Tuesday, May 1, 2012

FHE 5/7: Faith through Adversity

This week's FHE stems from President Henry B. Eyring's talk entitled "Mountains to Climb."  There are also a few quotes from Elder David S. Baxter's talk, "Faith, Fortitude, and Fulfillment: A Message to Single Parents."  I loved President Eyring's talk--it is such a *BEAUTIFUL* affirmation of our faith and what the hope of Christ can do for us in the hardest of times.  We can do hard things!  We can do ALL things, through Christ who strengthens us.  :)  And Elder Baxter's talk, while especially meant for single parents, really speaks to having faith through our times of adversity, and of enduring to the end.  Faith in time of adversity is a BIG topic to teach small children, but the best way to do it is to share your own experiences through testimony and teach by example.  Below are a few ideas to help you get started.  :)

POINTS TO PONDER BEFORE YOU BEGIN:

  • What can you proactively do to strengthen your foundation of faith?
  • What trials have you passed through in life that brought you closer to the Savior?  In what trials did you feel further from Him?  What was the difference?

QUOTES:
FROM PRESIDENT EYRING:
  • "If the foundation of faith is not embedded in our hearts, the power to endure will crumble...the ground must be carefully prepared for our foundation of faith to withstand the storms that will come into every life. That solid basis for a foundation of faith is personal integrity."
  • "It is serving God and others persistently with full heart and soul that turns testimony of truth into unbreakable spiritual strength."
  • "When hard trials come, the faith to endure them well will be there, built as you may now notice but may have not at the time that you acted on the pure love of Christ, serving and forgiving others as the Savior would have done."
  • "I cannot promise an end to your adversity in this life. I cannot assure you that your trials will seem to you to be only for a moment. One of the characteristics of trials in life is that they seem to make clocks slow down and then appear almost to stop. There are reasons for that. Knowing those reasons may not give much comfort, but it can give you a feeling of patience. Those reasons come from this one fact: in Their perfect love for you, Heavenly Father and the Savior want you fitted to be with Them to live in families forever. Only those washed perfectly clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ can be there...We never need to feel that we are alone or unloved in the Lord’s service because we never are. We can feel the love of God. The Savior has promised angels on our left and our right to bear us up. And He always keeps His word."
FROM ELDER BAXTER:
  • "Although you may at times have asked, why me? it is through the hardships of life that we grow toward godhood as our character is shaped in the crucible of affliction, as the events of life take place while God respects the agency of man. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell commented, we cannot do all the sums or make it all add up because “we do not have all the numbers.'"
  • "Although you often feel alone, in truth you are never totally on your own. As you move forward in patience and in faith, Providence will move with you; heaven will bestow its needful blessings. Your perspective and view of life will change when, rather than being cast down, you look up. Many of you have already discovered the great, transforming truth that when you live to lift the burdens of others, your own burdens become lighter. Although circumstances may not have changed, your attitude has. You are able to face your own trials with greater acceptance, a more understanding heart, and deeper gratitude for what you have, rather than pining for what you yet lack."
SONGS:

  • The Wise Man Built His House Upon a Rock
  • Faith 
  • I Know My Father Lives
  • Keep the Commandments

OBJECT LESSONS:

  • The Savior can carry our burdens if we have faith.  Have a backpack and several rocks or blocks or books (big but not TOO big).  Also have paper and crayons.  Each family member writes or draws a trial they are struggling with--"school is hard," "I'm sick," "I'm sad when..." that sort of thing.  Wrap each paper around a rock or block or book, tape it in place, and put it in the backpack.  Pass it around so everyone knows how heavy the burden is.  Then discuss ways that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ help lift our burdens when we have faith in them. Take out a few rocks with each idea until they are all gone and have children carry the backpack now, burden-free.  (Adapted from the Friend 2006 September issue.)
  • "We walk by faith, not by sight." Blow on a feather or a pinwheel.  Ask the children if they can see the wind that is moving the feather.  Ask them if they know that the wind is really moving it.  Explain that we do not have to see something to have faith and know it is there.  (Jan 2007 Friend)
  • Trials make us stronger, if we have faith.  Show a diamond and a piece of coal/graphite.  Discuss how these are made of the very same things--carbon atoms--and how what made them different is what they went through.  After a long time of intense heat and pressure, the diamond became strong and brilliant.  The graphite/coal, however, is weak and brittle.  Liken this to trials--we can become bitter from them, and become weak/brittle like the coal/graphite, or we can have faith and Christ will help us to shine like the diamonds!  (You could pass out fake diamonds as part of a handout here.)
  • Rising above the trials.  Place a lightweight ball (such as a table tennis ball) in the bottom of a large glass jar with a lid. Fill the rest of the jar with uncooked wheat or rice, and put the lid on. Shake the jar up and down. As you do so, the ball will gradually rise to the top of the jar. Explain that though the ball started at the bottom of the jar, it rose to the top because it is lighter than the wheat that surrounds it. Similarly, if we keep a positive attitude about our trials, we can rise above them instead of being kept down by them.
  • Polishing away the outside to get to the good stuff in the middle: We're like a pencil: the useful part is inside of us, and in order to be useful, something sharp has to wear away the outer covering.  Compare it to a humble heart that is found in each of us--in order to be of the most use to the Lord, we have to scrape away the bad parts, such as impatience, pride, disbelief, or ignorance, and that is exactly what trials do for us.
GAMES & LEARNING ACTIVITIES:

  • Just as the primary song "Faith" listed above teaches, faith is like a seed that needs planting and nourishing to grow.  Show a seed and discuss what it needs to grow as you plant it in a small pot.  Then ask what things faith needs to grow.
  • Build your own houses out of LEGOs and put them in two dishes--one with sand and one on a rock (taped down with a "foundation" [duct tape] of integrity, as President Eyring suggested).  Try to wash away the houses!  Talk about what our foundation of faith is that our house must be built on.  
  • If flannel board stories/puppets are more your thing, HERE is a link to the flannel board drawings for the Wise Man & the Foolish Man.
  • President Eyring talks about his mother's 10-year struggle with cancer and how she needed to "be polished a little more."  If you have access to a rock polisher, show family how it works and discuss the ways this relates to our trials.
  • Mini-lesson on what faith is: Show picture of Prophet.
    Q: Who is this?
    A: Prophet/President Monson.
    Q: How do you know?
    A: Can see it

    Close eyes. Clap hands.
    Q: What is this?
    A: Clapping hands.
    Q: How do you know?
    A: Can hear it.

    Blindfold a girl. Give her a handful of coins.
    Q: What is this?
    A: Coins/Money.
    Q: How do you know?
    A: Can feel it

    Blindfold child. Put vinegar (or something with a strong, familiar smell) under her nose.
    Q: What is this?
    A: Vinegar.
    Q: How do you know?
    A: Smell

    Show salt/sugar shaker. Blindfold a girl. Have her taste.
    Q: What is this?
    A: Salt/sugar.
    Q: How do you know?
    A. Taste

    Show picture of Christ.
    Q: Who is this?
    A: Christ.
    Q: How do you know?
    A: Faith...
  • For older children/youth: there are several scriptures in President Eyring's talk that relate to faith.  Assign a different scripture to each family member (come up with more if you need to) and have them find that scripture and teach the rest of the family what it says about faith in the Savior, especially as it relates to our trials.  If your children are a little younger, you could use pictures of different prophets in the scriptures and just have children retell the stories in their own words.
  • For older children/youth: print off/laminate the Plan of Salvation Illustrations HERE.  After having family members assemble the Plan in order, discuss what role adversity has in this Plan.  How does faith in Christ help us through that adversity?  Read and discuss quotes from the talk that apply to this.  You may even want to actually list some of the ways you've grown/things you've learned through previous trials, or, if you're really brave, through the trials you're right in the middle of today.
  • Watch the DVD "Finding Faith in Christ" or any of the new Bible videos released by the Church.  Talk about what faith in Christ can do for you.

HANDOUTS & FREEBIES:

  • There is a coloring page about faith as a seed/plant at the bottom of the page HERE.  There's also one about faith HERE (have to click on the image under "faith") and a few about prayer (a big part of faith) HERE.  There's one about building a testimony HERE.
  • There is a free "seed pouch" HERE to print/glue that holds seeds and likens faith to a seed.
  • I've made a bookmark (prints off as a 4"x6", but splits into two) with my favorite quote from President Eyring's talk, available for download HERE.


CRAFTS & MORE:

  • There's a cute little trials survival kit idea HERE...you could adapt it easily, make it as a family, and pass out as a handout/reminder at the end of your lesson or sometime during the week.
  • You can stamp a dog tag, like the one found HERE, with any quote about faith in Christ.
  • Find a way to cuten-up a copy of "The Living Christ" and display it in your home.  
  • For the littler ones, find some LDS clipart related to faith (check out HERE or HERE), and print off/laminate the pictures.  Punch holes and buy some cheap shoelaces, and you have lacing cards to keep your children focused on the Savior even as they play!  :)  (Idea and picture from HERE.)

TREATS:

  • If you've gone with the seed/plant theme, make dirt pudding--chocolate pudding, crumbled Oreos, and gummy worms.  Or have sunflower seeds.
  • If you taught about the wise and foolish man or about building strong foundations of faith for your home, build rice krispy treat houses!  (Lay rice krispy treats in a thin layer and cut into blocks for walls/roofs, can decorate with other candy and icing if you want or just leave it as-is).
  • If you've talked about trials, have "rocky road" ice cream.  :)
  • If you've talked about being "polished" or did the object lesson with rocks, have edible rocks (they're chocolate-filled, you can usually find them in cake decorating stores or online) as a special treat.

I love that every talk I study for this blog becomes so much bigger than just a few words or a simple message.  I am always challenged to do more and become better, to be proactive in my building of a firm foundation of faith.  I'm grateful that I have a Savior that loves me enough to let me struggle from time to time, but who also is with me in the fight.  I am never truly alone.  I know this, but feeling it, BECOMING it...that's a lifetime process I've really only just begun.  I'm grateful for the journey, though.  As President Eyring said, it's really why we're here--to be polished a little more and build the endurance to climb those mountains until our very last breath.  And I appreciate that it is built on a foundation of consistent obedience and integrity.  That is the "terrestrial safety net," as Sister Lili Anderson put it, that a celestial life MUST be built on.

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