†or “Well at least you have….”

Yeah, because when you’re in pain you definitely want to think about how things could be worse, that’s a pretty hopeful place to go.

I really can’t picture anyone saying to Christ in the Garden, it could always be worse, I mean you could have gotten YOUR ear cut off, or your disciples could have gone home to sleep instead of falling asleep in an uncomfortable garden. ¬†You wouldn’t say that to Him. ¬†And the only person I can see coming up with a “Well at least…” statement is Satan. ¬†“Well at least you HAVE body.”

Those kinds of statements invalidate the experience. ¬†And OF COURSE it could be worse, and people have gone through harder things. ¬†I mean ultimately Christ experienced it ALL. ¬†But I can’t for a moment picture Him coming and saying it could be worse, or at least you didn’t have to go through what he went through. ¬†No. ¬†He validates our pain because He experienced it. ¬†He sends the Comforter to help us through.

I feel like in Mormon culture we don’t want to let things be bad. ¬†And maybe that’s because we believe that ultimately we will be led to pure joy. ¬†Or we have this idea that in order to be Christ-like we can’t admit to the struggle because He was perfect and somehow we think that being perfect means not having human emotions, reactions, or struggles. ¬†And yet, he said, “Father if thou be willing, remove this cup from me.”

Was he showing a lack of Eternal perspective in that moment?¬† Was it sinful to show weakness?¬† No, but He was expressing His emotions and His pain freely to His Father. ¬†Sometimes things are just hard, really hard and awful, and the cup can’t just be removed. ¬†He had to experience it in order to fulfill His most sacred responsibility. ¬†Likewise we have to allow ourselves and others to experience pain in order to fulfill our sacred potential and join the fellowship of Christ. ¬†To try and remove it, or make seem not as bad would hold us back from being able to “overcome all things,” which is a characteristic of those who will inherit the Celestial Kingdom.

Find the deeper meaning or give an explanation

“He’s in a better place.”

“God must have needed her more on the other side.”

“Think of all the lives he’s touching.”

“If it’s God’s will….”

“I’m sure it will all be ok”

These platitudes, plain and simple, are not helpful.

As individuals deal with pain, grief, and loss and turn towards God, sometimes they receive answers that give meaning to what they have experienced.  Sometimes the personal revelation they receive sounds like some of the lines I wrote above.  HOWEVER, those answers are deeply personal, need to come from God, and need to come when they are ready to receive it.  While it may turn out to be true, to try and offer meaning or give an explanation is an attempt to receive personal revelation for the other person.

Also, don’t give assurances that it will be ok.¬† Again, that’s as if you have received personal revelation for someone else’s experience.¬† When I was 16 my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.¬† For the 2 weeks between diagnosis and hysterectomy I lived with constant weight and fear of the unknown.¬† When I told people they frequently said to me, “It’s alright, your mom’s going to be fine,” “Everything is going to be ok!”¬† It was really frustrating because¬†I¬†didn’t know if everything was going to be ok, I hadn’t received that answer from God.¬† The prognosis was good, but there was still the lingering fear of what could come, not to mention that even if they could get everything out with the surgery and no follow up needed, my mom was still undergoing major surgery and would be healing for several weeks.¬† (For the record, everything did turn out ok.¬† In fact, after the surgery they came back and said it wasn’t actually cancer, just cysts, and now 15 years down the road there have been no continuing concerns.)

When baptized in the LDS faith we covenant to bear one another’s burdens, mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.¬† Our job is to bear, mourn, and comfort, not to explain or reveal meaning, that is God’s job.

Comparisons

Don’t compare your pain. ¬†Don’t compare anything for the matter, but really, don’t compare your pain and your trials.

As a missionary I started out with a chip on my shoulder. ¬†I had myself convinced that I had sacrificed more than most of the other missionaries, so I really had a reason to struggle and have down days.¬† I did sacrifice a lot to be there, and I certainly had my fair share of literal blood, sweat, and tears.¬† But one day I was humbled with the seemingly obvious realization that at some point everyone would go through the hardest thing they have ever gone through. ¬†That would be different for everyone and tailor made for them to grow and develop as needed. ¬†I realized that I needed to allow other people to struggle, because while they weren’t going through the same thing I was, what they were going through was hard.

I had to learn this same concept but flipped when I went through my second pregnancy.  I was surrounded by people who were going through very very difficult trials.  A few friends experienced infant loss while I was pregnant, another friend was struggling with infertility (prayers for her recently implanted baby!).  And then there was me, carrying a healthy baby, and yet struggling so much.  Let me be clear that none of them did or said anything to make me feel guilty, I placed the burden of guilt on myself.

How dare I feel depressed when there were so many people around me going through something much harder. ¬†Never would I ever wish to trade places with them. ¬†So I tried to tell myself that I should just suck it up, and I should be so happy. ¬†And of course I WAS happy to be carrying a healthy baby, that wasn’t what I was depressed about, but that’s what makes it depression. ¬†I wasn’t really sad about anything, I was sad about EVERYTHING, and being in constant physical pain made it so much worse.

I finally realized, that yes, while other people were going through things that were harder than what I was experiencing, that didn’t mean that what I was going through wasn’t hard. ¬†While I found joy in the hope that I would have a healthy and happy baby at the end (which isn’t quite how it went what with the NICU stay and all, but that’s a different story), it didn’t mean that I had to pretend to be enjoying my present circumstance. ¬†I needed to validate my own pain and stop comparing it to others.

Another comparison we need to avoid is an attempt at an empathetic comparison.

A dear friend of mine lost her Father to a very long battle with cancer when she was only 19 years old. ¬†I was her visiting teacher at the time and I’m sure I said some well meaning, but stupid things to her, but did my best to comfort while validating her pain. ¬†At one point I started to say to her, “I know how you feel.” ¬†Then corrected myself, and said, “Actually, I have no idea how you feel.” ¬†She thanked me for saying that and told me that she found it a little frustrating when people said, “I know how you feel.” ¬†And then a lot of them would follow it up with something like, “My grandpa died.” ¬†Not to take away from the pain and sadness of losing a grandparent, but losing your parent especially at such a young age, is a very different experience.

On the flip side of that, the “I could never do that” response is another form of comparison.¬† Again it’s well meaning, and perhaps trying to highlight a strength that you see in the person.¬† Unfortunately it can feel like a wall being put up that makes them different.¬† The implications of the phrase, while in most cases not meant to be malicious can hurt the person who is doing their best to get through something difficult.¬† Often people experiencing loss (especially in extreme cases such as the loss of a child or untimely death of a spouse) feel guilt when they realize that their life is moving forward, especially in the moments when they realize they “forgot to miss them” or “forgot to be sad.”¬† Somehow they do have to continue with their life without letting loss consume them.¬† Comments like, “I could never do that” or “I would just fall apart” can increase that feeling of guilt, as if moving forward means that they didn’t love the person enough.¬† That’s of course not the case, but in the middle of loss our brains are not exactly known for being entirely logical and rational.

 

An empathetic response is wonderful, however an attempt at an empathetic comparison may leave the person experiencing the trial actually feeling less understood and less validated in their pain which can unfortunately end up causing more pain.

What TO do:

501px-gethsemane_carl_bloch

I feel like this painting really illustrates it perfectly.  Allow people to go through the experience, to grieve, to cry, to express themselves, and mostly just be there holding them, listening, and loving.

The angel isn’t saying to Him, “It’s gonna be ok.”¬† Because she knows it’s not, His trial and pain were going to continue and get worse.¬† I picture her simply saying, “I’m here, I love you, your Father loves you, I’m sorry you have to go through this,” and then crying along with Him.

In my experience, and from what I’ve observed with other people’s experiences is that in the middle of the trial they need people to just be there, to allow them to express the reality of their pain, to let them ugly cry when needed, and to just know that you are a safe person to vent to.

Rather than trying to give a positive spin or a comparison say things like:

  • I’m so sorry this is happening
  • That sounds so hard
  • I can only imagine

Don’t just tell them that God loves them, SHOW them by being an extension of His love.¬† Let them know that you will be there and help with whatever they need, give them ideas of what that means.¬† Tell them if they need to talk about it then your ears are open, if they need a distraction to get their mind off of it then you would love to get out of the house with them and not talk about it.¬† Offer specific service- can I bring a meal, do some laundry, mow your lawn, watch kids, donate to a fund, etc.

I feel like this quote from Spencer W. Kimball really sums this up:

“God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs…¬†So often, our acts of service consist of simple encouragement or of giving mundane help with mundane tasks, but what glorious consequences can flow from mundane acts and from small but deliberate deeds!”

Pray, and let them know you’re praying, but be aware that it can seem trite when someone says they are praying but doesn’t follow up with any action or dismisses what the hurting person is saying.

Send notes and text messages to let them know that they are on your mind.

Most of all just love and be loving.

To Those Experiencing Pain and Trials

I’m sorry, I hope you are able to find comfort.

Please keep in mind that people are trying to be nice so when they do make one of the mistakes from above, forgive them.  When appropriate you may want to find ways to calmly explain what types of responses are helpful vs. hurtful.

Let people serve you!¬† While on my mission, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland did a mission conference for us and something that he said has really stuck with me.¬† He explained that while on our missions we had a very specific and important focus and we ought not to let Terrestrial, or worldly, cares get in the way of our higher calling.¬† That’s why they encourage members to feed missionaries, and ask missionaries to have simple wardrobes etc. so we don’t have to use too much of our precious time taking care of those earthly needs.¬† I feel like this applies to us when we are experiencing significant trials as well.¬† When in the middle of the trial you have much more pressing needs to take care of so let people around you take care of your Terrestrial needs as much as they can.

Most of all take care of your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs.¬† Surround yourself with positive influences and don’t be afraid to reach out to trusted people.

And if you do need some good perspective, remember that this too shall pass.  It might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.