Hard times are a gift to us.

It has been a huge blessing that I was called into the YW a little after I started this blog. Since I was planning, thinking and creating material for my lesson anyway, this blog became the perfect outlet to share what I was already doing. It also gave me the chance to share the dearest part of my heart and life-my testimony of the reality of Jesus Christ. Teaching YW provided topics and resources and became the perfect ground to talk about, share and fine tune for myself the beliefs I had.

Having said that, I hope these lessons, although initially intended to teach teenaged girls in a church group, can be read and applied to anyone’s life. Mothers, girls, women, boys and men. These are principles of a happy, fulfilling life.

With that said, the things I share are true feelings, beliefs and stories that I share with my YW but I share them to also hopefully help anyone else along too.

The lesson was I teaching on was Why do we have adversity? Which was timely for me.
The last couple weeks I’ve been pretty sick. I had a fever higher than I can ever remember having. It was 103-104 degrees for 4 days. I was weak and exhausted. I somehow still had to take care of my 3 sick kids on top of that. I knew complaining and getting frustrated at my situation would only make things worse so I did what I could to redirect my focus to what I COULD do and think (not to say I didn’t have my weak moments of utter defeat!). I thought of the YW lesson I was preparing to teach and thought, “Oh perfect. There is no better way to learn about why we have adversity than to go through this.” My thinking shifted to “What can I learn from this? and “How can this experience help me grow?”

That mental shift changed everything.

Here some of the things I learned.

Tribulations brings a softening and humbling of spirit and heart.
When I was so physically weak from illness, I was reminded of how I feel when I fast. The physical weakness and lack of energy can be turned to a precious moments of humility and direct one to a different power beyond physical strength-spiritual strength.

I have learned every experience, evening if unpleasant at the moment, can be used to create more room in ones soul to allow greater strength and experience deeper peace and joy later.

Feeling spiritually disconnected and alone
The most difficult moments for me are not the physically weak ones but the moments when I feel alone, left in the dark and disconnect from the source of peace and joy. The most trying challenge comes when I can hardly feel that spiritual strength and power within myself.

Being sick for that length of time combined with the demands of parenthood left me unbalanced in all sorts of ways. Despite my efforts, I wasn’t getting enough rest for what my body needed to recover. I didn’t leave for the gym in the mornings because I felt too sick. Which meant I didn’t get the exercise I usually get which helps keep me emotionally, mentally and physically afloat. This threw me for a mental/spiritual/emotional spin off. It left me feeling really down casted, unmotivated, depressed and easily discouraged by everything. It was that familiar dark place where it feel like something inside me has died. Life feels dismal and meaningless. Everything I was once excited about–my passions, my ideas, my insights– all seem to disappear. Thinking about things like that at the time of gloom seemed like foolish nonsense.

Having gone through this several times before (see “dealing with mommy blues“) I have learned that this is actually part of the test. It is the most difficult testing point for me. It is where I must make good choices when I feel no motivation for them. It is a slippery time when I feel my very faith and sentiment toward God seems dim and waning. It is where the darkness of doubt, fear and insecurities creep in again to confuse everything inside me.

I have learned that however seemingly illogical, I must still continue to seek the God I can no longer feel and the light that seems like is no longer there to guide me. I must make good choices for myself and respect others even when I don’t feel like it. It is the only way to get out the dark.

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It is a moment where my FAITH becomes a principle of  deliberate DECISION and ACTION  instead of a genuine sentiment or feeling.

I thought of Joseph Smith and how he must have also felt abandoned when he cried out, “Oh God, where art thou?” in Carthrage Jail. I know my experience is not nearly as dramatic and devastating as that of the prophet but I believe that no matter our outer challenges it is the inner workings and battles of the soul in each of us that are the most challenging and ultimately where our character is built.

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Heavenly Father answers Joseph’s plea with, “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;” (D&C 121:7)
I thought, “This too shall pass and I will enjoy greater happiness once I am able to overcome this yucky time!”

What is happening TO you is happening FOR you.

I used to stay in the dumps for a long time before I was able to climb out. I used to panic and condemn myself for what I was experiencing and it would start a vicious cycle that made it difficult to climb out of. Now I know to not freakout. I am getting quicker and better because of what I have learned. Doom and gloom are lies from the adversary we must learn to not believe. It is not because God has abandoned us. He is ALWAYS there, even in and especially during the times we can’t feel Him. He lets us experience dark moments and soul shaking attacks from the adversary because He knows we grow tremendously every time we can conquer those times with His strength.  It is pressing forward in faith and continuing to make positive choices even when we don’t feel like it. Overcoming the dark cavities within ourselves create greater room for the Spirit to dwell with in us.  It is preparatory for us to enjoy greater joy and peace and connection to God later. He allows these sorts of things FOR OUR OWN GROWTH and GOODNESS. Trust.

I feel like this fits in so well with Linda S. Reeves temple analogy:

Provo Tabernacle before fire (source)

“Almost three years ago a devastating fire gutted the interior of the beloved, historic tabernacle in Provo, Utah. Its loss was deemed a great tragedy by both the community and Church members. Many wondered, “Why did the Lord let this happen? Surely He could have prevented the fire or stopped its destruction.”

Provo Tabernacle fire. (Source)

Ten months later, during the October 2011 general conference, there was an audible gasp when President Thomas S. Monson announced that the nearly destroyed tabernacle was to become a holy temple—a house of the Lord! Suddenly we could see what the Lord had always known! He didn’t cause the fire, but He allowed the fire to strip away the interior. He saw the tabernacle as a magnificent temple—a permanent home for making sacred, eternal covenants.4

Rendering of upcoming Provo temple (end of 2015-beg of 2016). (Source)

My dear sisters, the Lord allows us to be tried and tested, sometimes to our maximum capacity. We have seen the lives of loved ones—and maybe our own—figuratively burned to the ground and have wondered why a loving and caring Heavenly Father would allow such things to happen. But He does not leave us in the ashes; He stands with open arms, eagerly inviting us to come to Him. He is building our lives into magnificent temples where His Spirit can dwell eternally.

Painting saved from the fire. Christ never leaves us alone. He is alway there with His arms extended towards us. (Source)

If you would like to use this analogy to teach your family, or church group, here is the download of the pictures in a PDF. It can be printed on paper (or cardstock) to display as you tell the story.

Download “Provo Tabernacle Images” trials-provo-tabernacle-images.pdf – Downloaded 156 times – 6 MB

I’ve had this comes to my mind often:

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I think it is important to write down our thoughts and impressions we receive in moment of clarity and wisdom. Quotes and scriptures that touch us and help us through are essential to write down so we have positive references when life isn’t looking or feeling good. It’s all about REMEMBERING. I created this handout for anyone to use to help them remember the good stuff that will pull us through!

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Download “Spiritual Strength thru adversity PDF” spiritual-strength-adversity.pdf – Downloaded 175 times – 392 KB

 

For my lesson I showed the video, “Mountains to climb” and had girls fill out above handout as they heard things that impressed them. Through out lesson they wrotte down thoughts that could help them.

YOU CAN DO THIS MY FRIEND!

Other helpful links:

ALL FEBRUARY CFM LESSONS

Object lesson video and handout about finding solutions to challenages

6 ways to be happy during tough times

RS presentation video about mentally/emotional/spiritual wellbeing 

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Who am I, and who can I become?

I’m teaching a YW lesson titled, “Who am I and who can I become”. I LOVE this lesson. Once we come to realize our true identities as children of God, EVERYTHING changes. Our choices, thoughts, attitudes and behaviors begin to line up to reflect our most sacred identity.  I hope these lesson goodies will help out with understanding this.

We are the seed of God analogy:

Our souls, our character, or who we really are can be compared to seeds.

We are seeds of a Divine Being. We are divine by inheritance. Divinity already lives within us. We have everything inside of us to become like our Heavenly Father.

Even though we have it all inside of us, we must seek proper the nourishment for our seeds to grow into their full potential.

What kinds of things does a seed need to grow?

Light —> we need the Gospel light and its guidance. We must learn to follow the Light.

Soil —-> we need a good environment by surrounding ourselves with wholesome things

Water —> We need to seek the living water who is Jesus Christ by doing things to bring and feel His Spirit.

Weed out yuckies—> We need to weed out thoughts and behaviors that harm us. This includes abandoning our sins as well as learning to overcome destructive and mean thoughts about ourselves and other people.

Fake flower analogy (a side thought that might be helpful)

I think we all have ‘plastic’ flowers, or who we want to appear to be or want others to think we are. They are our outer image of ourselves or our egos. The motive our our ego (or natural man) is just to get attention or approval. We are constantly told by the world to buy or do things to get a better seeming ‘fake flower’.

The trouble with it is that it is NOT who we really are! And sometimes we can get so caught up with our fake plastic flower and other people’s  fake plastic flower and how they compare that we forget our true selves! We forget about our true seeds inside of us waiting to be nourished so it can grow and bloom in a unique and beautiful way.

“You are here to BECOME not just to seem”

Our potential:

Our true selves require real spiritual sustenance. With this we can grow to be a real source of beauty and nourishment to others. We can bear true eternal fruit! We can become great and glorious beings just like our Heavenly Father and receive all He has in mind for us.

What it takes

Growing our true seeds takes time, patience, diligence and constant nourishment. In fact, as the seed develops underneath the soil it can be difficult to see results or the end product. Trust that there is growth and development even when your efforts are not immediately noticeable.

“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”

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Here is the download if you want the to have something to use as a reminder (and color!)

 

Download “What does a seed need PDF” what-does-a-seed-need.pdf – Downloaded 627 times – 75 KB

 

Here is a fun worksheet for the girls to fill out to help them remember the qualities that make them divine beings:

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Download “My divine qualities worksheet” My-Divine-Qualities-Worksheet.pdf – Downloaded 651 times – 70 KB

Enjoy!.

ALL JANUARY CFM LESSONS

The Power of CHOICE.

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Why do the choices I make matter?

I’m prepare a Young Women’s Lesson for my church titled, “Why do the Choice I make matter?” I LOVE this topic, the very real power of CHOICE and how it literally governs the outcomes of our lives! Here are some of my thoughts:

Tell me, what ultimately determines our destiny in this life?

-What you look like
-Your personality traits
-The circumstances you were born into
– Your genetic predispositions
-Your IQ
-The social influences that surround you.
-Fortunes or mishaps that occur in your life
-The way you were raised

Those are all huge factors in life, right? So which one is it? What will best tell what our lives will look like? Is it nature or nurture? The great debate! Is it all the weakness and strengths we are born with or the weakness and strengths of our surroundings that will decide the happiness of our life??

Ready for my epiphany moment?

See, even though those factors can have a big influence in the life of person, the ultimate determining factor is actually one’s choices. Ultimately, what we choose to do with what we’ve been given is what determines everything.

That is one BIG FAT POWERFUL TRUTH.

That means that no matter who you are, where you were born, what you look like, how you were raised, how ‘smart’ you are, what choices others make, what happens to you in life, YOU ALWAYS continue to have CHOICE, AGENCY, one of the greatest powers available to you. To choose God, to choose love, to choose the Spirit, to choose peace, to choose JOY, to choose to contribute to humanity! Everytime. With the guiding power of Christ, his enabling Atonement and the Holy Ghost that communicate this to us (or spirit of Christ that is given to every man) WE ARE ALL given the tools to make powerful choices in our lives to bring us great happiness! It is what sets us FREE from all the factors we cannot control in our lives from controlling what and who we become! To ‘act for ourselves and not be acted upon.’

Nephi 2:25 say’s 

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

Mean trick of the adversary.

One greatest games that Satan pulls on us ALL the TIME (and enforced by our ‘natural man’) is to make us believe that we simply DON’T have choice! He tries to blinds us to the choices we have and responsibility we have towards our own progression and happiness. He wants us to believe we are victims and forever captive to our situation. As long as we believe it, we will be held captive! That mentality stunts the progress we can make. It comes in beliefs that it is somebody else’s fault that we can’t do something, or that our behavior is excused by this person or situation. Or that our circumstances make it so we can’t be happy, successful or at peace. That people MAKE us angry, MAKE us depressed, MAKE us do things we aren’t proud of. Even though it is our very human nature to believe this when things don’t go smoothly, we are given a greater power through the Atonement of Christ and His Spirit to eventually overcome default reactions and impulses. It gives the strength that help us reclaim our right to peace and happiness, even in difficult situations.

positive-choices-quote

What it will takes from us.

It mostly likely will require us to have humility, to forgive, to repentance and engage in a gradual process of letting go (again and again and again) but it is available to us! It empowers us to rise above our circumstances and our fallen selves! Yay!

Commitment of choice.

There are solid choices that can be made beforehand that can help keep us undeviated on our journey. Choices that take us to where we want to be and become. If we have written these commitments on paper and in our hearts, when confusion sets in, when we feel lost and weary, when temptation is roaring, when everyone else around us sucumbs to what you know isn’t right, you still know what is right and can continue to choose it. And you will remain unscathed, clean and strong. That is the power of choice.

Sister Elaine S. Dalton ‘choice’ advice:

“When I was a young woman, I learned that some decisions need to be made only once. I wrote my list of things I would always do and things I would never do in a small tablet. It included things like obeying the Word of Wisdom, praying daily, paying my tithing, and committing to never miss church. I made those decisions once, and then in the moment of decision, I knew exactly what to do because I had decided beforehand. When my high school friends said, “Just one drink won’t hurt,” I laughed and said, “I decided when I was 12 not to do that.” Making decisions in advance will help you be guardians of virtue. I hope each of you will write a list of things you will always do and things you will never do. Then live your list.”  ~From her talk “Guardians of Virtue

Here is a printable to taken on the challenge!

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Download “FREE Lighthouse "The Lord is my Light" themed invitations and program for your event” – Downloaded 0 times –

 

 

See all February “Come Follow me Lessons” on this site

For other helpful/related posts see:

“What is Jesus Christ Important in my Life”

“How to manage Negative Feelings in a Positve Way”

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