Edwards Family

Edwards Family

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Five cool things we learned in my first week of teaching seminary

1. Coming unto Christ is the purpose. 

The Savior should be the center of our lives and our class. He has so much power to heal, nourish, strengthen, and teach us. Come unto Him. I invite you to watch the music video we watched. It's this year's LDS Youth theme song, Come Unto Christ. If you're like me, get a Kleenex first.  

2. God wants us to be active, not passive learners of the gospel.

Here are eight quotes of Heavenly Father inviting us to PARTICIPATE in class! You can use this as an easy FHE lesson with older kids or teens. Or to teach your church class how to be active participants. When students participate, they invite the SPIRIT, who is the ultimate teacher. If we don't learn and teach by the Spirit, it's not going to work. 

When people teach others, in their own words, principles and doctrines they find, it helps root these truths deeply into their hearts, and inspires us to apply them. 

3. The point of scriptures is to find and apply PRINCIPLES. 

Here are some great quotes about finding principles in the scriptures. 

Just reading the scriptures doesn't give us the spiritual power and nourishment we need. We need to FEAST, meaning looking deeper and finding principles that we can apply in our lives.  

We played part of this fun and inspiring talk (with permission from the publisher) to teach the youth how to READ IT, FIND IT, USE IT!  In other words, how to look for and apply principles! 

4. It's important to bond as a class or a family. 

The Family Proclamation says that wholesome recreational activities are important in building relationships. We have played several get-to-know-you games to help everyone become friends, and to be united as a class.

 This is a question ball. My daughter helped by writing down a bunch of quick-answer questions.  Whoever catches the ball gets to answer the question by their right thumb. We'll play this game soon.  

5. God is a God of miracles. 

I know this because I, Becky Edwards, got up at 5:30 AM this week. Those who know me well know that THIS IS A MIRACLE.  

I've seen other miracles in my life as I prepared to start teaching seminary. 

  • Heavenly Father magnified my capacity to help me do more than I could on my own to prepare for teaching seminary. In the past couple months I've been able to read the whole Doctrine and Covenants as an overview, study the new Seminary & Institute teaching manual (can I just say whoa, awesome book), do an online training for seminary teachers, and attended several live trainings. I've been blessed with many resources for fantastic seminary ideas, like the handful of wonderful seminary teachers who are my friends, Pinterest, Facebook seminary teaching site, and other sites like The Redhead Hostess. I'm so grateful for all of these trainings and resources, because it's been a couple years since I taught institute, and I needed the updates and the awesome fire back. I'm feeling the fire! 

  • Another miracle has been that it felt important to me to put my home and systems and papers in order before I started teaching seminary. For you mothers who have felt the "nesting instinct," that's what I'm talkin' 'bout.  In answer to many prayers, Heavenly Father helped me do more than I could on my own here as well. I was able to buy a new-ish lateral file, de-junk and update my filing system, create a weekly family chore system, update our home routines, my planner (yes, I'm one of the 62 left on the planet who still uses a paper planner). I got a shorter haircut for a 5:30 AM fast hair do. And we worked as a family to tidy up kitchen cupboards and drawers as well as bedrooms and the garage and basement. Ahhh... Now I can think straight again. 
  • One way this is such a miracle is because I'm already a busy homeschool mom, wife of an LDS bishop, and we had a very full summer already filled with good things like serving at the new Ogden LDS temple, hosting out-of-town relatives, having some sacred missionary experiences, doing girls' camp and youth conference and a family trek, among other things. I feel blessed that my three kids who will be homeschooling next year (oldest two will be gone from home) have fantastic groups with wonderful teachers, so I'll be more of a supportive role instead of their main teacher, which will leave time for me to teach seminary. Heavenly Father has helped us work things out so I can serve His beloved seminary students. I KNOW that I have had heavenly help getting ready this summer!

Early church leaders and pioneers experienced many miracles too! 

Their struggles and experiences are recorded for us to learn from and apply principles. Their lives can teach us that God will help, strengthen, answer prayers, and work miracles in our lives just as He has in theirs. I am so excited to learn this year at the feet of these amazing heroes. 

The point of studying scriptures is to find and apply principles

The veins of gold are like principles. The rock is like the scripture story. The rock is important to the gold miner because the rock holds the valuable part -- the gold. The scripture story is important to us because it holds the most important part -- the principle. 

1. “One cannot honestly study the scriptures without learning gospel principles because the scriptures have been written to preserve principles.” (President Marion G. Romney, CES Mtg, 8/17/79)

2. Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances.”(President Richard G. Scott, “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” Ensign, 11/93)

3. “As you seek spiritual knowledge, search for principles . Carefully separate them from the detail used to explain them. ... It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle.” (President Richard G. Scott, same as above)

4. “If [you] are acquainted with the revelations, there is no question – personal or social or political or occupational – that need go unanswered. Therein is contained the fulness of the everlasting gospel. Therein we find principles of truth that will resolve every confusion and every problem and every delimma that will face the human family or any individual in it.” (President Boyd K. Packer, “Teach the Scriptures,” CES mtg, 10/14/77)

5. “One of the most important things you can do ... is to immerse yourselves in the scriptures. Search them diligently. Feast upon the words of Christ. Learn the doctrine. Master the principles that are found therein.” (President Ezra Taft Benson, “The Power of the Word,” Ensign, 5/86)

6. “If we’re not reading the scriptures daily, our testimonies are growing thinner...” (President Harold B. Lee, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee [2000], 66)

7. “It is certain that one who studies the scriptures every day accomplishes far more than one who devotes considerable time one day and then lets days go by before continuing.” (Elder Howard W. Hunter, “Reading the Scriptures,” Ensign, 11/76) 

8. “The Lord has embedded in [the Book of Mormon] his message to you.” (President Eyring, "The Book of Mormon will change your life," Ensign, 2/2004)

9. When Joseph Smith said his famous quote that "...Man would get nearer to God by abiding by [the Book of Mormon's] precepts, than by any other book,” he didn't say that would happen from reading it. He essentially said we would get nearer to God by applying the principles in the book. Just reading doesn't have the power to bring us nearer to God and change us to be more like Him. 

Go here for more about why principles are important when you learn anything. 

Here are a few more awesome quotes about the power of scriptures. 

God wants us to be ACTIVE, not PASSIVE learners, of His Gospel

Keys to being an active learner of the Gospel

We used this handout on our first day of seminary. I'll invite you do to the same thing I invited my students to do. This would make a great FHE lesson, or use it in Sunday School or youth class to help your students up-level their learning. 

Read these quotes. Mark in one color what actions you’re being invited to take to obtain spiritual learning.   Mark in a second color the promised blessings of doing these things. 

1. “The very process of formulating a question, raising a hand, asking a question and listening attentively is an expression of faith. This principle of seeking learning by faith invites individualized teaching by the Holy Ghost”  (Elder David A. Bednar, Address to Australian Saints, April 2008).

2. “Assure that there is abundant participation because that use of agency by a student authorizes the Holy Ghost to instruct. It also helps the student retain your message.  As students verbalize truths, they are confirmed in their souls and strengthen their personal testimonies” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “To Understand and Live Truth,” Feb. 4, 2005).
3. “We are to help students learn to explain, share, and testify of the doctrines and principles of the restored gospel. We are to give them opportunities to do so with each other in class.  We are to encourage them to do so outside of class with family and others” (The Teaching Emphasis in the Church Educational System, November 14, 2007). 

4. “When you encourage students to raise their hand to respond to a question, they signify to the Holy Spirit their willingness to learn.  That use of moral agency will allow the Spirit to motivate and give them more powerful guidance during your time together. Participation allows individuals to experience being led by the Spirit. They learn to recognize and feel what spiritual guidance is. It is through the repeated process of feeling impressions, recording them, and obeying them that one learns to depend on the direction of the Spirit more than on communication through the five senses” (Richard G. Scott, “Helping Others to Be Spiritually Led,” 8/11/1998).

5. “Do you know how to get the most benefit from this time together?  Write down the impressions you feel…Spiritual moments in life often come when it seems difficult to record them.  Yet that special effort to crystallize in a permanent record sacred impressions of the Holy Ghost is powerfully rewarded.  Begin now even if you have to borrow paper and pencil to do it.” (Richard G. Scott, BYU-I Devot., Feb. 24, 2004) 

6. 1 Nephi 19:23 – ...I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.

7.  D&C 88:122 – Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege.

8. “The person at the pulpit’s most important purpose is to teach by the Spirit.  Those in attendance must hear by the Spirit.  The best way to hear by the Spirit that I have found is simply to have in your heart a prayer for the person who is speaking.  If you will pray for the person who is speaking you will hear things you would not otherwise hear.  The Spirit will say things that He might not otherwise say.” (Elder Dunn, quoted by Kelly Haws in Priesthood training mtg) 

Please sign below. 

I Accept God’s Invitation to be an Active Learner this Year in Seminary. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

13 Fun Get-to-know-you Activities

I survived my first day of teaching early morning seminary today!  I already love these students, and I know I'll love them more and more and more...

Here are 13 fun ways students can get to know each other. I'll likely use a handful of these over first couple weeks of seminary. 

(Note: I didn't create any of these...I'm just good at gathering others' great ideas!) 

1. Question ball 

On a ball, write a bunch of questions like: What college do you want to attend? Favorite sport? Favorite movie? Pet peeve. Toss the ball. When the student catches it, they answer the question by their right thumb. 

2. Foodie names 

Each person says their name and a food that begins with the same letter as their name. The next person repeats the first person's name and food, adding their own. Each additional person repeats all previous names and foods, and adds their own. 

3. Name and favorite ice cream...scripture...any other favorite

This game works the same as Foodie names. 

3. Toss the name ball 

Students sit in a circle. Say your own name and another person's name, and then toss the ball to that person. That person says their own name and a different person's name and then tosses the ball. If the ball is dropped, the group gets to start from the beginning. 

4. Two truths and a lie 

Each person tells three things about themselves: two truths and one lie. Others try to guess which one is the lie. This game goes more quickly when the kids write it down first. This is the game we played today for the first day of class. I set my watch timer to give each person 30 seconds to quickly say their three things and then let people guess. If people didn't guess by then, the lie was revealed and we moved on. I had 28 students there, so I needed tricks to keep the game moving or it could have taken way too much class time.  

5. Which object describes you?

Bring five or so objects to class. They could be items like a spatula, a tool, a mirror, a toy ball, a journal, a band-aid...anything. Set the items in front of the class. Ask each member to choose one item that best describes themselves and why. They can get pretty creative with this one. 

6. Signature page

Create a list of descriptions that's about the same number of students in your class. For example: I have my Young Women medallion, I had pizza in the past week, I can say all 13 Articles of Faith, I have my Eagle Scout, I've never had a cavity. Give a sheet to each student and have them get as many signatures as possible, but only one signature from each person. Also they can't just say "Sign my page." They have to ask questions like, "Have you had a cavity?"  When the time is up, you read the list and have everyone raise their hand who could have signed that line. 

7. Snowball fight 

Each person writes one thing they are excited about, one thing they're nervous about, and one thing they want to learn. They crumple the papers and have a snowball fight! When time's up, they each grab a ball and take turns reading it aloud, trying to guess who wrote  it. 

8. Ready, set group! 

Students form groups quickly with criteria given by the teacher. For example: Make a group of three people with the same color hair. Then give new criteria for them to mix up again. 

9. Silent line

Students organize themselves into a line silently according to criteria from the teacher. For example: height, birth month, how many siblings they have. 

10. Fruit basket 

The group sits in a circle with one person in the middle. The middle person sets a criteria, and everyone who meets it moves to another seat in the circle. The middle person tries to find a seat before the last person does, so the next person gets to choose a new criteria. 

11. A poem about me 

Each student writes a poem with five lines: 

  • Three things they like 
  • Three things they dislike 
  • Three words that describe them 
  • A place they'd like to visit 
  • One thing their mom likes about them 

12. All about you page 

This is best given after a few days of class, when students feel safe to open up. List things like their name, cell phone or email they'd like to be given reminders with, and other questions like: 

  • Tell me about your family
  • What do you do for fun? 
  • Favorite and least favorite food 
  • Pet peeves
  • Most embarrassing moment in 10 words or less
  • Personal hero 
  • Your best quality 
  • Weirdest characteristic 
  • Little-known ambition or desire 
  • Your favorite book, movie, song 
  • What do you like about seminary?
  • What would you like to do when you grow up? 
  • Write me a letter. What else would you like me to know about you? 

13. Integrate a get-to-know-you activity into the lesson 

You could create a page with as many short-answer questions as students in the class. They might be questions like: How old was Joseph Smith when he had his first vision? How many siblings did Joseph Smith have?  Then under each short question, add the question: Write something we probably don't know about you.  Assign each person a question number. After they write their own two answers, students go around the room to fill in the rest of their questions. Then briefly go through the list with the whole class. 

If you have another get-to-know-you activity that you like, feel free to share it in a comment below! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tomorrow is my first day of teaching early morning seminary!

Do I feel ready? 

I'm not sure if I'll ever feel ready...

Will I teach anyway? 


Will I love it? 

I'm 100% sure I will. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tips from a professional organizer...the Edwards family's five-part housework system

1) Click here to check out our family's morning and evening chores

As a professional organizer, you can imagine I've experimented with a lot of routines. This one has been the best. We've used it for years. 

2) Click here for our magical "earn back box"

You'll love the power of this one simple tool to help your home stay neat and tidy. 

3) Click here for our "liberation from laundry" system 

This is the simple, efficient system I've taught to thousands of mothers. It's so awesome it can turn a closet into a sweet laundry room! Never be overwhelmed by mountains of dirty or to-be-folded laundry again...except maybe when you come home from vacation. Sorry, can't help you there. But vacations are worth it, right? 

4) Click here for our family chore hour...newly restarted last month 

Last month, to lighten our daily morning chores (see number one chart above), we removed garbage and weekly job. Then we added those things to a one-hour family chore hour that we do all together. Add loud dancing music, maybe a treat after, and believe it or not, it's kinda fun!  And I L.O.V.E. how the house looks and feels afterward! 

5) Click here for our money chore list

This is my go-to list when kids want to earn money, earn their belonging from the earn-back box, or if they disobeyed and need a consequence. 

BONUS:  We started a new family tradition of adding a 15-minute family work project some days after our regular morning routine. Click here to check it out.

This is for those periodic projects like cleaning out drawers or the garage, or deep cleaning light fixtures and lamps. 

Click here to see blessings of families working together

It's harder at first than doing the work yourself, but the benefits are just too important to miss! 

I'd love to hear what housework systems work for you! Feel free to leave a comment below.