Activity Days Lesson Plan on Heavenly Parents

Posted on September 25, 2017. Filed under: Heavenly Mother, Primary lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

AD HM set upI have a very special group of Activity Day girls. Many only come to Wednesday activities (because my co-leader and I pick them up). There was a time when I would have worried about that, but now, I’m happy that they’re there for that time and that I can love them and teach them.

I love the website, Mormon Activity Days, and modeled my lesson from this particular plan on Heavenly Mother. I also used the Facebook group, Feminist Activity Days, and our Exponent II Facebook group. (Special thank you to all of you who offered suggestions and advice.

Though I wanted the focus to be on Heavenly Mother, I also hoped to be respectful of how some families choose to talk (or not talk) about Her.


1. Provide some background on how the prophet, Joseph Smith, received revelation about our Heavenly Parents, and the poem/hymn Eliza R. Snow created from that doctrine.

Illuminating Ladies: a Coloring Book of Mormon Women:

“O My Father”:

2. Spend some time looking at how people talk about and draw our Heavenly Parents on the My Heavenly Mother website together, reading quotes from prophets and apostles, sharing some of the poetry, and admiring the artwork.

I brought some art works from my home (see picture), and we talked about how each artist depicted Heavenly Mother and what symbols we saw in the art.

See more art here:

Listen to our leaders here:

Suggestions of books and poetry for girls to read:

Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen:

Big Momma Makes the World:

Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Family:

Mother’s Milk: (free on Amazon Kindle!!)

3. Discuss what the girls have learned about their Heavenly Parents from this exploration.

Ask them to imagine what Heavenly Mother might look like to them. Reassure them that there are NO wrong answers here! Here are some more questions to help them (thank you, Exponent II Facebook group)

Art Project
Creating art helps us develop faith and a testimony of the Gospel principles we are studying. Here are some questions to think about as you create your artistic representation of God.

  • What attributes of your earthly parents do you find godly?
  • What attributes of Heavenly Father that we know are likely shared with Heavenly Mother?
  • How is Christ a reflection of his Heavenly Parents?

Think of a person here on earth who loves you.

  • How do you know that person loves you?
  • How do you feel when you’re around that person?
  • How do you think your Heavenly Parents feel about you?
  • What if they were here right now?
  • What would that look like?

Create a picture only you could create.

Tell them that they are going to create some artwork that reflects their feelings about Heavenly Mother. They should try to not just make it a portrait, but think about how to incorporate some emotion into their artwork. (You may want to go over some of the artwork again and discuss what emotions each piece invokes.)

Explain that for this project, their artistic skills don’t matter as much as the emotion and love they put into it.

I also prepared this handout for the girls to take home and encouraged them to teach a Family Home Evening lesson on what they learned.

AD Heavenly Mother handout

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Relief Society Lesson 2: Our Heavenly Family

Posted on January 12, 2010. Filed under: Relief Society Lessons | Tags: , , , , |

by Aimee

For those of you planning lessons using the Gospel Principles manual for the first time, you may want to look at the great advice Amelia and EmilyCC put together here and here for tips on ways to help flesh out these lessons for meaningful discussion.

Surprisingly, I already had the chance to teach this lesson in my own Relief Society class last week as our Stake decided to combine lessons 1 and 2. As a guinea pig, I was able to learn a few things that worked well in this lesson and am happy to pass them on to you.

We Are Children of Our Heavenly Father

I was really pleased to see this thoughtful question the manual posed at the start of the lesson: What do scriptures and latter-day prophets teach us about our relationship to God? Possible ideas you may want to discuss in answer to the question:

  • Modern revelation teaches that our God is a literal parent. How is having a relationship with a Heavenly Parent different from having a relationship with other notions of God (Heavenly King, Judge, Lord, Creator, Almighty)? You may also want to read the Joseph F. Smith quote here that our “spirit[s] [were] begotten and born of heavenly parents and reared to maturity” in the preexistence. What are the kinds of things you imagine our heavenly parents would have wanted to impress upon us to prepare us for mortality?
  • In my class we also read D&C 93:29 “Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.” I posed the question of how knowing that God did not create us, but rather organized us helps us better understand our relationship to him and others. What does knowing that our intelligence is co-eternal with God’s teach us about ourselves and our own potential? What does it teach us about God’s understanding of us as individuals? What depth can it add to our understanding of others?

We Developed Personalities and Talents While We Lived in Heaven

I think the most important idea to impress here is the recognition that in Mormon theology, we don’t believe that we enter the world as a blank slate. We each have eternal histories. Rather than focusing on the word “talents” (which I think often makes people think of literal “talent show” talents and it becomes easy to get off topic) I would instead emphasize the notion of having unique personalities, dispositions and abilities that are in part formed by our pre-mortal experiences. An interesting question to pose your class may be to ask if there are particular qualities or personality traits that members of your class feel have been with them for longer than this life? Are some of those qualities things they need to develop? Are some of them things they need to overcome?

Our Heavenly Father Presented a Plan for Us to Become Like Him

So now we’ve gotten to the big question: What is the purpose of life? Although most members of your class will be very familiar with the idea of the Plan of Salvation, there is actually a lot here that deserves rigorous thinking and discussion.

If we take the section heading at face value, the purpose of life would seem to be for us to become more like God. Not just to grow closer to God or obey better, but to begin to become gods ourselves! You may want to read from the manual on page 10: “Our Heavenly Father knew we could not progress beyond a certain point unless we left Him for a time. He wanted us to develop the godlike qualities that He has. To do this, we needed to leave our premortal home . . .”

Ask your class why leaving God to come to earth was necessary. Possible ideas you may want to discuss in answer to the question:

  • This is our chance to find out who we really are. Like a teenager leaving home for the first time, there are things you can’t know about yourself until you are making choices for yourself: What do you really love? How do you really want to spend your time? What do you most value? Etc.
  • Read Alma 42:7 “And now ye see by this that our first parents were cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord; and thus we see they became subjects to follow their own will.” Emphasize that the purpose of this life is being subject to our own wills, figuring out what our desires are since this is what we’re going to get in the end (Alma 41:5-7).
  • From the manual on page 11, forgetting our heavenly home was “necessary so we could exercise our agency to choose good or evil without being influenced by the memory of living with our Heavenly Father. Thus we could obey Him because of our faith in Him, not because of our knowledge or memory of Him.” How do “knowledge” and “memory” differ from faith?

As the concluding thought to your lesson, you may want to ask how can exercising our personal agency helps us to become more like our Heavenly Parents.

I found the following testimony from a sister in my ward here in Baltimore incredibly moving in making this point: This sister shared a story about a day she was taking the bus to a part of town with which she was unfamiliar. She suddenly realized that she had missed her stop and no longer knew how to get to her destination. Her first impulse was to pray for God to tell her where she should go. But just as she began her prayer, she was impressed not to ask God for directions but instead to trust in the brain God gave her. She was surprised at this turn of events but followed the prompting. After a bit of an adventure that included some wrong turns, she did make it to her destination. Upon arrival her first act was to pray to her Heavenly Father and thank Him for giving her a mind she could trust. She testified that the experience left her feeling closer to God and full of gratitude for His awareness of her particular gifts and abilities.

As the ultimate parent, God understands there are qualities and understanding we can only develop through our own experience. It is important for us to remember that often what we experience in life is the direct result of a world organized around personal agency and chance. When we signed on for the plan, we knew it was dangerous and it would hurt. Satan’s plan spared hurt, but forfeited divine progression. By remembering that the particular events and circumstances of our lives are less about God’s will and more about the will and randomness of this widely peopled earth, we can respond better to our experiences while learning more about our eternal selves and hopefully better develop the godlike qualities that our Heavenly Parents most desired would be the product of our time here.

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Relief Society Lesson 1: Our Heavenly Father

Posted on January 5, 2010. Filed under: Relief Society Lessons | Tags: , , , |

by EmilyCC

We’ve noticed that people have been a little nervous about starting this new manual, so I’ve put in more material here than is necessary.  Pick and choose what you find most helpful.

I think this it’s helpful to remember that these lessons aren’t designed to be a lecture but a discussion.  And, with a topic like God, this is particularly important because it would be pretty awful to hear one teacher pontificate on the nature of God for the full class period.  We all have different ways we experience God that are meaningful to each of us.  So, this lesson shouldn’t be one that lacks for people want to share their experiences.  (And, can I get a WOOT for the manual writers who have sections that use the word “God?”  I love a little gender-neutral language in my Church materials!) (more…)

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Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: a Mother’s Day Talk

Posted on May 9, 2009. Filed under: Mormon women, motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

by EmilyCC

This isn’t a cheery talk.  (My husband, Nate: “I think people are going to want to shoot themselves afterwards.”)  But, my points in this talk are twofold: we all can mother (Jesus and Heavenly Father are prime examples) and all that God asks for us in our mothering is to do it in love.  This talk ended up being more conservative than I’d like–you’ll see me struggle with the incongruity between our treatment of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.  And, I dropped some of my inclusive language because other readers said that members of my conservative ward could get caught up in my language and miss what I was saying (unfortunately, I think they’re right).

Thanks to my mom and husband who mothered me through this talk (it’s rough to write a Mother’s Day talk when one is a relatively new mother and often overwhelmed at her new job) and all the posts below that inspired this talk.

I can’t think of a talk that is harder for a woman to give than the Mother’s Day talk.  In a church that lauds the role of motherhood, this holiday can be especially difficult. (more…)

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Relief Society Lesson 2: God, the Eternal Father

Posted on January 18, 2008. Filed under: Relief Society Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , |

Did you guess that X2 couldn’t do a post on a RS lesson on Heavenly Father without mentioning Heavenly Mother?

I’ve confined the Heavenly Mother part to one section of the lesson since not all of us want to go there. And, I have 2 versions: “Making a few ladies squirm” and “Going to the bishop’s office.”

Really, these are just titles for fun because I don’t know that this should be brought up in every ward. I, personally, would make it a matter of prayer before using either because it is such a hard topic and one that requires the guidance of the Spirit if someone dares to tackle it. Okay, off my soapbox…

My comments are in italics, my questions are in bold, and President Smith’s (whoa! Why does that sound weird to me?) ideas from the manual are in regular font. And, I’d love suggestions on the Godhead part of the lesson; I’ll admit, I was stumped.

From the Life of Joseph Smith

Among Joseph Smith’s progenitors were many who sought to know the true God in their day. Joseph’s own parents were deeply spiritual, and although they did not find the full truth about God in the churches around them, they honored the Bible as God’s word and made prayer a part of daily life. The Prophet’s brother William recalled: “My father’s religious habits were strictly pious and moral. … I was called upon to listen to prayers both night and morning. … My parents, father and mother, poured out their souls to God, the donor of all blessings, to keep and guard their children and keep them from sin and from all evil works. Such was the strict piety of my parents.” William also said: “We always had family prayers since I can remember. I well remember father used to carry his spectacles in his vest pocket, … and when us boys saw him feel for his specs, we knew that was a signal to get ready for prayer, and if we did not notice it mother would say, ‘William,’ or whoever was the negligent one, ‘get ready for prayer.’ After the prayer we had a song we would sing; I remember part of it yet: ‘Another day has passed and gone, We lay our garments by.’ ”
–What do you think the purpose of these actions are?–How do you think children (and adults) benefit from them?

Joseph’s faithful prayer for mercy and wisdom was answered with the First Vision. That vision gave the young Prophet far greater knowledge about God than any of the churches of his day possessed, knowledge that had been lost to the world for centuries. In the First Vision, Joseph learned for himself that the Father and the Son are individual beings, that Their power is greater than the power of evil, and that man is indeed fashioned in God’s image—truths that are essential in understanding our actual relationship to our Father in Heaven.

Write the following parts of this quote on the board:
1) The Father and Son are individual beings
2) Their power is greater than the power of evil
3) Man is indeed fashioned in God’s image

–how do each of these facts affect our understanding of our relationship with God?

Teachings of Joseph SmithGod is the loving Father of all mankind and the source of all that is good.
“While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes ‘His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.’ [Matthew 5:45.]”
–what do you think of this quote? Or, how does it make you feel?
–what do you think of the Matthew 5:45 scripture?

–This seems to be an explanation as to why God allows suffering. Do you find it satisfactory? Why or why not?

“The purposes of our God are great, His love unfathomable, His wisdom infinite, and His power unlimited; therefore, the Saints have cause to rejoice and be glad, knowing that ‘this God is our God forever and ever, and He will be our Guide until death.’ [Psalm 48:14.]”

I think we have a hymn that illustrates the concept of God as our loving Heavenly Father very well. Please join me in singing all the verses of
“O My Father,” pg 292.

This is the Heavenly Mother part. Please feel free to skip to the “When we comprehend the character of God…” section if this is offensive to you.

Making a few ladies squirm:
I had a hard time leaving Heavenly Mother out of this lesson because I feel like in order to truly understand Heavenly Father, we can’t forget Her.

I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, but to further illustrate our doctrine of Heavenly Father, I thought it would be nice to all sing “O My Father.”

Going to the bishop’s office:
I can’t leave out Heavenly Mother from a lesson on God, the Eternal Father, so I wanted to give a brief history of Joseph Smith’s teachings about Heavenly Mother. (I’ll leave it to the teacher to take what they want from the following excerpt from Linda P. Wilcox’s “The Mormon Concept of a Mother in Heaven,” from Women and Authority: Re-emering Mormon Feminism, ed. by Maxine Hanks)

The origins of the Heavenly Mother concept in Mormonism are shadowy. The best known exposition is Eliza R. Snow’s poem, “O My Father,” or “Invocation, of the Eternal Father and Mother”—the title it was known by earlier. When the poem was first published in the Times and Seasons it carried the notation, “City of Joseph, Oct. 1845,” but the actual date of composition is not known. It does not appear in Eliza’s notebook/diary for the years 1842-1844.

President Wilford Woodruff gave Snow credit for originating the idea: “That hymn is a revelation, thought it was given unto us by a woman.” President Joseph F. Smith claimed that God revealed the principle (“that we have a mother as well as a father in heaven”) to Joseph Smith; that Smith revealed it to Snow, his polygamous wife, and that Snow was inspired, being a poet, to put it into verse.

Other incidents tend to confirm this latter view. Susa Young Gates told of Joseph Smith’s consoling Zina Diantha Huntington on the death of her mother in 1839 by telling her that not only would she know her mother again on the other side, but “more than that, you will meet and become acquainted with your eternal Mother, the wife of your Father in Heaven.” Susa went on to say that about this same time Eliza Snow “learned the same glorious truth from the same inspired lips” and was then moved to put this into verse. Since Huntington and Snow were close friends as well, it was a likely possibility that they spoke of this idea. David McKay recorded that during a buggy ride on which he accompanied Eliza Snow, he asked her if the Lord had revealed the Mother in Heaven doctrine to her. She replied, “I got my inspiration from the Prophets teachings[;] all that I was required to do was to use my Poetical gift and give that Eternal principal in Poetry.
–from: Wilcox, Linda P. “The Mormon Concept of a Mother in Heaven.” Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism. 1992. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books.

End of Heavenly Mother piece

When we comprehend the character of God, we comprehend ourselves and know how to approach Him.

“If a man learns nothing more than to eat, drink and sleep, and does not comprehend any of the designs of God, the beast comprehends the same things. It eats, drinks, sleeps, and knows nothing more about God; yet it knows as much as we, unless we are able to comprehend by the inspiration of Almighty God. If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves. I want to go back to the beginning, and so lift your minds into more lofty spheres and a more exalted understanding than what the human mind generally aspires to. –This is a pretty strong statement, especially towards those who don’t believe in God.
–Why do you think President Smith feels so strongly about this?

“If any man does not know God, and inquires what kind of a being He is,—if he will search diligently his own heart—if the declaration of Jesus and the apostles be true, he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle.
–This statement is a big one, reminding us that eternal life is the key to all Mormon doctrine.
–Do we sometimes take the idea of eternal life for granted?
–What does the concept of eternal life add to our daily lives?

“… Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach Him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer. When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, He begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to Him, He is ready to come to us.”
–how does this statement make you feel?
–what does it say about our relationship with God?

In the Godhead there are three separate and distinct personages.
Remember, I was struggling here!

Articles of Faith 1:1: “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”
–why is our view of the Godhead an important aspect of the Gospel?

“That which is without body or parts is nothing. There is no other God in heaven but that God who has flesh and bones.”
–what do you think other churches and/or religions think of this statement?

The Godhead is in perfect unity, and God the Father presides.

“Everlasting covenant was made between three personages before the organization of this earth and relates to their dispensation of things to men on the earth. These personages … are called God the first, the Creator; God the second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the Witness or Testator.”
–I’ve been with other members of the Church and Young Women who get confused by this statement and others like it.
–How would you help clarify this statement, so people understand that the Godhead is made up 3 distinct personages?

“[It is] the province of the Father to preside as the Chief or President, Jesus as the Mediator, and the Holy Ghost as the Testator or Witness. The Son [has] a tabernacle and so [does] the Father, but the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit without tabernacle.”
–an important quote, but I’m not quite sure what to do with it…any suggestions?

“The scripture says, ‘I and my Father are one’ [John 10:30], and again that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one, and these three agree in the same thing [see 1 John 5:7–8]. So did the Savior pray to the Father, ‘I pray not for the world, but for those whom ye gave me out of the world, that we might be one,’ or to say, be of one mind in the unity of the faith [see John 17:9, 11]. But everyone being a different or separate person, so are God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost separate persons, but they all agree in one or the selfsame thing.”
–another good quote…

Close with testimony.


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