Thursday, February 27, 2014

Repentance Road Map

UPDATE (3/5/2017)
You can now view and download the file for the Repentance Road Map. Scroll to the bottom of the post for the link!

When I was preparing to teach the Young Women about repentance, I read this quote from Elder Neil L. Andersen that gave me a great idea for an activity:

For most, repentance is more a journey than a one-time event. It is not easy. To change is difficult. It requires running into the wind, swimming upstream. Jesus said, "if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." Repentance is turning away from some things, such as dishonesty, pride, anger, and impure thoughts, and turning toward other things, such as kindness, unselfishness, patience, and spirituality. It is "re-turning" toward God.
- Neil L. Andersen

I used this idea of "re-turning" toward God to create a "Repentance Road Map". I used True to the Faith (found here) as a reference for the steps of repentance and a little creativity to relate each step to a road sign on our map.

At the top of the map I wrote the following, represented by a "Wrong Way" sign:
On the highway of life we occasionally sin and go off course, but with repentance, we can find our way back.

Next, I put a quote from Elder Andersen with a "U-turn" sign:
"When we sin, we turn away from God. When we repent, we turn back toward God."

 Under the heading, "Directions Back to the Straight and Narrow Path", I listed the steps of repentance and explained to the girls a little about how they related to each road sign.

1. "Stop" sign- Faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Before you start on your road to repentance, you must first stop and confirm your testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It is through them that repentance is possible.
2. "Rough Road" sign- Sorrow for Sin. Feeling bad about what you have done is not easy.
3. "Merge Right" sign- Confession. To start on the "right" path you need to begin by admitting the wrong you have done.
4. "No U-Turn" sign- Abandonment of Sin. It is important that you continue moving forward on your road to repentance and not "u-turn" back to old sins.
5. "Construction Ahead" sign- Restitution. It takes some work to make things right again.
6. "Merge" sign- Righteous Living. Once you have "re-turned" toward God, you can "merge" back to the straight and narrow path.

I put large road signs on the board during the lesson and the girls followed along on their own maps.

I think the girls enjoyed my approach to this lesson and I think it helped to keep them interested and focused.

Have you taught about the steps of repentance before? How did you approach the subject?

UPDATE (3/5/2017)
You can now view and download the file for the Repentance Road Map here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How Repentance Heals Us

UPDATE (3/5/2017) You can now view and download the file for the Healing Hearts. Scroll to the bottom of the post for the link!

Last March I taught the Young Women a lesson on repentance. Many times when we hear the word "repentance" we get uncomfortable thinking that it is a bad thing or a thing that only bad people need. This is not true. We all need repentance and it is a great gift provided by our Heavenly Father and Jesus because they want to help us and heal us. As we read Elder Andersen's talk entitled, "Repent . . . That I May Heal You" (found here), we discussed several "band aids" or qualities of repentance that show that repentance is a wonderful thing all about love and healing.

I put a sad and hurt girl on the board. Each Young Woman read a quote from Elder Andersen's talk then came up to the board and put a band aid on the girl to "heal" her. Each band aid was labeled with a healing/comforting quality of repentance or its process. I tried to pick out things that would calm the girls' fears about repentance or that would help them better understand the repentance process.

Following is what I wrote on each heart, I put in bold the parts that I wanted the girls to pay special attention to:

In this life, it is never too late to repent.

Don't be discouraged. If you are striving and working to repent, you are in the process of repenting.

If you are concerned, counsel with your bishop. He will help you.

Repentance removes pain and guilt from our hearts and replaces them with joy and peace of conscience.

The Savior is there, reaching out to each of us, bidding us: "Come unto me" We can repent. We can!

The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisement but rather a loving appeal to turn around and to "re-turn" toward God.

For most, repenting is quiet and quite private, daily seeking the Lord's help to make needed changes.

The Lord will forget our sins, but to help us the Lord at times allows the residue of our mistakes to rest in our memory.

I hope that through Elder Andersen's talk and our lesson the girls learned that repentance is a wonderful thing! I also hope that I was able to clear up any confusion about it.

Do you find that the Youth often feel like repentance is a bad thing? How have you tried to clear up this misconception?

UPDATE (3/5/2017) You can now view and download the file for the Healing Hearts here! Enjoy!

Monday, February 24, 2014

An "Egg-stra" Special Gift

Last year I taught the Young Women during the month of March. March is already just around the corner again, so I thought I would share some of the ideas I used last year over the next little while. I hope someone who is teaching the Youth in March this year will find some of these ideas helpful!

Our first lesson last March was entitled, "What is the Atonement of Jesus Christ?" At the beginning of the lesson I gave each girl a “gift” just for coming to class. I put the gift in a plastic egg. The egg represented a new beginning. 

When Jesus Christ gave his life for us He gave everyone a new beginning, immortality. Everyone who has ever lived on Earth gets the gift of immortality from Jesus Christ just for coming to Earth because of His Atonement on our behalf. Jesus also gave everyone a chance to earn an “egg-stra” special gift, the gift of Eternal Life. Eternal Life doesn’t come without hard work and perseverance while here on Earth. We need to keep the commandments, repent, and endure to the end to gain Celestial Glory. This part of the Atonement is conditional on what we do in our lifetime. Those who are baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and go the “egg-stra” mile by living the commandments and receiving the ordinances of the Temple can live with Heavenly Father and Jesus again in the Celestial Kingdom. 

I told the girls that at the end of the lesson I had something much better than this egg, but to receive it they must work hard during the lesson. Everyone who wanted to receive this “egg-stra” special gift must participate at least once and they would then receive it.

Because it was Fast Sunday, I wasn't able to use food for the gifts so I had to be a little more creative. The first gift that all the girls received at the beginning of class was a flower with their birthstone on it to put in their Sunday journals. I thought this went well with the gift of immortality because it is something everyone who is born receives (hence the birthstone). I had the girls go around the room and share what month they were born in and something special about themselves. Because I was new to Young Women at the time, this helped me get to know the girls better.

The second gift was a charm to put on a necklace they received at New Beginnings. The charm was heart shaped and went with the talk by Sister Linda K. Burton about having the principles of the Atonement written on our hearts. We discussed this talk during the lesson. You can find it here.

When I gave the girls the "egg-stra" special gift I gave them a little handout (pictured above) which said,
"Eternal Life is an 'egg-stra' special gift made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In order to receive this gift, however, we must go the 'egg-stra' mile by obeying the laws and ordinances of the Gospel."

I hope this lesson helped the girls better understand the Atonement, immortality, and Eternal Life. I know it helped me understand it better as I studied and taught it.

Will you be teaching the Youth during the month of March? Have you started planning your lessons already?

Friday, February 21, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Banner

Last Saturday my three-year-old told me that Valentine's Day was over and asked what holiday was next. I told her next was St. Patrick's Day! We went to the bookstore and picked out a few books on St. Patrick's Day to read and this week I started on some St. Patrick's Day crafts.

My first craft was a fun St. Patrick's Day banner.

I cut the letters, heart, and shamrock shapes out with my Cricut.

I added some ribbon and some rhinestones to each letter. The rhinestones are definitely my favorite part!

I think it turned out pretty cute!

Have you started on any St. Patrick's Day crafts or are your Valentine's decorations still up? What do you think you will be making this year?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

I have been writing about our recent lesson in Young Women about the Holy Ghost (you can find some ideas here and here).  This is one more idea I used. To present the topic for the lesson, I gave the girls each a gift (to represent the Gift of the Holy Ghost) and asked them what we might be talking about. To give them an extra hint, the gifts were filled with Dove chocolates (to represent the Holy Ghost descending like a dove when Christ was baptized). It didn't take the girls long to figure out that we would be talking about the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I thought this was a fun way to get the girls interested and involved at the very beginning of the lesson.

I found the cute little gift boxes at DollarTree.

How do you get the Youth interested in the lesson topic? Do you ever use treats to catch their attention?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pantry Meals: Dinnertime Lifesavers Part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I love my freezer meals. (You can read more about them here.) Now I want to tell you about something equally as amazing- pantry meals. Pantry meals are just like freezer meals in that they are prepared ahead of time, but instead of keeping them in your freezer you keep them in your pantry. Our family loves them. When I made my last batch of freezer meals I also made almost 40 pantry meals to have on hand for quick and easy dinners. Many of the pantry meals I made are homemade versions of Hamburger Helper. My kids love them because they are things they like such as Cheeseburger Helper or Lasagna Helper and I love them because they are easy and convenient like Hamburger Helper, but they don't have any of the preservatives that you find in the real Hamburger Helper from the store.

The pantry meals are so easy to put together. Many of my recipes had "seasoning packets" that I combined into a small zip-top bag and then a grain that I measured out into a larger bag. I just put the small bag in the big bag with the grain and store it in the pantry. It's that easy. Many of the meals also call for fresh or canned ingredients that I already keep on hand in our pantry or fridge and add on the day I cook the meal. Other pantry meals are even easier to put together like the Lentil and Barley Stew (pictured above, recipe below). For these you can just combine all the ingredients into a single zip-top bag and store them in the pantry- so simple!

The Hamburger Helper-like pantry meals are a little bit more time consuming to cook than our freezer meals (maybe 30 minutes from start to finish), but you can also find recipes like the Lentil and Barley Stew where you dump everything in the slow cooker and you are done! 

If you are a little hesitant about trying freezer meals, pantry meals are a good place to start in the world of make-ahead meals. The ingredients are cheap and many of them you probably already have on hand! They are also really, really simple to put together- even more so than freezer meals.

Here are the recipes we have tried. My family has seriously loved them all:

And in case you can't read it off the picture, here is the recipe for Lentil and Barley Stew (recipe adapted from
Dry Ingredients (add to large zip-top bag):
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
3/4 cup uncooked barley
3/4 cup uncooked lentils
Fresh Ingredients (add on day of cooking)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
3 cloves crushed garlic
Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
Pour contents of bag into slow cooker.
Add water, broth, and garlic.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Have you ever tried pantry meals? How about freezer meals? Do you consider them dinnertime lifesavers as well?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The "Rolls" of the Holy Ghost

*Update (3/5/2017)* You can now view and download the file for the Tootsie Roll handout. Scroll to the bottom of the post for the link!

Last month in Young Women we talked about the Godhead as part of the new "Come Follow Me" Youth curriculum. The new curriculum focuses a lot on having the Youth participate more in lessons so that through this participation and application of the lessons in their daily lives, they may become converted to the Gospel. With each lesson I prepare, I really try to think of ways to engage the girls and get them to participate. 

For our lesson on the Holy Ghost we discussed the roles of the Holy Ghost. I used a little play on words- The Holy Ghost's "Rolls" and used Tootsie Rolls as a visual aid and little treat for participation.

These are the "rolls" I found in the book "True to the Faith"
The Holy Ghost Guides
through Him you can receive Gifts of the Spirit
He is the Holy Spirit of Promise
and Comforts

I presented each "roll" of the Holy Ghost and put a Tootsie Roll labeled with the role on the board. I then told the girls what the role meant and gave them an example. Next, I passed the Tootsie Rolls around the room and each girl had an opportunity to share an example of that role in her own life or in the life of another and then take a Tootsie Roll after she shared. The girls gave examples of how the Holy Ghost guides, testifies, and comforts and well as examples of gifts of the Spirit. I didn't have the girls give examples of how the Holy Ghost sanctifies or how He is the Holy Spirit of Promise. We discussed those points and then after each girl got a Tootsie Roll.

I wrapped a piece of paper labeled with each "roll" around the Tootsie Rolls to remind the girls one more time of the Holy Ghost's roles before they opened it up and ate their treat.

I think this exercise helped the girls really think about the roles of the Holy Ghost and where they can see them in their own lives.

While this lesson was great for the Youth, I think it can be adapted for Primary or even Relief Society!

How do you get the Youth to participate in class? Do you ever bring a treat as a little extra incentive?

*Update (1/19/2016)*
Because I have received such a positive response to this idea, I decided to create a handout to go along with it. The handout can be found here and you can use it if you want your students to remember the lesson even after the treat is gone!

*Update (3/5/2017)* You can now view and download the file for the Tootsie Roll handout here. Enjoy!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Forrest Gump-Themed Date Night Basket

I thought a lot about what to get my husband for Valentine's Day. While I was browsing the $5 movie bin at Walmart recently, I got a great idea. I picked out a movie, bought some fun things that went with the movie's theme, put together a quick craft (of course), put it all in a basket and there you have it- a movie-themed date night basket. This date night basket is especially good for us because we have four kids under four so we don't get out that often, but like to make time every once in a while to have a "date night" at home.

Here's what I put in our Forrest Gump-Themed Basket:

My favorite part was this cute little sign I made. It's not a direct quote from the movie and it will be of no use during our date night, but I thought it was cute and will also make a good springtime decoration!

The basket starts with dinner. To stay with the theme of Forrest Gump, I got the supplies for a shrimp pasta dish. I put the pasta and the recipe in the basket. We can make the pasta dish together then watch the movie after.

I added some movie snacks: popcorn, Dr. Pepper, and a box of chocolates. The popcorn is just an essential movie snack and the other two go with the theme. I thought I was pretty clever when I thought of those two. 

I love this idea and I am thinking there are endless possibilities for movie-themed date night baskets for future at-home dates!

How was your Valentine's Day? Did you give your sweetheart anything special?

P.S. A big "thank you" to my Facebook friends who gave me some suggestions on what to add to the basket!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Mantel

I have been working on lots of Valentine's Day crafts, now you get to see them all displayed on my mantel. I really like how it turned out. I think all the different crafts and colors came together perfectly!

The final crafts I made were some yarn wrapped letters. I took pictures thinking that I was going to show how I did it, but honestly the project was a lot harder than it looks. I am a perfectionist and I had to start over at least ten times because the yarn was slipping out of place or clumping up. If I hadn't already spent so much time on it, I would have just thrown in the towel! I like how it turned out, but not that it was my arch nemesis for a couple of days until I got it figured out and completed!

Here are a couple of my final touches. I wrapped lace around some of my red, pink, and cream candles and then tied on some cute little heart buttons I found with raffia or jute ribbon.

The left side.

The right side.

The entire mantel. What do you think?

If you want details on any of the crafts you can find them here: "Hugs & Kisses blocks", button heart, ribbon wreath, Scrabble "love" blocks, Valentine's Day countdown.

Hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day! Do you have any fun plans with your family or sweetheart?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Hugs & Kisses" Valentine's Blocks

Here's another craft that I think turned out really cute, my "Hugs & Kisses" blocks. Here's how I made them:

*Wooden blocks
*Sand paper
*Paint (optional, I didn't use any) and paint brush
*Mod Podge and a paint brush

For me, the best place to get wood blocks is Hobby Lobby. They sell bags of random wood pieces (I think they are actually called "A Bag of Wood") for about $3 with a coupon. I don't have a saw so this is the easiest way I have found to make these cute blocks. Because every "Bag of Wood" is different I have to look through the bag and see what I think will look good together. It takes a couple minutes for the "puzzle" to come together, but it always does. Also, no two project will ever be alike, which I think adds to the fun!

Once I have my blocks, I sand them.

Next, add a couple coats of paint. I usually use the little bottles of acrylic paint you find at craft stores. For this project I decided not to paint the blocks so they would match the "natural" theme my decorations have taken on {see here and here} and I thought it still turned out pretty cute!

Next, I cut my cardstock. I used my Cricut to cut out the letters. Then I traced the blocks and cut the paper a little smaller so you could see the wood around the edges. With the "H" and "G" I cut an additional piece, again a little smaller than the first.

Next, I used Mod Podge to adhere the cardstock to the block. I did this one layer at a time and let the Mod Podge dry between each layer.

I added a final coat of Mod Podge to the top of the blocks because I like the look it gives when it dries.

Once everything was dry, I added a couple bows. Did you notice how the heart cardstock and the bows match? I LOVE it!

The finished project! I love how it turned out!

Have you made a block craft before? What did it say?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

5-minute Scrabble "Love" Blocks

Ok. So, honestly this took me more like 10 minutes to do. My husband always teases me that it takes me at least twice as long to do something as it should. So, if I could get these cute little blocks done in 10 minutes, then I would expect that everyone else can certainly get them done in 5.

These are the supplies I used. I had everything on hand which was really nice, basically a free craft. Yay! I had the 1-1/4" blocks left over from a previous project and I used Sharpies for this, but you could certainly use paint if you'd rather. I also used my Cricut to make a stencil for myself. You could do this freehand, but I didn't trust myself to not mess up- so stencil it was.

All you have to do is trace the letters on the blocks, fill them in with the Sharpie, and done! 

Just tie them up with a cute little bow and put them on display!

What do you think? How long do you think this craft would take you?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine's Day Button Heart: How-to

Here's another REALLY easy craft- a button heart! I saw this on Pinterest forever ago and the Young Women did some button crafts sometime last year, too, but I finally found an excuse to make one myself. It was seriously so, so easy. I think even if you aren't very crafty, you can definitely make one!

Here are my supplies. I have some 12 x 12 sparkly-white cardstock that I got at JoAnn's when they were on sale a couple months ago. I think they were somewhere around $0.20 a sheet. I also got a few bags of buttons from JoAnn's for $1.40 each after coupon. I picked up a shadow box for about $3 at Hobby Lobby after coupon. I also have my paper trimmer to cut the paper down to the right size. The trimmer isn't necessary. You could totally just trace the back of the shadow box on the back side of the cardstock and cut it out with scissors.

After I cut the paper, I started hot gluing the buttons on the paper in the shape I wanted. I just randomly picked up buttons- no pattern or anything.

Then I just filled in the heart. I kept adding buttons until all the holes were covered and it took on a shape and look I liked. And that is it! Didn't I say it was really easy? Don't you love how the paper *sparkles* in the background? I think that is my favorite part.

I was planning on painting the shadow box red or pink, but then I set it up on the shelf (to keep it away from little hands) and noticed the natural wood matches the the clothespins on our countdown. The more I looked at it, the more I liked it plain. What do you think? Would you paint it or leave it?

Valentine's Day is almost here! Are you ready? Do have any last minute crafts to get done?