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Monday, March 23, 2015

The Real Easter Story

Mary and the Resurrected Jesus Christ by Simon Dewey

So my calling {volunteer position I was asked to fill} at our church is to teach the Young Women {ages 12-17} each Sunday.  I LOVE my calling, and I LOVE my girls!  It has been a wonderful experience and I continue to learn and grow so much through interacting with these amazing girls every week.  This month the theme in our curriculum is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which has been both appropriate with Easter coming up, as well as humbling for me to reflect on how the Atonement has played a role in my own life.  I have a deep and abiding testimony of the Atonement of Christ.  I know that he takes upon himself all of my pains, sorrows and shortcomings.  I have felt his healing power so undeniably in my life countless times.  I have felt him ease my burdens, carry me through hardships, and extend mercy to me when I am in need of repentance, which is every day!  In fact my lesson title this past week was How Can Repentance Help me Every Day?  

For a long time in my life I didn't really understand change, or repentance.  I did in a lot of basic ways, I mean I had been taught, but there's a different between being taught something and really experiencing something.  I knew that there were things I wanted to change about myself, weaknesses that I had, but I didn't know how to do things any differently...

I remember a few years back my Mom started doing this program which describes 4 "types" of people, and based on personality traits etc., each individual found their dominant "type".  I was labelled a type 3, and I hated it!  All I saw were the potentially negative things that resulted from being a "type 3".  Although the program made every attribute of being a "type 3" look perfectly lovely, and of course there were positive contributions from each "type", for me, all I could see was a distorted assortment of negative attributes starring me in the face, and out in the open for all to see.  To me I had interpreted this as meaning that I was loud, bossy, opinionated, quick to lose my temper, etc, etc, and worst of all, because I couldn't change who I was as a whole and I was stuck in this "type", I saw change as an impossible task.  I was destined to be this person I was entirely unhappy being, and I couldn't do anything to change it.

Well, this started to bother me enough, and get in my head enough over time, aided by other discouragements in my life that added to this negative view I had developed about myself, that I found myself in quite a hopeless place, hitting a kind of "rock bottom" of sorts.  At this point I finally began pleading with my Father in Heaven to help me {something I should have done long before this point, but I guess that's why Heavenly Father gives us trials, because sometimes we're too silly to make changes without a bit of a wake up call}.  I still didn't know exactly how I could be helped...but one night as I was on my knees, I got my answer.  I felt very clearly that I COULD change, that I could turn these weaknesses of mine into strengths, and that with his help, through the power of the Atonement, I could become the person he intended me to be.  This to me was a complete epiphany.  I felt hope for the first time really ever in this area of my life.  Over the course of the next year or so, I determined to make changes within myself.  I set daily goals, I made cue cards to read to myself while looking in the mirror each morning, I prayed constantly for help {like probably 16+ times a day}, and the answers kept on coming.  I went to work applying the changes I wanted in my every day life.

I can't even write about my experiences without getting emotional, because it was just so incredible, so personal, and so dear to my heart, and has truly shaped who I've become.  With the constant help of my Saviour, I was able to undergo a true change of heart, which is what I had really needed, but hadn't realized I needed.  I got so much more out of this experience than I ever intended or imagined.  I feel now looking back that I have a whole new set of eyes that I look through, like I quite literally am a different person, and when I think back to who I was before, it seems almost strange that she was me.  I may not seem that different on the outside to those around me, but I feel entirely changed on the inside, and since most of the damage done was on the inside, I am so thrilled and feel so blessed for this change!  I have been able to have so many amazing experiences and answers, I have felt the Saviour reach out and carry me through situations I previously couldn't have handled on my own.  I felt him lend a greater portion of his spirit to me, to give me strength to make the necessary changes that I needed to make.  I am in no way perfect.  I still have so many weaknesses, some are even the same ones I had before, but I've made some good strides in the right direction, and I now feel hope to continue striding on in that direction.  Yes, I have a testimony of the Atonement.  I know it is real, just as well as I know that my hands are typing this post right now.  There is no doubt in my mind that Christ is there for us, and that there is absolutely nothing in our lives that cannot be healed through him.

In Elder Neil L. Andersen's talk Repent, That I May Heal You, he says:
"The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisement but rather a loving appeal to turn around and to "re-turn" toward God.  It is the beckoning of a loving Father and His Only Begotten Son to be more than we are, to reach up to a higher way of life, to change, and to feel the happiness of keeping the commandments.  Being disciples of Christ, we rejoice in the blessing of repenting and the joy of being forgiven.  They become part of us, shaping the way we think and feel...
For most, repentance is more a journey than a one-time event.  It is not easy.  To change is difficult.  It requires running into the wind, swimming upstream.  Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me."  Repentance is turning toward other things, such as kindness, unselfishness, patience, and spirituality.  It is "re-turning" toward God."

The message of repentance is a message of hope, of renewal, and of joy.  I am so grateful that my Saviour, Jesus Christ, was willing to go through incomprehensible suffering and death in order for me to have the opportunity to repent and improve myself.


So two weeks ago for Family Home Evening, we made 7 Easter Egg Cartons, which tell the true Easter Story in a fun and simple way.  The kids are decorating their cartons and giving them to their teachers and bus drivers.  Our kids go to a French Catholic school {no, we are not Catholic} and we gave these away a couple years ago as Easter gifts, and they were a big hit.  The teachers loved having them as a tool for teaching the kids in their classes about the Easter Story.  I made one years ago as a teenager at a church activity, and have been teaching my kids from it every Easter as an adult.  I love these egg cartons.  I've included below in the supply list links to both an English and an English/French bilingual version of the scriptures we used, for your convenience.  I got all my other supplies at the dollar store, with the exception of the sacrament cup (which I got at church), the fabric (which I got for free by asking for samples at the fabric store), and a few little things I already had on hand at home.  So, without further ado...here's what you'll need to make one of your own...

  • 1 empty egg carton
  • 1 dozen plastic eggs
  • small "sacrament" cup
  • 3 dimes
  • 4" length of twine
  • small chunk of bar soap
  • 2-3" square of red cloth
  • 2 toothpicks
  • 1 small nail
  • embroidery thread
  • 1 playing dice
  • small container or bag
  • small amount of dirt or potting soil
  • 2" strip of white cloth
  • small round stone
  • potpourri
  • 6-8" square of tulle 
  • permanent marker
  • hot glue gun
  • scissors
  • paper cutter
  • print-out of corresponding scriptures {links below}
         {English Version


To begin, place the plastic eggs in the recycled egg carton as desired {there's also some cute plastic egg cartons you can get at the $ store if you want something a little more classy looking.  We like ours to have that "homemade" look, but whatever floats your boat}...


With your permanent marker, write numbers 1-12 on your eggs like so...


Cut out the scripture strips using a paper cutter, fold each strip in half a couple of times, and place them in the corresponding eggs...


Now it's time to fill your eggs with the fun stuff!


Egg #1: Place a sacrament cup or other small cup inside the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...


Egg #2: Place 3 dimes inside the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...


Egg #3: Tie a few knots in the length of twine and place it in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...


Egg #4: Break off a small chunk of bar soap and place it in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip.  I had to use Irish Spring when I saw it at the dollar store, because it reminds me of my Grandma's house growing up, and it added some fun colour, and a very strong scent, oi!


Egg #5: Place the square of red cloth in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...


Egg #6: With your scissors, cut your toothpicks to form a small cross {my long piece was just over 
1 1/2" and my short piece was just under 1", and I tried to round my ends as much as possible}.  Glue together with a small amount of hot glue, and finish it off by wrapping with embroidery thread in an "x" shape and securing the thread with another tiny dab of hot glue.  Place the finished cross and small nail in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...





Egg #7: Place the playing dice in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...


Egg #8: Fill the small bag or container 3/4 full with dirt or potting soil, and place in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...


Egg #9: Place the strip of white cloth in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...


Egg #10: Place the round stone in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...


Egg #11: Place a small amount of potpourri in the centre of the square of tulle.  Gather up the corners of the tulle, and tie together securely with embroidery thread to form a small pouch.  Trim the tulle if necessary.  Place potpourri pouch in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture stip...


Egg #12:  Leave empty {except for the scripture strip}.  Take a moment to smile and feel the warmth and significance of the message that this little empty egg delivers.


Decorate your finished egg carton as desired.  We went for quick and easy...I just used my box of scrapbooking paper and cut a rectangular strip out as a base, then printed out some easter egg colouring sheets and let the kids colour and glue them on, but I'm sure there's a million other ways you could make these look adorable.


Now sit down together and read your beautiful Easter story scripture strips in order and share the contents of each egg as you go, or give your egg carton away as a gift to someone special!

Happy Easter Friends!

2 comments:

  1. This post is really beautiful Lise-Anne. I love your experience about how the Atonement has changed and continues to help change you. It can do the same for each of us if we allow it. You are such a great example of a woman living a covenant life. I love you.XOXO Mom

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  2. Thanks Mom, love you!!! You were a pretty wonderful teacher! 😘

    ReplyDelete