I taught a Young Women’s called “Why was a restoration necessary” and it really put into perspective the significance of the restoration of the Gospel. It is so exciting that truths, revelation, ordinances, authority and prophets that were available when Jesus Christ originally set up His church is once again here on earth to guide and bless our lives!!
I LOVED Elder Scott’s talk, “Prepartions for the Restoration and Second Coming” because it was a clear and personal witness to me that God is willing and eager to bless His children with TRUTH anytime we are willing and ready to receive it. Even though the fullness of Christ Gospel was taken from the earth, Heavenly Father’s hand in guiding and inspiring mankind to receive it once again is evident throughout history.
It is interesting to me that there had to be lots of things set IN MOTION as mankind grew, matured and developed (just as we do individually) to bring about the right circumstances for a young boy to ask God which church he should join. There had to be a spiritual maturity in mankind itself for the Gospel to return in a sustainable way. This maturity was brought about by curiosity and a strong desire to know TRUTH. This included secular learning and questioning current social norms and widely accepted beliefs. Above all, a fierce trust in something and someone greater than themselves. Many gave up their LIVES for the sake of truth, after all!
To illustrate the chain of events that happened to bring about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ I brought these toy gears–once again my kid’s toys serving as inspiration 🙂 — I explained that there had to be certain events, inventions, exploration and mentalities put in MOTION that led the way to the restoration.
I love the topic of grace! I have experienced the grace of our Savior carry me and take me through otherwise turbulent times. It is a power we can turn to in all moments of our lives. He enhances our efforts, our perspectives and lives. (Some stories and eg in my life here and here) It is a healing, guiding, sanctifying power! It transforms us. Ultimately, it is how we are saved!
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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
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.
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.
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!
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 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.”
Here is the download if you want the to have something to use as a reminder (and color!)
Being human means that we will run into challenges and struggles. Sometimes those struggles can feel enormous and totally consuming and we just want out! Have you noticed that many times the answer we get when we turn to people of our faith ends up being, “Well, have you prayed about it? Or “Just read your scriptures?” Darn those sunday school responses!!! Do they really work?? Find out in this video:
Here is a handout that goes with object lesson, pdf download available below:
A fun object lesson and treat to go along with it is to include a wrapped chocolate or candy. Explain that any negative feeling can block us from feeling God’s love, just like like the wrapper is blocking us from tasting the chocolate.
To overcome our negative feelings, we must be willing to forgive others and ourselves. Once we are willing to change our thoughts and attitudes to overcome our negative feelings, through the help of the Spirit, we can once again come to taste the sweetness of God’s love within us.
I’ve been studying the young women lesson, “Why do we fast?” and it reminded me of a journal entry I wrote last year after I had completed a fast (in our church we voluntarily go without food and drink at least once a month). This was a time when I felt like I came to a better understanding of why we fast. Hope it helps!
“Today I decided to fast longer than the usual short and pretty insignificant fast of skipping breakfast and stuffing my face as soon as I get home from church. I decided to really complete the two meals of fasting.
Part of me resisted it because I have a very hard time functioning without food. I get grumpy and when I am grumpy I’m short, reactive, impatient, and mean. And I end up thinking to myself, how is fasting a spiritual experience if I don’t have the spirit at all?? Why are we asked to fast if it ends up being a negative thing for me?
Well you know that scripture that says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: (Matt 7:7)” It’s true. (See receiving personal revelation post)
After thinking about it, I figured one of the reasons we are asked to fast is because we are giving up our natural desires and letting our spirit conquer and be in charge. I learned that my experience with fasting was basically never getting to the ‘let the spirit be in charge’ part because my body was just too consumed with the fact that it was hungry and grumpy. I was letting my body take the reins because it does by default when I am hungry; and it becomes exceedingly difficult to take over again until I get fed! But I needed to win this time. Once I realized the real war that was raging: body vs. spirit, I knew I could win.
After I realized this dilemma in my fast, I knew how to better approach it. Today I decided that I would succumb to having the spirit instead of giving into my natural human urges. It didn’t start off well. It was end of daylight saving time, which sounds like it was a good thing because of the extra hour. But that knowledge of extra hour made us sleep in and take our sweet time while getting ready to go to church.
We were late. I was hungry and irritable and snarky at my husband and impatient with my kids. I felt myself getting worked up. But I caught it before it got crazy. I reminded myself of my goal. Even though almost every part of me had no desire and it seemed impossible that I could actually get over the starving/grumpy aspect of fasting, I chose to do what I could to stay calm and choose the spirit. And I kid you not, magical things happened that day. Magic that may have not been realized by anyone else but me, but magic nonetheless. I was awakened to things I would not have realized had I not been fasting.
I was very prompted to bear my testimony. Even though I’m happy to bear my testimony, it can be an intense experience, and many times it is just more comfortable NOT bearing it. But when you know, you know, and so I did it. I did it because I knew that the Heavens and my spirit really wanted me to express those those things lying deep within my heart. I talked about the war in heaven and how it hasn’t ended. Each day we choose whom we will serve.
Each moment of every day we decide if we choose the spirit or not. If we succumb to anger or love. Self pity or self respect. It is about overcoming our human nature and embracing our very real and true divine nature. I know when I choose the spirit, my spirit enlarges and my capacity to keep making those good spiritual choices is strengthened. If we don’t choose God we are choosing to give captivity to the devil. If we aren’t aware of it, we will just choose the default, our human nature, which is actually to serve our natural carnal desires. The war is still RAGING!
Anyway, I felt so much better after that. It was a spiritual release! People thanked me for my testimony (which is actually a really awkward experience for me) but I’m grateful for their compliments.
During the rest of my fast I was happy and full of the spirit. I didn’t feel grumpy or weighed down. Even though I could feel the physical weakness of not eating, my thoughts were not focused on eating or my discomfort. I engaged in activities that could enlarge and feed my soul. I felt ideas and inspiration for my church calling and for life flow freely. I felt more connected to my true self and to my God.”
If you are doing a lesson, here is a handout you could use. Invite them to write answers they find regarding fasting in Isaiah 58:3–12.
I used to think always putting God first in my life was out of obligation. So I tried to put all churchy things before most things. I prayed and read scriptures in the morning and performed calling assignments before I did anything else. It was a great start because those things held high priority in my life. But the way I executed these tasks and my attitude about them made all the difference in the resulting level of power and influence.
The trouble was that there was something missing from my actions. In my hurry to just say prayers, just read scriptures, or just do this required service was that my heart was only focused on getting it over with so I could do everything else I wanted. When I read scriptures, my mind wasn’t as occupied thinking about the story or concepts found there as it was busily thinking about everything going on in my day(Such as what I would wear and other ‘important’ items).
Now, I believe turning our full heart to the Savior is a lifelong process of conversion. And immersing ourselves in acts of faith like prayer, reading scriptures, or going to church redirects our thoughts and intents to the Savior even if just for mere a minute. Practices like these build on each other to construct a solid foundation of faith in our life.
It wasn’t until later in my life that it finally became clear what it really meant to put God first. After I had half heartedly gone through the motions of worship , I realized what I was missing.
See, there was a disconnect from the daily tasks I was doing to the thoughts and intents of my heart. I just wanted to get it over with most of the time, almost just to say I did it or to feel like I was ‘good’ enough. But in the end it had little to do with my actual relationship to Deity.
The reason I went through those motions had nothing to do with motions at all. It was to reflect sincerely and deeply about the Savior and feel a connection with Him. The purpose is to feel and have a connection with the SPIRIT.
It isn’t supposed to be just for that moment of prayer, church or study, but to take that Spirit with you throughout the day, intending to keep it by acting and thinking in a way that would preserve it. By doing this we can invite a powerful influence into our lives. Having the spirit, or Holy Ghost, I invite Christ into my life. I no longer act alone with my own strength and understanding, but I perform with divine help and guidance. When I have a measure of the Spirit, I inherit a portion of His divine characteristics. I can become ‘Christ-like” not through my own personal human power, but because I have succumbed to a higher power.
My behavior changes not because I force myself to act ‘perfect’ or because I feel obligated to behave a certain way, but because His spirit invites and provides change of behavior. My heart is able to change from my natural selfish state to one that is willing and ready to love. I know when I have the Spirit in my life because it changes me. It’s similar to the effect it had on the people of King Benjamin when they said ” Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” Mosiah 5:2
I come to know and understand Christ and what real love means as I come to feel and understand myself when I have the His Spirit. The more I drink in of His Spirit, the more I know Him and the more purified I can become.
I receive, even if only in the tiniest portion, how He feels, acts and thinks about me, His children and the purposes of life. Life becomes clear and beautiful.
It is easy to forget, to tune out the spirit. The gravitational pull of our fallen human natures requires us to seek Him daily, moment to moment. To do everything to remind our stubborn human selves of Him. Much of our religion is based on bringing a remembrance, a repetitive educational course of why we are here and why Christ matters. (see this post) Weekly church and sacrament, constant prayer, daily scripture study, gratitude all remind us of the covenants we made with Him. Because we are weak, vulnerable humans prone to leave our one true God, we cannot afford to stop doing those things that remind us.
Taking upon His name is not only putting Him first’ in the day and then forgetting about Him but I believe it means putting Him and seeking His Spirit first in our hearts, minds all day long. When our natural mans takes over, to taking time to realign to the spirit again (See daily repentance post)
God wants us to put Him first heart, mind and soul because when we do, we are blessed with His Spirit and with His Spirit we can experience the greatest love, self respect, self control, patience, understanding and happiness. We are made ALIVE in Christ by doing so!
As the sacrament prayer goes, “that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.”
Here is a handout card I created that can be made into magnets to put on fridge or locker to serve as a reminder of who we are representing and striving to be like. Click on download link below for pdf with 4 on a page.
I was searching my brain on how I could represent what happens to us spiritually when we sin and how repentance is such a beautiful gift that is given to us to cleanse and help us come to know greater levels of happiness and come to know our Father in Heaven. I’m excited to share this object lesson that came to my mind as I was pondering ways to illustrate this concept. Enjoy! This goes with this YW lesson, here are my additional thoughts, insight and handout that goes with the lesson.
Here is what you need for the object lesson:
Stress Ball or Sponge (cut out like a heart if desired)
Here is the basic written out from of the video:
I’m going to attempt to illustrate to you with an object lesson how repentance can help us everyday and how it is a key part of feeling and living in an abundance of real peace love and happiness.
This foamy stress ball heart represents our heart. (if you are try to do this object lesson you can use a sponge–cut out like heart even)
In its purest form it is moldable, teachable, humble and clean which makes it totally receptive to the spirit, inspiration and communication from God. It is happy, free and at peace.
The fact is that our hearts don’t always remain as such because we are human and that makes us selfish and mistake prone.
Our Heavenly Father wants us to grow in varying degrees to change, develop learn and use our agency wisely.
He allows life to present us with many opportunities for us to experience growth.
But who knows why exactly we do this but in our fear, pride, limited understanding, want to protect ourselves, our resistance against change, selfishness our impulse to do it our way we place barriers between us and the spirit by hardening our hearts (i’m using playdoh here and putting it over the heart)
We refuse to listen to what is best for us for all those reasons.
But in our rebellion we have blocked that communication from our Father in Heaven and our true happiness.
The hardening of our hearts invites sin. Those hard parts have block us from spiritual understanding. ‘
Our hearts still long to ‘feel’ something so selfishly we start to do things that bring some temportary satisfaction but bring great sadness to our Heavenly Father and ultimately ourselves.
Little things like gossip we do because he feel like we are at least better than someone else. (place a bean in the play dough after each statement)
We treat with others with anger because it helps us feel dominion over someone else
We hold grudges because we feel some kind of symbolic victory.
We may even turn to putting harmful things into our bodies because we feel momentary relief or satisfaction.
Or may even comprise our moral standard because we want to feel something with someone.
But all those things have only created a greater barrier against our true happiness and receiptiveness to the light and love of our Heavenly Father
“Wickedness was never happiness”
I heard someone once add, “But people often don’t do wicked things for wickedness sake but because they confuse it for happiness.
All those ‘sins’ are just cheap substitutes for happiness.
The awesome new is that we can be cleansed of all these yucky sins, these behaviors and attitudes that weigh us down and block us from feeling real happiness.
God wants so badly for us to feel His love but it cannot penetrate our souls if we have but barrier around our hearts.
The scriptures speak of His arms being open, 2 extended, 3 stretched out, 4and encircling. 5 They are described as mighty 6 and holy, 7 arms of mercy, 8arms of safety, 9 arms of love, 10 “lengthened out all the day long.” 11
He wants us to repent, turn around, come back, change, be clean so he can communicate his love, guide us, strengthen us and empower us.
Once we are humble enough to realize we have offend God and made choices that have blocked his spirit and we have gain a desire to return, Christ can come in. If we do our part to repair the harm we’ve caused, He can simultaneously come in a repair and heal our hearts from sins with the power of His Atonement. We can be purified, cleansed and sanctified (become as saints only through the power of Christ). YAY!!! (Remove play Dough until clean)
When are hearts are clean, we can be more fully receptive to the spirit, guidance and feel greater happiness, peace and love.
I’m finding that Daily repentance is not a feeling of continually feeling guilty and weigh down by my less than perfect efforts but it having a penitent heart that is eager to improve and willing to change. So during my day I notice that my heart and mind do get hard and unwilling by things I may think or do but a penitent heart is one that is quick to come back, to remove pride, throw away thoughts and behaviors that and ‘blue barriers’ that prevent feeling the spirit. To realign, repent, change, forgive and move forward toward God because that is where I can best enjoy an abundance of peace and happiness.
” I love it when people tell me to repent! ” said no one ever. Who likes to be told they are doing things wrong and to to change their ways? Um. Not many.
I’m teaching the Young Women’s Lesson, “How can repentance help me everyday”. I never thought teaching about repentance would be my first choice, but it totally was!..why?? Because I’m discovery repentance really is such a awesome gift to help us live happy and free lives!!Here are my thoughts on the matter: