Repentance

A Tale of a Tree

When we bought our house, it came with a beautiful, old cherry tree that had been left over from an orchard. It was a connection to the “good old days” of farming, before suburban sprawl took over. I loved it.

It stood in the middle of our backyard, in front of our big picture window, and was a centerpiece for 20+ years of backyard family activities.

tree

(Emily in 1997)

My children climbed the tree in summers and we checked yearly for the robin who would lay her eggs in the nest perched on the same favorable branch.

nest

A toddler swing gave my 5 children, and other children, hours of delight.The tree was a harbinger of spring with its early pink blossoms and the cherries that grew later in the year were abundant. A wind chime let the tree sing music.

Sadly, the old cherry tree became diseased a few years ago and my husband began hinting that it needed to go. I always resisted because I couldn’t bear to let so many memories get chopped down and disappear. Finally, my new son-in-law picked a Saturday that he and my husband would take it down.

cherry-tree1

I couldn’t watch (My daughter took these photos. I was hiding behind the couch).

cherry-tree2

It was like having a child die.

cherry-tree3

The lawn felt barren and alone when they were done.

And then…the new sod was laid and I ventured out. Yes, it was different. But my first impression was, “Wow. Our yard looks so big now! It’s like breathing new air for the first time. There’s so much room. And look! There’s a view of the mountains I never knew existed because the tree had blocked our view.”

I was stunned at this panorama that opened up to me.

mountain

I finally rejoiced in the change.

The tree represents so many things in my life that I have a hard time letting go of. Pride, guilt, control, the need to prove I’m right (and of course, you’re wrong!), sins and misdeeds, bad habits. These are all diseases that corrupt the tree.

Every day I go outside in the backyard, I am reminded of the old tree and how fiercely I held on, way after it was no good. I was suffocated by its presence even as I fought to breathe. Old things, dying things we don’t let go of will block our view.

When I now look at the glorious view of the mountains I never knew I had all those years, I wonder what else I’m missing because I won’t let go of things that are no good for me. What vistas are blocked? What panoramas are unknown? What fresh air am I not breathing? How am I limiting my view?

C.S. Lewis, in “Mere Christianity,” said it this way:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Cutting down the tree hurt.

I had to let go.

I finally recognized it was time.

It’s time for me to let go and possibly even rebuild many things in my life, with God’s help. The roots may be deep and the trunk and branches are hardened by years.

But it’s time to start digging.

 

 

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Sunbeam Lesson #30 "I Can Forgive Others"

***Note: Please read the post called “10 Lesson Helps” found under “Primary Lesson Listings” before reviewing any of my Sunbeam lesson plan ideas.

Materials needed: popsicle sticks and the downloaded figures from the link below, crayons, Gospel Art Kit picture 1-59.

Last week, do you remember what we talked out in our Primary Sunbeam class? (give them some clues if they need, such as, “What did my puppet Jack do?” “What did I say when I forgot to give someone a snack?” “What song did we learn about making a mistake?”)

Sing the “Mistake Song” again.

When someone makes a mistake, and says, “I’m sorry,” what should we say back to them? (discuss)

When we say, “That’s okay” and forgive someone else, it helps us to be happy. We are friends with others. Sometimes people make big mistakes, and it hurts us. Has this ever happened to you?

Someone pushes you down and you get hurt.

Someone grabs a toy from you and won’t share.

Someone says a mean word to you.

Someone tells you they don’t want to play with you.

What should you do?

Do this finger/hand play together for the children:

Once upon a time there were two little hands who loved each other.

They rubbed each other, patted each other, hugged each other and clapped together (do each action)

But one day, one said to the other (make one hand to be a “speaking mouth”) “I don’t want to play with you anymore. You’re not my friend!” So the other hand said, “Then I’m not your friend either!

And they both ran away! (put hands quickly behind back)

Oh dear! What can we do? Let’s tell them, “Come on hands, let’s be friends. Come on hands, let’s be friends.. (slowly brings both hands around from behind the back to the front until they are almost touching)…but the hands said, “No!” (quickly put hands behind back)

Repeat the “Oh dear!” part above and have the hands reject each other a few times.

On the 3rd or 4th time, end with “…and the hands said, “I forgive you.”

And they rubbed each other, patted each other, hugged each other and clapped together (do each action) just like before. They were so much happier when they were friends!

(If the children enjoyed the fingerplay, you can do it again, and this time have the children use their hands to do it with you)

Teach the children the song “Help Me, Dear Father (Children’s Songbook, p. 99)

Help me, dear Father, to freely forgive

All who may seem unkind to me.

Help me each day, Father I pray;

Help me live nearer, nearer to thee.

Show the Gospel Art Kit picture 1-59. Talk about how Jesus was cruelly treated by the soldiers, yet he forgave them from the cross. He taught us that it isn’t good to be angry for a long time when others are mean to us. If we forgive them, then we feel peace in our hearts.

Down load this 2-page document: https://www.lds.org/bc/content/ldsorg/children/resources/topics/joseph-of-egypt/Joseph-Holds-to-the-Rod-1998-07-friend.pdf?lang=eng

Tell the story of Joseph forgiving his brothers from page one.

From page two: Color and cut out stick figures of each and put on popsicle sticks for each child. When they are all done, tell the story again and have them hold up the corresponding stick figure. Then have them tell the story to each other. Help them when needed. Encourage them to take home their stick puppets and tell the story to their family for Family Home Evening.

 

Lesson #29 "I Can Say I'm Sorry"

***Note: Please read the post called “10 Lesson Helps” found under “Primary Lesson Listings” before reviewing any of my Sunbeam lesson plan ideas.

“If you have begun preparation early, you will be more aware of experiences, stories, and scriptures that will help those you teach. Thoughts may come to you as you ponder the principles to be taught and the needs of those you teach. This is one way that the Spirit can guide you in your preparation. You may want to carry a notebook so you can write down ideas as they come to you.” (Teaching, No Greater Call, p. 99).

Materials needed: snacks, wet wipes, an ipad or tablet, a male puppet, pictures 1-71 and 1-60, strips of cardstock (or heavy paper) for each child folded like an accordion so there are 4 panels, scissors, glue sticks and copies of the 4 pictures for each child from the link below, pieces of paper numbered 1-10.

When the children come into the class, take away one of the chairs so there is one too few. When the children realize this, say “Uh oh, I made a mistake. I’m sorry!” and set up a chair.

Tell the children you have a snacks today, but they need to clean their hands first. Give some of the children a wet wipe, but skip a few. When they realize what you’ve done, say, “Uh oh, I made a mistake. I’m sorry!” and give the missing children a wipe.

Tell them to throw their wipe away, and when you throw yours into the garbage, miss the garbage can and throw it instead on the floor. Pick it up and say, “Uh oh, I made a mistake. I’m sorry!” and throw it in the garbage. If any child also misses the garbage, have them repeat the expression.

Pass one snack serving to some children, but miss a few. When they realize what you’ve done, say, “Uh oh, I made a mistake. I’m sorry!” and give the missing children their snack.

While they are eating, ask the children what kept happening. What did I keep doing? What did I say after each time I made a mistake? Why did I say that? Do you ever make a mistake? Discuss times when they made a mistake and what they did and said.

We are going to sing a song so we can remember what to say when we make a mistake.

(Sing to the tune “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)

“Mistake Song”

“Uh oh, I made a mistake, a mistake, a mistake,

Uh oh, I made a mistake, I am very sorry.”

Repeat until the children learn it well.

When we make mistakes we need to say we are sorry and apologize. I brought a friend named Jack who is going to tell us about how to say “I’m sorry.”  (Have the puppet “tell” a story about how he was playing with his friend and wouldn’t share his toy car. His friend grabbed the car and Jack hit him. His friend cried and Jack felt bad.  He said, “I’m sorry.” He decided to share the toy car and the two friends took turns playing with it).

Ask: What did Jack do that was wrong?

How did his friend feel when Jack didn’t share his toy?

When Jack apologized and shared the toy, how did they feel? 

We can make bad feelings go away when we say we are sorry and do what is right.

In the Book of Mormon, there was a family that made a lot of mistakes. Their father was named Lehi, and he had sons named Laman, Lemuel, Sam and Nephi. Lehi wanted to get to the Promised Land but he had some problems with some of his sons. Let’s pretend this puppet is Lehi and we’ll put him on the #1 square. He wants to get to the last square #10 and we will call that the Promised Land.

Read the following scenarios and have the children decide if “Lehi” can advance because something good happened, or if he has to go back one square because one of his sons made a mistake. If he has to move back, they can sing the “Mistake Song” and then you can read the next scenario.

Lehi saw a vision from Heavenly Father and told his family about it.

Lehi’s sons Laman and Lemuel argued with their father and told him they didn’t believe in his vision.

Lehi’s sons Sam and Nephi believed their father and obeyed him because he was the prophet.

Laman and Lemuel said they were sorry and they obeyed their father.

The whole family left their home, followed their father Lehi, the prophet into the wilderness.

Laman and Lemuel got mad at Nephi and tried to hurt him while they were traveling.

Heavenly Father send an angel to tell Laman and Lemuel to be nice and they apologized to Nephi and Sam.

Nephi was commanded by God to build a ship and he obeyed.

Laman and Lemuel laughed at Nephi and made fun of him.

Nephi showed great power to his wicked brothers and they said they were sorry.

All the brothers worked on building the boat together. When they followed the Spirit and obeyed Heavenly Father, everyone was happy. (show picture 1-71)

When they were on the boat, crossing the ocean, Laman and Lemuel began being rude again. They hurt Nephi and everyone was sad.

A big storm came and rocked the boat so much everyone was afraid they would die. Nephi and Lehi prayed to Heavenly Father to calm the water.

Laman and Lemuel became so afraid, they said they were sorry to Nephi, and the storm stopped.

Everyone sailed peacefully and safely across the ocean. (show picture 1-60)

They all arrived at the Promised Land and thanked Heavenly Father.

Take out the 4 pictures cut out from the following link:

https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/images/magazines/friend/2012/07/fr12jul34-learning-from-mistakes.pdf?lang=eng

Sit the children on the floor and put the pictures, one by one, in front of them. Talk about what is happening in each picture. Then help the children put them in order. Discuss how we all make mistakes, and sometimes that makes others feel sad, like when Kelsey accidentally ripped off the stuffed frog’s arm. When we make a mistake, the Holy Ghost helps us feel bad so we can make things right again.

Have them children put their own 4 pictures in order and glue them on their own “story strip” of paper to take home. Have them tell you the story in order before they leave and encourage them to tell their family the story of Kelsey in their next Family Home Evening.

Watch “The Shiny Bike” from the Mormon Channel on the ipad. What did the boy do that was a mistake? How did he say he was sorry? What did he do to fix his mistake?

http://www.mormonchannel.org/video/mormon-messages?v=2609209978001