On Fasting (FHE plans and quotes from President Eyring)

After attending a recent stake training meeting, my husband expressed a desire to me that we teach our children about fasting. This is a direction that came down the lines of church leadership to our stake leaders. It didn’t escape our notice that the first talk at General Conference was given by President Eyring on the topic of the fast. With Fast Sunday approaching this week, this is a perfect time to share this lesson with our children. As I am putting it together, I know this will be a topic of discussion for more than just one night.

What is a fast?

Use the points from this Friend magazine article. Cut up the points and hide them around the room, have the children find them and discuss them in order.

  1. Fast Sunday is on the first Sunday of each month. It is a special day to humble ourselves before the Lord by fasting, praying, and attending fast and testimony meeting.
  2. On fast Sunday, members of the Church do not eat or drink for two meals. Children may be encouraged to fast when they are old enough.
  3. Members donate the money they would have spent on food for the two meals to help the needy. This money is called a fast offering.
  4. Members can give fast offerings to one of the bishopric or branch presidency members. The bishop or branch president uses the money to help those in need in his ward or branch.
  5. Fast offerings may be used to help feed the hungry.
  6. Fast offerings might be used to care for the sick.
  7. In each way a fast offering is used, it helps take care of Heavenly Father’s children.

Discussion

Discuss the following teachings from President Henry B. Eyring, “Is Not This the Fast I Have Chosen?”. April 2015 General Conference.

“When we offer succor to anyone, the Savior feels it as if we reached out to succor Him.”

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40).

“So the Lord has given us a simple commandment with a marvelous promise. In the Church today we are offered the opportunity to fast once a month and give a generous fast offering through our bishop or branch president for the benefit of the poor and the needy. Some of what you give will be used to help those around you, perhaps someone in your own family. The Lord’s servants will pray and fast for the revelation to know whom to help and what help to give. That which is not needed to help people in your local Church unit will become available to bless other Church members across the world who are in need.”

“Rich promises are made by the Lord to those who fast and assist the needy. … Inspiration and spiritual guidance will come with righteousness and closeness to our Heavenly Father. To omit to do this righteous act of fasting would deprive us of these blessings” (President Spencer W. Kimball).

Stories of helping others through fast offerings:

-Tropical Cyclone Pam hitting Vanuatu

“Other storms and tragedies will come across the world to people the Lord loves and whose sorrows He feels. Part of your fast offering and mine this month will be used to help someone, somewhere, whose relief the Lord will feel as if it were His own.”

Application

An earthquake in Nepal on Saturday, April 25th, has killed thousands and left many more injured and in great need. How can we help?

Other scriptures about Fasting

“Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting” (Joel 2:12).

“They did fast much and pray much” (Alma 45:1).

“Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer” (D&C 59:14).

Further Study  

“Fasting, coupled with mighty prayer, is powerful.” (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Law of the Fast,” Ensign, May 2001, 73.)

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October 2014 General Conference: Key Messages by the Prophet and Apostles

In March I had an assignment to teach a Primary Sharing Time lesson about prophets and apostles. I wanted to prepare the children for the upcoming General Conference, so we spent some time talking about the apostles and some of their key messages from the previous conference. We didn’t get through all of them, but this is a good summary for more personal study.

President Monson: Ponder the Path of Thy Feet
The Savior’s example provides a framework for everything that we do, and His words provide an unfailing guide. His path will take us safely home.

Physically walking where Jesus walked is less important than walking as He walked.

President Monson (closing remarks): Until We Meet Again
May we be people of honesty and integrity, trying to do the right thing at all times and in all circumstances. May we be faithful followers of Christ, examples of righteousness, thus becoming “lights in the world.”

President Eyring: Continuing Revelation
Heavenly Father hears your prayers. He loves you. He knows your name. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and our Redeemer. He loves you beyond your ability to comprehend. God pours out revelation, through the Holy Ghost, on His children. He speaks to His prophet on the earth, who today is Thomas S. Monson. I witness that he holds and exercises all the keys of the priesthood on earth.

President Uchtdorf: Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth
But 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.

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.

President Uchtdorf (priesthood session): “Lord, Is It I?”
May I suggest that the holy scriptures and the talks given at general conference are an effective mirror we can hold up for self-examination. As you hear or read the words of the ancient and modern prophets, refrain from thinking about how the words apply to someone else and ask the simple question: “Lord, is it I?”

President Packer: The Reason for Our Hope
If we seek to understand His Atonement, we will come to a deep reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ, His earthly ministry, and His divine mission as our Savior. “Through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved” (Articles of Faith 1:3).

Elder Perry: Finding Lasting Peace and Building Eternal Families
The gospel of our Lord and Savior provides a sure and solid foundation.

Jesus is the great Exemplar. The only way to find lasting peace is to look to Him and live.

Helaman 5:12

Elder Nelson: Sustaining the prophets
A prophet has stood at the head of God’s Church in all dispensations, from Adam to the present day. Prophets testify of Jesus Christ–of His divinity and of His earthly mission and ministry. We honor the Prophet Joseph Smith as the prophet of this last dispensation. And we honor each man who has succeeded him as President of the Church.

The living Lord leads His living Church! The Lord reveals His will for the Church to His prophet.

Elder Oaks: Loving Others and Living with Differences
We challenge all youth to avoid bullying, insults, or language and practices that deliberately inflict pain on others.

Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable.

Elder Ballard: Stay in the Boat and Hold On!
The words of the Lord are found in the scriptures and the teachings of the apostles and prophets. They provide us counsel and direction that, when followed, will act like a spiritual life jacket and will help us know how to hold on with both hands.

We should focus on studying, living, and loving the doctrine of Christ.

Elder Scott: Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority
Our Father in Heaven has given us tools to help us come unto Christ and exercise faith in His Atonement:
1) Prayer: Family prayer should be a nonnegotiable priority in your daily life.
2) Scripture study: Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!
3) Family home evening: Make it a meaningful experience for each member of the family. Family home evening is a precious time to bear testimony in a safe environment; to learn teaching, planning, and organizational skills; to strengthen family bonds; to develop family traditions; to talk to each other; and more important, to have a marvelous time together!
4) Temple attendance: Schedule a regular time to be in the temple. Don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from being there.

Elder Hales: Eternal Life—to Know Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ
My own testimony grew as I learned about Heavenly Father and the Savior from the teachings and testimony of my parents, teachers, the scriptures–which I read diligently–and especially the Holy Ghost. As I exercised faith and obeyed the commandments, the Holy Ghost testified that what I was learning was true. This is how I came to know for myself.

Helaman 5:12

Elder Holland: Are We Not All Beggars?
She hath done what she could. (Think of mother Teresa or the widows mite)

I pay a personal tribute to President Thomas Spencer Monson. I have been blessed by an association with this man for 47 years now, and the image of him I will cherish until I die is of him flying home from then–economically devastated East Germany in his house slippers because he had given away not only his second suit and his extra shirts but the very shoes from off his feet. “How beautiful upon the mountains [and shuffling through an airline terminal] are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace.” More than any man I know, President Monson has “done all he could” for the widow and the fatherless, the poor and the oppressed.

Elder Bednar: Come and See
Devoted disciples of Jesus Christ always have been and always will be valiant missionaries. A missionary is a follower of Christ who testifies of Him as the Redeemer and proclaims the truths of His gospel.
The Church of Jesus Christ always has been and always will be a missionary church. The individual members of the Savior’s Church have accepted the solemn obligation to assist in fulfilling the divine commission given by the Lord to His Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament.

Elder Cook: Choose Wisely
I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness.21 We must not take our eyes off or drop that ball for any reason.

Elder Christofferson: Free Forever, to Act for Themselves
I know that beyond desiring His help, we must exert ourselves, repent, and choose God for Him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency. My plea is simply to take responsibility and go to work so that there is something for God to help us with.

Elder Andersen: Joseph Smith
Each believer needs a spiritual confirmation of the divine mission and character of the Prophet Joseph Smith. This is true for every generation. Spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers from God.

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Strengthening and Defending the Family (Highlights from the April 2015 General Women’s Session)

The April 2015 General Women’s Session was such an inspiring meeting. As a wife and mother, I especially appreciated the focus on strengthening and defending the family, since this is something I think about and pray about everyday. After re-reading the talks, here are the quotes that stood out to me.

Cheryl A. Esplin “Filling Our Homes with Light and Truth”.

“When filled with the Spirit and with gospel truth, we have the power to withstand the outside forces of the world that surround and push against us.”

Families are the Lord’s workshop on earth to help us learn and live the gospel. We come into our families with a sacred duty to help strengthen each other spiritually. Strong eternal families and Spirit-filled homes do not just happen. They take great effort, they take time, and they take each member of the family doing his or her part.”

“The answers to our prayers may not come dramatically, but we must find quiet moments to seek greater light and truth.”

Carole M. Stephens, “The Family is of God”.

“As we use our time in mortality to study and apply the Savior’s teachings, we become more like Him. We come to understand that He is the way—the only way—we can overcome mortal challenges, be healed, and return back to our heavenly home.”

Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Defenders of the Family Proclamation.”

“The proclamation on the family has become our benchmark for judging the philosophies of the world”.

“We need to boldly defend the Lord’s revealed doctrines describing marriage, families, the divine roles of men and women, and the importance of homes as sacred places…If it is the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan!”

“We eagerly teach our children to aim high in this life. We want to make sure that our daughters know that they have the potential to achieve and be whatever they can imagine…Do we also teach our sons and daughters there is no greater honor, no more elevated title, and no more important role in this life than that of mother or father?”

“We need to take a term which is sometimes spoken of with derision and elevate it. It is the term homemaker. All of us—women, men, youth, and children, single or married—can work at being homemakers. We should “make our homes” places of order, refuge, holiness, and safety. Our homes should be places where the Spirit of the Lord is felt in rich abundance and where the scriptures and the gospel are studied, taught, and lived. What a difference it would make in the world if all people would see themselves as makers of righteous homes. Let us defend the home as a place which is second only to the temple in holiness.”

President Monson (from the video):”The home is the basis of a righteous life.”

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April 2015 General Conference Summary

General Conference was wonderful. The messages shared were inspiring and great reminders of the essential elements of the gospel. I am thankful to have living prophets and apostles on the earth today to give us God’s word. The next step is: what will we do with what we have heard? As Elder Nelson asked, “Because of what I have heard and felt during this conference, how will I change?”

As I watched the sessions I specifically listened for the following (and encouraged my children to do the same):

1) the key message of each talk (summed up in just a few words, or one quote)

2) scripture references that stood out to me

3) any references to our 2015 family scripture, Helaman 5:12, or the idea of foundation (I was thrilled when my 5-year old was the first to notice President Packer’s mention of foundation).

President Eyring: the law of the Fast

President Packer: marriage and family life, testimony of the atonement, foundation

Sister Burton: husbands and wives, “thee lift me and I’ll lift thee, and we’ll ascend together”

Elder Oaks: the parable of the sower, “spiritual food is needed for spiritual survival”

Elder Clayton: choose to believe in him, Alma 32:27

Elder Perry: marriage and families, “Family is the center of life. It is the key to eternal happiness”.

Elder Bednar: Godly fear, Helaman 5:12, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Elder Christofferson: marriage and families

Elder Nielsen: parable of the prodigal son

Elder Holland: the fall and the atonement

President Uchtdorf: grace of God, “God loves us deeply, perfectly, and everlastingly”, 2 Nephi 25: 23, parable of the debtor

Elder Hales: religious freedom and liberty, “How we live our religion is more important than what we say about it.”

Elder Cook: parable of the wheat and the tares, family, Psalm 27

President Monson: temples, peace, John 14:27

Sister Wixom: believe in God, Mosiah 4:9, Helaman 5:12

Elder Teixeira: have joy

Elder Pearson: 6 principles to endure to the end, “Search the Book of Mormon and the words of the living prophets everyday, everyday, everyday!”

Elder Andersen: can you see the hand of God in your life and the world around you?

Elder Sitati: be fruitful and multiply

Elder Nelson: how will I change because of what I have heard this conference? Sabbath day-is it a delight?, teach children the gospel, “No other work transcends that of righteous, intentional parenting!”

One of the great things about a General Conference weekend and hearing so many inspired messages at once is the ability to see patterns and themes. Did you notice how many talks were about marriage and families (especially including the General Women’s session)? And how each speaker bore witness of our Savior, Jesus Christ? I noticed a number of speakers referred to parables taught by the Savior, so add that to my spiritual study list. And Elder Pearson’s comment is a clear exhortation to study the Book of Mormon and the words of the living prophets EVERDAY.

I am looking forward to studying these messages in depth and applying their teachings to my life!

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Preparing myself for General Conference

Earlier this week I shared some of the plans I have to help my family prepare for General Conference. I have also been preparing myself spiritually by thinking and pondering about the answers and guidance I most need in my life right now.

The following articles/talks are great reads to help put anyone in the right frame of mind leading into a conference weekend.

Elder Robert D. Hales, “General Conference: Strengthening Faith and Testimony”. October 2013 General Conference.

Elder Neil L. Anderson, “Teaching Our Children to Love the Prophets”. April 1996 Ensign.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “General Conference-No Ordinay Blessing”. September 2011 Ensign.

General Conference: A Paradigm Shift -Remember not to spend the weekend “shushing” the children. Make it a positive experience for all (and whatever I miss, I can read later!).

Preparing Yourself for General Conference

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Preparing our Family for General Conference (including FHE plans)

General Conference is a twice-annual event that is very important to me. The opportunity to hear living prophets and apostles speak the word of the Lord is a special blessing, and I am grateful for it. I want my children to recognize what a blessing General Conference is, so we do a number of things to prepare our family for it.

Recognizing the Apostles

We have had a lot of success teaching our children the names of the First Presidency and Apostles by singing their last names to the tune of “10 Little Indians”. Monson, Eyring, Uchtdorf, Packer, Perry…etc. All of my children (age 10, 7, and 5 know the song well now).  The next step is to match the right name with the right person. This month I ordered the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles picture set available from store.lds.org. We can use the 8×10 photos in many ways for many years!

FHE before Conference

Our FHE the week before conference is always focused on conference preparation. Here is our plan for tonight:

1) Using our new picture packet, review the names and faces of the prophet and apostles. Can we put them in the correct order?

2) Review the importance of General Conference by discussing the following quotes from Elder Hales.

“To the young members of the Church, I promise that if you will listen, you will feel the Spirit well up within you. The Lord will tell you what He wants you to do with your life.”

“Wherever we are in this world…I testify that we are gathered at His conference.”

In conferences we can receive the word of the Lord meant just for us…This is possible because the Holy Ghost carries the word of the Lord unto our hearts in terms we can understand.”

General-Conference-Quotes-2We will hang these printable posters from the Red Headed Hostess on our wall and keep them up all week.

3)Plan for General Conference weekend: There are tons of resources available online to help keep children occupied during General Conference (sometimes it is a little overwhelming). We have done many activity packets and coloring in the past, but this year I want to find out what they are most interested in doing, so we aren’t scrambling at the last minute. We will pick our favorites from the ideas below.

IMG_1250-2Remove the poster from the most recent conference Ensign. Hang it on the wall, and then the children get to put a sticker on the picture of whoever is speaking.

Scan10261My children have always enjoyed coloring the General Authority ties. I can’t find the link on Sugardoodle anymore, but I did find a version here or here.

I picked up a post-it-note pad for each person in our family. I will hang the pictures on the wall, and we can use the post-it-notes to jot down key topics and quotes and hang them on the wall. For my beginning readers and spellers, I printed and laminated these headband cards to use as reference cards.

One of our family goals this year has been to memorize scriptures (almost weekly). We can also use the post-it-notes to quickly record scriptures that are mentioned. We will also listen close to see if our scripture of the year is quoted.

As usual there are a number of packets and great ideas available on Sugardoodle.

We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ has a fabulous list of ideas and resources. We have had success with the concept of reverence stations in the past.

This time around I would like to try Smash Booklets. The children will have the freedom to write and draw and decorate their pages as they please.

And since it is Easter weekend, it would be fun to combine Easter eggs and apostles.

This Conference I Spy worksheet would be fun, along with homemade spy glasses made from toilet paper rolls.

On the menu

General Conference at our house means crepes for breakfast on Saturday, and cinnamon rolls on Sunday! Yummy!

What General Conference plans and traditions do you have?

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“Ponder the path of thy feet” (Highlights from President Monson-Oct 2014)

President Monson’s most recent General Conference talk comes from this scripture in Proverbs 4:26 “Ponder the path of thy feet”. This is an excellent talk and made for a great FHE lesson. I had the children each trace an outline of their foot while we discussed the highlighted quotes below. 

“As we look to Jesus as our Exemplar and as we follow in His footsteps, we can return safely to our Heavenly Father to live with Him forever.”

“Physically walking where Jesus walked is less important than walking as He walked.”

Walking-as-He-Walked-Quote2image via Simple As That

Like Jesus, we can walk the path of: obedience, service, and prayer.

Read the scriptures to find instructions given to us by the Savior: be merciful, be humble, be righteous, be pure in heart, be peacemakers, stand up for beliefs, let our lights shine, be morally clean, love and serve our neighbors, improve our talents, rescue others.

“As we strive to place Christ at the center of our lives by learning His words, by following His teachings, and by walking in His path, He has promised to share with us the eternal life that He died to gain.”

“Nothing else, no other choice we make, can make of us what He can.”

President Thomas S. Monson, “Ponder the Path of Thy Feet”. October 2014 General Conference.

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Be a disciple of Christ (Highlights from Elder Rasband-April 2014)

“Jesus Christ continues to extend the call “Come and follow me.”5 He walked His homeland with His followers in a selfless manner. He continues to walk with us, stand by us, and lead us. To follow His perfect example is to recognize and honor the Savior, who has borne all of our burdens through His sacred and saving Atonement, the ultimate act of service. What He asks of each one of us is to be able and willing to take up the joyful “burden” of discipleship.”

Focusing on serving our brothers and sisters can guide us to make divine decisions in our daily lives and prepares us to value and love what the Lord loves. In so doing, we witness by our very lives that we are His disciples. When we are engaged in His work, we feel His Spirit with us. We grow in testimony, faith, trust, and love.”

Elder Ronald A. Rasband, “The Joyful Burden of Discipleship”. April 2014 General Conference.

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The Atonement helps us to bear the load (Highlights from Elder Bednar-April 2014)

Each of us also carries a load. Our individual load is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations and privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints. Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load: “Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the strait and narrow path and avoid getting stuck? Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home to Heavenly Father?”

“Bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness.”

Not only does the Atonement of Jesus Christ overcome the effects of the Fall of Adam and make possible the remission of our individual sins and transgressions, but His Atonement also enables us to do good and become better in ways that stretch far beyond our mortal capacities. Most of us know that when we do things wrong and need help to overcome the effects of sin in our lives, the Savior has made it possible for us to become clean through His redeeming power. But do we also understand that the Atonement is for faithful men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully? I wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of the Atonement in our lives and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all alone—through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities.”

As we are yoked with Him through sacred covenants and receive the enabling power of His Atonement in our lives, we increasingly will seek to understand and live according to His will. We also will pray for the strength to learn from, change, or accept our circumstances rather than praying relentlessly for God to change our circumstances according to our will. We will become agents who act rather than objects that are acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:14). We will be blessed with spiritual traction.”

Elder David A. Bednar, “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease”. April 2014 General Conference.

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Christlike Obedience (Highlights from Elder Hales-April 2014)

“Jesus taught us to obey in simple language that is easy to understand: “If ye love me, keep my commandments,”5 and “Come, follow me.”

Using our agency to obey means choosing to “do what is right [and letting] the consequence follow.”11 It requires self-mastery and brings confidence, eternal happiness, and a sense of fulfillment to us and, by example, to those around us; and it always includes a deep personal commitment to sustain priesthood leaders and follow their teachings and counsel.”

As disciples of Christ, we have a sacred obligation to uphold His laws and commandments and the covenants which we take upon ourselves.”

Obedience is taught by example. By how we live, we teach our children, “Learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.”

Elder Robert D. Hales, “If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments”.  April 2014 General Conference.

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