When our family went to California last summer we ran into a fellow Young Women president who told me about a great idea they implemented last year:
In their congregation of girls they set aside one particular week to help the girls more fully understand that they are God's children. They had a powerful lesson on a Sunday to kick-off the week, and sent each girl home with a large envelope filled with seven smaller envelopes: one for each day of the week. The girls opened one envelope each day and were edified by either a poem, a CD with a beautiful song on it, or a short story to further help them understand that they are daughters of God. The next Sunday (which was Fast Sunday), they invited all the parents and girls and leaders to fast for those girls that their understanding of their divine nature would be more apparent in their lives. They had a special meeting at church with the girls and their parents complete with a slide-show from when the girls were babies, and an opportunity for the girls to tell about any experiences they had during the week. Then all girls, leaders, and all their families met at someone's house after church to have dinner together.
The theory is that if teenagers realize more fully that they are God's children and that He loves them and wants to help them through life, peer pressure and tribulations will become easier to bear. Making good decisions that will impact their lives and those of others around them for good will come more readily.
When this amazing YW president explained the whole concept I was baffled. How in the world could someone pull off something like that? I thought to myself that that sure was an awesome idea...for someone organized and on-top-of-things like she was.
With that, I shoved that big idea into the "ideas for later" section of my mind and tried to stay afloat in the everyday chaos that seems to be surrounding me these days.
But instead of that idea getting buried deeper and getting lost like most ideas tend to do in that section, it kept resurfacing. I thought about it at the grocery store. And at the bank. And on Wednesday nights when I hung out with all these girls.
I knew we needed to do it. And my dear, sweet ladies I work with agreed. And also agreed to help.
We went to the temple together and brainstormed ideas.
Some leaders agreed to make one of the seven envelopes...no small feat when you have to make 50 of them (we made one for all the leaders and our Bishop and Stake YW president too). Others agreed to gather pictures for the slide show, to figure out the dinner, to coordinate the activity that week, etc.
One day after a board meeting we stuffed all the envelopes people had brought into the bigger envelopes.
Another leader taught the kick-off lesson and we passed out these little puppies into the hot little hands of each and every girl as they left church, praying that something in these envelopes would stick to their hearts, and help them realize how important and beautiful and loved they are.
The younger ones were pleased as punch. The older ones I'm sure were a little more skeptical. It's a lot to ask when you're already piled high with homework and extracurricular activities galore, especially because we wanted them to record their thoughts in their journal each day.
The Sunday that we gathered all the girls and their families to conclude our special week happened to be the day after my Mom and I presented at Time Out for Women, and three days before Evening in Excellence. Yeah, don't ask who the planner of all this was :) I honestly don't know what I would have done without my mom staying up all night with me making soup and brownies while I tried to finish the slide show on Saturday night.
But man alive that all sure payed off during that last meeting on Sunday when those girls shared their thoughts about how that week had affected them. There was such a strong beautiful feeling in that room and I think everyone felt such strong love pouring down from Heaven. Even the older, most busy girls expressed how they had been worried about the time commitment but how those little envelopes had helped change their vantage point that week.
After church we gathered with the almost 200 family members of the girls and us leaders at the home of our Bishop and enjoyed all the food everyone brought. How I hope these girls will always remember their individual worth in the eyes of their Father...the one up in Heaven who loves them so.
post edit note: I've had a bunch of requests for more info. on exactly what was inside the envelopes. Please leave your email address and I can send you any info. you need...or better yet, I'll have the amazing girl who came up with this idea in the first place send you hers! :)
second post edit note: Elle has worked her little heart out to get emails sent to all the people on this list and is finally finished! (hooray!) If you are reading this post after January 12, 2012 and would still like to have the information, please email me directly at sepphotography at gmail dot com and I will be happy to send you the attachments to explain further. Thank you!
12 minutes ago