Saturday, September 21, 2013

Stand in Holy Places, Our Day at the Temple

During one of our trips to the Frankfurt, Germany temple, our Young Women's President wanted to get individual pictures of each girl in front and then photoshop the 2013 theme to give to each girl as a present at Young Women In Excellence.  Not everyone was at the temple, and there was not enough time to get all the girls together a different time, so we bagged it. However, we were able to get my girls and a couple of other ones. The above picture is what our President sent to me (since I wasn't there) to show me her idea. I totally loved her shots!  Maybe one day I'll enlarge them. 
One of my twins, Xoe

Both twins, Xoe & Xanthe

One of my twins, Xanthe

Mailee & Xoe

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Personal Progress-Individual Worth #3- Our Colored Jars

Yay!  My first post back will be reporting on something a lot of  people have asked me to post.  I belong to the Mormon church and serve as one of the leaders in our Young Women's group.  We have been trying to get them interested in Personal Progress again (a program that helps them become a better person.)  We are focusing on one value per month and then as a group we are working on one "Requirement."  The Value we chose for the month of September was Individual Worth, which is represented by the color RED.

Something to be noted is that this looks like a lot of words but I'm posting full stories so you can have them here.  But we only had 45 minutes and we got through this whole lesson.

Here's what the "experience" says:  Individual Worth #3.  Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 and 121:45. Do all you can to build others and make them feel of worth. Every day for two weeks, notice the worthwhile qualities and attributes of others. Acknowledge them verbally or in writing. In your journal write what you have learned about the worth of individuals and how your own confidence grows when you build others.

To introduce the concept, we had a RED party!  We had all the girls dress up in Red.  Some girls didn't get the message, so I brought a whole bunch of red accessories.  Then I made Red Velvet cupcakes with white frosting, red sprinkles and some red candies to top it off.

Here is how we got the girls there... "This week's activity involves the color red, a bucket and shovel, a starfish, and possibly a can of dog food.  Wear your best red!!! A special treat to those who wear the color red! 7:00 at the church."

When we got there, everyone had fun taking pictures and chatting about why we were wearing red.  Many of our girls had not started much personal progress.  Here was my lesson...

1.  Ask the girls-- "Why do you think we're wearing the color red?"  Answer: It's the color of Individual Worth.  All the Personal Progress values are represented by a color.

2. Read to them the requirements for Individual Worth #3.  Have someone read D&C 18:10 and have another person read D&C 121:45.  Ask them what they think that means?

3.  Print this out and have someone read this excerpt from the book "Others" by Brent Jorgenson.  "Gifts. Whenever one person comes in contact with another, how-ever briefly, they each give the other a gift. It may be large or small, intentional or otherwise, but the gift is still there. You receive many of them daily, you give away many yourself at the same time. Have you considered what kinds of gifts you are in the habit of giving?"

4.  Read the story "Have you Filled a Bucket Today?"  (I've pasted it below so you can have the text but this is a link of a pdf version with pictures. I skipped over a lot of the juvenile wording too.)

I had a bucket with sand in it and a dipper.  Every time we read a story about a bucket filler, I put more sand in it, and vice versa with the bucket dipper to explain how the concept worked.

Filling a Bucket Story
This concept is being used around the world in schools and in homes, and I remember even doing this activity at a Girls' Camp in Utah 25 years ago.  It's been changing lives for a very long time.
All day long everyone in the whole wide world walks around carrying and invisible bucket. 
You can’t see it, but it’s there. Your bucket has one purpose only. Its purpose is to hold your good thoughts and good feelings about yourself. You feel happy and good when your bucket is full and you feel very sad when your bucket is empty.  
It’s great to have a full bucket and this is how it works. Besides our own self love, you need other people to fill your bucket and other people need you to fill theirs. 
How do you fill a bucket? You fill a bucket when you show love to someone when you say or do something kind or even when someone gives you a smile.  That’s being a bucket-filler.  A bucket-filler is a caring person that does or says nice things that make someone feel special.  When you make someone feel special you are a bucket-filler.
Bucket filling is fun and easy to do. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are. It doesn’t cost money. It doesn’t take much time and remember when you fill someone else’s bucket you fill someone else’s too.
But, you can also dip into a bucket and take out some good feelings. You dip into a bucket when you make fun of someone, when you say or do mean things, or even when you ignore someone.
That’s being a bucket-dipper.
A bully is a bucket dipper.
A bucket dipper says or does mean things
that make other feel bad.
Many bucket dippers have an empty bucket.
They think that they can fill their own bucket
by dipping into someone else’s…
But that will never work.
You never fill your own bucket when you dip into
someone else’s.
But guess what…
When you fill someone’s bucket, You fill your own bucket too! You feel good when you help other feel good.

All day long, we are either filling up or dipping into each other’s buckets by what we say and what we do. Try to fill a bucket and see what happens. Tell someone you love them.  It fills their buckets right up.

Just remember that everyone carries an invisible bucket, and think of what you can say or do to fill it.

Me talking now (I was sort of summarizing):
"Here are some ideas for you.
You could smile and say “Hi!” to the bus driver.  He has a bucket too.
Invite the new kid at school to play with you.  He has a bucket too.
Write a thank you note to your teacher. Offer to make dinner for your mom. Or tell the mailman he has cool shoes.  Guess what? They all have buckets too!
Buy someone a gift. Tell a stranger you think they are awesome. Tell a friend you like their clothes. Invite a new friend to hang out with your friends.  Did you guess?  They all have buckets too."

(The girls were really giggling at this point)

So, why not decide to be a bucket filler today and every day? Just start each day by saying to yourself, “I’m going to do something to fill someone’s bucket today.”
And the end of the day ask yourself, “Did I fill a bucket today?”

5.  Story Time
I have a few stories for you and you decide if these people were bucket fillers or bucket dippers...

Dog Food Story (From the book The Others by Brent Jorgenson)
(I printed out the story and cut two paragraphs apart and had people take turns reading the story.  It helped keep their interest.)

  "In a testimony meeting I attended not long ago, at the, very end of the service, a girl arose and made her way to the front of the room where she stood for long moments in silence, her lips trembling and her eyes overflowing. At last, when she had her emotions under control, she related to the congregation the following experience: "Some three years previously, while her father was stationed with the military in Germany, he had made a thorough study of the principles of the gospel and at length had joined the Church. Within a year he was transferred back to the States, and his family settled in Maryland, where they immediately affiliated with one of the local wards.

"This young woman, in her teens, found that there were four other girls in the ward her age, and with great expectations she looked forward to a close association with them as they all grew in the knowledge of her so-recently reemphasized gospel. "Yet she was to discover, quickly and painfully, that the girls in her new ward had a totally different idea about things. They were a close group, their families were long-time residents, their fathers held important ward and stake positions, and they could see no need to disrupt their unity and established pattern of living by becoming friends with an 'army brat,' as they called her.

"At first the girls were subtle in their persecutions, snickering when she was brave enough to make a comment in class, ignoring her when she spoke to them, and turning as a group and walking away laughing whenever she approached.  "For a time she tried to ignore their rudeness, assuming that it was because she was new in the ward. She felt that with a little time they would all become good friends. It seemed, though, that she was wrong. Time seemed merely to aggravate and intensify the problems.

"A strong girl, she was initially able to handle the situation emotionally, but after a period of weeks and months she began to wonder what was wrong with her and even to feel that she was the one who was at fault.  "To eliminate the snickering and giggling when she participated in class, she stopped taking part. To keep the girls from pointedly ignoring her when she spoke to them, she quit speaking, at first to them and then almost altogether.

"At school it became the practice of the four girls to call out and jeer in derision whenever she appeared, and it wasn't long before she was slumping down and hiding her face simply so the girls wouldn't notice her. At home her mother worried about her poor posture, but the pattern was established and was not easily changed.

"For a year this ridicule and persecution continued, and it was so intense and so constant that it had a severe impact on her image of herself. If they thought of her as nothing, how could she be anything else?  "Her parents, of course, did all in their power to correct the situation. They went to the parents of each of the girls and talked it over with them, and those parents agreed to help. Yet when they confronted their daughters the girls denied their guilt. And the situation remained unchanged. 

"At length, realizing that their daughter was being destroyed emotionally, the girl's parents decided that they would send her west to live with her grandmother. She agreed, and soon the word was around that she was leaving.  "On her last Sunday in the ward, following another rough experience in Sunday school, she went to sacrament meeting as usual.  During the meeting she noticed that a counselor in the Relief Society presidency was having trouble with her baby, so she took the child and tended it out in the foyer, thus freeing the woman to listen to the service.

"As the meeting ended and people began filling up the foyer the four girls ran breathlessly up to her. They were all smiles and cheer and bubbly enthusiasm, and as she searched their radiant faces and listened to their expressions of sorrow that she was leaving she found it difficult to contain her emotions.  "Was it possible?  Could it be that after a whole year they were finally changing?  She held the fussing baby and wondered aloud that they were suddenly interested in her.  "The girls giggled and assured her that of course they were concerned. They felt badly about Sunday school and had all gone in together to purchase her a going-away present. That, if anything ever could, would prove their concern for her, and tell her how they really felt about her.

"She was so astounded that she stood mute while they handed her a gift, beautifully wrapped, and then scurried away. She was still standing silently, gazing in awe at the present, when the counselor came after her baby.  "She too noticed the brightly wrapped gift and so stood excitedly near as the girl carefully untied the bows and unwrapped the paper. And as she unwrapped it she was struggling with her tears. It was incredibly wonderful that the girls had finally changed. She had waited so long and had tried so hard and had been rebuffed so many times, but it had finally worked out.

"At last she had the paper open, and as she gazed down into the box she could hold her tears back no longer, and they fell freely as she stood quietly and sobbed out her feelings.  "The Relief Society counselor, silently wondering at the girl's burst of emotion, leaned over so that she might also observe, and there she saw, carefully placed in that beautifully wrapped package, the girl's gift from her friends, from her Latter-day Saint friends.  "And she too felt the tears start in her own eyes, for inside the box the girl was holding was a can of dog food." 

Boy who was not baptized (From The Others)
Now to the other young man, a slightly built fellow who said little and was not well, socially adept. In fact, he had one or two habits that were most assuredly anti-social, or at least seemed calculated to drive any well-mannered person away.  Yet in seminary one morning, when this boy was absent, a beautiful girl, one of the sweetest in the class, stood in devotional and challenged the whole class to overlook his offensive habits and go out of their way to treat him as a special person. The class enthusiastically followed her lead and example, and the balance of that year was a very special one for all involved.

Then, on the last day of school, as the students were standing and expressing their feelings, this boy stood up also. For a moment or two he struggled with his emotions, and then quickly he thanked the class for making him feel so good and well-liked during the year.  And then, in a quiet voice, he made a statement that no one in that class will ever forget. He said, "In fact, it is because of you kids that I decided last night after my personal prayer that I want to be baptized."

Isn't that interesting? No one in the class, including the seminary teacher, had the foggiest idea that he wasn't a member.  But you can bet that there were some thankful sighs that they had influenced him for good rather than otherwise.  Because of the efforts of one girl and a willing class who cared enough to give the gift of friendship, that young man is now almost through with his own mission.

Johnny Lingo Story
(Read this story from this link. It's a movie that was made about an ugly girl who heard all her life she was ugly. Then a man named Johnny Lingo came into town and offered more than anyone expected because she was so ugly.  Then the movie ends where the father visits at the end and Johnny Lingo explains the concept of making someone else feel beautiful makes them beautiful. Explanation from imdb--"Johnny explains that by paying eight cows he proved that she was worth more to him than any other woman on the island. He gave her a great gift, that of self-worth. ")

6.  Words Are Powerful whether Positive or Negative!  

SHARE RICE EXPERIMENT— My friend had read about a rice experiment that has been going around.  Make a batch of a rice and split a cup of it into clean jars.  Write on a piece of tape "Ugly" and attach that to one of the jars.  Then do the same to to the other jar and write "Beautiful". Place them far enough apart where the rice can't "hear" (or feel the positive/negative energy from what you're saying). From there on out every time you walk past each jar, say ugly or beautiful things to the corresponding jars.    She did the experiment 3 times to test it and each time they came out with the same results.  See the picture below (I shared this with the girls.)   (See the link here and scroll about halfway down for a longer explanation...

7.  You Can Make a Difference!
Seeing others' individual worth and acknowledging it is powerful not only to you, but to them as well!

Starfish Story 

As a man walked a desolate beach one cold, gray morning he began to see another figure, far in the distance. Slowly the two approached each other, and he could make out a local native who kept leaning down, picking something up and throwing it out into the water. Time and again he hurled things into the ocean. As the distance between them continued to narrow, the man could see that the native was picking up starfish that had been washed upon the beach and, one at a time, was throwing them back into the water. Puzzled, the man approached the native and asked what he was doing.
"I'm throwing these starfish back into the ocean. You see, it's low tide right now and all of these starfish have been washed up onto the shore. If I don't throw them back into the sea, they'll die up here from lack of oxygen."
"But there must be thousands of starfish on this beach," the man replied. "You can't possibly get to all of them. There are just too many. And this same thing is probably happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down this coast. Can't you see that you can't possibly make a difference?"
The local native smiled, bent down and picked up another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea he replied, "Made a difference to that one!"

8.  SMILES!!!
One of the best things you can give a person to make them feel happy is the gift of a smile.  Think about it.  If you were walking down the hallway at school and someone you knew, or didn't know, smiled at you while passing by, it would make you stop for a second.  It would at least get a reaction.  First I think I'd be thinking, "Uh oh.  Do I have food on my face?"  Then knowing I don't, I'd wonder why they smiled at me and do they really know me?  Smiles have a profound impact on someone.

Smile right now.  First of all, make the biggest frown you can possibly make, then, switch it over and smile the happiest smile you can spread across your face. Can you imagine the difference in your feelings from the frown to the smile? And if you feel that way, then think how someone else, a friend, a family member, or even Just a stranger, must feel when they see you smiling or frowning at them.

Now turn to the person next to you and smile at them (I usually get a giggle from them.)  Now turn to the other person next to you and smile at them.  (And then I get some full out laughters.)  And then I say, "See, even just in the matter of two seconds there is a room full for girls laughing and feeling good, all from your own smiles.

9.  Requirement--We talked again about the experience for Individual Worth #3.  Do all you can to build others and make them feel of worth. Every day for two weeks, notice the worthwhile qualities and attributes of others. Acknowledge them verbally or in writing. In your journal write what you have learned about the worth of individuals and how your own confidence grows when you build others.

I held up the tiny little buckets I got for them.  Super cheap and I had attached a printout to a popsicle stuck.  Then inside each bucket there were 14 little pieces of paper.  I told them this:

"We are going to start intentionally filling buckets.   Place this bucket on your nightstand and place the papers next to it, outside of the bucket. Every day for two weeks you need to do what the experience says.  Notice the worthwhile qualities in others.  And then acknowledge them.  Then each day, after you've done so, write it on a piece of paper and place it in this little bucket.  You'll notice the papers dwindling down and when you start getting to the end, you'll know it's been two weeks.  At the end of two weeks if you do this requirement, you will get a fabulous jar full of red items."

Here's the link to the sign.
 The Reward (2 weeks later)
10 of our 11 girls earned the reward.  They had so much fun doing it.  I didn't give them each what was in this picture.  I made it according to their personal styles. Some like fingernail polish and some would rather have chapstick.  I put maybe 2 big items ($1.00 each) and then filled the rest with candy. It's a good thing this was done in October.  Mini sizes.  Some other ideas were red pens, red gum, red Sharpies, red lipgloss, etc.  I raided the dollar bin.

For the jars I had saved my spaghetti sauce and salsa jars.  (I use these all the time, by the way, I have tons.  We use them for parties to drink out of or for spooky decorations for Halloween.  Definitely start saving all your glass jars.)

I couldn't leave it with just the spaghetti/salsa jar lids so of course I had to paint it.  It'll probably come off anyway but that's okay.  I just used normal craft paint and it covered pretty well. I did a second coat just to make it thicker.

I like how they turned out. The girls have been ecstatic to get their jar to see what prizes were there.  A cheaper way is to have a big jar fill of different prizes and they could pick out of it one thing but I felt like for the beginning our girls needed a little more incentive.

When they were finished with them, in order to get their jars, we had an M&M Party where their moms were invited and we taught them how to record their personal progress online. None of them could say they didn't do one.  We sat with them and helped them physically enter it in.  I'll post more about this party later.  But it's a good chance to get them to see how easy Personal Progress Online is.

Next Month: Virtue-- Gold