Friday, April 20, 2018

Family Scripture Study Plan

As you know, our family has been going through a lot of changes: new job, new house, new city, new baby, new schools.

With all of those changes and with the older half of our children entering tweenhood, we noticed our spiritual needs changing.  We also noticed that despite our ok-efforts our scripture study sessions were leaving something to be desired.

We followed President Monson's counsel to read the Book of Mormon every day, but the results still seemed lack-luster.

It became clear to me that what we were doing was no longer working for us...but I wasn't sure what to do next.

I attended a Relief Society meeting the other night dedicated to personal, couples, and family scripture study.  I arrived late, but heard lots of suggestions and resources.  Some we'd done in the past, others we hadn't.  But I still felt like there were a lot of obstacles in our way, until friend of mine related a personal story of a time when she was having trouble finding time for her own personal scripture study.  She sincerely prayed about her situation and Heavenly Father helped her accomplish her goals for personal study time.  She encouraged me to do the same, to take my problem to the Lord in prayer.

So, I did.  And he quickly answered me by putting into my mind a plan that would resolve a lot of the issues we were having, which included:

1. lack of focus and attention during family scripture study
2. trying to keep the interest and meet the needs of children who are a range of ages
3. encouraging, teaching and creating a habit of individual scripture study
4. learning, internalizing, and applying gospel principles
5. having a lively gospel discussion as a family

I mentioned on social media that we were making changes to our scripture study and received questions from members and friends not of our faith alike asking me to share what we are doing, so I'm sharing that now for anyone looking to change up their regular routine.

First of all, like I said, we've got children in varying age groups ranging from baby to tween (5 months, 2, 5, 9, almost 11, and 12 years of age)

Here's what you'll need for each person:

- a simple composition notebook (or for younger a composition notebook with handwriting lines like the journal on the left in the photo above.)  
- a pen or pencil
- crayons or coloring pencils, etc. (optional)
- scriptures and/or access to the Gospel Library App

Very simple.

Here are the 10 steps that came to my mind that I've written down and glued into the front of each notebook:

(Allot 10-12 minutes each day for this study.)

1. Always start with a prayer.
2. Look up & read the scripture reference.
3. Copy the scripture into your journal. Draw a picture if you'd like. (Especially for a younger child.)
4. Write down the principles being taught. (*Define any terms that you don't understand.)
5. Write two sentences explaining how these principles apply to your life now and/or in the future.
6.  Write down any questions that come to your mind.
7.  Search for answers to your questions using: scriptures, General Conference talks, and prayer.
8.  Write down any answers that you find/thoughts that come to your mind.
9.  Close with a personal prayer.
10.  Be prepared to share your thoughts with the family before bed or during family scripture study.

We are currently taking our scripture references from Seminary's Doctrinal Mastery Lists beginning with the Book of Mormon.

The plan is to study the same scripture or set of verses for the entire week.  A personal using this plan would follow steps 1-10 during the week.  So each day you could potentially be doing different steps, therefore different things with the same scripture, so long as you get through all ten steps at some point during the week.

Additionally, one might choose to also memorize the scripture, listen to talks that are found during the researching steps, ask their questions of others in the family to consider or help with, etc.

So here's a little bit of how this looks broken down by age.  As you can see in the photo above, my two year-old is scribbling in his notebook as we talk, my 5 year-old is drawing a picture, and my almost 11 year-old is writing down principles.

Here is a page that my five year old is working on (with the addition of scribbles from her two year old brother!)  I copied part of the verse for her with lines between that she can now carefully copy in her own hand-writing.  She can also draw what she sees in her minds-eye as we discuss and add her own two-cents of testimony.  Above is a drawing of a Book of Mormon with the words "believe" written on it.

Today as we got on the topic of God creating the entire world, she drew some flowers and told me that this is what God created.  I then wrote her words for her as a "caption" to her artwork.

My 9 year-old took right to this idea as I think it mirrors some writing processes she is doing in school.  When I asked her if she understood what the word comprehend meant, she was quick to look it up on my phone and write the definition with a star at the top of the page before moving on to write down the principles in her own words and thinking of ways that the principles applied to her.  And, of course, she did a little doodling on the side.

Now these are some of my pages of study based on the same scripture. I found that writing really is helping me to focus and to make new connections and to slow down and hear the spirit teaching me as I search more proactively for answers to my questions about what is being taught.

I had only written down two questions: Will we someday comprehend what God comprehends?  And How are we to treat God's creations?

But once I got going, I found so much to enrich my understanding of this scripture.  I searched terms like "man's progression", "perfection", and "wisdom", and although I was only searching for a short period of time, I found so much great stuff!  It was way more effective than just reading has been for me for a while now.

And I was so impressed with the Gospel Library's search function.  I found it hard before but this time, it was so easy and quickly took me from scriptures in various books to quotes in General Conference talks that directly related to my questions, and back again.  

(For my friends of other faiths reading this: You can download the LDS Gospel Library App and use it on your phone.  It's a powerful tool for searching the scriptures and saving notes on, etc.  And I believe you don't have to be a member to utilize this tool. You can sign in as a "guest" and it's totally free. It includes the KJV of the Bible in addition to the talks I mentioned.)

So this is how we are implementing this in our family.  Right now we are working together on this to help us all grow in our ability to search the scriptures.  With the hope that these skills and experiences will become a life-long habit of personal scripture study, and that they will know how to find answers to their questions when they need it most!

I hope this inspires you to customize to your own family or change things up in a way that helps you meet your spiritual goals!  Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions in the comments below!
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Monday, April 2, 2018

Plaster Hand Molds

It's the last day of Spring Break for us, and it's looking more like a Snow Day!  Since the move, I haven't been able to craft with my children like we've been accustomed to doing in the past, so a while back I bought some plaster of paris and today was the day for this keepsake craft!

And it couldn't have come at a better time.  You see my little man Mr. Val is turning two years old on Friday and his hand is the perfect squishy little thing...and the perfect subject for my little project.  

We made impressions in playdough, then poured plaster of paris into the molds.  The plaster becomes hard in 30 minutes from the time you mix it.  I love how much detail the plaster picked up.  When I touch it, it really feels like Val's hand, at least for size and chubbiness! :)

Anyway, here's a link for more demonstrations on how this project works at a blog called Teacher Tom.  Also, I added white glue to the mix to add strength.  You can search for more tips on this.  I didn't remove the project from the playdough for quite a while and now I'm scrubbing playdough off of it.  But it'll work out.

Although the tattooed eggs we did this weekend were awesomely fun, this is probably my favorite craft of all time, because it immortalizes these hands that I love for me to keep for...well, as long as plaster of paris holds up!

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