Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Teaching Children Patience


This is a lesson for my Mom's MTC. If you want more specifics on how I use these lessons in my home read the start of this post.

Patience

Includes:
  • Accepting God's will and timing
  • Endurance
  • Accepting personal weaknesses and faults 
  • Flexibility
  • Contentment
Memory Verse:

 “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Ecclesiastes 7:8

Song:  

“ I will Follow God’s Plan for Me.” Children’s Song Book, pg. 164

Chapter Books to Read-a-loud:

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Blue Willow by Doris Gates

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick


Week 1:  Patience Takes Time

Scripture Stories

Simeon and Anna

Luke 2: 22-38

Simeon had been promised that he would not die until he saw the Christ child. Even though the Lord had made him a promise he didn't know when it was going to happen and he had to learn to wait. Anna came to the temple everyday to serve the Lord. Both Simeon and Anna were very old and had waited a long time to see the Savior be born. Sometimes God has plans for our lives that we don't understand. We need to have faith that he knows the right time for everything and go forward, trusting, that

How do you think it made Simeon and Anna feel to see the Christ child?
How long do you think they had been waiting?
Have you ever had to wait for a long time?
What helped you be patient?

Activities

Be Flexible

Every morning have the children work on a set of stretches (touching their toes, seeing how far they can reach on a stretch board, doing the splits, etc…) The first day you do the stretches measure them and mark how far they can reach. Then as the subsequent days go by mark every time they get further and further. By the end of the month have them look back to where they were when they started and how far they have stretched themselves. Find moments when you are stretching (not every day) to talk about sometimes when we start out stretching hurts, but that that more we do it the more flexible we become and the easier it gets. Talk about how sometimes God asks us to wait or to do things differently than we normally would, it can hurt at first, but the more we persist at them and work at them the more flexible our souls become and the easier it is to follow God’s will and not our own. One day you might even read Mosiah 3:19 about the natural man, and talk about how overcoming our "natural man" requires patience and daily work.


Watching Nature 

Choose something from nature this month to observe and record how it changes over the month. What you will choose will probably depend on the time of year, but some examples might be watching a tree in the spring or fall and watching how it buds or how its leaves change color. You might also chart the phases of the moon (here is a good chart) or grow a plant, watch the snow melt, hatch tadpoles, grow chicks, or some other nature related activity. You don't have to make an observation every day, but make sure the children are observing it on a regular basis so that they can see the changes and get an idea of how long it is taking for the change s to happen. The point is help kids understand that somethings can't be rushed. We have to wait on God's timing for many things and learn how to enjoy the process.



Books to Read

This Monster Cannot Wait! by Bethany Barton
Betty Bunny loves Chocolate Cake by Michael Kaplan
Play With Me By Marie Hall Ets
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

Week 2: Accepting God's Will

Scripture Stories 

Sarah and Abraham

Genesis 18, 27 (can paraphrase the story if you need)

Sarah and Abraham were very old and didn't have any children. The Lord had promised Abraham and Sarah they would have a baby, but they got older and older and still didn't have a baby. When Abraham and Sarah were almost 100 years old they finally had a baby boy named Issac. They were so happy when they finally had a baby that they laughed and celebrated. Even though they had to wait a long time, and it was really hard for them, they knew that God would always keep his promise. Sometimes God makes us wait for things and even though we don't know why. When we have to wait a long time, and we don't know why, we can follow the example of Abraham and Sarah and have faith that the Lord will help us wait and keep his word.

Has anyone made you a promise?
How long did you have to wait for them to keep it?
How did you feel when they kept it (or didn't keep it)?
What do you think helped Abraham and Sarah to have patience?
Do you think that waiting a long time made Abraham and Sarah spirit's stronger or weaker?

Job

Job 1, 42

Read part of Job's story and then explain to the children that Job had to go through a lot of hardship and suffering before his life became happy again. He lost all his money, his family, his health and all his friends. Even though Job's life was hard he had faith that God had a plan for him and that everything would be okay in the end. Job had to have a lot of patience in order to go through what he did. He is a good example to us of how, when hard times come, if we will just keep going and have patience everything will get better.

How would you feel if you lost your family, your friends and your home?
How do you think Job felt when these things happened to him?
How do did he show patience?
How can you be patient when hard things happen to you?

Activities 

Can't Rush It

Give each child an ice cube (all the same size) and then have a race to see whose ice cube can melt the fastest. They are not allowed to touch the ice cube or to use anything else to help it melt. Breathing on it is okay, but they can't touch it. Cheering on your ice cube with fun cheers is encouraged. It is also okay to leave the ice cubes alone  for a little while if your kids get bored of watching them and came back later. You might even want to set a timer to come back and check on them. Use this activity to illustrate the point that there are some things you can’t just rush. They take time.

Ripening Patience 

Buy some VERY green fruit (bananas are perhaps the easiest but pears and other fruit can work just as well). Have your children taste the fruit when it is green. Hopefully they won't like it very much. Tell them that if they will wait a few days then the fruit will be ripe and ready and will be much better. Have them check the  fruit every day and remind them that often times the best things in life require us to wait until they are ready. When the fruit is ripe have them eat it and compare it to how it was before. Was it worth the wait?

Combining Forces

Make gak or silly putty and have the kids look at the ingredients before hand. Are they very stretchy? Not really. But when you put them together they are. Tell them that this is kind of like us. When we are just by ourselves, we aren’t very patient but when we are combined with the Holy Ghost and pray for God’s help to be patient... then we become really stretchy! Our very nature can be changed when we allow the Holy Ghost to help us. After talking about it, have fun playing with it!


Books to Read

The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen
Remy the Rhino Learns Patience by Andy McGuire
Patient Rosie by Mary Morgan-Vanroyen
Umbrella by Taro Yashima


Week 3: Being Content

Scripture Stories

Joseph in Egypt

Genesis 37, 39-41 (can paraphrase if needed)

Joseph didn't know what God's plan was for his life. He must have felt really frustrated when his brothers sold him as a slave and it looked like all his plans for his life were ruined. Nonetheless he tried his best and became the best slave in Potiphar's house. So he must have felt even more frustrated when Potiphar's wife lied about him and he was put in jail even though, again, he had done nothing wrong. Yet, just like before Joseph did the very best he could and became one of the best prisoners. He had to wait a long time until he free, but he tried to the best he could in every situation Eventually God helped him become a great man and help all the people of Egypt get ready for the famine. Sometimes, like Joseph, things don't quite like we plan. But if we remember that God is in charge and is watching over us it can help us be patient and have faith that everything will work out for the best... even though we don't know how that will happen.

How do you think Joseph felt when his life wasn't going as he planned?
Did Joseph know what God's plan was for him?
What plan do you think that God has for your life?
Do you think things will always go how you plan?
Have you ever been dissapointed?
What do you do when you are dissapointed?

Activities

The Right Order of Things

There are two ways you can do this activity and you can do both of them or just one. The first way is to create or have your kids help you create pictures of everything you are going to do that day. For example, have a picture of someone waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, etc... You could draw pictures, print some off online or (if you have time beforehand) take photographs of your kids doing the things. Once you have your pictures have your children help you make a timeline for the day. Throughout the day keep coming back to it to see what you have done and what comes next. If one of your children is tempted to skip ahead remind them that sometimes patience means being able to wait and do things in the right order instead of what you want to do right that moment.

The second way to do this activity is to print off photographs of your children from when they were younger to the age they are now. Help them create a timeline of their life and as you make it talk about how much they have learned and changed. Growing up takes patience you can't ride a bike before you learn how to walk! Help them identify times when they have been patient. Encourage them to learn to be happy right now, and not always be looking to the future to be happy. If they seemed interested you could also have them extend their timeline into the future. Have them draw pictures of some of the things they will have to be patient for like getting baptized, driving a car, getting married, etc... It is also fun if Mom and Dad make a timeline too!


Patience Pays

In the morning before the children wake up set up a tent in the living room (or another obvious room in the house).  Put one small piece of candy (or another treat) inside the tent for each child. When they wake up and see the tent they will probably be excited and want to go in. Tell them they must wait until everyone is up before they go in ( I made my kids wait till after breakfast and they were dressed). When you are ready to start let the children look inside the tent, but do not let them go in. Once everyone has been able to see that there is candy inside, ask them "Who would like to go inside now?" Remind them that, "You can go inside now if you want, but if you wait until the end of.... (whatever you want to specify), it will be much better." Some of the kids may want to go in, so let them. Tell them they only get one piece. Also make sure at least one child doesn't go in right away or this object lesson on waiting will fail :)

Go about the rest of your day and after a good amount of time has passed (we waited about an hour) put in another treat for each child who waited. Have the children who waited look inside and ask them,  "Who would like to go inside now? Remind them that if they wait till the end of (whatever you specified) it will be even better.

Keep going on with your day and towards the end of the time you specified add one more treat for every child who waited. This one can be more special like a candy bar, or a toy, or-- in my kids case-- a package of Jell-o.  Have everyone who waited look inside and then let the kids who waited the whole time go in and get their treat.


If your kids are like mine there may be tears shed along the way during this activity when people don't think it is fair that someone got a better treat than they did. Remind them though that they had a choice, and they chose to go in when they did. No one forced them. Reinforce the idea that sometimes when we put off what we want right now, for what we want in the future we are happier. Sometimes God makes us wait, not because he is mean and does't want us to have something, but because he knows there is something coming in the future that will make us even more happy.

This is an activity that can be done more than once-- with  a good amount of time in between-- to help kids practice waiting.

Books to Read

Babushka's Doll by Patricia Polacco
Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney
Can't-wait Willow! by Christy Ziglar
Wemberly's Ice cream Star by Kevin Henkes.


Week 4: Patience with others

Scripture Stories 

Jesus is Patient (from Kids of Integrity)

1 Timothy 1:15-16 and 2 Peter 3:9.

Paul talks about how Jesus displays unlimited patience, waiting for people to confess their sins. God has a lot of patience. Every day He waits for people to tell Him they are sorry they have sinned. God is so patient that He keeps waiting. He loves us all so much that He doesn’t want anyone to miss out on having his or her sins forgiven (2 Peter 3:9).

Questions for discussion
How hard is it to wait for a special visitor to come and visit?
What happens if they are late?
What is Jesus waiting for people to do?
How is Jesus patient with us?


Activities

Patience Like a Penguin

Read a book or watch a movie about emperor penguins. March of the Penguins is wonderful if you want a longer show or this clip is also good if you want a shorter piece. My children also enjoyed this book. After reading or watching a show have the children practice walking with raw potatoes on their feet like father penguins do with the egg. Try to see who can go the fastest without dropping their “egg.” Talk about how penguins have to be patient to hatch their baby eggs and how it takes patience to take small steps. You can also do a tobogganing race and have the kids race across the floor (tile or wood works best) only using their feet and hands.


Interrupting Game

This is a game to help kids learn how to interrupt politely. Start out by demonstarting what it looks like when someone interrupts. Have the kids pretend to have a conversation (or if there is only one child have them talk on the phone) and keep interrupting them rudely as they talk. Then do the role play again and demonstrate how they could interrupt politely. Some ways they might do this is to quietly wait to one side waiting to be noticed. They could touch someone on the shoulder or leg and polety say, "Excuse me, I have something to say...". Another way that I have found works really well with my children is to have them come (silently) and put their hand on my shoulder or arm and leave it there while I am talking. I acknoweldge them and their need by placing my hand over the top of it, letting them know that as soon as I can I will give them attention. This method has worked really well and we often do role plays to keep the idea fresh in their minds!

Creating A Soft Heart 

Demonstrate to children that when we really love others one way we can show it to them is by being patient with them, especially when they make mistakes or demonstrate weaknesses. Have the children cut out two hearts. Talk about how the Lord is patient with us and that we need to be patient with other people as well, but that it requires our hearts to be soft and full of love.

On the first heart talk about things that happen that might make them impatient, annoyed or angry with other people. When people don’t listen, when they push in line or cheat, when they won’t share, when they are slow to get things we want or need, when things don’t happen just like we think they are going to. Talk about how if we choose to get angry or impateient about these things it makes our heart hard.

Write words like “impatient”, “angry”, “annoyed” on the heart and then have the kids cover the heart with small rocks (gravel or some other similar substance).

Pull out the other heart and talk about how if we respond to these type of situations with love it makes our hearts soft. Write words like “patience”, “understanding”, “love” on the heart and then cover it with cotton balls.

Books to Read

Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus
Harriet, you Drive me Wild by Meme Fox
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein 
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
"Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," said the Sloth by Eric Carle


Final Program

Put on a program for parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends, or stuffed animals and review what they have learned. Include the song and scripture they have learned as well as some of the stories they have learned over the month. Instead of doing a lesson the day (or two) before the program we spend it getting ready for the program. It doesn't have to be anything big, just a chance for them to teach what they have learned... because when you teach something you learn it the best.

If you have any other good ideas for scripture stories, activities or books that go with honesty please leave a comment. I plan on using this same lesson plan again with my children next year and it would be great to have some new ideas! 



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

MARRIAGE IS DEATH

One night when Jon and I were engaged we were sitting on the couch in my apartment. He was studying out of his human anatomy book and I was working on a paper for my Women's Literature class. In my class we had been discussing archetypes and had just read the book "She" by Robert A. Johnson. In his book Johnson examines the Greek myth of Psyche and Eros and how those archetypes teach us important lessons about marriage and women's spiritual development.

As I was working on my paper I started to think out-loud about what I was writing about. I told Jon the story of Psyche and Eros; about how, because Psyche is the most beautiful girl in the whole world, Aphrodite becomes jealous of her and decides that she is going to be married to Death, a horrible creature who lives on top of the mountain. Psyche's family has a huge funeral procession for her and leaves her chained at the top of the mountain. Then Aphrodite's son Eros, the God of love,  is suppose to go and kill her, but instead pricks his finger on one of his arrows and falls in love with her. He marries her and takes her to his palace to live, but he only comes to her after dark and makes her promise never to look at his face. Eventually Psyche, spurred on by the curiosity of her sisters, sneaks into Eros' room and holds a lamp to his face. When she sees that her husband is a God she is so surprised that she spills oil on to him and burns him. When he wakes up he is enraged that she has broken her promise to him and leaves her. The rest of Psyche's story is spent following her as she performs the impossible tasks that Aphrodite sets before her in order to win back Eros. Eventually, against all odds, she completes them and is reunited with her love. Not only that, but she is welcomed into the God's realm as a Goddess.

After telling Jon the story, which he enjoyed, I began explaining that the argument that Johnson makes in his book is that the story of Psyche is the archetypal story for women's spiritual growth. That all women, in order to develop their Goddess nature must have their moment of darkness on the mountain and must face the death of their maidenhood. As Johnson wrote in his book,
"In truth the maiden does die on her wedding day; an era of her life is over and she  dies to many of the feminine elements she has lived thus far. Her wedding is her funeral in a sense." ("She", 12)
I told him how in my Women's Literature class we discussed how a modern wedding ceremony has resemblances to a funeral.  I said, " Just think about it... the bride is  dressed in white, like a ghost. The husband and other men wear black, like a sign of mourning.  The bride even carries flowers and has flowers around her as decorations, reminiscent of funeral flowers. And traditionally a woman was veiled during her marriage which was a symbol of burial. It is like on her wedding day a bride has to allow the woman she once was-- her maiden self-- to be killed."

I was jabbering on about all of this to Jon as he studied his anatomy text, unaware that underneath he was beginning to fume. Oblivious I went on...

" But, even though the bride is veiled, at the end of the ceremony the husband lifts her veil which is a symbol of re-birth and new life. Her maidenhood has just died and now she is being re-born. She is now on her way to discovering her true power and the true depth of her womanhood. Here let me read you this quote from Robert Johnson:
 "All husbands are death to their wives in that they destroy them as maidens and force them into an evolution toward mature womanhood... A man rarely understands that marriage is death and resurrection both for a woman." ('She", 16-17) 
It was at this point that Jon couldn't hold it back any longer. He silently gave me a sharp, angry look and then with furry in his pen drew a HUGE skull and cross bones right in the middle of his anatomy book. At the bottom of the page, right through the middle of  the page on the anatomy of the ear, he scrolled the words MARRIAGE.... IS.... DEATH in black marker and then threw the book angrily in my lap.

"Well, if that is how you feel about getting married to me, you don't have to! "

Needless to say,  I was shocked at his reaction and promptly broke into tears. Once we both calmed  down we ended up having a really good talk about marriage and the sacrifice that it was going to require  from both of us. We talked about how parts of us were going to have to die and be re-born in order for our marriage to work. Our selfishness, our pride, our greed, or anger, our defenses, and our fear were going to have die in order for love, compassion, joy, selflessness, peace, and unity to be born.  Like Psyche and Eros we were going to have to struggle through trials and at times allow our weakness to be un-masked, and admit that we were not perfect. We decided that that growth and unity was something -- no matter how hard it was going to be-- that both of us were willing to work for.


It has been nine years since that night on my couch and last week Jon and I celebrated our eighth year of marriage.

It has been an incredible journey.

As I look back at how much both of us have grown I see that in many ways our marriage does feel like a death. Many of the things we brought with us, those selfish and narrow minded  parts of us, have died.  Yet, I can see that our marriage has also been a birth. A birth of not only 4 new lives, but a birth of some of the most beautiful parts of ourselves-- of kindness, self-sacrifice, patience, long suffering, charity, and unity. And seeing those attributes grow and bloom makes every trial and every struggle we've gone through together SO worth it.

This year I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I have this wonderful man in my life.  I know him better than I know anyone else in the world. He is as much a part of me as my eyes or my ears are,  and there are times I think that if he was ever gone... I would die.

Yet, then I have moments when I look in his eyes and I see depth that scares me.  I look at him and realize I have no idea who he is.  Like Psyche holding her lamp, I realize that I have married a God--an imperfect man no doubt-- but a man whose true self is so much greater than I can even comprehend.  It makes me deliriously happy to think that I have eternity to figure him out.


This year, as we were talking about how far we have come together,  Jon reminded me of that night on my apartment couch.

"You know, " he said, "I sold that anatomy book back to the bookstore at the end of the semester. That means that somewhere there is someone who bought that book and then opened it to study about the anatomy of the ear  and found a huge skull and cross bones with the words "MARRIAGE... IS ... DEATH" written right through the middle of it. I hope that didn't ever scare anyone away from marriage...because it really is nice."

So, just in  case you ever open up an anatomy book and see a skull and cross bones across the center fold, just know that even though marriage is death--- that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Because out of that death, comes beautiful-- BEAUTIFUL-- life.



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Baby's Blessing
















The days my babies were blessed have been some of the sweetest in my life. 

This time with Tabitha I have been thinking how, for nine months, I carried that sweet baby inside of me, sharing everything with her. The burden of her pregnancy was hard, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It challenged every ounce of strength I had. I know it was hard for Jon to watch me go through it. At times he wished he could  trade me places, but he couldn't. He could rub my feet when they were swollen, he could watch the kids in the morning and make breakfast, and hold me when I cried, but he couldn't carry my burden for me. It was something I had to do alone. 

And it was really hard. 

So as I watched him take my little Tabitha in his arms and give her a name--a name she will carry for eternity-- my heart was full. I was so grateful that this time I didn't have to carry the burden of creating new life alone. So grateful for this incredible man who shares in my joys, my sorrows, and my burdens. 

His responsibility as a father is to give our children the ordinances-- the spiritual re-birth-- that will allow them to be born again into the Kingdom of God. That is a big burden and I can't carry it for him. Yet, like he did for me, I can ease the weight of it and stand beside him. I can love him, encourage him, sustain him, and together we can teach and lead our children. Even though there are times when the burden of creating new life-- physical and spiritual--will rest solely on one of our shoulders, parenthood is a partnership and we are in it together.  
The name we choose to give her is Tabitha Lily Farrell. At this time we would love to give her a blessing. We pray that Tabitha can begin to know that she is she is surrounded by people in the world who want her to be successful and will help her return to thee. As she goes to church and reads the scriptures she will discover her true identity, as a child of God and as a woman. She will be filled with love and light and will be able to ignore Satan's messages and the voices that the world will throw at her. 
We also bless her that she will be able to, when the time is right, be sealed to an eternal companion and have an eternal family. We bless her that she will continue on the path and be protected and have angels around her. Help her be an influence for good  and help bless others. We bless her that she will recognize the light of Christ. 
Her blessing was short because she started to cry loudly-- Jon said she was just adding her own words in-- but as I looked up and saw her encircled by righteous, good men I got a big lump in my throat. In a world where so many women suffer because of the wickedness of men, I am so grateful that my little girl has so many righteous men surrounding her with love and power. Men who will teach her, love her, respect her, and watch over her. Men who will help her recognize her worth as a daughter of God and to accomplish her mission. 


As a mother I don't have to do it alone. 

I have the help of righteous men--some of the best men on earth-- and that is a beautiful partnership. 

Oh, and as a side note, several months ago my mother-in-law helped me turn my wedding dress into a temple dress. We cut off the train and I used the fabric from it to make Tabitha's blessing dress. It turned out so sweet!