Spiritual Sandwich

I have been a bit weary lately with the burdens and pressure I feel as a mother to protect, monitor, and educate my children about the dangers that are out there — from pornography to sexual abuse to profanity. And I can’t forget about technology. Instagram, SnapChat, You Tube, Vine, etc. all have their own set of issues; we are talking about sexting, cyber bullying, and stalking just to name a few.

It feels like the dangers in our world are out-pacing my mothering energy and abilities.

So in my weariness, I decided one thing I can do right now is to give my kids a spiritual sandwich as often as possible.

A spiritual sandwich means starting the day with something spiritual and ending it on a spiritual note as well. I can’t control what they see, hear, and do all day long, but I can begin and end their days with a spiritual message.  And hopefully that double dose spiritual shot will inoculate them against some of the evils of the world.

So we start our day off first thing with Family Scripture Power.  Here is a quick outline of what are Family Scripture Study looks like right now:

1. Sing church song.  Right now we sing Primary songs because all of our kids are still in the Primary program at church (kids 3-11).  We use the LDS Children’s Sing-Along app to help our musically challenged family.  As the kids get older, we will move into singing the hymns.  Whomever is up on the couch first, ready to go, gets to pick which song we sing — just a little motivation to get them out of bed.

2. Recite our memory verse. We are trying to memorize a scripture, quote, verse, poem, etc. each week.  Right now we are working on memorizing the Articles of Faith.  These are the basic tenets of our beliefs. I will have to tell you about our motives and methods on memorization in another post.

3. Read from the scriptures. Currently, we are reading the Book of Mormon, but we will also read from the Bible and other standard words as the children get older.  Like I’ve mentioned before, sometimes we read 1 verse and sometimes we read a whole chapter.  I think it took us two weeks to get through Alma; Chapter 5. 

4. Family Prayer. We end by kneeling together in Family Prayer.  And I use the term “kneeling” very loosely.

5. Calendar. We quickly review the calendar for the day to get us all on the same page. We don’t want any one to get left at the dance studio or mom to space Cub Scouts again.

6. Post-lude Music. As the kids run off to get dressed and start their morning routine, I play church music on the iPad.

You can read more details about our Family Scripture Power here.

We top off our spiritual sandwich with Family Devotional.  This happens at night before the kids go to bed. Each child is assigned a night (Tuesday – Thursday) that works best with their extracurricular schedule. (We don’t do Monday because we already had Family Home Evening.) This night they are in charge of the devotional, and this means they get to choose the message for the night.  Here is our outline for our Family Devotional.

1. Spiritual Message.  The child that is in charge that night shares a spiritual message. Croft and  Crew like to pick a Mormon Message to watch and Elle usually reads a story from The Friend or New Era.

Here are some of our favorite Mormon Messages that we have watched during Family Devotional:

Elle’s Favorite: 195 Dresses (modesty)

Crew’s Favorite: A Day for a Mission (going on a mission)

Croft’s Favorite: The Lost Purse (character)

Locke’s Favorite: The Shiny Bicycle (repentance)

My Favorite: Dayton’s Legs (serving others)

Chad’s Favorite: Lessons I Learned As a Boy (being kind)

2. Summary. After they share the video or story, I have the kids summarize the message of the video or story.

3. Discussion.  After the summary, someone might have an additional point or comment or question.  Sometimes a quick testimony or experience is shared that relates to the topic.  Nothing is pre-planned; we just go with the Spirit in the moment.

4. Family Prayer.  Again, we end the night by kneeling together in family prayer.

All together family devotional only takes about 10 minutes.

So what is the difference between Family Scripture Study and Family Devotional and why do both?

Here are some key differences in my mind:

Scripture Power is parent led; Family Devotional is child led.  Chad and I head up the morning Scripture Power, and the kids choose what to discuss and share during Family Devotional.  I want them to get comfortable leading out in doctrine and testimony.

Scripture Power is about studying from the scriptures whether it be the Book of Mormon or the Bible. There is something about having a family book that we all unite around. Family Devotional is about the gospel and its teachings in all its forms: magazines, videos, stories, general conference, etc.  The former feels more historical and the latter feels more modern.  Both perspectives are beneficial.

Scripture Power is a commandment; Family Devotional is optional.  We are much more faithful with our Scripture Power. We want everyone there every morning and have been pretty good about following our plan. We do Family Devotional when we can with whomever is home.  It is much more spontaneous and dynamic.

The reason I do both is because I’ve been feeling a sense of urgency that I can’t teach my children all I want to teach them in the limited time I have with them.  Family Home Evening and Family Scripture Study just weren’t enough time to ease my weary heart.

Now it might seem contradictory to be weary and therefore add something more to do in my day. But Family Devotional works for us because it is not another burden on my part.  I don’t HAVE to do it everyday.  It is completely optional and duty free. Plus the kids actually want to watch the videos, and they want to be in charge. They know how to work the Apple TV better than me anyway.  I just show up and facilitate discussion.

I feel more peace that they get to start and end their day with the Spirit and that they have been fed with a spiritual sandwich.

9 Comments
    1. Thanks Allison! I am not sure how old your boys are but if you have some young ones, I think it is okay to let them play in the same room while scripture study or devotional is going on. My 4 year old will watch the videos, but we let him play with magnet tiles during scripture study. That way he still hears the scriptures, but we don’t have to wrestle him. It takes enough energy to get the other 3 following along and reading. As he gets older, we will phase him in and expect more. I just didn’t want you to think we were this perfect little family all sitting on the couch smiling and participating without glitches. Best of luck!

  1. Wow! I LOVE this. Thank you for sharing. i have felt this also and we recently started doing family prayer scripture study twice a day, however i love the devotional idea. brilliant! I can’t wait to hear about how you memorize scriptures etc. we are having a hard time finding ways to make it fun or interesting.
    Thank you for your blog! It’s so great.

  2. Thank you for the inspiration! We used to do family scripture study in the evenings and now we’re doing family scripture study in the mornings (since school started) and I love it, but I have felt off in the evenings. We needed something and this is a great idea! Thank you!

  3. Hi Tiffany!
    I am curious how long it takes your kids to get ready from waking up to getting out the door. We have just completed our 2nd full week of school and we have only managed Scripture Study 2 times. My kids already wake up an hour and a half before they leave. I can’t quite figure this out… Any ideas? 🙂
    Thank you!!

    1. Sara, How old are your kids? Their age will make a difference in what I suggest. But for now, here is our schedule: We wake the kids up around 7:55 and scripture study starts at 8:00. We read until 8:15 ish. After family prayer, I go make breakfast and the kids go get dressed, make their bed, and clean their room. I usually serve breakfast around 8:30. Then after breakfast, they clear their plate, brush their teeth, comb their hair and get their backpack. We are out the door at 9:00 am. I bark out how much time is left to keep everyone on track. “20 min”; “15 min” etc. This is my way of not nagging them although I am still kind of nagging 🙂 Maybe try scripture study first and then it for sure gets done. There is always a rush at the end of any schedule so if scripture study is first that doesn’t get rushed. I also made binders for them this year that helps keep them on track as well. Maybe I will share those in another post. Be kind to yourself and keep trying! Good luck!

      1. Great! Thanks for the layout of your morning… I think I just have a few slower moving children. We tried doing it first thing and it was great but we started finding ourselves rushing more and more slit got pushed away.
        My kids are 9, 5, 3, 18 mos. The only ones that need to be out the door are the two older ones. The 9 year old in particular gets very distracted in the morning and we feel like we have to stay on him all morning.
        Thanks again for the outline! We will keep trying! 🙂

  4. Hi Tiffany, Your ideas for Scripture Power and for Devotionals are inspiring. May I add excerpts from your blog to my Primary Newsletter?(space is limited) I like to include ideas to help busy families incorporate the gospel in their homes. I would be happy to send you samples if you’d like(email me)and of course, I would give proper credit for the ideas.
    TIA ~Shari

    1. Shari, Thank you! I am glad that you found the informational helpful. And I am fine if you put excerpts from my posts into your newsletter. I would appreciate it if you would put my blog name and blog address as the source. I would like to see your newsletter when you are done to see how it turns out.:) Thanks for asking!