Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Family Home Evening for Babies

Family home evening can sometimes be a challenge because we don't know what to do. This is especially true for those of us with only a baby. There are plenty of ideas for single members, couples, and families, but I have yet to find good suggestions for planning a family home evening lesson for a baby (not yet in Nursery). So I compiled my own list:
  • Read gospel-related board books. They are short and introduce common scripture stories in a very simple manner.
  • Read the scriptures. Elder Bednar said, "Youth of all ages, even infants, can and do respond to the distinctive spirit of the Book of Mormon. Children may not understand all of the words and stories, but they certainly can feel the 'familiar spirit' described by Isaiah (Isaiah 29:4; see also 2 Nephi 26:16)."
  • Sing Primary songs together. There is no better way to invite the Spirit, teach basic gospel principles, and prepare your baby for Nursery and Primary. Sing interactive songs to get wiggles out and then move to reverent ones. Sing the same ones week after week so your baby will learn them through the repetition.
  • Hold a picture of Jesus and talk about Him. Hang the picture in the baby's room. You can also do this with a picture of the prophet, temple, or your family, including relatives who live far away.
  • Tell simple stories using a flannel board or finger puppets.
  • Take the baby on a nature walk and sing "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" or "All Things Bright and Beautiful."
  • Color pictures, make hand prints, or take photos to send to grandparents, sick ward members, and missionaries.
  • Skype/Facetime with friends or family, or send them video messages.
  • Play or go to the park, zoo, or other fun place. Family home evening is about family time. It doesn't always have to have a gospel lesson (though it is best to include a spiritual thought).
Not every lesson has to revolve around the baby, although it is much easier to have these kinds of lessons as the baby gets older. However, the important thing is just to have family home evening and include the baby. Don't underestimate the influence of the gospel in your baby's life. A former visiting teacher told me that every Monday for FHE she and her husband would read church board books with their baby daughter. One Monday they forgot, and the girl came to them with the books. Somehow she knew it was Monday and time for FHE.

Elder Bednar shared from his own parenting experiences:
"Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.

"Today if you could ask our adult sons what they remember about family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening, I believe I know how they would answer. They likely would not identify a particular prayer or a specific instance of scripture study or an especially meaningful family home evening lesson as the defining moment in their spiritual development. What they would say they remember is that as a family we were consistent.

"Sister Bednar and I thought helping our sons understand the content of a particular lesson or a specific scripture was the ultimate outcome. But such a result does not occur each time we study or pray or learn together. The consistency of our intent and work was perhaps the greatest lesson—a lesson we did not fully appreciate at the time."

Sharing Time: What are some other good FHE lessons for babies?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Name of Mother

I know a name, a glorious name,
Dearer than any other.
Listen, I'll whisper the name to you:
It is the name of  mother.

("The Dearest Names," Children's Songbook, 208)

Sidney J. Harris said, "The commonest fallacy among women is that simply having children makes them a mother--which is as absurd as believing that having a piano makes one a musician." What defines a mother is not having children, but having a mother's heart. By this definition, any woman can be given the name of mother. And what an honor to be given this name, for "of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother" (Lin Yutang).

Unfortunately, some women do not believe this and view motherhood as bondage and weakness. However, it is easy to be a worldly woman and mother, to be selfish, idle, and shallow. It is not easy to be a godly woman and mother, to be selfless, productive, and deep. Yet in the end, the better women are those who have gone through the refiner's fire of righteous motherhood and womanhood. They will be exalted and continue their holy calling into the eternities.

Sharing Time: What is your favorite thing about your mother, about being a mother, or about becoming a mother?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Best Day of the Week

My favorite day of the week is Sunday. It is the one day I get to forget about worldly cares and just enjoy being with my family, focus on my spirituality, and participate in uplifting activities. I love how different the Sabbath Day feels from the rest of the week. On the Sabbath I dress up and put on makeup and stay that way all day. On the Sabbath I learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ. On the Sabbath I relax and rest. On the Sabbath I play with my husband and baby. On the Sabbath I read the scriptures and the Ensign. On the Sabbath I listen to beautiful music and feel the Spirit.

I feel deep sorrow whenever I hear people say they dislike Sunday. I think their negative attitudes come from their misunderstanding of the purpose of the Sabbath. The Lord did not give us the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy to punish us or to benefit Himself. Jesus said, "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath" (Mark 2:27). This scripture means, as one of my BYU religion professors explained, that Christ knew that on our own we would not dedicate a time to evaluate and work on our spirituality. He gave us this day as an excuse to set aside all our daily troubles and to focus only on our spiritual state and relationship with Him. He made the Sabbath for us as a gift to help us remember amid all our other duties our goal to return to Him. He did not make it to fulfill some egotistical need to be worshiped, like a false god.

The Bible Dictionary reveals the symbolism behind the Sabbath: "The Sabbath was symbolic of the mighty works of God, i.e., the creation of the earth, the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead." [See the entry for scriptural references.] The first work, the Creation, explains why we rest from our labors and reverently enjoy God's work. The second reminds us to thank and praise God and reminds us of the Atonement, symbolized in the deliverance of the Israelites. The last clarifies why the Sabbath is on Sunday and not Saturday like for the Jews.

Once we understand the why of the Sabbath, the what is quite clear. What we do on the Sabbath should reflect its purpose and symbolism, meaning we reflect on our spirituality and prepare for the week ahead battling Satan, and we take the sacrament in remembrance of the Atonement and in renewal of our baptismal covenants to take His name upon us, always remember Him, and keep His commandments.

Therefore, when we talk about certain activities breaking the Sabbath, we do not mean they are bad activities in and of themselves. They simply take away time we should spend on more important things--such as family and personal scripture study--and distract our minds from the Savior.

Challenge: If you do not like Sunday or it feels like any other day, make needed changes in order to make the most of the Sabbath.