The Good Shepherd VT Message

The February 2014 visiting teaching message is about Jesus Christ being the Good Shepherd. I came across these cute pom pom sheep here, and thought they would be fun to give along with a quote from this month’s message.

I put the sheep in a lunch sack and clipped on a bookmark with a quote from the message printed on it. I also really love the scriptures included in this message: Psalm 23Isaiah 40:11Mosiah 26:21, and might read from one, then talk a little about what it means for us to know that Christ is the Good Shepherd.

You can download the bookmark here.

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New Beginnings and New Beehives

We try and do something special during New Beginnings for the girls coming into the Young Women program. We give them boxes like these at the beginning of the evening, and explain that they are empty but they will be given things throughout the evening to place inside.

As the girls explain their class statements and symbols during the program, they present the new Beehives with a card and a goody to place inside their boxes. You can see more about that and download the tags here.

Then when it is time to introduce the new Beehives, the older girls will share some things they have learned about them. You can download this get-to-know-you sheet here.

They will then give them their torch pendant to place inside their boxes.

Finally, at the end of the evening we have a gift for all the young women to take home. This year we have small planners that have this “Come Unto Christ card” card tucked into the inside of the cover.

We will be encouraging the girls to make goals to come unto Christ, and to use their planners to keep track of their progress. You can download the card insert here.

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Come Unto Christ Birthday Gift

We are giving “cupcake socks” to our young women this year for birthdays. I saw this idea first at Courtney’s All Things Bright and Beautiful, who first saw it on Sugardoodle, and I just modified it to go with the theme this year. Go on over to Courtney’s blog to see how to assemble the socks – she explains it perfectly.

This is how they look all packaged up in a cellophane bag.

And this is the card that goes with it. You can download it here.

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Come Unto Christ Mutual Activity

Here is another activity inspired from a 2014 New Era magazine article. This time we are focusing on coming unto Christ through principles found in the Duty to God program.

We began our evening all together, introduced the 2014 mutual theme, and gave everyone the card shown above. (I had meant to bring large envelopes or clear page protectors for they youth to collect all their handouts – but I forgot – and regretted not having something to keep all their printouts in!) We explained that they would be going through a series of workshops that night that would help them better understand these principles and how they help us come unto Christ.

Our young men president began the evening with a short video and discussion on how scripture study affects our lives. We had the following scripture study chart printed on cardstock for them to take home:

We then split the youth into 4 groups, and had them rotate through 4 different 8-minute long workshops. For “Live Worthily”, we had new For the Strength of Youth books for everyone and a checklist, so they could quickly see and assess how they are living Church standards.

The Understand Doctrine class was led by our full time missionaries. They had the following handout and talked about studying and applying gospel knowledge.

Another of our young men leaders talked about how priesthood ordinances bring us unto Christ – no handout for this one.

I led the workshop on service, and had several laptops set up to learn about indexing. We first watched this video, then did the FamilySearch test drive to give them a taste of what indexing is like. One of the computers had an active batch downloaded that the youth could help decipher once they had done the test drive.

We all met up again in one big group for the last workshop on inviting all to come unto Christ. We had a discussion after presenting this idea found on Sugardoodle:

Object lesson: Set up a row of dominoes. Place them on end just far enough apart so that if one is knocked down, it will knock down the next one. As you knock the first domino down, ask them to observe the chain reaction. Call attention to the effect of one domino upon all the others. Explain that we too may affect the lives of others (family and friends) in a chain reaction. By sharing the gospel with even one person, we sometimes touch the lives of many others.

Our refreshments were these cane cookies, resembling shepherd’s crooks, and meant to be a reminder that  Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and calls to us, his beloved sheep to come unto Him. These cookies are delicious, and the recipe found at is below:


  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown food coloring


  1. In a medium bowl fitted with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar just until creamy. Separate eggs and add the egg yolks. Add vanilla and almond extracts and beat until combined. Sift flour mixture then add the flour mixture, in three additions, and beat until you have a smooth dough.
  2. Remove half of the dough from the mixing bowl. To the remaining half add the brown food coloring and beat on low speed until well blended. If you find the dough too soft, cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
  3. Take a walnut sized piece of red dough and a walnut sized piece of white dough. Separately, roll each color on a lightly floured surface, into a 4-5 inch (10-12.5 cm) long rope. Place the two ropes side by side, gently press together, and twist the two ropes to form a spiral. Place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing the cookies about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Shape each cookie into a cane shape by bending one end into a hook shape. (If you find the cookies a little soft, place the baking sheet (with the unbaked cookies) in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before baking.)
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place rack in center of oven.
  5. Bake cookies for about 8 -10 minutes or until set and the edges of the cookies are just starting to brown. Do not over bake. Remove from oven and let cookies cool completely on baking sheet.
  6. Cookies may be stored in an airtight container for up to a week. May be kept in an airtight container in freezer for up to a month.

You can download all my handouts for this activity here, and following is our schedule for the evening:

7 p.m. Welcome and opening exercises
7:10 – 7:20 Introduction to evening and topic #1 -youth all together,
then split youth into 4 groups and rotate through workshops
7:25 – 7:33 Rotate through workshops 2 – 5
7:35 – 7:43 Rotate through workshops 2 – 5
7:45 – 7:53 Rotate through workshops 2 – 5
7:55 – 8:03 Rotate through workshops 2 – 5
(8 minutes each with 2 minutes in between to change rooms/tables)
8:05 – 8:15 Topic #6 all together, Conclusion and refreshments

 Workshops – 8 minutes each:
1. Pray and Study the Scriptures 
(How to pray often and meaningfully, scripture reading charts, ideas for marking, memorizing, applying) 
 2. Live Worthily (Live standards in FTSOY – compare your life today to them, and adjust accordingly)
 3. Understand Doctrine (how to do a scripture study outline)
 4. Administer / Accept Priesthood Ordinances (sacrament, patriarchal blessings, prepare for temple)
 5. Serve Others (indexing – set up laptops)
 6. Invite All to Come unto Christ (Invite all to come unto Christ—beginning with your own family.)


Posted in Come unto Christ | 7 Comments

Come Unto Christ New Beginnings

Our New Beginnings theme this year is, “Come Unto Christ: A Walk with the Savior through Personal Progress”. The evening’s inspiration comes from the article found in the January 2014 issue of the New Era. We’ve invited the Young Women and their families to attend, dressed in biblical attire, and to bring blankets to sit on. Our invitations have footprints crossing from the cover to the inside, marking a path through the New Era article’s photos of Christ relating to the YW values.  You can download a version of it here, that you can add your own time and date information to.

I’ve revamped my Personal Progress slideshow, adding the same photos as mentioned above. The art for the title slide was found on The Art of Choosing Joy. You can download the slide show here. It is an Adobe Acrobat file which you play in full screen mode, and just hit the up and down keys to play as a slide show.

As the slide show plays, we will have one or more young women come to the front wearing scarves that coordinate with each value, and share their thoughts about how we come unto Christ through the values of Personal Progress. We may also play this video of the 2014 theme song.

One other fun idea we had was to play song #90 in the Children’s Songbook, “Truth from Elijah”, which has a traditional Hebrew musicality to it, and to have the girls stand in a circle and perform some very simple Israeli folk dancing.

Our refreshments will include hummus and vegetables, pita chips, fruit and figs, and date cake with whipped cream.

You can also see the take-away gifts we are giving to the new Beehives and other young women here.

This sheet may be useful in planning your New Beginnnings:


Posted in Come unto Christ, New Beginnings | 18 Comments

2013 Ornament Exchange

I hosted our 3rd annual ornament exchange in my home this year. It was again, such a treat. Just to recap how we do it: There are 12 ladies in our exchange group. Sometime in September we send out invitations to everyone, so they can keep their calendars open on the planned-on date. That also gives everyone plenty of time to work on their ornaments before the busy holiday season begins. Half of the group is assigned to bring a salad, and the other half brings a dessert, with the exception of the hostess who brings rolls and provides a drink for the luncheon. I did a hot cocoa bar this year, using this slow cooker recipe. I had salted caramel and coconut-flavored syrups, crushed candy canes, marshmallows and whipped cream as possible add-ins.

Now for the ornaments! I made “nesting spoons” (inspiration taken here) from old silver spoons found at an antique store. Each spoon was unique, and filled with moss, eggs made from sculpey clay, acorn hat “nests”, berries, glittery mini pine cones, and shells. My husband drilled a hole at the top of each spoon through which I fed a piece of twine as a hanger.

This is a tin star with pages from an old hymnal mod podged to it’s front, then decorated with bells, ribbon and a pine cone.

Next is a sweet little button tree.

A sculpey penguin!

This is a soldered ornament, with images of Christmas trees sandwiched between two pieces of glass.

A felt stitched star

An angel made from wood, sticks and wire. the wings are cut from the lid of a #10 can, then “aged” by fire in a barbeque!

A beautifully stitched and beaded star.

A spoon painted and wire wrapped, with a fun family story to go with it.

Soda can angels – each one personalized to the recipient.

Sweet, sweet angel.

A bird cage made with an antique Bell jar lid.


Each year I come away amazed by my friends’ creativity and beautifully crafted works of art! If you’d like to see previous years ornaments, check them out here and here.

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Stand in Holy Places take home gifts

I’ve found a couple cute take home gifts for our Young Women in Excellence night.

I first saw these great globe ornaments at World Market. They are 2 for $5.00, and would look great with a tag attached to the string reading, “Stand Ye in Holy Places”. You can’t order these online, unfortunately.

I also just came across these Globe Charm Necklaces
They are only $1.20 each (free shipping!) from Amazon. It may take a month for them to get to you, so time could be an issue with getting these. But I do love them! They could also make great Christmas gifts for the girls.

One other thought I had was to make these darling ornaments using old maps.

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Stand Ye in Holy Places invite

These are the invites we are using for our upcoming Young Women in Excellence. The “Stand ye in Holy Places” text was found here On the back of the globe are the details for the evening. You can download the invites here.

Posted in YWIE | 3 Comments

The 25 Days of Christ

Yesterday my girls and I sanded, painted, hot glued and hand tied 25 ornaments. I love getting this kind of stuff done early in the year, so that when Christmas is here, all I have to do is pull it off the shelf. Kati Oliver, creator of The 25 Days of Christ ornament tradition, gifted us this set of wooden (and felt) DIY ornaments. I have to admit, I was a little surprised at the amount of work that needed to go into finishing these, but with my helpers it was pretty fun. And now that they are done, there are sweet memories associated with each ornament that we crafted together.

I loved that the wooden pieces were large and simple enough for my youngest to paint. She thought it was the greatest thing ever, and had lots of questions about what each ornament signified. I’m looking forward to bringing them all out again, one at a time, and discussing in detail what they refer to.  The booklet that comes in the box has scripture references, quotes, and links to pictures and videos on that go along with each ornament, each day.

And voila! Our finished ornaments. My 11-year old did the bulk of the painting, and also cut out all the felt pieces. My job was to hot glue things together and tie all the strings. Although it was great to get it all done in one day (and conference weekend was the perfect time to do it!), it could also be nice (and less stressful) to have all the supplies in a box, and do one ornament each night, as you actually go through the 25 days of Christ. Regardless of how it is done, I think it’s a great idea, and will bring the focus of Christmas back onto Christ.

You can see more about the 25 Days of Christ here.


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Stand in Holy Places – Young Women in Excellence

We are looking ahead to our Young Women in Excellence program – and have chosen the theme: “Stand in Holy Places: Personal Progress Can Change Me and the World”. (I first saw this theme on a cute owl handout here.) We will pass the above handout to the young women this week, reminding them of the purpose of the evening, and getting them started on thinking of what they want to share. We will decorate with globes and maps, and have refreshments that must include cake balls that look like little planet earths! I’m collecting ideas on my pinterest board here, if you want to check it out.

You can download the handout here.

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