God’s Love for Us (FHE plans and quotes from President Uchtdorf)

During the month of February, our Family Home Evening lessons have been centered on the topic of Love. Tonight we will conclude with a lesson on God’s Love for Us. As I have studied the talks from the recent General Conference, I felt that two of President Uchtdorf’s talks fit perfectly with this theme.

Lesson Plan

Remind the children of the lessons and focus on love that we have had this month: Loving Others and Loving God.

Tonight I want to testify of the love that Heavenly Father has for each of us. President Uchtdorf recently said:

“You are loved. You are dear to your heavenly parents. The infinite and eternal Creator of light and life knows you! He is mindful of you. Yes, God loves you this very day and always…He knows everything about you. He sees you clearly—He knows you as you really are. And He loves you—today and always!…He loves you not only for who you are this very day but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become” (source).

Show poster from 2015 February Friend Magazine.february-2015-friend-magazine-mormon_1377320_tmb

“Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon us.”

Can you think of some of the blessing that He has rained upon us? Play the Raining Blessings game: One person sits in the middle of the room, with an umbrella open over their head. Other family members drop bouncy balls onto their head (which is covered by an umbrella), naming a blessing for every ball that is dropped.

The greatest gift that Heavenly Father has given us is the gift of his Son. (Recite and work on memorizing this scripture this week).

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

The ability to gain a testimony of Jesus Christ is another way that Heavenly Father loves us.

“The process of gathering spiritual light is the quest of a lifetime.” (Uchtdorf, source).

Additional Quotes

“God cares about you. He will listen, and He will answer your personal questions. The answers to your prayers will come in His own way and in His own time, and therefore, you need to learn to listen to His voice. God wants you to find your way back to Him, and the Savior is the way.God wants you to learn of His Son, Jesus Christ, and experience the profound peace and joy that come from following the path of divine discipleship.”

“I suggest that this personal testimony of the gospel and the Church is the most important thing you can earn in this life. It will not only bless and guide you during this life, but it will also have a direct bearing on your life throughout eternity.”

The Experiment

1) Search the word of God

2) Consider, ponder, strive to believe, and be grateful

3) Ask Heavenly Father with faith

4) Live the principles of the gospel

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth”. October 2014 General Conference.

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Feeling Grateful

I have great kids. Really. Today I am feeling especially grateful for three things:

1) For a ten-year-old daughter who will take a walk with me, and reach out to hold my hand.

2) For a seven-year-old daughter who loves to hear stories. She loves to be read to, and she loves to hear real stories from the past. She is prompting me to gather stories from our ancestors to share, since my personal stories are running dry! She is the first one to ask for scripture stories each night, encouraging us to do the reading we should be doing as a family.

3) For a four-year-old son who is so loving. He gives the best hugs and kisses, and he gives them often. He always has a kiss on my belly for his developing baby brother.

I just needed to record these sweet moments in my life, before they slip away in the day-to-day life. I love my family.

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Messages on Love

Below are some timeless messages on love, messages that are worth studying repeatedly!

Thomas S. Monson, “Love-the Essence of the Gospel”. April 2014 General Conference.

“Love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar.”

“Our greatest opportunities to demonstrate our love will be within the walls of our own homes. Love should be the very heart of family life.”

“As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.”

Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Great Commandment”. October 2007 General Conference.

“The measure of our love is the measure of the greatness of our souls.”

“Love is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the pathway of discipleship.”

“Often, the greatest manifestations of love are the simple acts of kindness and caring we extend to those we meet along the path of life.”

“Love is the greatest of all the commandments—all others hang upon it. It is our focus as followers of the living Christ. It is the one trait that, if developed, will most improve our lives.”

Moroni 7:45-48

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”

Jeffrey R. Holland,”How Do I Love Thee?” BYU Speeches, Feb 15, 2000.

“Real love is best shown in the “how”.

“True love blooms when we care more about another person than we care about ourselves.”

Jeffrey R. Holland, “The First Great Commandment”. October 2012 General Conference.

“My beloved brothers and sisters, am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand onecommandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.”13 And if at such moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.”

Richard G. Scott,”The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”. April 2011 General Conference.

“Pure love is an incomparable, potent power for good. Righteous love is the foundation of a successful marriage. It is the primary cause of contented, well-developed children.”

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Project Complete: Baby books for three children

It has taken me a little while to figure out the best format for our family when it comes to compiling a history/scrapbook for each child. My oldest child has had most of a first year scrapbook finished for a few years, my second child had two pages complete, and my third child only had a few photos saved in a folder. This past month I finally figured out what to do, and the process was pretty simple. The key was to keep it manageable to complete for each child.

Each child now has book for their first year. This is what it includes:

Cover page

Ultrasound pictures

Copy of Birth certificate and hospital certificate (including footprint stamp)

Birth story (as recorded in our family journal)

First photos at the hospital with parents and siblings

Birth announcement

Meaning of the name and why we chose it

Blessing Day: photos, notes from the blessing, photos with parents and siblings, certificate

Any professional photos that were taken

**Journal text (interspersed with a few favorite photos)

First Birthday: handprint, growth stats for the first year, messy cake photo, journal text on birthday celebrations

**Our family keeps a journal in the form of emails sent to family members. We send out an email on Sundays, not always every week but usually twice a month, in which we give updates on family members and activities. Those emails are eventually compiled, printed, and bound into a book (admittedly I am a few years behind in printing the books). For the children’s books I went back through all the emails from the first year of their life and pulled out anything that related to the baby. This is where we can find the details on how the baby is sleeping, when their first tooth appeared, what they smile at and play with, etc.

I didn’t print a ton of photos, just enough to give a good representation of the first year. The children have really enjoyed looking at their books, and we spent a few days at bedtime reading through the journal pages.

It is nice to finally have this project done , just before baby #4 appears and I will have another book to do!

What’s Next

I think having a first year/baby book for each child is a great accomplishment. For future years I think I will stick to keeping all of their important documents stored in their memory box. I think that digitally created photo books are the way to go in the future, so my plan is to create a nice hardbound photo book for each child that chronicles their life from birth through age 11 (to be presented on their 12th birthday). Then another book covering the years from 12-graduation. After that I think the kids can handle their own memory books!

I am toying with the idea of making a school days book for each child, which would hold all the significant school stuff in a binder: photos from the first day, first day interview and self-portrait, annual photo, and class photo. I know the kids would love to have a binder to look through and see all of that. But for now at least things are organized in their box.

How have you organized your child’s baby memories?

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Making our Valentines

The main task for this afternoon (once the usual homework, reading, piano practice, and snack time have been completed) is making our valentines. Lately we have preferred to go the homemade route, usually by making use of some cute printable found via Pinterest and attaching something small (there are hundreds ideas available).

Has Valentine’s Day always been so focused on treats and candy? My memories of Valentine’s Day as a child simply involve crafting some type of heart decorated holder, and filling classmates holders with cute little paper notes. But every year my kids are bringing home as much candy as they do on Halloween! And since we still have a large bowl overflowing with Halloween and Christmas candy, I opt to make Valentine cards that are candy-free.

The children and I browsed ideas on Pinterest, then headed to Target to see what we could find. We ended up purchasing the cute little bubble wands ($3 for a pack of 24) for my 10 year old and 7 year old girls to pass out. We will attach them to this cute printable from Simply Modern Mom: I am bubbling with excitement that you are my friend.

IMG_3798-1
Image via Simply Modern Mom

My four-year-old boy opted for the bouncy ball option (16 for $3). We are going to attach them to this printable from What the Teacher Wants: Have a ball today!

Non Food Valentine Pics3
Image via What the Teacher Wants

Pretty simple and fun!

I thought we were all set, until my daughter asked what we were going to do for teachers this year. Uh….yikes! Time for more browsing. And in the spirit of usefulness and less candy, we are going with hand sanitizer and this printable from Simply Sprout: Spread Love, Not Germs!

Image via Simply Sprout
Image via Simply Sprout

Looking for more ideas? You can check out last year’s Valentine’s here, or scroll through my links below for some of the other options we considered this year.

Glow sticks: here and here

Bugs

Animals

Pencils

100 Clever Valentine’s Sayings paired with small items/treats

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Loving God (FHE plans and quotes)

During the month of February, our Family Home Evening lessons are mostly focused on LOVE. Tonights lesson is on Loving God.

Jesus Christ taught  “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). What are some commandments that we have been given? Brainstorm ideas, then talk about Moses and the Ten Commandments.

Basically the Ten Commandments can be summarized in two principles—love for the Lord and love for our fellow men:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt 22:37-39).

How do we show love for God? By being obedient to his commandments.

Mini-Reverence Reminder for Children: Reverence is love and respect for God. How should we act during sacrament meeting, or family prayer, or other reverent times?

Note: Use this printable to hang up as a reminder for our scripture memorization this week, Matt 22:37).

Additional Quotes

“Trying to please others before pleasing God is inverting the first and second great commandments. It is forgetting which way we face…When other demand approval in defiance of God’s commandments, may we always remember whose disciples we are, and which way we face” (Elder Lynn G. Robbins)

“To love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all-consuming and all-encompassing. It is no lukewarm endeavor. It is total commitment of our very being—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—to a love of the Lord.”

“When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities. We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson)

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Project Complete: Child memory file boxes

Children accumulate a lot of papers and stuff, especially school-age children! There are lots of ideas online regarding organizing and storing their papers. After thinking about it (for a few years!) I felt that the best solution would be to keep everything in a plastic file box.1-DSC_0020

I purchased a set of two file boxes from Sam’s Club last June, but then summer happened and pregnancy nausea happened. But I finally got to work in January!

Each child will have their own box (right now they are sharing because they don’t have a lot of years yet and we are tight on storage space in our current home). Each box has labeled file folders, one for each school year (preschool, first grade, second grade, etc). Into each folder goes anything we deem worthy of saving: class photos, report cards, awards/certificates, favorite samples of writing and artwork, school journals, etc. 1-DSC_0021

Each folder also includes a back to school section: a self-portrait (template here), an annual interview, a photo, and notes from father’s blessings. We always complete this the first week of school, usually at FHE. There are lots of printables available online, but I have linked to the versions we use.

I also made folder labels for activities that my child may be involved in: Activity Girls/Cub Scouts, sports, talents, Young Men/Young Women.

The plan is that each child will have one box of school/paperwork to take with them when they  have grown up and settled in their own home. This way the paperwork is manageable, and you can only keep the very best.

Here are some of the posts that inspired this project: here, here, here and here.

It feels good to finally complete a project that I have been meaning to do for years! Now I know exactly where to file any school papers worth saving, and they can be found and looked at again. My children had a good time looking back through their papers and journals as I worked on this project.

What’s Next

It seems that finishing one project often inspires a few more projects. A few things I would still like to do:

-Add a cover sheet for each year. Something that includes the year, school, grade, teachers name, and a photo. There are a few templates online, but I haven’t quite settled on the version I like best.

-Cards and letters that the children receive: I haven’t figured out what to do with these yet. Just throw them away? Keep a folder for them in the box? They are currently all stored in a shoebox size document box, but they are growing out of that space.

-Why stop at boxes just for the children? I would like to go through my husbands multiple boxes from his growing up years and see if it can be compiled into one nice neat box. My growing up stuff is already pretty well organized, but it wouldn’t hurt to take another look.

-Family memory papers: I like this file box idea so much, I want to make a box to store family papers (ticket stubs, certificates, photos, etc). Probably a file folder for each year.

How do you manage paperwork and memorabilia for your family? What do you do with birthday cards? I would love to hear what works for you!

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February traditions of love

February is a great month. Valentine’s Day provides an added incentive to show love to others, and in our family we make that our focus for the whole month. Here are the ways that we plan to show love this month.

Make valentines for classmates: we prefer simple and handmade (usually involving a printable found on Pinterest) and of the non-food variety. You can check out last years version here.

Simple decorations for our house, involving handmade hearts from the kids and love-themed printable found online.

Give the Family Heart Attack. “I love_________because__________”

Make and decorate sugar cookies (favorite recipe).

Leave love notes for each other, using our red mailbox.

Hearts on the Wall-read about our new tradition of dinner time scriptures and conversation starters here.

Family Home Evening lessons: This year we will focus on loving others, loving God (and how he loves us), loving ourselves, and loving our ancestors.

Play the Heart Healthy game.

Personal Study: Review this wonderful talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “How Do I Love Thee?”

Plan a heart menu for February 14th. Perhaps use heart cookie cutters for pancakes, cheese slices, brownies?? Heart shaped pizza??

Gift giving: I like to give my children a little gift to open on Valentine’s Day. Usually it is a book. Last year I found some heart nightgowns on clearance that were perfect for the girls.

Reading books: You can find our Love booklist here.

Favorite Scriptures about LOVE and HEART (how many can we memorize this month??)

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Matthew 22:37 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind”.

2 Nephi 4:15 “For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them”

Alma 45:7 “Yea, I will keep thy commandments with all my heart”.

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Love books to read in February

In February we like to read books about love and hearts. I think the favorites at our house would have to be I Love You, Stinky Face and My Heart is Like a Zoo. Here is what we are reading this month:

I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt

Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The I LOVE YOU Book by Todd Parr

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

The Day it Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond

You Are My I Love You by Maryann K. Cusimano

Kisses by Nanda Roep & Marijke ten Cate

My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall

Lilly’s Chocolate Heart by Kevin Henkes

You can also check out love books from years past: 2013 and 2009.

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