Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Holy Days

Artist:  Simon Dewey
One of the most wonderful things about the Holiday Season is that our thoughts tend to turn outward.  We begin to look for ways to do for others by giving gifts both tangible and those not so tangible.  Most of our gift giving comes from the heart in one way or another, our desire to make another happy and know of the love we have for them.  In YW, we begin to think of Service Projects to help our girls understand the blessings they enjoy and the blessing of giving of self.

1.  Check with the local homeless shelter.  Many serve Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners and often more than one.  Often, a youth can serve dinner and not miss their own family tradition.  Many of my YW who have participated in this over the years, found it very rewarding.

2.  The Salvation Army often has holiday dinners and needs volunteers for serving and decorating.

3.  The United Way and local food banks ALWAYS needs their stocks replenished and never more than at the holidays.

4.  Invite a couple of military men, far from home, to your home.   Check with the Armed Services YMCA to have a sailor, Marine, or soldier with you for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

5.  The local Parks and Recreation Department in your area may have some holiday crafting and get-togethers for children during the holidays and can use extra hands.

6.  Adopt-a-Family through your Ward or city Volunteer Agency.

7.  Help collect for the local Toy Drive.

8.  The local Ronald McDonald House will have something special for pediatric patients at Christmas and will need volunteers.

9.  The American Red Cross is gathering cards for their "Holiday Mail for Heroes" project to distribute cards to servicemen and veterans.  (Must be postmarked no later than Dec. 10.  Check out for more info.

10.  There are many ways to volunteer during the holiday.  Your Bishop certainly knows of families in need at Christmas.  For community opportunities, just Google "volunteer opportunities" and the name of your city or larger local community.

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  Matt 25:40

Monday, October 18, 2010

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

I went to the local grocery store to get some very large, shiny apples for our lesson on Physical Health and Preventing Disease.  After washing and polishing each apple, I placed a sticker on it that said, "An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away."  (My photography skills are seriously lacking!)  I taught a class of Laurels who are beginning to understand how harried the life of a young woman can be.  As college approaches, we discussed how, oftentimes, without Mom to always be there, we neglect our health....So much to little time!  Jobs, school, dating, homework, institute/seminary, and recreation often leave us exhausted and prone to illness.  We discussed care of our bodies with exercise and nutritious food, the spreading of germs, and the need to try to get adequate sleep.  I gave them each a list of items would they need in their dorms or rooms that would help them maintain their health and care for themselves without the family medicine chest.  We talked about the need to care for their bodies as the time would soon come for them to bear children.   The next few years of their lives hold many great experiences and lessons and will bring on a period of great change and decision in their lives.  It is fun to anticipate their future with them and try to help them prepare with these very practical lessons. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Wish for You

A Wish Bracelet is made by placing a bead on a piece of thread and tying it to the wrist.  When the thread breaks and the wearer notices it is gone, the wish made will come true.

Our lesson this Sunday was on Holding Fast to the Lord's Standards.  At the end of the lesson, I teamed the girls in pairs and had them choose a faceted bead in their favorite color.  They then placed the bead on the thread and helped each other tie them on their wrists.  I told them my wish for them was to hold onto the standards the Lord had set and to live worthy of the Temple, always seeking a "higher ground."  When the bracelets broke and they noticed it, I wanted them to stop and look at what they were doing that very moment, remember our lesson, and take stock in their actions.  Were they living up to that wish?  Were they living the standards the Lord had set? 

They thought it was a fun idea and wondered how long their Wish Bracelet would last.  (Not long, I think!)  It's a fun way to tell them what you believe they can do, what they are worthy of, and what they should aspire to.  It is my wish that you.......


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Young Womanhood Recognition

Over the years, ward boundaries have changed and changed and changed.  Many of our members have been in three different wards without ever moving from their homes.  We had several Young Womanhood Recognition plaques spread throughout the building and often sisters' had names on different plaques in different wards.  It was time to combine.  Thanks to the talents of a dear ward member, a plaque large enough was made to hold 25 years of Young Womanhood Recognition recipients.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

So long, farewell...

When a season for serving in Young Women's is over, it's a time of mixed feelings.  All those long months or years of worrying about the girls and attending ALL the meetings and activities come to a close.  It is always nice to have the girls give a little memento of thanks.  As our most recent Young Women's President moved on, I purchased a plain white bag from Jo Ann's but was unsure what to do with it.  I decided to trim it with three rows of ribbon across the top and across the handles and embellished it with a few buttons for a little extra touch.  Each girl was given a fabric marker to add a short message.  Each leader leaves her mark and she will be missed.  We hope our little gift helps her remember how she touched our lives.   

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

College Prep

BYU Bell Tower
Second year Laurels are looking forward to college.  A great class activity is a College Prep night.  We prepared a packet with several lists for survival away from home in an apartment or dorm:  What to have in your medicine chest, pantry, fridge, and cupboards.  Include a list of basic cleansers.  A page can be attached on "Doing Your Laundry," "How to Budget," "Quick and Easy Recipes."  I like to attach some basic safety rules like not admitting strangers, asking for ID, not leaving your house keys at an auto shop, always tell a friend where you will be, etc.  Another helpful item is what to do for sickness - what to take for cold, cough, upset stomach and a list of things you might like to have like a screwdriver, hammer, first aid kit, and flashlight.  There is a lot of room for discussion and fun story sharing.  We occasionally like to throw a "College Shower" for the graduating Laurels in our Young Women's group to help them acquire some of these things.  It can be an exciting and a little unnerving time for them.  It's great to help them become prepared to leave home.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Okay.  I admit it.  I am somewhat compulsive.  I got tired of always trying to figure out some activity to do next week.  After being in the program for a few years, I decided it was time to get my act together and calendar a years' worth of activities.  I takes a little doing but is such a relief in the long run.  Of course, with Young Women, it is highly flexible and nothing is set in stone.  Everything is subject to change. 

My first step is to get all the Young Women together for a brainstorming session.  We use old calendars, idea books, and previous activities as a guide.  It is just a relaxed evening usually held at my home.  Naturally, there is alway something to eat.  I tell the girls and the leaders to write down every activity they can think of that they liked or think they would like to try.   Ideas are put out and discussed and I try to gauge the enthusiasm level.  I collect all the lists and get ready to plan.

I like to do this in August or September when the school calendars come out here.  I had teenagers in the house and had to keep track of a lot of these activities already.  First, I pre-print a calendar with the dates that apply to Young Women activities and armed with those, my Stake Calendar, and a monthly calendar, I begin.  Some things are a given...Bishop's Fireside on the a preset Sunday, Dances, Conferences, Stake Activities, Temple trips, and Camp. Dates for New Beginnings and YW in Excellence are calendared. I add in all dates of finals, proms, school breaks, and holidays.  It is surprising how little there is really left to plan.  One week a month is left for class activities and one week is left for Young Men/Young Women activities.  Then I start plugging in activities from the list--one's wanted by all, one's wanted by a class, and one's we as leaders think are important . Voila!  A year calendar.  I keep a copy, give copies to my leaders, one to the Bishop, and one to the YM President. 

It takes me about an afternoon to do and saves me so much headache and last minute scrambling.  No more searching for something on Sunday to do on Tuesday.  Of course, life happens and things change.   At times a new Stake calendar can throw a wrench in the best laid plans.  Often all that needs to be done is to switch dates.  Like I said, maybe I'm a bit compulsive but this works well for me and is a relief to have it done, ready to go.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Get to Know You Night

We had a lot of fun playing "Inside the YW Studio"(patterned after "Inside the Actors' Studio").  The panel was made up of all Young Women leaders.  Questions were placed on strips of paper in a basket to be drawn by each Young Women in turn.  Questions included such things as:  "Where did you and your husband go on your first date?", "Do you paint your toenails?", "What is your favorite word?", "If you were stranded on a deserted island, what two items would you want to have with you?", etc., and anything else we thought they might want to know about someone.  It was all in fun and one of the most successful activities we have ever had.  We allowed them to embellish some of the questions (What color toenail polish?) and we were as honest as possible.  It was fun to see the difference in personalities of the leaders, especially since there was a range in ages from 60 to 22, and get to know use.  We had great fun!


Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4

Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima by Joe Rosenthal for the Associated Press
"I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed His stamp of approval on the Constitution of this land. I testify that the God of heaven sent some of His choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government, and He has sent other choice spirits—even you who read my words—to preserve it."  Ezra Taft Benson.

My undying gratitude to all who have served.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Master Teacher

Sometimes in my haste to make a lesson interesting for my Young Women, I search for object lessons or handouts to use.  I need to remember that the Savior was the Master Teacher and His lessons are often all that is needed and certainly more powerful.  In a lesson on sacrifice, an example is given in the supplement of the widow of Zaraphath as told in 1 Kings 17:12-16 upon meeting the prophet Elijah.  It states: And she said, "As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son." 
How much is a handful of meal?  I decided to find out.  I have a rather large hand and for me this measured to be about 1/3 of a cup.  I placed the measured amount in a plastic bag and took it to my class.  All that stood between this woman, her son, and starvation was this small measure of meal and some oil, yet in her faith she gave it to the prophet who promised her:  "For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.  And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah."
A visual presentation of a just how much a handful represented was all that was needed as the Spirit testified of the truths of this lesson to the Young Women.  I felt it testify to me as well.  How wonderful to be taught by the Master!


Monday, June 28, 2010

You Make a Difference

For a Young Women in Excellence evening, the Young Women chose someone in their life that they admired and desired to emulate, thereby choosing a "real-life hero" or role model.  Boundaries were set for the nominees such as ward members, mothers, teachers in school, seminary, or primary, members or non-members.  Invitations were sent by the girls chosen to be their Special Guest.  We tried to make this as nice an evening as possible.  Talks were assigned, divided between YW and leaders on Heroes in the Scriptures, everyday heroes, and the definition of heroism.  Thanks you cards or notes of appreciate were written and given to the Special Guests to read later.  One Young Woman from each class gave a short talk about what YW Value she sees in this Special Guest as a positive influence for her.

It was a fun night with  friends, neighbors, and old school teachers.  Everyone wants to know they make a difference!  The evening wrapped with a message from the YW President and a musical number by the girls followed by Hero sandwiches and punch. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ten Value Projects - the Sequel

 More ideas for Value Projects:

1.  Learn to knit and make a hat (or some other needle craft).
2. Make a 72 hour kit for your car or your family car.
3.  Volunteer at the hospital.
4.  Organize, shop, and cook dinner for a week in your home.
5.  Volunteer at an animal shelter.
6.  Help make new tablecloths for the Young Women's table.
7.  Make a recipe file.
8.  Learn a new music piece, dance, instrument, or language.  if you don't read music, learn by memorization.
9.  Become certified in CPR and first aid.  If this is less than 10 hours, help with camp certification.
10.  Teach your dog a new trick or compete in a fair for 4H.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Time Fun

Now that the summer has arrived, the days are longer, fun always seems to be the order of the day for teenagers and adults.  BBQs come out and families head to the beach.  It's always fun to have a water game night for a Young Men/Young Women activity.  It is fun to have a night where the youth just enjoy themselves and learn how to interact in a safe place, with good games, and yummy treats.  Water relays are a great way to beat the heat and have a good time.  Challenge another ward's youth to a dodge ball tournament.  Find the ugliest thing you can to use as a booby prize to have the Bishop "display" in his office if his ward's youth loses!  Play Wiffle ball or have a scavenger hunt.  Have a swim party.  Top the night off with a Banana Split Rip.   Have the youth bring odd items to eat with.  Ever eat a banana split on a Frisbee with a toy shovel for a spoon?  I saw a group make one gigantic split on a big table without bowls just by putting the ingredients on some trash bags and letting the kids fix them the way they liked, all eating in one big area.  For a mixer, divide the group into pairs and have them fill out the following:

The Banana Split Exchange:
1. What is your favorite ice cream?
2. What is your favorite texture to eat?  Gooey.  Crunchy.  Soft/Fluffy.  Smooth.  Airy/Light. Other.
3. What is your favorite color to taste?  Pink. Brown.  White.  Green.  Other. 
4. Do you like your foods fancy or simple?  Fancy.  Simple.  Simply fancy.  Other.
5. Do you like nuts or cherries best?  Nuts.  Cherries.  Both.  None.
6. Do you like "splits" that taste all alike or each bite with a different taste?  Same.  Different.
7. What is your "pet peeve" about ice cream desserts?  Never enough.  Don't like certain flavors and which.  Don't like too much.  Other.

.......NOW - Make your friend his/her banana split!

Happy summer.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Girls' Camp

Twenty or so years of camp beads really add up.  I like to use lanyard string  to give the Young Women to hold their beads.  It lasts longer, keeps clean and they can bring them every year to add the new ones.  I go to yard sales in the spring to scope out unusual beaded necklaces.  I often use the Oriental Trading and US Toys catalogs to buy any item that can be strung on a lanyard.  The beads are given as handouts for a lesson or rewards for participation and chores.  One year our lesson was on being "Fishers of Men" so I bought some key chains with fish fobs, removed the key chain, and used the cute little fish.  Little locks, charms, and small spools also work well.  Wooden beads from the craft store can be written on or painted and make a nice addition.  One lesson this year is "Let Your Light so Shine" and I will be giving out glow-in-the-dark beads thinking it would be a fun twist on the the theme. 


Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Throughout the year, I like to buy or save inexpensive or free items in a box and place them in a gift bag to give the girls for Christmas.  My daughter is quite the coupon shopper and often gets a "buy this/get this" deal.  I also have an Avon lady who sells lip glosses and bath items for under $1 at various times throughout the year.  I try to make sure I have enough to give all the girls in the Young Women's program.  Invariably, I will have one or two little lotions left with no place to go. Last week, I pulled out an old basket and filled it with the various odd items I had such as lotions, nail files, highlighters, picture frames, candles, and sample items that were in the box.  On Sunday, each girl that brings her Scriptures to class will get to choose an item from the basket after the class period is over.  I won't bring it every week but enough that, hopefully, their Scriptures will accompany them to class regularly.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Journals - Lesson 16

Writing in a journal is a personal experience.  Some are better at it than others.  Some put deep thoughts in it, some doodle, some write only a few lines.  Lesson 16 encourages us to keep a record.  We are given examples of famous prophets in the scriptures who have kept their records to our benefit in these latter days.  The lessons help teach the Young Women how and what to journal.  I think it helps to learn of other famous people who kept a record of their lives such as  Anne Frank, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Louisa May Alcott, and Helen Keller. 

Personalize journaling for the Young Women.  I brought a few examples of journals that the girl could make on a Tuesday night or at home to make their journals fun and more "them."  The new Young Women beta site will make it easier to journal their Personal Progress experiences on the computer rather than hand write. We made a journal from a Mead Composition Book and covered each side entirely with a sheet of foam board and decorated them with foam stickers for Girls' Camp.  Another was embellished with ribbons.  For the artists in the group, altered book journals are very creative and fun.  You can find some very good examples at and

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ten Value Project Ideas

Any new task or desire to change can be made into a Value Project.  Is your YW taking Spanish in High School for the first time?  Is she learning to play a new piano piece for a recital.  Set the goal and count it.  Much of our lives revolves around goal setting even if we do not realize it.  Here are some more ideas:

1.   Organize a blanket drive for an animal shelter.
2.   Learn a sport as a spectator or participant. (Do you know what it means to be "in the pocket" in football?)  Take up jogging, yoga, surfing, etc.
3.   Participate in a school event for band, drama, choir, dance.
4.   Read a classic novel (Something you have not read before.  Must be 10 hours and a short synopsis-not a school assignment.)
5.   Get involved in a local election as a volunteer.
6.   Adopt a highway or street.
7.   Work as a tutor at school.
8.   Make a YW or Ward cookbook.
9.   Help organize care packages for the troops.
10.  Research colleges for after graduation. 


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Great Service Project Idea

A Christian based group of women have begun a project to make dresses for little girls in orphanages in Africa made out of pillowcases. It began with a few women returning from a mission in Malawi and has grown to include donations throughout 49 states in the US. These dresses are being distributed in 13 countries across Africa. What a wonderful cause!! Young Women can do this! This is a great idea for a Tuesday night (or multiple Tuesday nights) activity. It's purpose is to provide Hope and a sense of Individual Worth to girls throughout Africa. See the full info at This would also make a wonderful Value Project.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Lesson 21 - VIRTUE vs Sustaining Missionaries Through Letters

Lesson 21 is entitled: Sustaining Missionaries Through Letters. The resource guide that accompanies Lesson 21 suggests that be saved for a midweek activity and be substituted with a lesson on Virtue using Elaine S. Dalton's "Return to Virtue" from the Ensign. I decided to take that tack and discuss virtue.

We repeat our YW Theme each week but do these girls really understand what Divine Nature is as compared to Individual Worth? What does Choice and Accountability mean? What is integrity and what is virtue?

Virtue is from the Latin VIRTUS meaning Strength. We talked about moral courage and strength of character. Virtue is an old-fashioned word; one not used much today. Our YW often only associate this in the chastity sense not in the moral excellence sense. I used the 13th Article of Faith and Proverbs 13:10 talking about trust and a sense of what is right and what is wrong as well as chastity.

As my handout, I jumped on the washer necklace craze and made them each one that said VIRTUE on it. I used a 1/2 in. washer with a heart charm and a gold-colored (virtue color) bead. I had to buy the stamp set from Harbor Freight (about $5) and I bought the necklace (rawhide) from JoAnns for about $2. A ribbon could easily be substituted. I had almost all these items in my home.

I was concerned they would not want to wear a necklace that said VIRTUE on it but they loved them. The charms made a little tinkling sound which always makes jewelry, even homemade, more fun. I made them all identical as well so there would be no preferences. I told them to tell anyone who asked, their necklace meant STRENGTH.