How to Be a Great LDS Youth Leader and Strengthen Your Marriage

What does your marriage have to do with being a great leader? Awhile ago, I wrote about the importance of leading yourself. For those of us who are married, it’s also important to “lead” your spouse. I’m sure some of you are wondering about that. Marriage relationships are made of up of two equal individuals. Let’s substitute another work for lead here- influence. Leadership is influence. We tend to think of leadership as holding a position, but it’s so much more than that. If you truly have the attitude of a leader, people will be influenced for good by you, regardless of the position you hold. Your marriage can be a great place to work on those skills of influence. I also firmly believe that we will be our best at our callings when things are going well in our marriage and our spouse is supportive.

I strongly advocate prioritizing marriage over our callings and not just saying it, but taking a series of actions to keep it there. Here’s what it looks like in my marriage. Yours may look a little different than ours. That’s okay. What matters is that you have a plan and you’re acting on it.

Daily Prayer and Scripture Study

Every morning, we take a few minutes to read from the Book of Mormon and share our thoughts on what we read. Then we pray together. It really is a blessing to hear my husband when he talks about me in his prayers. We spend about 10-15 minutes on this. That’s not a lot of time. It helps bring the Spirit into our home and relationship when we do this.

Weekly Date Night

Weekly date nights are a great time to connect with each other. It’s time where you can focus on each other, share an experience and have fun together.

I’ve been a huge fan of date night since my youngest was a baby. One of my friends was a bishop’s wife and she told me that she needed to go on a date with her husband every week to maintain her sanity. She’s someone I admire and I thought that was a pretty good example. It’s helped me keep my sanity through the demands of raising kids and tough callings.

Monthly Date Night Planning

This is something we started doing about 4-6 months ago. We take turns planning our dates and kept forgetting whose turn it was! Now we take 15 minutes once a month to get out our calendars and record when and who for our dates.

Weekly Finance Check-ins

We’ve tried doing this alone, with me entering most items on our budget and just found that it didn’t work for us. Not being on the same page when it comes to finances can lead to marital problems.  Taking a few minutes each week to talk about what was spent and make needed adjustments for unanticipated (or forgotten) expenses can help you stay on the same page.

Monthly Budget Planning

Taking a little time before a new month to come to an agreement on what your expenses are can also prevent disagreements and arguments. This also gives you some time to work out compromises on items where you might disagree.

Taking time to invest in your marriage can make such a big difference in so many ways. It can even help us to be better in our callings because we will be developing our influence and our spouses will be more likely to be supportive.

What is your favorite way to strengthen your marriage? 

4 Delightful Ways to Empower LGBTQ Youth

This is a sponsored post. I received a copy of That We May Be One to review, my thoughts and opinions are my own. To help with my costs of bringing you great content, I have affiliate links in this email, which if you use, I make a small commission. This helps me cover my website expenses. I only recommend products and services that I trust and believe will be helpful to you.

Meet Tom Christofferson, Elder Christofferson’s brother, Mormon, and gay. He recently published a book that shares his thoughts on family and faith and tells his story of growing up as a gay teenager in the Church, leaving the Church in his search for happiness and then returning.

I am certainly not a mental health expert, neither is he. At the same time, there were several things that stood out to me as I read this book that we can do as youth leaders that I think are worth sharing.

Take Time to Understand the Ambiguity

LGBTQ church members deal with quite a bit of ambiguity. We teach that God loves and knows every single one of us. We also teach a moral code that can directly conflict with things that they may deeply feel.What comes naturally to them must not be acted upon. It’s important to recognize that they may be feeling that ambiguity. We can accept them as they are and love them, just as the Savior would.

“The Savior provides us the clearest example of loving those whose life choices have been less than He would have hoped, allowing His kind acceptance and regard to show them a higher vision of their own possibilities than they had previously grasped.” Tom Christofferson

Help Them Live One Day at a Time

I love this one, because I think it is true for everyone. We can get pretty far ahead of ourselves. Sometimes it’s best to slow down and take one thing at a time. Very often, we don’t have all the answers and we certainly can’t see into the future to know what will happen.

Tom points out that more and more young women are identifying themselves as LGBTQ a “decade or more before a decision would need to be made about the direction of their lives.”

Sometimes we can be very quick to attach final judgments on ourselves or someone else because of choices being made today. Those judgments can be wildly inaccurate and harmful.

We simply don’t have all the answers to a lot of things. It’s okay to not know something. As a matter of fact, I see it as a sign of courage to admit that.

Draw them closer to you

Tom’s direct advice to youth leaders who have youth who come out to them is to draw them closer to you. Find ways to continue to include them. Please do not push them away. Loss of a relationship can be a risk factor for mental illness and they are already in a vulnerable place in their lives.

“identifying themselves as queer, for example, does not mean that they are having sex or doing anything inappropriate. They are learning about themselves and trying to live honestly in the world.” Tom Christofferson

It is important that we let them know that we love them and that we want them to come to our activities and that they will be treated with kindness and acceptance.

One of the best examples of this is the conversation Tom had with his bishop when he decided he was ready to come back to Church. He asked if he would be welcome. His bishop responded that both he and his partner would be. Their ward was striving to become better disciples of Christ and that all were needed in that effort.

A good question to reflect upon is how LGBTQ youth can help us to become better disciples.

What can you encourage them to do today that will bring them closer to Christ?

My favorite chapter in this book was on acceptance vs. condoning. It’s something that I wanted to better understand. I love the overall principle that he teaches here. He says,”If my circumstances are such that I feel I cannot do everything I would like to in order to become like the Savior, at least for today there are many important things that I can do.”

They may decide to take a same-sex partner. They may even decide that leaving the Church would be best for their mental and physical health.  You can still love them. Please remember that they are still the person you loved before they came out to you. If you want to help them continue to connect with God, he makes a couple of suggestions that I really like:

  • encourage them to find a partner who will pray with them. Heavenly Father always wants to hear from His children.
  • encourage them to observe a monthly fast that includes time for reflection, prayer and giving to those in need.

I think mostly, we can reflect on the question at the top of this heading: What can you encourage them to do today that will bring them closer to Christ?

For more information on Tom Christofferson’s story, please check out That We May Be One by Tom Christofferson.

Here are some places you can find it:


Deseret Bookshelf Plus (listen for free with at trial membership)

Barnes and Noble


November Come, Follow Me Resources

To help with my costs of bringing you great content, I have affiliate links in this email, which if you use, I make a small commission. This helps me cover my website expenses. I only recommend products and services that I trust and believe will be helpful to you.

From Why is work an important gospel principle? 

From How do I know if I am becoming converted? 

From How can I find solutions to my problems? 

Get All Three Handouts

Additional Teaching Ideas

What does it mean to be self-reliant?

I love these two study sheets about The Ten Virgins and The Parable of the Talents from The Red Headed Hostess. Sometimes it can really help with a discussion when our class has time to write their thoughts down before sharing.

Why is it important for me to gain an education and develop skills?

Invite some of your class members to come to class prepared to teach a talent or skill. Share some quotes on education at the beginning of class and ask what they have in common. Read the rest of this idea on Life’s Journey to Perfection.

Why does the Lord want me to be healthy?

Try this object lesson from MormonShare. Bring water, soda and a plant with you to class. Tell you class your plant needs a drink. Read the rest of this object lesson here. 

What is the Lord’s way for providing for the poor and needy?

The Things I Love Most made a handout from the hymn, Have I Done Any Good in the World Today. You can get it here.

Need more ideas? Check out November’s Combo Pack from The Red Headed Hostess, my Pinterest board or my Facebook group


4 Things Effective Youth Leaders Do to Take Care of Themselves

My very first girls’ camp as an adult was pretty rough on the first day. I thought I was doing the right thing by making sure the young women were all settled. Then an adult leader showed up to our campground late, asking where she could find everyone. I began to walk her to the waterfront. I suddenly felt dizzy. My knees gave out under me. What on earth was wrong!?

So, what was wrong with me? A classic case of heat exhaustion. I had been so preoccupied with making sure my young women had what they needed, I had forgotten to take care of myself. I hadn’t had anything to drink or sat down or gotten out of the sun. That was a super-foolish thing to do in the hot and humid Indiana summer.

Now, why would I tell you this?

To truly be effective as leaders, we need to be able to “lead ourselves”. As Elder Holland has said, if we don’t make time to be well, we will be forced to make time to be sick later on.

I do hear from a lot of youth leaders who feel like they struggle to maintain some semblance of balance. They’re not sure how to take care of themselves, their marriages and their families and give their calling the attention it deserves.

In this post, we’ll focus on taking care of ourselves first, I’ll save the topics of marriage and family for another day. If you think of others to add to my list, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Daily Prayer and Scripture Study

For me, this is my daily dose of personal peace that helps me start my day. On days when I forget, the first thing I notice is that I’m incredibly grumpy. Then I reflect back to whether or not I prayed and studied and I realize that hadn’t. I’ve learned through time and experience that I have more patience to handle my day with it than without it. As a matter of fact, pretty much everything is better with it.

So, what are some things daily prayer and scripture study can do for us as leaders?

  • gain personal revelation for any task we need to do involved with our callings
  • help us prepare to teach, whether or not our study involves the topic we’re preparing to teach.
  • help us have the patience we need when dealing with difficult situations that stem from our callings
  • help us understand and have empathy for those we serve with and those we serve
  • help us find wisdom as we try to balance our personal lives with our callings
  • help us to have the Spirit with us at all times

Diet and Exercise

Now, I could do much better on the diet part. I am a huge fan of exercise. That’s something I do pretty well with. Consider what Elder Scott has to say about this:

I love this because I have always felt that exercise improves my ability to feel the Spirit!

What can proper diet and exercise do for us as leaders?

  • Provide stamina and physical strength to keep up with the youth.
  • Provide an outlet for anxiety and other strong emotions, which can help you be more patient
  • enhance revelation
  • help you sleep better
  • give you more energy


This one matters a lot! You can’t get very far without sleeping. A few weeks ago, I learned about this the hard way. A flight delay left me stuck in New York on my way home from an international trip. It meant that I ended up staying awake for about 38 hours without being able to sleep for more than an hour at a time. I tried to stay awake on the day I got home, but as soon as I sat still, I fell asleep. It took me a couple of days to recover. I don’t recommend trying it!

Now, there may be circumstances that interfere with your sleep that you can’t help: new baby, sleep disorder, etc. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the need we have sometimes to exchange our sleep to get things done that really aren’t more important. This really helps no one, especially yourself. You will simply become spread more thinly than you are. It’s very much a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. You will honestly be able to give so much more when you are well-rested!

What can a sleep in proper amounts help us do?

  • feel the Spirit
  • have the strength and stamina to keep up with the youth
  • stay focused and complete tasks faster
  • solve problems
  •  keep things in a proper perspective
  • be more patient and generous


Now, you may enjoy reading or you may not. This is something that can help you a lot if you enjoy reading. And, no matter what you read, it will help you as a leader! Reading helps us to:

  • think better
  • improve our people skills
  • master communication
  • relax (other hobbies can do this for us, too)
  • keeps us young

Thanks to Michael Hyatt for this info on reading and leaders. 

Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite way to take care of yourself, so you can lead? 

The Very Best LDS Conference Resources for Teens

To help with my costs of bringing you great content, I have affiliate links in this post, which if you use, I make a small commission. This helps me cover my website expenses and I only recommend products and services that I trust and that I believe will be useful to you. 

Every conference, the search is on for the very best way to encourage our youth to prepare for conference, pay attention during conference and to keep it visible in between conferences. I’ve started collecting some resources to make it easier to find what you’re looking for. I will update this as I find more resources, so be sure to check back to see what’s new!


The LDS Conference Study Journal is great for both before and during. I really love that there’s a page to write down personal questions and concerns that you have going into conference.

You can share this guide to preparing for conference by simply sending a link via email or text. They can choose from several options on this page how they’d like to prepare: review the blessings of conference, consider personal questions and learn about our leaders. I like that this option lets our youth decide which method of preparation interests them the most!

It would be so easy to print this New Era article to hand out on the Sunday before conference. It covers ways to prepare. Things to pay attention to during conference and how to keep it in your heart after conference is over.


Check out this note-taking sheet from! I love that he has a space for each member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve! I also like that there’s a “so what” column. It’s really good for our teens to think about what they will do differently because of what they see and hear during conference.

This Personal Progress Social Media Challenge is great for during conference! I love that it helps young women to do their Personal Progress and helps them share the gospel online!

This conference packet from This Mormon Life is designed for young men. It fits nicely into a small 3-ring binder. There’s also a Jeopardy game in this post to be used as an activity for after conference.


The General Conference Family Kit has something for all ages. The thing I like best about this one are the trivia pages. Perfect for  post-conference youth activity that would also take little to know prep!

Life’s Journey to Perfection’s conference packet is good for before, during and after. Since resources to help after conference are a little harder to come by, I’m putting it here. Her packet includes a page where teens can write a list of talks they want to re-read. This is something I want to start doing!

What are some of your favorite LDS Conference resources for teens? Please share in the comments! 


October Come, Follow Me Resources

To help with my costs of bringing you great content, I have affiliate links in this post, which if you use, I make a small commission. This helps me cover my website expenses and I only recommend products and services that I trust and that I believe will be useful to you. 

Becoming more Christlike is always a great topic of discussion for the youth. I always love hearing what my class has to share about how they do this.

Lesson Handouts

From How Can I Become More Christlike? 

Get the handout. 

From How Can I Learn to Be More Patient? 

Get the handout. 

Additional Teaching Ideas

For How can I be more Christlike in my service to others?

Cut out a snowflake to demonstrate how sacrifice helps us to serve others. Read the instructions on Mormonshare.

For How can I learn to be more patient? 

I love these discussion pages from The Red Headed Hostess that cover 6 heroes from the scriptures that exemplify patience.

For How can I become more Christlike? 

All Things Bright and Beautiful has a self-evaluation for Christlike attributes that would be great for this lesson.

For Why is it important to be grateful? 

Challenge your class to keep a gratitude journal during the week. You can use this handout with some journaling prompts to help them.

Simply fill out the form on this page and I will send it to your email!

Need more ideas? Check out my Pinterest board, my Facebook group, or The October Teaching Packet from The Red Headed Hostess. 


5 Things Adult Leaders can’t Rush, Hack or Fake

Last month, we talked a little bit about how leadership can’t be rushed or faked in my review of the Five Levels of Leadership.

Fake it ’til you make it is not always the best advice. Here are a few things, that you can’t rush, hack or fake.

Love. If you pretend to love them, they will see right through it. As you get to know them, it will happen naturally.

Building relationships with youth.  This will happen over time. You have to take the time to invest in them.

Your testimony or theirs. Their testimonies will develop in a way that it only can for them. We are all unique individuals who grow and develop in the gospel at a pace that is just right for us.

Learning from failure. There’s only one way this happens. You have to let them fail! I know it can be really hard, especially if the activity is going to completely flop because someone failed to complete an assignment. Let it happen. They will become more resilient because of it.

Their self-confidence. This grows in a way that is unique to each individual, just like a testimony. The best thing we can do is give our youth lots of opportunities to lead, learn from failure and try new things. They will learn from those experiences that they can handle it.


What Everyone Should Know About Teen Suicide Prevention

My Own Experience with Suicide

This is a topic I’ve always been concerned about, but have never felt well-prepared to handle. A few years ago, one of my former young women attempted suicide and her mom reached out to me for help. I didn’t do anything all that grand. I simply would take her for a day or part of the day here and there. That way her mom could get a break. I’ve continued to have opportunities to help people with mental health issues. A couple of months ago, I learned that I could be trained in mental health first aid. I signed up for a class, hoping I could find more ways to help people around me. I learned a great deal of helpful information. Some I will share in this post.

Know the Signs

Teenagers are an interesting group when it comes to mental health warning signs. They’re going through a lot of change and upheaval. So, as we talk about warning signs, it’s important to keep in mind that teenagers go through a lot of physical, mental, social and emotional changes. For example, it’s normal for teenagers to withdraw from their parents to spend more time with friends. Complete social withdrawal is not. Here are some warning signs to watch for:

  • threatening to hurt or kill themselves
  • seeking access to a means to commit suicide (weapons, pills, etc)
  • talking or writing about death, dying or suicide- this includes schoolwork, art and creative writing
  • expressing hopelessness, no reason for living, or no sense of purpose in life
  • having rage, anger or seeking revenge
  • acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities
  • feeling trapped
  • increasing alcohol or drug use
  • withdrawing from friends, family or society
  • dramatic mood changes (even from sad to happy)
  • sleeping all the time or not being able to sleep
  • anxiety or agitation
  • giving away prized possessions

That’s a lot of warning signs! As you keep those signs in mind, think about what normal behavior is for the person you’re concerned about. Then ask yourself if their behavior is interfering with any of the following:

  • school
  • relationships
  • doing things they used to enjoy

If it’s interfering with their normal lives, its a warning sign and it’s a good idea to ask them about it. It’s also good to recognize that you may see no distinguishable warning signs. Teenagers can be very impulsive.

You can also keep risk factors for suicide in mind also, a couple of important risk factors to know are: family history of suicide and being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or celebrities. Some wonder if suicide is genetic, we honestly don’t know.

You can read more about risk factors on the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Know How to Help

The instructors taught me a really great acronym to help me remember how to intervene when I think someone is having a mental health crisis. It’s the same regardless of suicidal feelings or type mental illness. Right now, I’ll stress the fact that I don’t diagnose. That’s left to the mental health professionals. My training is to be more like a “first-responder”. Medical first aid is meant to help someone until they can get professional help. Mental health first aid works the same way. Anyway, the acronym is ALGEE and here’s what it stands for.

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgementally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

I will cover this acronym in another post. For this post we only need to be concerned with the first letter- Assess for risk of suicide or harm.

Assess for Risk of Suicide or Harm

First, start by sharing that you’ve noticed some changes in them that you’re concerned about. Ask them if they’re okay or if there’s anything they want to tell you. Now, it’s really important to take this conversation one step further and directly ask them if they are thinking about committing suicide or killing themselves. As uncomfortable as it may feel for you, do not avoid using the word suicide. Talking about suicide will not put the idea in someone’s mind.

If they answer yes, the next step is to find out how serious or urgent things are. You’re going to try to determine whether or not they have a plan for committing suicide. You do that by asking these three questions:

  • Have you decided how you’re going to kill yourself?
  • Have you decided when you’re going to do it?
  • Have you taken any steps to get what you need to carry out your plan?

The stronger their planning is, the greater the risk. Is also important to know that a lack of a plan does not mean they are safe.

Now, there are a couple more questions to ask:

  • Have you been using alcohol or drugs?
  • Have you attempted suicide before?

At this point, your goal is to keep this person safe. You do not leave them alone. If you can’t stay with them, get someone who can.

Help them (and their parents) get professional help as soon as possible by taking them to the emergency room of a hospital, mental health clinic or a doctor’s office. There are also several suicide hotlines you can call if you’re not sure what to do (US only):

1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

1-800-TALK (8255)

1-800-799-4tty (4889) for hearing and speech impaired.

Know Your Resources

There are so many great resources out there to help with suicide awareness and prevention. I’m going to direct you toward a couple to get you started. Many of these sites have resource pages, too.

USA Mental Health First AidOffers classes in mental health first aid like the one I took. These courses are offered all over the United States.

Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition-Provides information on suicide intervention courses, support groups, gun safety, and information for those supporting someone who is struggling with suicidal feeling

A Request

The State of Utah has enlisted my help in getting a suicide prevention message to you. They’re asking gun owners to lock up their guns. Although guns do not cause suicide, guns and suicide are closely tied to each other. More than half of all suicides in the US are committed by firearms. Having guns and firearms in the home is a risk factor for suicide. Suicidal feelings can be temporary and can come on quickly. Preventing access to a means to commit suicide may be all it takes to save someone’s life.

If you’d like to know more about teen suicide prevention and guns, you can watch this video here.



Decisive: A Book Review

Decisive- A Book Review

This post contains affiliate links. For more details, see the disclosure at the bottom of my sidebar on the right. 


This book digs into the science and psychology of good and bad decision making. I chose this one for our challenge, this year, because leaders are always making decisions. We also help the youth we lead with their decisions too. The Heath brothers use the acronym WRAP to remember the different steps we can take to help us arrive at a good decision.
Widen your options
Reality-test your assumptions
Attain distance before deciding
Prepare to be wrong
Each of these steps is a chapter, with different techniques you can use for that step, plus several case studies to help you see what it looks like in real life.

Overall rating out of 5 stars

I give this one 4 stars. It may just be because I’m re-reading this, but it felt like it had more case studies than I needed or wanted to read.

Leadership Skill Lessons (5 out of 5 Stars)

As I mentioned earlier, leaders make a lot of decisions and some of them are tough. I really liked many of the strategies suggested in this book.
Find someone who’s solved your problem. Learning from someone who has been where you are can really help you put things in perspective.
Consider the opposite. With this one, you purposely seek out people who disagree with you and learn from their perspective.
Ooch. This is a funny word that means to implement only part of your decision or to make a small test run to try it out.
10/10/10 How will you feel about taking this action ten minutes after? 10 months after? 10 years after?

LDS Youth Leader Lessons

There are a couple takeaways from this that I have found very helpful when it comes to working with youth.
  1. Teenagers tend to make either/or decisions, which is as narrow as it gets when it comes to options. One thing that we can do for them is ask them to imagine one of those options is no longer available. Then, what would they do? This helps them to broaden their options.
  2. They shared a study that demonstrated that people are more likely to make a decision when they have enough options. Here’s what happened in their own words:

“One day, the store set up a sampling table with different kinds of jam, and customers loved it; another day, the store set up a table with 24 different kinds of jam, and it was even more popular than the first. The surprise came at the cash register. Customers who’d chosen among 6 jams where more likely to actually buy a jar of jam than customers who’d chosen among 24! It was fun to sample 24 flavors, it seems, but painful to pick among them. The choice was paralyzing.”

This is why when we plan activities, I always suggest 3-4 ideas when they get stuck. One idea is too narrow and they will simply make an either/or decision. A larger number can be too much to process and paralyze them. 

Now it’s your turn. Did you read Decisive? What stood out to you?


Bonus Post: 4 Ways to Use the #Hallelujah Easter Advent from Sugar Bee Crafts



I’m having so much fun with all of my Easter posts. I was only planning on sharing four of the printable kits from Sugardoodle, but I wanted to give you a little more.

Today’s kit comes from Mandy Beyeler of Sugar Bee Crafts. She put together an fun Easter advent that helps keep families focused on the Savior.

Easter Advent (1)

Here are four ways you can use this kit:

  1. Use it with your family as an Easter advent.
  2. Use it as a “library” of ideas to plan an Easter activity for youth.
  3. Put two or three together as kits and deliver them to some families as a service project.
  4. Use it in opening exercises for Mutual as an Easter countdown. You could start 4 weeks before and combine two activities at a time. You may have to adapt them a little to make them fit the time available.

Get the kit! 


What other ideas do you have for how you could use this kit? 

Want more Easter-related posts? Check out the #MyForeverFamily page!