Sunday, November 30, 2008

25 Days of Christmas

Every year my family does 25 days of Christmas.  We pick an activity to do every day leading up to Christmas.  Some are religious, some are just festive, but all are fun.  My girls love this tradition and look forward to this time each year.  Some activities repeat from year to year, and some are new.  For fun, I will try to post what we do each day all month long.  Hopefully you will enjoy seeing what we do, and maybe get a few ideas for things to do with your family.

Come back tomorrow to see what we do on the 1st day of Christmas.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In PURSE-uit of Excellence

In my church's Young Women's Program (ages 12-18, for those of you who aren't LDS) I am the Personal Progress Leader (We help the girls set goals and do projects in seven value categories--a little like the girl version of boy scouts, only not so much like girl scouts) 

Anyway, at the end of the year we have a program called Young Women in Excellence were we honor the girls for their hard work and achievements. 

This year we had a "purse" theme going.  Playing off the title Purse-onal Progress, (you might recall the purses I give the girls on their advancement birthdays--12,14,16--filled with birthday items appropriate to the significance of the age; 12-a value bracelet and personal progress helps, pencil, highlighter,stick notes, etc.;14-items to prepare for church dances; 16 - items to prepare for dating--these were cute things like Hershey kisses that said,"When you feel the urge to kiss, splurge on this", etc.) 

The whole theme carried over to the end of year program which we entitled In Purse-uit of Excellence.  We decorated with purses, the invites were little purses, each project display was labeled with purses that the girls put notes to each other in, and the girls did skits with a purse involved (The Beehives--ages 12&13-- did a Trivial Purse-uit game show; the Mia Maids--14&15--did a skit that involved solving problems with things found in Grandma's purse; The Laurels--16&17--did a skit about making good choices that simply had the girls carrying their stuff in a large purse, good, bad and otherwise.) 

And finally, as the Personal Progress Leader I gave a short talk that involved things found in my purse that could represent the seven values and how they help me in my life.  I thought it turned out really cute so I am going to share it with you:

When I was in high school I thought carrying a purse meant you were old.  Only mothers and old ladies carried purses.  Because of that I found myself places without items that I needed.  I wasn’t prepared, or I didn’t have items at my disposal that would have made the situation easier or even possible.

As I got a little older I came to the conclusion that it was smarter to be prepared, and easier to carry those items I might need if I carried a purse.  And that became more important that how I might appear.  But once I started carry a purse and putting things in it, I found it too easy to fill it with things I didn’t need.  Things that just cluttered up the space--wrappers, receipts, random objects--and these items made it harder to get to the ones I needed.  

This experience taught me a valuable lesson.  One that I would like to liken unto life in general and preparing oneself by filling ones spiritual purse with things that will help, rather than hinder our eternal progression, while living our daily lives.  The Young Women’s Program, and specifically the Personal Progress Program is an excellent way to accumulate the necessary items to fill our spiritual purses.

In my purse I have seven valuable items to have in life that will also represent each of the seven YW Values.  Each item is meant to show how the personal progress program can prepare these young women for their lives as adults, as it has prepared me.

Keys (Faith)   The key to the gospel and to living our life successfully is Faith.  President Monson once said There is a key which each one of us earnestly seeks to obtain and which will open the locks to the treasure houses of the knowledge which we desire to acquire. That key is the key of faith. In this work, no lock will open without it. I testify that when we do all we can to accomplish the work that is before us, the Lord will make available to us the sacred key needed to unlock the treasure which we so much seek.”(Pres. Monson May 2004)  Faith is necessary in all aspects of our life.

Cell Phone (Divine Nature)  It is a reminder of our Divine nature as daughters of God.  As such we must keep the lines of communication open through prayer. In the most recent conference, Elder David A. Bednar said Simply stated, prayer is communication to Heavenly Father from His sons and daughters on earth. “As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part”

Drivers’ license (Individual Worth This reminds us of our individual worth.  Not only does this tell others who we are, it reminds us who we are.  That we are unique and valuable. (“Your Life Has a Purpose,” Bishop H. Burke Peterson New Era, May 1979, pp. 4–5).“My dear friends, you are a royal generation. You were preserved to come to the earth in this time for a special purpose. Not just a few of you, but all of you. There are things for each of you to do that no one else can do as well as you. If you do not prepare to do them, they will not be done. Your mission is unique and distinctive for you. Please don’t make another have to take your place. He or she can’t do it as well as you can. If you will let Him, I testify that our Father in Heaven will walk with you through the journey of life and inspire you to know your special purpose here” 

Pictures of Children (Knowledge)  I chose a picture of my kids because the skills you need to be a parent and maintain a household are vast.  Many of the skills we learn as a teenager translate into useful skills as a parent. Beyond that, knowledge is one of the few things we will take with us from this life, D&C 130: 18-19  18 Whatever principle of aintelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the bresurrection.

  19 And if a person gains more aknowledge and intelligence in this life through his bdiligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the cadvantage in the world to come.)

Debit Card (Choice & Accountability) Few things show clearer results to our choices than budgeting.  It is quickly obvious whether we have made good choices  when dealing with money and our accountability can be painful if we are not careful.  But I think this can represent eternal treasures as well.  We may not see the consequences as quickly but they are of larger importance.  In Matthew 6:20 we are reminded: ”lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal”

Nail File (Good Works) This file is a tool used to shape our nails.  Like this file we should  be tools in the Lord’s hands to help shape the lives of others through our good works.  D&C 35:14 Their arm shall be my arm.’ Elder Marion D. Hanks: “. .your arm, your resources, your intelligence, your tongue, your energy, are the only tools the Lord has to work with”(BYU Speech Oct. 1958)

Chapstick (Integrity) Not only should we be worried about what we put on our lips, but more importantly what comes out of them.  We need to have the moral courage to stand for righteousness with our words and our actions.  President Howard W. Hunter said in the April 1990 conference: “The ability to stand by one’s principles, to live with integrity and faith according to one’s belief—that is what matters, that is the difference between a contribution and a commitment. That devotion to true principle—in our individual lives, in our homes and families, and in all places where we meet and influence other people—that devotion is what God is ultimately requesting of us.

I have certainly gained a better appreciation for my purse, actual and allegorical.  And I hope you girls will too.  I know that if you learn to fill your spiritual purses with the values you are learning and practicing in Young Women you will find yourselves better prepared spiritually and physically throughout your lives. 

I think it all turned out really well.  I love finding ideas online to use so I am sharing these with you.  I hope you find them useful.