What’s in YOUR backpack? FHE — Repentance

What is repentance?   To repent is to turn, to change, to re-evaluate, and to recommit.

Elder Todd D. Chrisofferson taught:  “Repentance is a divine gift, and there should be a smile on our faces when we speak of it.  It points us to freedom, confidence, and peace.  Rather than interrupting the celebration, the gift of repentance is the cause for true celebration.”  (The Divine Gift of Repentance, Ensign, November 2011, 38)

“The fact that the word exists in scripture at all brings hope since without the possibility of repentance, all would be lost.” (John Bytheway, Sermons in a Sentence)

We have a CD by John Bytheway…well we actually have MANY, but one that we enjoy is titled “What’s in Your Backpack?”  I decided that it was important to talk about the process of Repentance, and WHY we should repent, and that how carrying burdensome “sin” around in our backpacks can slow down our spiritual progression.

I had my two sons go outside and bring in a lot of big rocks.  I found an old backpack.  I had my strapping, young 14-yr old put the pack on.  (This fit in so well because he just returned from a 3-day backpacking trip to Southern Utah, where he WAAAYYY over-packed and had so much stuff that it was quite hard for him…he even came home with bruised shoulders!)

ANYWAYS, he put the pack on.  Then, we started out with a little 5-finger discount action–which we then added a rock.  THEN, in order to cover the theft, a little lie had to be told — another rock.  Then, a trip in a car with friends who chose to drink and drive…. well, you get the picture.  With each sin, a rock was added.  By the time we were done, he could hardly walk.  It was actually causing him “pain!”  This was perfect.  Just the effect I wanted!

We then talked about how important it is to repent.  Could he go serve a 2-yr mission carrying around all that weight of sin?  Could someone go to the temple with all that extra weight?  Could someone truly be happy with all that weight?  Of course the answer was NO to all of those questions.


Garrett had to pose with the pack… he even did the “exhausting” look for the photo!

We then talked about the steps of repentance:

We must recognize that we have sinned…

We must feel Sorrow — The other day, I left the hot lawn mower by the sand pile while I ran into the house for a moment.  In the meantime, my little 5-yr old was standing on the edge of the sandpile and he fell over backwards and burned the back of his leg quite badly.  Of course, I felt just horribly about the whole thing.  I was sick that my careless actions caused my little 5-yr old serious pain.  I compared that to Godly sorrow over just regret that we got caught.  When we realize that what we have done has caused our Saviour to suffer, and we feel terrible and don’t want to ever do it again, that is Godly sorrow….

We must Forsake our sins….This means to STOP our sin….

We must Confess our sins….

We must make Restitution…..Recommitting ourselves to NEVER do that sin again, and truly meaning it.

We must Forgive others….

All in all, it turned out surprising quite well.  The kids listened and everyone enjoyed taking their turn with the pack and even more so, enjoyed taking it off!  Which is what repentance truly is about.  The joy of forsaking our sins.

Now, this next part is going to show my age!  One of my kids said, “Well, what if Satan’s plan had been chosen?  Would we even had to worry about sin and repentance?”  Then this song popped into my head and I started singing it!  FORTUNATELY for you all, I FOUND IT ON YOUTUBE!!!    So, you don’t have to listen to ME sing it, but you get to listen to this really fun 70s song!  (My kids have been listening to it all night, and I think my husband thinks I have flipped out, but it REALLY hit the ball home when they asked that question!

It’s interesting to me how much Satan’s plan sounds like someone else’s plan right now…. BUT, I’ll save that political rant for another time!

I am so grateful for a loving Father in Heaven, who provided a Saviour for us…. that atoned for my sins… who makes it possible to unload my backpack of sins.

I hope you have a good one!


Family Home Evening — Language

MAINTENANCE –I just noticed the story is gone…. Let’s try the new link!

I came across a story this morning that I think is just wonderful!  I want to share this story with you.  I wanted to share it with my little kids for Family Night tomorrow evening, but we are feeding the missionaries and finishing derby cars…. I don’t think it will happen tomorrow!  So…. I read it to them today after church!   I think it sends the message loud and clear about standing up for what you think is right in the face of danger…. literally!  There are many different situations this could be applied to.  It reminds me of the the following message from President Monson.  Dare to stand alone!

The story is about a young man who is about to enter the army with a promise to his mother that he would never pick up the bad language associated with many of those who are in the army.  When put to the test, this is how his story went:

Click on the story here….

Are we brave enough to stand alone?  Are we brave enough to stay true to our values and promises?  Are we brave enough to put our trust in the Lord?

Family Home Evening — Choices


Well, we just read Alma 60 this morning…. I wonder what the government today would think of if someone as great as Moroni sent them a letter telling them that he was going to “cleanse the inner vessel” first, and that those who sit in idleness while surrounded by those who die was unacceptable, and that if there was any spark of freedom among them that he would come and stir up insurrections until those who have desires to usurp power and authority shall become extinct, and that he did not seek for power but to put it down, and that he did not fear them, only his God, AND that if they didn’t respond quickly, he was going to come to them “speedily” and wipe them off the map (so to say) …. Hmmmm…. I LOVE it!  I think we need a few more Moroni’s in this world…..

Well, Anyways…. don’t get me going on politics, it makes me far too upset lately.  So, to get my mind off from it for the time being,  I am going to share with you another Family Home Evening activity we did!  It was kind of fun!  Young kids will really like this one!

We had a special visitor come to FHE a while back.  Her name was Chieftess Running Mouth — My children would agree far too quickly that her mouth runs much too much!  We sat around a pretend fire… or if you have a fire pit and warm weather, do it there (Outside around a real fire pit would be a blast) … OR, if you just happen to be from New Mexico and have a South Western decorated room, than that works as well!  (Just kidding…. those are NOT required at all, but only add to the ambiance!)

Chieftess Running Mouth came all dressed up in full Indian garb (thank goodness for Halloween costumes) and shared the following story with our children (Be sure to get a picture of a mean old bad-tempered wolf and one that is more peaceful looking if you can):

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson the following story:  “A fight is going on inside me,” (s)he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

You might need to help your little ones with the meaning of some of these words as you’re talking!

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

We must be ever mindful of the choices we make today and remember…. which wolf will we feed today!  And as quickly as Chieftess Running Mouth came, she left!  Good luck today and make it a good one!

Family Home Evening — Switches In Our Lives


What would your kids say if you told them “we’re building a train track for Family Night!

This past Friday/Saturday, Ed and Dalton participated in a Scout Klondike derby.  They got to go camping in the teen digits and have all sorts of fun… ha! ha!  I got to stay home and sleep in a nice warm bed!  However, the following Saturday, the remaining kids and I “went to town” cleaning house!  I have this issue about the house being dirty before the Sabbath…. Not going there!  I expect it presentable before Sunday morning… no “ifs” or “maybes”!  Fortunately, we worked like crazy and we were able to get done by noon.  The boys wanted something to do after that, so I allowed my kids to bring out the train tracks and just keep them in a certain area.  It made me think back to a family night lesson we had one evening a few years ago.  A few events have happened over the last little while in our family with regard to choices, that I think that tonight would be a great time to revisit this lesson!

If you have a bunch of train-lovin, crazy boys, then do this with them!  Tell them that everyone is going to help build a train track.  In the process of building it, make sure that you get an area with a “switch plate,” and make sure that the tracks go in completely opposite different directions.  As you build, relate the following story that President Hinckley gave in the October 1972 conference… (Here is the full conference talk!)

“Many years ago I worked in the head office of one of our railroads. One day I received a telephone call from my counterpart in Newark, New Jersey, who said that a passenger train had arrived without its baggage car. The patrons were angry.

We discovered that the train had been properly made up in Oakland, California, and properly delivered to St. Louis, from which station it was to be carried to its destination on the east coast. But in the St. Louis yards, a thoughtless switchman had moved a piece of steel just three inches.

That piece of steel was a switch point, and the car that should have been in Newark, New Jersey, was in New Orleans, Louisiana, thirteen hundred miles away.

So it is with our lives—a cigarette smoked, a can of beer drunk at a party, a shot of Speed taken on a dare, a careless giving in to an impulse on a date. Each has thrown a switch in the life of a boy that put him on a track that carried him far away from what might have been a great and foreordained calling. And as Nephi said, “… thus the devil cheateth their souls and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” (2 Ne. 28:21.)


Luckily for our purposes, this track has an actual switch plate!


Just a tiny switch plate being moved can make the train go in completely opposite directions!  A simple choice made in our lives, can have the same outcome!

Be sure to let them know that the small decisions we make on a day to day basis, just like moving a small switch plate, can end up having a HUGE impact on where we will end up in our lives.  Be sure to let them know that if they do get on the wrong track, that through the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can get back on the right track!  As always, let the spirit guide your discussion!

Have a great Family Night!

Family Home Evening — Forgiveness


I am always on the lookout for neat Family Home Evening ideas;  That being said, I am a lover of object lessons.  I believe that we can preach and preach all we want to but some kids, or even adults for that matter, have to see something and have it relate to them.  Most of our Family Home Evenings are short, quick, and more discussion-like, than lesson-like.  It has to be in order to keep 7 kids remotely interested!

So, the other night, when I brought in a hatchet and a piece of wood, it certainly grabbed some attention.   One of the kids conducted, as usual.  Ali played a hymn on her violin, and we started with a prayer.  I will not lead you on here…. sometimes, family night seems like a disaster; however, I loved Elder Bednar’s conference talk in 2009 about being consistent with our family night and I am most certainly grateful that our family is not the only one who has kids break out into a fight during FHE …. “He’s looking at me….. He’s BREATHING my air!!!!”  They may not remember specific lessons but they will remember that we were consistent!

We’ve been struggling with a certain sibling showing kindness towards another certain sibling and holding grudges.  So, this FHE is dedicated to removing the “wedges” in our hearts and to try to teach the importance of forgiving.

First, show the hatchet in the wood as it is in the picture…. not all the way through, but wedged in the wood.

Relate the following story:

The Peril of Hidden Wedges –You can find the full talk by clicking here!

 In April 1966, at the Church’s annual general conference, Elder Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a memorable address. He quoted an account written by Samuel T. Whitman titled “Forgotten Wedges.”

Whitman wrote: “The ice storm [that winter] wasn’t generally destructive. True, a few wires came down, and there was a sudden jump in accidents along the highway. … Normally, the big walnut tree could easily have borne the weight that formed on its spreading limbs. It was the iron wedge in its heart that caused the damage.

“The story of the iron wedge began years ago when the white-haired farmer [who now inhabited the property on which the tree stood] was a lad on his father’s homestead. The sawmill had then only recently been moved from the valley, and the settlers were still finding tools and odd pieces of equipment scattered about. …

“On this particular day, [the lad found] a faller’s wedge—wide, flat, and heavy, a foot or more long, and splayed from mighty poundings. [A faller’s wedge, used to help fell a tree, is inserted in a cut made by a saw and then struck with a sledgehammer to widen the cut.] … Because he was already late for dinner, the lad laid the wedge … between the limbs of the young walnut tree his father had planted near the front gate. He would take the wedge to the shed right after dinner, or sometime when he was going that way.

“He truly meant to, but he never did. [The wedge] was there between the limbs, a little tight, when he attained his manhood. It was there, now firmly gripped, when he married and took over his father’s farm. It was half grown over on the day the threshing crew ate dinner under the tree. … Grown in and healed over, the wedge was still in the tree the winter the ice storm came.

“In the chill silence of that wintry night, … one of the three major limbs split away from the trunk and crashed to the ground. This so unbalanced the remainder of the top that it, too, split apart and went down. When the storm was over, not a twig of the once-proud tree remained.

“Early the next morning, the farmer went out to mourn his loss. …

“Then, his eyes caught sight of something in the splintered ruin. ‘The wedge,’ he muttered reproachfully. ‘The wedge I found in the south pasture.’ A glance told him why the tree had fallen. Growing, edge-up in the trunk, the wedge had prevented the limb fibers from knitting together as they should.”

Wedges in Our Lives

Be sure to emphasize the fact that if we refuse to forgive others, it is as though we are burying wedges in our hearts.  Without removing those wedges, or forgiving others, we will soon find out that we are suseptable to falling, just as the great tree did.

If you have examples from your life, or the life of others, share it with your children.  Let them know how important it is for EVERYONE–even adults– to forgive…

THEN…apply pressure to the hatchet and watch it split the wood. Let the spirit guide your discussion!