We had Stake Conference this last weekend. Elder Rawson from Witchita, KS. came as our Area Authority to preside and speak at our Stake Conference. I learned SO MUCH in 2 short days and I wanted to share it with you! My FAVORITE topic was “stop reading and start searching”-a great guide to scripture study. Below are several Family Home Evenings taken from he topics discussed at our stake conference. I have focused on the things our family needed but I hope some of you can use these as well!
Prayer and Revelation
I was touched by what our mission president, President Savage shared and I also ADORED his incredible wife! Some things I took away from his talk were:
- There is safety and power in revelation.
- Take time to share completely, your thoughts and feelings with Heavenly Father.
- Because God respects our agency, He will never force us to pray to them so it is up to us to come to Him with a desire to build that stronger relationship. He never moves. We do. We need to make sure we are always moving closer to Him.
- Safeguard your children with the power of scriptures and prayers DAILY.
- Use priesthood blessings regularly and when needed as a source of personal revelation.
- The object of prayer is not to change the will of God (See Bible Dictionary.)
ACTIVITY: Come up with a family plan to be more consistent with daily study and prayer. When our kids were little we would have a “President of the Prayer” every day. They would be in charge of calling on a prayer giver or saying it themselves, making a list of what to pray for and also deciding what to study for scriptures.
I appreciated these thoughts and feel the same way, especially in regards to “arming” our children with scripture and prayer on a daily basis-morning and night. They need it and so do we.
President Lyman gave some thoughts from a talk by President Eyring in 2000 called “A Life Founded in Light and Truth” given at a BYU devotional. He talked about how satan uses sin as a spiritual anesthetic to deaden our senses and recognition of the Spirit of the Lord. As we miss doing the small and begin doing the simple/bad things, we lose the Spirit over time. It is important to consistently do the small and simple things and not engage in the simple, wrong things. He used the analogy of a mosquito to get his point across.
- The reason you don’t often feel a mosquito when they bite is because they pump in an anesthetic to numb you as they bite.
- He shared a story of going on a fishing trip in Mexico. He said it was so much fun that they did not worry about being bit by mosquitoes and casually swatted them away. What they did not think about was the fact that those mosquitoes carried a strain of Malaria which can be deadly. As they were having fun and not taking the precautions to keep the mosquitoes away, they took the risk of getting malaria.
- We must be consistently obedient to the commandments.
- We must consistently arm ourselves against the devil and his temptations.
ACTIVITY: Talk about distractions in your lives that might keep you from being consistently obedient to the the commandments and plan how you can better arm yourselves daily. Before FHE draw armor (breastplate, shield, helmet, footwear…) Have the kids label the armor with things that you, as a family can do daily to be ready for battle. OR- what can you use to keep the mosquitoes away-label a bottle of bug spray, a mosquito net, long pants and sleeves, socks, a hat.
Stop Reading The Scriptures and Start Searching Them
Elder Rawson talked about an approach he took in his scripture study several years ago. He had a lot of questions and in his counseling with other church members they had questions. He realized that he himself was merely reading the scriptures and that an easier way to be motivated about scripture study for him was to consistently seek the answers to his questions in the scriptures and general conference talks. He got a notebook to keep a list of questions in- questions about anything-life, career, spiritually minded questions, school, family, parenting…the list goes on. He would write the questions down as he had them and then use his scripture study time to search for the answers. He testified that it made his scripture study more meaningful and armed him with power because he was searching out the answers to his own questions.
- Ask questions
- Write them down
- Search for answers in the scriptures and words of the prophets
- Write down the answers
- Act on the answers you receive
PRINT JOURNAL COVER HERE
ACTIVITY: create a “seeking journal.” where you can list your life questions and also as you seek the scriptures and general conference talks you can write down the answers.
Elder Rawson also asked the question “Am I serving with real intent?” He said, “The intent with which we act determines the result of our actions.” So why do we do what we do? I asked this question often to my seminary class last year. Where is your heart? Why do you do what you do? What is your intent? This can be applied to anything in your life.
- What is your intent in keeping the Sabbath Day Holy? (Because you want people to know you do, because it is a commandment, because you love the Lord)
- What is your intent for having your children be reverent at church? (because you care about what others think, because you want them to learn, because you want them to feel the Spirit)
- What is your intent when you serve others? (To be seen of men, to let someone know you love them, to be an instrument in God’s hands)
We can ask ourselves all these questions and more. How can we get to the point where the intent of all we do is because we love God? We must ask the Lord in every situation and every day, “what should my intent be here?” Then be prepared to hear and act upon the answer you receive.
On Sunday morning he also asked the question:
- Whose acceptance do we seek?
- ACTIVITY: To answer that he recommended that we take a piece of paper and divide it down the middle. On one side list the people who love you more than themselves and you know this by their actions. On the other side, list everyone else who you may want acceptance from. As you look at this page it will help you determine the path you should take in your life by following those who love you more than they love themselves. On one side you will have parents, church leaders, Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, siblings….those will be the people that in the end you will want acceptance from. Those will be the people who love you the most and want what is best for you. Follow their counsel and guidance and you will not go wrong.
STORY: Share the story of Martin Harris and the 116 lost pages of the Book of Mormon Transcript. Do we look for God’s approval or man’s approval?
Elder Rawson asked a question that caused me to think.
- What are the ideal conditions for growth in my life? (most often, challenges)
- Most often, the ideal condition for growth is during difficult and challenging times-and they will find you. You do not need to seek them out.
- He quoted Elder Maxwell by saying that “collective plan of salvation is made up of individual plans of salvation” -each one created to maximize our growth while here on the earth.
- He read from Ether 6:4-5 and talked about how the “curious wind” (the trials and struggles and things that make life difficult) are what take us toward the Promised Land (or home to Heavenly Father.)
- He also read in those chapters that whether they were under the ocean or above, they did have light continually as they traveled for close to a year across the ocean. This was an analogy for the light of the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. That as we are obedient and keep our covenants, that light will always be there to guide us and strengthen us.
ACTIVITY: Make paper “sailboats.” On them write challenges you are facing. Put them in the bathtub and “race” to the promised land!
In President Lyman’s talk on Sunday morning he talked about the importance of missionary work and sharing the gospel. He spoke of President Ballard and a tool that he used in missionary work. It was the simple tool of starting conversations. As we start conversations, wherever we are; at the store, on a plane, at the drive-thru- it often gives us an opportunity to share and in some cases invite what is most important to us.
- Pray for help to start conversations.
- Pray and follow inspiration to guide the conversations by the Spirit.
- Promise the Lord that we will ACT on the promptings we receive.
ACTIVITY: Come up with a family mission plan. (A mission plan for our family) 1) we will pray for missionary experiences every day 2) we will invite once a week whether they accept or not (a suggestion from Elder and Sister Rawson) 3. Plan family activities where you can invite friends into your home for a dinner or a game night. 4) memorize D&C section 4. 5) decide what you each need to do to be prepared to serve full-time missions.
PRINT FAMILY MISSION PLAN HERE
Speaking To the Youth
Elder Rawson, in his Sunday morning talk spoke specifically to the youth. He touched on several principles.
- The importance of consistent attendance in seminary (thank you seminary teachers!)
- To stay spiritually full we must “feed” ourselves with consistent study and prayer. What we feed grows, what we starve withers away. Are we daily and consistently feeding our testimonies?
- He referenced President Monson’s last conference talk and that the last three minutes he spoke to the full membership of the church he challenged us read and study the Book of Mormon daily.
- He said that often we play “catch up” with our scripture reading on Sundays and used the analogy of brushing our teeth. How would our dental hygiene be if we only brushed and flossed on Sunday. our teeth would probably rot, we would have horrible breath and look pretty nasty. We must be consistent in our daily study, searching and prayer.
- If we feed our doubts they will grow. If we feed our fears, they will grow. As we feed our faith-consistently-it will grow.
- Choose to turn to Christ in ALL situations.
- Repentance means change. Change is always uncomfortable. It hurts because our souls are moving to where our Heavenly Father needs and wants us to be. Remember that we can only change when our heart is right so repentance/change and intent all work together.
REVIEW: Alma 32- what we feed grows, what we stave, dies.
ACTIVITY 1: Plant an herb garden. Have family members each take an herb to get it started. Remind them that it needs, light, food and water to grow. They even say plants that are “loved” and talked to grow healthier! Use the plant as an analogy of our faith.
ACTIVITY 2: Get a planner or calendar for every family member and have them schedule in time for daily personal worship. Come up with fun reminders each day so that it does not come across as nagging.
He spoke about the importance of young parents especially, making time to arm themselves with scripture study and prayer. As a young parent, it is difficult to find the time without little ones needing you, to get your bucket filled. You MUST make time for yourself so that you can be strong in the teaching and rearing of your own children.
- Reverence is not necessarily about being quiet. Reverence is revering those things that need to be revered and respected. For example-if we are just quiet during that sacrament, that is not what being “reverent” is about. We must be focused on the Savior, on repenting of our sins and strengthening ourselves with the Spirit.
- Especially when you young parents are not able to get as much out of attending church as you would like-make the time for personal study and prayer. Ask the questions and then work to find the answers. As you study and strengthen your testimony, your children will see that and it will strengthen them.
I was so touched by the many messages given and did not hit on every one but the ones that I felt were most important for our family. The Spirit spoke to my heart as I tried to attend these meetings ready to hear and put into action what was said. I hope that several of these aspects will be helpful to you in the teaching of your families, whether that is family home evening or just a teaching moment. I know that as we SEEK LISTEN and ACT that the Lord will guide us in our teaching and learning.