Saturday, 15 January 2011

Introducing Tommy

Tommy came about simply through inspiration based on an original idea from my children's primary school.

As a new Primary Presidency, we were meeting together and brainstorming ways to encourage our primary members to be reverent, and invite more participation. We also, were wanting to encourage and reinforce a pattern at home with regular prayer and scripture reading.

For the senior primary we expanded on the B.E.A.R.S – Be Excited About Reading Scriptures program I had discovered on sugardoodle. If you would to see the expansion you can follow this link. [This will become live within the next week, sorry for the delay. I am rebuilding it as the original final is doing odd things?!].

As for the junior primary, the following idea just 'popped' for me, simply because I had just had 'Ruper Bear' visit from school. [Ruper comes home to spend a week with a child in, the then, 'Master 4's' class at school. We take photos and journal what Ruper and 'Master 4' had done together to take back the following week to share with his class]. And having just done this with Ruper, during our brainstorming session 'Tommy' came to mind. Although at the time I didn't have a name.

Tommy is a large, approximately 40cm tall, snuggly teddy bear. He has his own bag packed with a pair of pjs, two changes of clothes [t-shirts and denim overalls], church clothes [including trousers, white shirt and tie], a hat and scarf for winter, and a cap for summer. He also has his own toothbrush, set of scriptures and journal.

His full name is 'Tommy Monson Bear.' And was named such in memory of our prophet President Monson who, tells a story of how as a boy, he too was disruptive in Primary.
When I first explained this to 'Master 4' I didn't do an especially good job, and he thought that the prophet had become the bear to visit with him. The absolute look of awe and loving hug given to the bear as he spoke 'you chose to stay with me?!' was priceless. And heart breaking because I did need to clarify and in-turn probably burst his bubble. Thankfully he understood, and wasn't the least bit 'bubble burst.'

For over a year now the the junior children have sat smartly, reverently and enthusiastically participated as Tommy bear has quietly sat watching and 'choosing' who he will go home with for the coming week. [We actually keep a track of who has him so that no-one misses out]. 

The child who Tommy selects, by whispering to the primary leader, gets to take Tommy home and take care of him. They all know he is very little and still learning, so the child responsible for Tommy that week will show him how to say his prayers and help him to read his scriptures. A journal is provided for photographs, hand drawn pictures or any another items collected to help journal Tommy's week with that child.

All our children and parents alike have responded very well to this program we started. And as this year's theme 'I know the scriptures are true' is upon us. We thought it a perfect opportunity to 'upgrade' Tommy.

Instead of just letting him go home with a child and have fun at home with them, we have assigned Tommy tasks. Each week a question is given to Tommy by a member of the presidency, that correlates directly with the theme topic from that Sunday.

For example, the first week Tommy was let home this year, his assignment was as follows:

Tommy, the scriptures are unlike any other book because they are written by God's prophets and are the word of God. This week can you please find your favourite scripture story, and read it from the scriptures.
I would like you to tell me what story you chose and which book did you find it in?

Love you, Sister Horne ox

Then directly beneath this assignment Tommy has a problem for them to solve...

I'm a bit worried, my favourite scripture story is about Captain Moroni and I don't know how to find it! I opened my Book of Mormon and found I was in the Doctrine and Covenants?! Why did that happen, and what happened to Captain Moroni? Please help me I'm confused.

For this particular week, when the journal was returned, the child was able to share what they had learnt with Tommy, and then show the primary the 'Title of Liberty' they had made together with Tommy. There were photographs documenting the activity and the follow on games played as a result.

I will continue to upload Tommy's 2011 journal assignments as I complete them. For now here is the assignments for January, and the cover letter that I used. The cover letter is stuck to the journals front cover then the entire book cover is covered with adhesive cling film.

We also have Tommy participating with the worldwide Primary 2011 challenge and he too has a paper chain of his own. Except his link has a teddy bear graphic attached with the words 'Tommy read with [child's name]' for the child to attach.

2011 Journal Assignments for Tommy Bear
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Patriarchal Blessings

"A patriarchal blessing literally contains chapters for your book of eternal possibilities." -President Thomas S. Monson

I love my patriarchal blessing, and what consistently amazes me, is how much, and how deep mine is. By deep I mean, it is written in plain english for all to read clearly, but it's not until you start studying, pondering, fasting and praying over your blessing that the layers begin to open for you. Suddenly, something you only took to mean as simple and possibly insignificant, now has taken new meaning, and you wonder how you ever missed it before. While to others who may happen to read the words gifted to you, they will never see, feel or understand the revelation in the same words as you do.

It has also taught me how much I am personally known to my Father and Saviour. How they truly understand the path I am walking, who I am becoming, and the obstacles and challenges set before me. As a younger person I used to read and marvel with hind-sight, but as I have matured in the gospel it has become a powerful instrument to me and guides the choices I make almost daily.  

When I worked in Relief Society a few years back I organised a class during January for the sisters to help them re-discover their patriarchal blessing, and possibly encourage them to give their goals for the coming year a more spiritual slant. As the new year comes around once more, I have been asked to run this class again.

Although my previous resources have been 'misplaced,' I am thrilled with the 'reinvented wheel.' Here is what I am doing. If you have any questions please ask. 

Discovering Your Patriarchal Blessing
A Relief Society evening class - January 2011

Class supervisor needs to: Have prepared packs [links to contents can be found below], and each pack placed within a file or A4 envelope to help keep the papers together, and private. A small token thought card and favour [Only if you choose]. Finally a selected CD of music, conducive of the spirit for background filling, while sisters work, and a CD player. [I pinched my daughters collection of Jenny Oaks Baker. And can highly recommend her.] Remember to go ahead of time to set the room.

Participants need: Something to write with, their scriptures, a dictionary, to have prepared for this class with prayer or fasting if they wish.

Classroom set up: I had tables [long rectangular in shape], set up with only three seated at each table [2 placed near the the ends, on one side, and the third in the middle, on the other. This was done to provide the sisters with some form of privacy. Flowers for table centres. [I was lucky this year to have Christmas bulbs in flower, white hyacinths, that I chose to use]. Finally each place setting had the enveloped pack, with a small card and favour.

Introduction: Centuries earlier, a righteous and loving father by the name of Lehi took his beloved family into desert wasteland. He journeyed in response to the voice of the Lord. But the Lord did not decree that such a “flight” be undertaken without heavenly help.

They were gifted with a compass of curious workmanship. The prophet Alma explained that this “Liahona,” as it was called, was a compass prepared by the Lord. It worked for them according to their faith and pointed the way they should go (seeAlma 37:38–40).

Today your patriarchal blessing is a personalized, carefully chosen sacred gift from our Heavenly Father. As you come to understand what your blessing contains, it will help you discover your purpose in life and help guide you toward your eternal reward. Your patriarchal blessing is a revelation given to protect, inspire, and motivate activity and righteousness in each of us.

Our blessings should be considered a rare and valuable gift to give direction to our lives, to mark the hazards to our safety, and to chart a safe passage—not to a promised land, but to our heavenly home.

Tonight you have the opportunity to study through your Patriarchal blessing, and as we are at the opening of 2011, we also have the opportunity to gain further understanding of the things our Father in Heaven has planned for us, as we strive to reach our potential and develop our eternal nature this coming year.

Inside your pack you will find...
  • Columned Sheets: To guide you through the breakdown of your blessing.
  • Ways To Study: Ideas collected that you may want to try using.
  • A Talk: by President Thomas S. Monson about patriarchal blessings. 
  • Journal Pages: Transfer information, feelings, and thoughts to, for keeping. 
Starting with the column pages, noting the headings, go through your own patriarchal blessing and pull out the details and write them under the appropriate heading.

Once you have gone through doing this, go back choosing a topic to start with like 'Counsel,' and look at the specifics. The types of words and phrases used. Start making notes. Even if you think you know what a particular word already means. Look it up in the dictionary what does it mean? Turn to your Bible dictionary is it there? What other meaning is added? Turn to your Topical guide, what scriptures are associated with your particular word or phrase? What added meaning, thoughts and feelings come to you as a result of this type of study and contemplation? Write it all down.

Share a personal experience from your own study to highlight the above steps, mine is as follows:
For example, the word 'delight' and phrase 'to be a source of delight' appears in my blessing. For years I assumed that it meant to bring pleasure or enjoyment to those around me. As a result I continued to do everything I could to make others happy and to please them. By today's standards that is exactly what 'delight' means. But that is not what the Lord meant for me to do, or be.
When I sincerely studied this, I found, that being 'a delight' was to be a source of joy. Meaning, I didn't have to measure myself by how happy those around me are, because others happiness is dependant upon them taking joy, [in this case] in who I am. This inspiration was confirmed to me at the time as what the Lord meant, and the whole experience became a defining moment for me. It liberated me from the responsibility of trying to be everything to everyone. If what I 'delight in' isn't what makes others happy, it is no-longer my focus. So I am free to turn my energies to other spiritually productive pursuits. 

So even though you think you know what a word or phrase means, I ask, is that what your Father meant? After all, his thoughts are not our thoughts.

Once you have done this exercise, you may then choose to plan how you will bring the blessings that are to be yours, about. 

Hand the time over to the sisters to start on their own patriarchal blessing. To fill the silence in the room turn on the chosen CD - softly.

Conclude: Obviously this is something that cannot be completed in one night, so I encourage you to make the time to complete this over the coming weeks. You may even try placing your words and phrases into the General Conference search engine of and see what modern-day prophets have to say too. Either way relish your time doing this, after all it is eternal nature that you are discovering.

Resources: Columned SheetsWays To StudyTalk the Journal Pages [Set A] [Set B], and small favour cards I used. Thumbnails of these pages are below [you can 'click' on them to see a larger sample]. 

If you are having trouble downloading just leave a comment with your email attached and I'll send you the files and links - I am happy to help, and grateful that these can be used xo 

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