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.