What is Family Home Evening

Leaders of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints have instructed members to set aside Monday night as "family home evening." This is a time for families to study the gospel together and to do other activities that strengthen the family spiritually, create family memories, and increase unity and love. To learn more visit this website.

Why Family Home Evening

"I wonder if having unplanned and infrequent family home evenings will be enough to fortify ourselves and our children with sufficient moral strength to meet the complexities of our day. Infrequent family scripture study may be inadequate to arm ourselves and our children with the virtue necessary to withstand the moral decay of the environment in which we live. Where in the world will we learn chastity, integrity, honesty, and basic human decency if not at home? These values will, of course, be reinforced at church, but teaching them in family home evening can be particularly consistent and effective. To combat the world's evil influences, we need the strength that comes from family home evening."

James E. Faust, “Enriching Our Lives through Family Home Evening,” Ensign, Jun 2003, 2–6

Sunday, August 31, 2008

8 Ways God Can Speak To You

This past week our Family Home Evening was about how we hear the whispering of the Holy Ghost. We based our lesson from the talk Eight Ways God Can Speak To You by By Elder Dallin H. Oaks. Then we discussed how other prophets had described the voice of the Lord, outlined below.

This FHE turned out to be a stepping stone for our next intended lesson about Patriarchal Blessings and the 12 tribes of Israel.

How Do Prophets, Seers, and Revelators Describe the Voice of the Lord?
“It” refers to the voice of the Lord.

Joseph Fielding Smith:
It can be as deep and meaningful as anything tangible.
It is penetrating.

Spencer W. Kimball:
It comes as deep, unassailable impressions that settle on the mind as dew from heaven.
They are deep feelings.
It is an impressive consciousness of direction from above.

Dallin H. Oaks:
It can take the form of enlightenment of the mind.
It can come as positive or negative feelings about how to act.
It can uplift our emotions.

Harold B. Lee:
It is not audible to our physical hearing.

Joseph B. Wirthlin:
It enters quietly into our mind and heart.
It is so simple and precise we assume it is our own idea or a passing thought.
As we reconcile these whisperings to what we know to be true, we learn to recognize them.

Joseph Smith:
It yields the fruits of the kingdom.
If our hearts are open it brings conviction.
It whispers consolation to the soul.

Boyd K. Packer:
It caresses gently.
It is a sweet, quiet voice of inspiration.
It comes more as a feeling than as a sound.
Pure intelligence can be spoken into the mind.

(I think this came from excerpts from Hearing the Voice of the Lord, a book on personal revelation that was written by Elder Gerald N. Lund. I'm not sure because I had written them down, not sure where I originally found the information, and don't even own the book.)


It may have been a couple of weeks since my last post... but, we have had Family Home Evening. First, we had a funeral to attend during one week. This was heartbreaking as it was an 11 year old girl who was a cousin, by marriage, as well as a good friend of my daughter. As was pointed out during the funeral, it is easier to accept, even if we do not like it, the death of those who are sick or elderly. It is much harder to accept, or even understand, the death of a child. As a latter-day saint, though, we have a much greater understanding of the purpose of this life which explains why bad things happen to good people. There is an understanding that the fullness of the gospel provides as a strength to carry us through these tragedies. I couldn't imagine the extra burden of grief that I would carry should I be without these understandings and the testimony of the truth of the gospel.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Prophets and Apostles

Family Home Evening tonight was about the current Prophet and Apostles. Since there have been a lot of changes I thought it would be fun. We started out by singing from the children songbook "Follow the Prophet." Then, using the YouTube on my computer and we listend to the Apostle Song (see below). Then, I took this document from which I had previously cut out all the pictures of the apostles and once set (the one all spaced apart) of the words to the song and played a matching game. After we had listened to the Apostle Song I flipped upside down all the pictures and mixed them around. Then, we took turns picking one picture up and trying to remember which name and fact was about that person. When we were done, we listened to the Apostle Song again. We had made many mistakes, which made it more fun. We finished the lesson by singing to the Apostle Song along with YouTube video and a closing prayer.

FHE - Modesty

Last Monday our Family Home Evening was on Modesty. I choose this topic because I had a young family member visiting who I had overheard sharing wardrobe choices for school, like short-skirts. I realized this was an opportunity to discuss all the important avenues of choosing to dress modestly.... self-respect, not attracting unrighteous young men, not making righteous young men uncomfortable, and respecting our Temple to name a few. We also discussed what exactly is modest and what isn't. The lesson was color coded to share equally the reading between all involved, and we discussed a lot as we went through it. When the lesson was finished I gave them a copy of the New Era Poster "Don't Be A Dummy" from the July 2001 New Era.

This is not a comprehensive lesson as I wanted to have a primary focus. This could easily be more in depth.

Here is the Lesson... (Sorry, I didn't keep track of my sources. I'm sure a search on LDS.org would quickly find all the sources.)

(Family Home Evening)

Imagine you are in a courtroom. All of the attorneys and officials are dressed in their finest clothing. Then the judge enters wearing a T-shirt and shorts!

You certainly are more likely to take the judge seriously when he dresses to fit the occasion. The way the judge is dressed says a lot about the climate of his courtroom and about the type of behavior expected there. Similarly, the way you dress may say a lot about you.

The way an individual dresses reveals a lot about attitudes and priorities. We’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but it’s hard not to form an opinion of a woman who always wears plunging necklines and short skirts, or a man who goes out in public wearing nothing more than a pair of skintight biker shorts. That’s why Church leaders counsel us to dress modestly. According to the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth, published by the First Presidency of the Church, modesty is one way we can show our respect for Heavenly Father—and for ourselves.

“Because the way you dress sends messages about yourself to others and often influences the way you and others act, you should dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you. However, if you wear an immodest bathing suit because it’s ‘the style,’ it sends a message that you are using your body to get attention and approval, and that modesty is not important.” (For the Strength of Youth, Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1990, p. 8.)

The problem for us, then, is how to determine what is modest and what isn’t. Modesty is, after all, fairly subjective. One person may consider a sleeveless dress too immodest for a young Latter-day Saint woman to wear, while another could look at the same dress, note the modest length and design, and find nothing wrong with it.

Our own confusion is sometimes fueled by the constantly shifting public standards of modesty, which can be hard to keep up with. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when it was considered indecent to expose an ankle or a knee—even on the beach. When I was in high school, the raging debate was the question of whether or not it was appropriate for girls to wear jeans to school. Today, my children have to contend with school standards so liberal that nearly anything goes except wearing your underwear outside your clothes. And these days, who can tell?

It is a great blessing that we have a definition of appropriate Latter-day Saint dress standards: “Immodest clothing includes short shorts, tight pants, and other revealing attire. Young women should refrain from wearing off-the-shoulder, low-cut, or revealing clothes…. All should avoid tight fitting or revealing clothes and extremes in clothing and appearance.” (For the Strength of Youth, p. 8.)

Many people think immodest dress relates only to an insufficiently covered body. But a tight fit is also immodest, even when the body is fully covered. This applies to men as well as women. Many do not realize that tight clothing draws attention to the anatomy, which distracts from the purpose of education, business, leadership, or worship. Adequate ease in the fit of our clothes allows the viewer’s attention to go to the other person’s face for more effective communication.

Even within that definition, however, there is room for interpretation. Exactly where on the thigh do shorts become “short shorts”? How tight do pants have to be before they are “revealing”? And does “low-cut” mean anything other than turtlenecks?

Clearly, For the Strength of Youth teaches the correct principles and leaves us to govern ourselves. And that’s the way it should be. Heavenly Father has given us the freedom to choose, and we can’t grow or receive blessings from obedience if all the decisions have been made for us.

If we are unsure about whether our dress or grooming is modest, we should ask ourselves, "Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord's presence?" We might ask ourselves a similar question about our language and behavior: "Would I say these words or participate in these activities if the Lord were present?" Our honest answers to these questions may lead us to make important changes in our lives. Prophets have always counseled us to dress modestly. This counsel is founded on the truth that the human body is God's sacred creation. We must respect our bodies as a gift from God. Through our dress and appearance, we can show the Lord that we know how precious our bodies are.

An event some years ago changed my attitude toward modesty. As I got ready to go to a Mutual activity, I put on some short shorts; it never occurred to me that they were inappropriate. The activities planned for that Tuesday included having the missionaries give us some practical advice about missionary work. One of the last empty seats was next to me. For a brief moment the elders began to argue, as discreetly as they could, over who had to sit next to me. Though they never said so specifically, I understood they were uneasy because of the way I was dressed.

At that moment, notwithstanding my embarrassment, I began to understand what it meant to be modest. I realized that I was making virtuous young men feel uncomfortable—and that I could also be making unvirtuous men feel too comfortable. I began to better understand what type of person I wanted to be with and, more important, what type of person I wanted to be. From that moment on, I was not only prepared for the changes I was about to make, but I looked forward to making them.

Make it a matter of prayer. (READ 1 Nephi 3:7) After a discouraging day of prom-dress shopping with two of my daughters, we returned home in weary tears. We had not found one modest dress. I encouraged my daughters to take their desires to the Lord in prayer. They looked at me quizzically, not at all certain that a wardrobe concern was prayer-worthy. I promised them that Nephi’s conviction applies to the mundane as well as the monumental, My daughters agreed to pray about the problem, and within a week we found beautiful dresses in unexpected places that we could alter to be perfectly appropriate. We continue to make modesty a matter of prayer.

Our clothing expresses who we are. It sends messages about us, and it influences the way we and others act. When we are well groomed and modestly dressed, we can invite the companionship of the Spirit and exercise a good influence on those around us.

Dress and Appearance
36550, For the Strength of Youth, Dress and Appearance, 14
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? … The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

Your body is God’s sacred creation. Respect it as a gift from God, and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show the Lord that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Prophets of God have always counseled His children to dress modestly. The way you dress is a reflection of what you are on the inside. Your dress and grooming send messages about you to others and influence the way you and others act. When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and can exercise a good influence on those around you.

Never lower your dress standards for any occasion. Doing so sends the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval and that modesty is important only when it is convenient.

Immodest clothing includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and other revealing attire. Young women should wear clothing that covers the shoulder and avoid clothing that is low-cut in the front or the back or revealing in any other manner… All should avoid extremes in clothing, appearance, and hairstyle. Always be neat and clean and avoid being sloppy or inappropriately casual in dress, grooming, and manners. Ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?”

Do not disfigure yourself with tattoos or body piercings. If girls or women desire to have their ears pierced, they are encouraged to wear only one pair of modest earrings.

Show respect for the Lord and for yourself by dressing appropriately for Church meetings and activities, whether on Sunday or during the week. If you are not sure what is appropriate, ask your parents or leaders for help.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

YW Manual 3 Lesson 29

I was having a hard time with this lesson. I hadn't intended to teach it and then it turned out that I was given the opportunity. I had to pray and think a lot.... very tiring.

So, this is the plan. I have created this handout that prints back to back with room for it to be folded into 3 and mailed to those who were unable to attend.

Then, using the Change of Heart Bookmarks printed on cardstock I had the girls (auction style) hold up these during the lesson when they heard of a quality found in someone who has had a change of heart. I started this AFTER I had told the story about the missionary who was taken aback by the change of heart that a convert had made in my lesson layout below. Also, whatever quote is in the above handouts, I had one of the girls read. Finally, I had printed answers to the questions throughout the lesson to place on the board as they were given as visual aids.

Here is the lesson intermingled with an article from the Ensign (Keith K. Hilbig, “Experiencing a Change of Heart,” Ensign, Jun 2008, 29–33).

Lesson 29 – Change of Heart
Read Alma 5:26 (p219)
Read Alma 5:12 (p218)
Read Alma 5:14 (p219) Keep Open for later
Read Alma 7:14 (p225)

Some years ago in Eastern Europe, I listened as a young elder stood before his fellow missionaries in zone conference to share an experience that shaped his life. He and his companion had found and taught a middle-aged man named Ivan (name has been changed) in a distant city. Their investigator came from a difficult background, as was reflected in his well-used clothing, ragged beard, and hesitant demeanor. Life had been harsh and unkind to him.

Without any prior religious training, Ivan had much to overcome. Practices not in harmony with the restored gospel had to be set aside. New principles needed to be accepted and then incorporated. Ivan wanted to learn, and he prepared himself diligently for his baptism and confirmation. His clothing remained threadbare and his beard ragged, but he had taken the first steps. Shortly after Ivan’s baptism, the missionary was transferred. He hoped that he might again cross paths with Ivan.

Six months later the mission president reassigned the young elder to his former branch. Surprised but eager to return, the elder, with a new companion, came early to sacrament meeting his first Sunday back in the branch. The members were pleased to see the missionary in their midst again. They rushed forward with broad smiles and warm greetings.

The elder recognized nearly everyone in the small congregation. However, he searched in vain among the faces for the man he and his companion had taught and baptized six months earlier. There arose within the elder a sense of disappointment and sadness. Had Ivan returned to his harmful habits? Had he failed to honor his covenant of baptism? Had he lost the blessings promised by his repentance?

The elder’s fears and reflections were interrupted by the approach of an unfamiliar man who was rushing forward to embrace the missionary. The clean-shaven man had a confident smile and an obvious goodness radiating from his countenance. Wearing a white shirt and a carefully knotted tie, he was on his way to prepare the sacrament for the small gathering that Sabbath morning. Only when the man began to speak did the elder recognize him. It was the new Ivan, not the former Ivan they had taught and baptized! The elder saw embodied in his friend the miracle of faith, repentance, and forgiveness; he saw the reality of the Atonement.

The missionary told his peers attending the zone conference that Ivan had changed and grown by every measure during the months the elder had been away from the branch. Ivan had embraced the gospel, and it radiated from him. He had experienced a “change of heart” (Alma 5:26) sufficient both to be baptized and to press forward in the continuing process of conversion. He was preparing for the higher priesthood and the ordinances of the temple. Ivan had indeed been “born again” (Alma 7:14).

As the missionary concluded his remarks, he asked himself aloud, “How much of a ‘change of heart’ have I experienced in the past six months?” He continued his self-examination, asking aloud, “Have I been ‘born again’?” These are two profound questions that each of us should privately pose on a continuing basis.

In the intervening years I have reflected upon the words of the young missionary and the actions of Ivan. I have pondered the role that a “mighty change” (Alma 5:12) in our hearts and being “spiritually … born of God” (Alma 5:14) play in the process of embracing the restored gospel. I have concluded that they are clearly an important part of the Lord’s doctrine, not just one-time experiences in mortality. They are ongoing opportunities, intended to deepen the process of conversion and individual personal refinement. They prepare us more fully for eternal life.

What is the intent of a change of heart? Deepen the process of conversion, individual personal refinement, and prepare for eternal life

How often is this suppose to happen? Ongoing (not just one-time experience)

A Change of heart is a change in a person’s entire life – her thoughts, feelings, desires, and actions, everything that the heart represents. She gives her love, dedication, intelligence, and talents to the Lord and wants only to serve the Lord.

Read Mosiah 3:19 (p153)
We know from the standard works that baptism by immersion allows us to become a member of the Church, but that ordinance alone does not constitute the spiritual rebirth that allows us to return to the presence of Heavenly Father. Similarly, as we are confirmed following baptism, we have the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. However, only when we have truly repented—and thus actually receive the Holy Ghost—can we be sanctified and thus be born again spiritually. Hence, Alma’s piercing inquiries are valid for each of us repeatedly throughout life.

The challenges of being born again and experiencing a mighty change of heart are challenges we all must face. The Book of Mormon is a wonderful resource to better understand the process of experiencing a mighty change of heart and of being born again. Its prophets provide a fuller doctrinal declaration of the process.

Read again Alma 5:14.
What are the three questions posed to members of the Church by Alma? Have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

(YW READ) Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminds us that “those members of the Church who have actually been born again are in a blessed and favored state. They have attained their position, not merely by joining the Church, but through faith (1 John 5:1), righteousness (1 John 2:29), love (1 John 2:7), and overcoming the world. (1 John 5:4.)”

READ D&C 4:2 (p7) This change is what the Lord was speaking of when he commanded us to serve Him with all our heart, might, mind and strength.

Alma the Younger personally experienced the transformation from being an enemy to God to becoming a new creature, a being who was converted and, therefore, committed to building the kingdom. (YW READ) If all people must be born again and have a change of heart, it matters not if we were born into the Church or were converted later as youth or adults. We all must at some point experience that change of heart and that rebirth of the Spirit as we continue in the process of conversion. The process of rebirth and change of heart is intended to be comprehensive, available to all nations, and, hence, each individual.

Why do you think a person’s heart must be changed in order to become like God? It is a necessary step in becoming like God.

Elder McConkie, speaking at a Brigham Young University First Stake conference, offered these comforting and encouraging words: “With most people, conversion [spiritual rebirth and accompanying remission of sins] is a process; and it goes step by step, degree by degree, level by level, from a lower state to a higher, from grace to grace, until the time that the individual is wholly turned to the cause of righteousness…. this means that [she] overcomes one sin today and another sin tomorrow. [She] perfects [her] life in one field now, and in another field later on. And the conversion process goes on until it is completed, until [she becomes], literally, as the Book of Mormon says, saints of God instead of natural men.”

It matters not whether our spiritual rebirth is sudden or, as is more common, gradual. While the process may be different, the results will be similar. There is no difference in the quality of the conversion. For each individual, experiencing a mighty change of heart is manifested by feelings of joy and love, both of which eliminate the prior pain of disobedience (see Alma 36:20-21). How kind is our Heavenly Father! How encompassing is His Son’s Atonement!

King Benjamin asked the people if they believed his words and if they would trust in the Lord and be faithful all their lives. Let’s read the following scriptures for the answer?

Read Mosiah 5:2 (p157) and 5:5 (p158)

Repentance and obedience to the commandments brings the greatest possible joy in this life.