[D&C 59:18, 20]
Help your family become aware of and appreciate how our Heavenly Father blesses us through the things around us.
Everything about us in this world shows that God loves us. Miracles abound on every side if we will just look. It is important that you and your children sense the great love our Father in Heaven has for each of us. We are his children, and our happiness and success are his greatest concern. He has said, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
Think how this appreciation could provide your children with a sense of real security, a feeling of personal confidence, the assurance that someone understands and cares. All of us would like to have these feelings.
Everything in our environment evidences in all its wonder, both in the way it functions so efficiently and in the way it enriches our lives with its beauty, that God organized the universe for his children (see Alma 30:44). The body is a marvel of engineering. Families, the Church, societies, and even governments were inspired for our growth and security. God revealed the plan of salvation with agency, responsibility, and repentance for our exaltation. He sent his Son to show us the way and atone for our sins.
All good things come from him because of his great love for us. Our sensitivity to his grace and appreciation of his love can grow each day as we observe what he has done for us. (See D&C 59:18–21.)
Have magazines, newspapers, glue, and anything else you need to do the lesson activities you have chosen for family participation.
Have a sheet of paper and a pencil with which to make a list for each family member.
“Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow” (Hymns, no. 242).
“My Heavenly Father Loves Me” (Children’s Songbook, p. 228).
Give each family member a sheet of paper and a pencil. Challenge each person to list everything he thinks shows us that God loves us. If the family members hesitate, suggest such things as water, food, flowers, sunsets, lakes, birds, animals, a body, the scriptures, the Church, parents, and the Savior. Or use pictures from magazines or newspapers to stimulate their thinking. Accept each response so that your children will be encouraged to share how they feel.
You may have family members who know about the water cycle, the respiratory system of the body, or the balance of life in nature. If so, let them explain them. Emphasize the things your family already appreciates, and give your children a chance to express what they know.
Have one of your family members read Moses 6:63.
What things bear record of God? (Everything.)
Are those things that bear record of God spiritual or temporal (physical)? (Both.)
Explain that during the week all of you look each day for different things around you that show the love of Heavenly Father. At dinner have each family member tell what he noticed that day. Also thank Heavenly Father in family prayers during the week for what he has done for you as you become more aware each day of new things you discover.
Your family may enjoy making a scrapbook or collage of pictures from magazines, newspapers, your own drawings, or from any other source. Have the family members choose things they think show that God loves them and that he has made this world and everything in it for us, his children.
The song suggested for this lesson, “My Heavenly Father Loves Me,” is particularly appropriate to help younger children feel something about the beauty of the world Heavenly Father has given us.
Tell the children how wonderful it is that our Heavenly Father has given us all that we need to make life here possible and beautiful. Discuss some of the things he has given us to make life possible, such as the following:
How did the Lord keep the air from floating away from the earth? (Gravity.)
What is in the air that our bodies use? (Oxygen.)
What do our lungs return to the air as waste? (Carbon dioxide.)
With all the people and animals on earth using oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide, why don’t they use up all the oxygen? (One reason is that the plants the Lord put on earth use carbon dioxide and give off oxygen.)
Emphasize how carefully the Lord planned to make the air just right for us.
Can you chew water?
Demonstrate: Give each person a small piece of ice, and have him put it in his mouth and chew it.
Can you breathe water?
Demonstrate: Put a small amount of water in a pan on the stove, and let it boil until the pan is empty.
Where did the water go?
Where does the water go when we hang out wet clothes to dry? (It evaporates into the air.)
Explain that almost all air has some water in it. It is called water vapor, which is a gas. We cannot see it in the air but we breathe it.
Summarize by explaining that water has three forms: gas, liquid, and solid. Emphasize how marvelous it is that God has provided us with the wonders of water.
Tell or read the following story:
Pat and Patty were twins. They lived on a big farm fifteen miles from town.
One winter they were snowbound for two months. It was impossible to get to town.
“Mother, we’ll starve!” exclaimed Pat.
“No, we’ll just use the food the Lord has provided,” mother answered.
“What food?” asked Patty.
“We have some seeds,” said mother.
“Seeds?” questioned Pat and Patty.
“Yes, seeds. We have some wheat we can grind into cereal and flour. We have lots of dried beans to cook. We have corn we dried and peas we canned. And then we have roots.”
“Roots?” asked Pat and Patty.
“Yes,” answered mother. “We stored beets, carrots, and potatoes. Besides we have some leaves.”
“Yes, vegetable leaves—spinach we canned and cabbage we stored in the sand. And we have fruit.”
“I know,” said Patty, “apples. We also canned peaches.”
“And we have meat,” said Pat, “from our pigs, cows, sheep, and chickens.”
Emphasize how carefully the Lord supplied us with the food we need.
Take a nature walk with your children. Stroll around your neighborhood, and point out how beautiful the things are that you see around you every day. There may be some special places near your home, such as a wood, the seashore, the mountains, or a desert. Take advantage of these places to inspire a love of nature in your children.
Have the children make a nature collage. Each day they could glue a scenic picture, a dried leaf or flower, or a seashell to a poster or a piece of cardboard or wood. Let your children choose the pictures or things they want.
End the lesson with the song “Thanks to Our Father” (Children’s Songbook, p. 20). The words express thanks for everything our Father in Heaven has given us.
You can adapt the material in the regular lesson for all ages, depending how deeply you explore the glory of God’s creations.
Add topics such as the following:
The balance of nature. Discuss the relationships between insects, fish, birds, mammals, and vegetation. Emphasize how the balance of nature benefits man.
The body’s systems. Discuss how the body’s systems, such as the digestive, respiratory, blood, and nervous systems, work together. Also discuss the body’s ability to heal itself.
The history of knowledge. Discuss how God has helped man discover knowledge and develop technology in this dispensation, including developments in light, radio, television, satellites, air travel, space travel, computers, and medicine.
The workings of God among his people. Discuss how carefully God has planned for all his people in all dispensations and among all cultures.
To increase their appreciation of nature and of the scriptures, have older children match special verses with beautiful pictures. Pick some of your favorite verses and match them with pictures you have or drawings that family members make themselves. Appropriate pictures could come from magazines, art calendars, or original photographs. See the example included in the lesson.
The following verses could be used:
“Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine” (1 Chronicles 29:11).
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Teenagers love to have posters in their rooms. Make some using these scriptures and pictures of your choice.
Visit a zoo, aviary, park, botanical garden, planetarium, or natural history museum; or have a family outing in the country, mountains, or seashore. During or after the outing, discuss how the beauties of nature were prepared by God for our good.
On a night when the sky is clear, go outside as a family and look up into the sky. Ask questions such as the following:
Why can we see only part of the moon?
What are the names of the stars?
Can you point out and name some of the constellations?
Can you identify any of the planets?
Discuss who created the heavens. Share the story of Korihor, the unbeliever who asked Alma for a sign that there is a God (see Alma 30:43).
Alma answered him, “All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44).
What do you think of this evidence that there is a God who created the heavens and the earth?
Discuss what tools we have to appreciate nature (eyes, ears, nose, hands, mouth, and mind).
How can we use these tools to deepen our appreciation for and understanding of the natural world?
Go on a nature hike using all the tools God has given you. Listen for sounds. Feel smooth flower petals and rough tree bark. Smell the damp earth and a flower. Notice patterns on leaves, flowers, and rocks. Notice differences and similarities. You may wish to use a magnifying glass to look at spider webs, leaves, or tiny insects. Hold a testimony meeting at the end of the hike, and give family members an opportunity to express their feelings about the abundance and variety of life and the glory of the world.
Ask family members to take fifteen minutes to list scriptural evidences of Heavenly Father’s love for them, or prepare a list of scriptures (see “God, Love of,” in the Topical Guide of the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible).
Have family members read and explain how each scripture shows us God’s love. Young children may wish to tell of other ways they can know that Heavenly Father loves them.
Spend an evening of expressing love for our Heavenly Father. Have family members read Psalms (for example 23, 24, 27, 150). Let them tell how they feel about God and the blessings he has given them. You may also sing hymns of thanksgiving and love.
Family members may enjoy creating songs, poems, or pictures to express their love for our Heavenly Father. For example, they may enjoy creating psalms of their own like those mentioned above or those found in 2 Nephi 4:16–35, Mosiah 4:9, and Luke 1:46–55. Encourage everyone to participate. Avoid negative criticism. Accept each expression even if the poem does not rhyme, have rhythm, or display an expressive choice of words.