Using My Life’s Lessons

One day while reading through the journals I kept through my college and newlywed years, I discovered that I had forgotten many important experiences, gospel insights, and answers to prayer I had received at that time in my life. As I read and relived those moments in time, I decided I didn’t want to lay them on the shelf to be forgotten again. I wanted a way to resource my own personal experiences so I could use them as a device in any teaching opportunity I might have. I decided to go through my journals and write a brief description in the margins of what each entry contained. For example, next to an entry containing my reflections on a book about faith, I wrote “thoughts on faith.” Now when I prepare a lesson or talk on faith, I can easily find this entry and recall my personal experiences and insights. Doing this helped prepare my journal as a future reference tool.

To make it easier for me to access all my ongoing experiences, I now jot down a summary in the margin after I finish writing in my journal.Jennifer Pearson Cloward, Cedar Hills Fourth Ward, Pleasant Grove Utah Manila Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Welcoming Young Women to Relief Society

While serving in ward and stake Relief Society presidencies, my friends and I watched our own daughters struggle with the transition from Young Women to Relief Society. Some adjusted more easily than others, but the change was not smooth or easy for any of them. To help our young women feel more accepting of Relief Society, our two stakes joined in planning an afternoon program to welcome them.

First, each ward sent invitations to girls who were 18 years old or in their senior year of high school. Each invitation was personally addressed, inviting the young woman and her mother to attend a Sunday afternoon program.

At the program, we welcomed everyone and shared a brief history of Relief Society and explained its purpose. Since many of the young women would be heading off to college or pursuing other education soon, we invited a sister from a college ward Relief Society presidency to tell about Relief Society at her campus ward.

We also invited young adults from the Institute Women’s Association to testify of the blessings of having Relief Society in their lives. They were local young adults whom our young women knew, so they also told about their involvement in the association. They invited the young women to call them and to visit their schools.

At the end of the program, the Relief Society presidents presented each young woman from her ward with a Relief Society manual and extended a personal invitation to attend Relief Society.

Since the outline for this program is adaptable, adjustments can be made easily. No matter where we live, it is important that we welcome young women to Relief Society. Mary Ellen W. Smoot, Relief Society general president, has said, “It will be within this loving sisterhood that young women enlarge their understanding of gospel principles [and] build firm testimonies” (comments at Relief Society open house, spring 1999 [Ensign, Mar. 2000, 71]). We enjoyed planning these programs with others and feel that we helped the girls better understand Relief Society and what it offers young women.Mary Lou Harward, Rainbow Crest Ward, Las Vegas Nevada Tule Springs Stake

Family Home Evenings for Tots

I have fond memories of the family home evenings my parents held when I was a child. We had lessons from the family home evening manual, played memorable games, and enjoyed treats. I always felt having family home evening would be the same for my own family someday. But when I became a mother I realized family home evenings would have to be adjusted to hold my young children’s interests. In teaching my little ones, I have learned the following:

  1. 1.

    Simplify the lessons, treats, and activities. Preparation can be fast and easy. For a quick lesson, I often use a picture from the Gospel Art Picture Kit (item no. 34730; U.S. $25.00) and tell the story on the back of the picture. For small children, summarize the story in a few short sentences. Keep in mind that a few minutes of sitting still are long enough for most young children. After our lesson, we serve treats that we reserve for family night. For simple activities we do things such as finger plays and action songs. The Children’s Songbook (35395; $10.00) is a useful resource, and many books in public libraries offer good activity ideas.

  2. 2.

    Use Church curriculum materials. The Family Home Evening Resource Book (31106; $5.00) includes tips for adapting the lessons for younger children. Church magazines offer articles and activities that would make good lessons. Some carry a family home evening logo (see above left) to indicate that they are especially useful for family home evening. The “Friend to Friend” section in the Friend magazine features a Church leader each month. These articles often relate personable stories that children can relate to. Church audiovisual materials are also available through distribution centers or your meetinghouse library.

  3. 3.

    Invite the Spirit of the Lord. During the opening prayer, we invite the Spirit. At the conclusion of our lesson, we bear testimony of the truthfulness of what we have taught. Then, as we feel the Spirit, we ask the children what they are feeling and help them identify those feelings.

  4. 4.

    Make family home evening a habit. It can be tempting to postpone family night when your family’s schedule is busy and it’s difficult to gather everyone together. Occasionally my husband is out of town on Monday night for business, and we forget to hold family home evening on Sunday before he leaves. When this happens, I have found it is better to go ahead with family night on Monday than not have it at all. But whenever possible, we include the whole family in an activity once a week, even if it is not Monday night.

The First Presidency has said: “We call upon parents to devote their best efforts to teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles. … We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to … family home evening” (“Letter from the First Presidency,” Liahona, Dec. 1999, 1; emphasis in original). Though it can be a challenge to hold regular family home evenings with young children, our family has been blessed for heeding the First Presidency’s counsel to spend time together studying the gospel and having fun.Celestia Shumway, Edgemont Sixth Ward, Provo Utah Edgemont Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Whittaker