July 2015 Visiting Teaching: Divine Attributes of Jesus Christ: Forgiving and Merciful

Guest Post by Hope. Read a previous guest post by her here

 

I’ve been exploring the language game surrounding the word “mercy”.mercy

 

Last month a member of my family died after battling a very painful disease. My grandmother called us while he was on his deathbed, and all I can really remember is her saying, repeatedly, that we should all pray for mercy. We should pray that God would have mercy on him, and take him home; he was ready to die. He had had a difficult life, and though he was a good man, he made controversial decisions and some might believe that he did not deserve any such clemency. But she called the next day to tell us that God had indeed extended mercy, and he had passed peacefully with his family. 

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Relief Society Lesson 13: Priceless Blessings of the House of the Lord

I prepared another lesson on temples several years ago which began with a sentiment that I still find relevant today: We talk a lot in the Church about the blessings of the temple and all the peace, beauty, knowledge, truth, etc. that participating in temple ordinances can bring.  Unfortunately, I think we too often fail to dig deeper into the meaning and our experience with the temple because we have set the temple up to be a tricky thing to talk about. This is a difficult lesson to teach precisely because it may be hard to get deep and meaningful discussion about the temple and our relationship to it.  As a teacher, you must be aware of some class member’s discomfort in talking about something they might consider too sacred to talk about.  You also need to be sensitive to the fact that everybody has a very different and deeply personal relationship to the temple.  Many members of your class will see the temple of a place of peace and comfort. But you might also have sisters who have either not gone through the temple or have experienced very real pain and confusion there.  This is not something to be afraid of or run away from, if anything I would highlight the beauty in our individual journey towards the divine.

In preparing this lesson, strive to avoid the usual rhetoric about the temple and instead focus on each sister’s individual experience. Ask questions that will lead to deep and meaningful conversation on this topic. Also, this is a Relief Society lesson, try to highlight Mormon women’s voices, stories and relationships with the temple.

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Relief Society Lesson 12: Seek the Spirit in All You Do

Baltimore Sunrise by Aimee HickmanGuest Post by Trudy Rushforth

I was excited when I was asked to write this lesson plan. Seeking and living by the Spirit is one of the parts of the gospel that I really love. I think that it’s remarkable that we each have a direct line to the Almighty, unimpeded by any human intermediary.

With all of the varied expectations (family, friends, ourselves, our employers, church culture, etc.) pulling us in different directions, seeking the Spirit is essential. Also essential is allowing others the space to seek the Spirit for direction in their lives. Joyce Meyer, a pastor in the Midwest, has this to say on the subject: “Many people feel so pressured by the expectations of others that it causes them to be frustrated, miserable and confused about what they should do. But there is a way to live a simple, joy-filled, peaceful life, and the key is learning how to be led by the Holy Spirit, not the traditions or expectations of man.” [1]

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Relief Society Lesson 11: Follow the Living Prophet

Traduction en français/Click for French Translation

moses_aaron_hur

President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

Learn to keep your eye on the prophet. He is the Lord’s mouthpiece and the only man who can speak for the Lord today.

Some of my favorite scriptures about following the prophet are found in the book of Exodus and center around the experiences of the prophet Moses.

Moses’ people were at war with the people of Amalek.  Moses went up to a hill to watch the battle and brought his rod with him, the same one he had used when he cursed the Nile while persuading Pharaoh to free the Israelites, and that he had also used to strike the rock of Horeb so that it gushed water for the Israelites when they were in the desert and thirsty.

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Relief Society Lesson 10: Flooding the Earth and Our Lives with the Book of Mormon

Traduction en français/Click for French Translation

You can find the original lesson here.  My version of this lesson follows the main points of the ETB lesson manual, but I didn’t feel very comfortable with a lot of the content of the lesson.  Ezra Taft Benson spent a lot of time talking about the power of the Book of Mormon and the need to flood the earth with it, but his quotes didn’t bring it to a personal level with his own experiences.  I feel that a powerful lesson needs to bring it to a more personal level.  So I would start off by mentioning that Ezra Taft Benson had a great love for the Book of Mormon.  Ask the class, what does the Book of Mormon mean to you?  Do you have any favorite scriptures or stories that have stood out to you?

Marjorie Pay Hinckley shared her feelings about the Book of Mormon and what the story of captain Moroni meant to her:

“In the book of Alma is a story that has fascinated me since I first read it. it is about a very colorful character named Moroni–not to be confused with the last survivor of the Nephites, who was also named Moroni. This man was a brilliant military commander, and he rose to be supreme commander of all the Nephite forces at the age of twenty-five. For the next fourteen years he was off to the wars continuously except for two very short periods of peace during which he worked feverishly at reinforcing the Nephite defenses. When peace finally came, he was thirty-nine years old, and the story goes that at the age of forty-three he died. Sometime before this he had given the chief command of the armies of the Nephites to his son Moronihah. Now, if he had a son, he had a wife. I’ve often wondered where she was and how she fared during those fourteen years of almost continuous warfare, and how she felt to have him die so soon after coming home. I am sure there are many, many stories of patience and sacrifice that have never been told. We each do our part, and we each have our story(1).”
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May 2015 Visiting Teaching Message: Teacher’s Choice from Conference

I confess that the past 12 months have not been easy for me. We moved house twice in this 12 months, and each time, waited 3 -4 months after each initial move for our things to arrive on moving trucks. I feel like I have been packing, unpacking and setting up house constantly for a year. With a perpetual feeling of displacement and clutter—in my physical home as well as in my mind, it has been hard for me to focus on General Conference.

 

 

viewIn the place before where we are now, we were in a remote area; though it took us an hour and 45 minutes each way on a twisty, sometimes slippery canyon road, we attended every other week or more. I was excited to be in this ward at first, but began to feel less and less welcome as the weeks passed. My husband and I were not given callings, not asked to speak, and I began to struggle to feel the spirit at church. I was cornered on one Sunday by two women, one who professed with acidic sweetness that I should follow the “Strength For Youth” pamphlet when making comments in Relief Society. They clearly didn’t like my comment (something on prayer), and were trying to “correct” me. The other woman backed away, sensing the lack of spirit in the other’s words, but the snake still spit at me until I shook myself free. I did not feel safe at church after that, and guarded against being cornered again.

 

As Kate Kelly was excommunicated, and I began to fear for my own safety within the church, my daughters began to be bullied at school. Their tormentor? The only other LDS child at their school. He was the same age as their ages combined, and he seemed to aim his venom most upon my youngest, who was 5 years old. His parents refused to meet with us, though his mother called to blame me and my daughters for tormenting him. She also contacted the bishop, blaming us for making their lives harder– in what way I do not know, as I barely knew her and had little to no interaction with the family. Soon the principal and teachers all became involved and I began driving my daughters to school and picking them up, lingering in the car both times, to ensure they were safe.

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