Thursday, January 29, 2015

Creating a Christ-Centered Home

I was asked a while back to prepared a class for our Stake Relief Society. There were SOOOOO many awesome classes that morning that it was really hard to choose what ones to go too. As a result, a few sweet sisters asked me for my notes. Which ironically, seeing as my class turned much more into a discussion (which was way better!), I didn't even refer to my notes a tone, but I had them prepared, so I thought I'd throw them up on here to remind myself of what a blessing it was to consider this topic for a few months as I prepared.
Stake Relief Society: Creating a Christ-Centered Home    January 24th, 2015

First of all, at the temple last night after pouring over sooo many quotes and conference talks trying to select just a few to share today I felt so extremely  grateful for true messengers, we are sooooo blessed to have soooo much counsel, to have people who loves us, with no alterative motives, directing and encouraging us. I have enjoyed studying what our leaders have taught us about Creating Christ-Centered  Homes.

A few people when they found out I’d accepted this assigned topic for today, said something like: “OH! You’ll be great for that cuz you do such fun family home evening lessons.”  They were kind (and obviously have never actually been to one of my family’s ruckus Monday nights!), but their comments made me think about how easily I could make this about a bunch of “ideas” --a pinterst board of what me or other more clever people have done… And then what? Then we drown.
I didn’t want what Pres Uchtdorf has described to happen, he says: “One person’s good idea—something that may work for him or her—takes root and becomes an expectation… gradually, eternal principles can get lost within the labyrinth of “good ideas.” (Love of God, Oct 2009)

So today I don’t’ want to talk about merely “good ideas” I want us to discuss and feel principles, because if there is one thing I know,  the ONLY way for your family and for mine to become what the Lord wants us to be, is through revelation.  And so my real prayer for our time together today, is that you will feel the Spirit whisper to YOU what YOUR family needs, that you will take a few of the talks or quotes or scriptures and in studying them later on receive personalized answers for you and your family.
 You can jot down impressions you have under the
I will_________ section in your handout

Intro: What does it mean to truly center your home on Christ?

What uncenteres us from Christ?  Or in other words
Are we aligned with Christ?

Alignment- a)to array on the side of a party or cause (who’s on the Lord’s side?)
B) to be in a or come into precise adjustment or correct relative position

Sister Beck uses this word, when people ask her about specifics,  for example “should women work outside the home?” She says we’re asking the wrong question, the question is ARE WE ALIGNED?

When a cars wheels are unaligned, it gets shaky, and can over time do damage
So how do we find out if we are aligned?


1. Revelation
If you know me, you know I love Sister Beck. In one of my favourite talks of hers, she describes the life of a woman:

“A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all of the people or do all of the worthy things her heart yearns to do. Life is not calm for most women, and each day seems to require the accomplishment of a million things, most of which are important. .... But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently.
The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life. …Many answers to difficult questions are found by reading the scriptures because the scriptures are an aid to revelation. 3 Insight found in scripture accumulates over time, so it is important to spend some time in the scriptures every day. Daily prayer is also essential to having the Lord’s Spirit with us. 4 Those who earnestly seek help through prayer and scripture study often have a paper and pencil nearby to write questions and record impressions and ideas.
Revelation can come hour by hour and moment by moment as we do the right things. When women nurture as Christ nurtured, a power and peace can descend to guide when help is needed. For instance, mothers can feel help from the Spirit even when tired, noisy children are clamoring for attention, but they can be distanced from the Spirit if they lose their temper with children. Being in the right places allows us to receive guidance. It requires a conscious effort to diminish distractions, but having the Spirit of revelation makes it possible to prevail over opposition and persist in faith through difficult days and essential routine tasks. Personal revelation gives us the understanding of what to do every day to increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek those who need our help. Because personal revelation is a constantly renewable source of strength, it is possible to feel bathed in help even during turbulent times.
Centering our homes and families on Christ is NOT a one-time effort, or a program or a initiative, it is the process of receiving and acting upon revelation EVERYDAY.
Sister Reeves in her talk “ Protection from pornography- a Christ –focused home shared how “A friend recently cautioned, “When you ask the sisters to read the scriptures and pray more, it stresses them out. They already feel like they have too much to do.”
I would like to follow Sister Reeve’s example and respond as she did by bearing witness that our scriptures can be more than “one more thing to do” Our time in our scriptures can become precious. I know when I don’t read my scriptures it doesn’t take long for me to feel bogged down and start craving the world to numb me out, but when I make a concerted effort to feast on the word, my appetite for the ungodly diminishes and, my vision of the eternal returns and I feel the Lord encouraging and directing me. “Sometime in the scriptures each day” (Sister Beck)
We can do that sisters.
*when we make decisions based on revelation we need to let our children understand that is WHY we are making that choice

2. Covenants
Reading our scriptures and having family home evening can just feel like one more thing, or they can be a part of what we do as Covenant daughters!
They can be us building the kingdom and participating in God’s work!

The First Presidency… sent a letter, and we all listened to it as we sat in sacrament meetings and we nodded are heads, but do we believe it? They entreated us, "We call upon parents to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles that will keep them close to the Church. The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions in carrying forward this God-given responsibility."

“How can we do this in our homes?  asked Sister Reeves, then she shared one of my all time favourite conference stories: “Some of you have heard me tell how overwhelmed my husband, Mel, and I felt as the parents of four young children. As we faced the challenges of parenting and keeping up with the demands of life, we were desperate for help. We prayed and pleaded to know what to do. The answer that came was clear: “It is OK if the house is a mess and the children are still in their pajamas and some responsibilities are left undone. The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening. We were trying to do these things, but they were not always the priority and, amidst the chaos, were sometimes neglected. We changed our focus and tried not to worry about the less-important things. Our focus became to talk, rejoice, preach, and testify of Christ by striving to daily pray and study the scriptures and have weekly family home evening.”
Sister Beck in her talk, “Nourishing and protecting families” expounded upon the profound sense of purpose we can feel as we focus on the most important things
“We know that we are involved in God’s work every day, and that changes everything. It changes the way we think. It changes our decisions. It changes the way we dress. It changes the way we talk. It changes the way we live. We have the responsibility and the challenge from the prophet to believe deeply and actively in the family. We will need to do that in order to preserve our families. That means we have to be intentional about everything we do. Our life is not just happenstance. We know where we are going and what we have to do.”

What do we have to do?…stay on the covenant path.
Does doing this ______  (dishes, visit teaching, etc etc) fulfill my promises to the Lord?

I’ve heard it said that we go to the temple to make covenants and home to live them.

Elder Holland in his talk “Because She is a Mother” told of  “One young mother wrote to me recently that her anxiety tended to come on three fronts. One was that whenever she heard talks on LDS motherhood, she worried because she felt she didn’t measure up or somehow wasn’t going to be equal to the task. Secondly, she felt like the world expected her to teach her children reading, writing, interior design, Latin, calculus, and the Internet—all before the baby said something terribly ordinary, like “goo goo.” Thirdly, she often felt people were sometimes patronizing, almost always without meaning to be, because the advice she got or even the compliments she received seemed to reflect nothing of the mental investment, the spiritual and emotional exertion, the long-night, long-day, stretched-to-the-limit demands that sometimes are required in trying to be and wanting to be the mother God hopes she will be.
But one thing, she said, keeps her going: “Through the thick and the thin of this, and through the occasional tears of it all, I know deep down inside I am doing God’s work. I know that in my motherhood I am in an eternal partnership with Him.”

Do you know you are doing God’s work?

God’s work and glory is bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man…
We are His work. So as we do His work we are becoming something…hopefully we are becoming more like Christ

3. Developing attributes of Christ

Have you ever found yourself being really nice to people-- maybe you go to church and show patience for the primary class you teach, and avoid taking offense at a remark another sister makes, or look for the good in the talk your friend’s husband gave and then you go home, and you snap? You bark at your kids, get annoyed with your husband and just find yourself tired and angry? I do. Lots. Maybe that why I love this quote by
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "The affection and
thoughtfulness required in the home are no abstract exercises in
love, no mere rhetoric concerning some distant human cause.
Family life is an encounter with raw selfishness, with the need for
civility, of taking turns, of being hurt and yet forgiving, and of
being at the mercy of others' moods.
"Family life is a constant challenge, not a periodic performance we
can render on a stage and then run for the privacy of a dressing
room to be alone with ourselves. The home gives us our greatest
chance, however, to align our public and private behaviour, to
reduce the hypocrisy in our lives—to be more congruent with
Christ" (That My Family Should Partake [Salt Lake City: Deseret
Book Co., 1974], p. 3).

The Savior was consistently loving and patient with others.  Are we?
It ‘s so easy to get caught up in the things that need done.
Pres Monsoon has told us “never to let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to beloved” And there are just sooo many problems in day to day living that try and derail us from this over all need to LOVE.

The Prophet Joseph F. Smith admonished parents:

“You can’t force your boys, nor your girls into heaven. You may force them to hell, by using harsh means in the efforts to make them good, when you yourselves are not as good as you should be. The man that will be angry at his boy, and try to correct him while he is in anger, is in the greatest fault; he is more to be pitied and more to be condemned than the child who has done wrong. You can only correct your children by love, in kindness, by love unfeigned, by persuasion, and reason.

[Mothers], if you wish your children to be taught in the principles of the gospel, if you wish them to love the truth and understand it, if you wish them to be obedient to and united with you, love them! and prove to them that you do love them by your every word or act to them. For your own sake, for the love that should exist between you and your boys—however wayward they might be, or one or the other might be, when you speak or talk to them, do it not in anger, do it not harshly, in a condemning spirit. Speak to them kindly; get them down and weep with them if necessary and get them to shed tears with you if possible. Soften their hearts; get them to feel tenderly toward you. Use no lash and no violence, but … approach them with reason, with persuasion and love unfeigned. (Teaching: Joseph F. Smith, Chpt 28)

These feelings of love create an atmosphere in our home, an overall feeling that will be remembered much longer than any specific memories. Do your children feel safe, supported, that you are on their side and wants what’s best for them? Do they know you care enough to correct them? Do they know your willing to help them through any difficulty, any disappointment and any mistake, however serious?

Sister Rosemary M Wixom , in her talk “The Words We speak”  (April 2013) shared: “A young father recently learned of the passing of his extraordinary second-grade teacher. In memory of her, he wrote: “Of all the feelings and experiences I remember, the feeling most prevalent in my mind is ‘comfort.’ She may have taught me spelling, grammar, and math, but far more importantly she taught me to love being a child. In her classroom, it was OK to spell a word wrong here and there; ‘We’ll work on it,’ she’d say. It was OK to spill or tear or smudge; ‘We’ll fix it and we’ll clean it up,’ she would respond. It was OK to try, OK to stretch, OK to dream, and OK to enjoy those pleasures that come from the insignificant things that only children find exciting.”

The Savior is always there letting us know He’s ready to help us do better.

4. Accessing the atonement

What do we do WHEN WE AREN’T OUR BEST? When we fail? Again and again.
Pres Lowe talked about this last stake conference and I don’t know about you but as I thought of my efforts at home alot as he spoke.
 I our house we do “redos”
There’s been a few time when I have felt us headed towards one of those grumpy days. I’m usually still in a housecoat, the children have found some leftover late night TV snack Ben and I had and have snuck it downstairs as their “bwek-fist”.

Maybe my special needs child was up all night, or my baby, or my 4 year old wet his bed, or my 5 year old had a bad dream…or ALL of thee above! For whatever reason we’re off to a bad start.

I have stopped in my tracks, balled up my fists, thrown back my unshowered head and called out “RE-DO!”

We all go back to our beds and pretend to wake up again. I come in and in my best sugary mom impersonation greet my children to the pretend new day, ask them lovingly how their sleep was and they smile at my little charade and probably wonder why they got such a crazy weird mom.

And then we pray and read scriptures and eat something other than doritoes and sometimes the day still spirals away from us again but sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes we just needed to try again. Which is what I want my kids to learn. They can always try again. They can always repent. It’s never too late. (From a blogpost)

My mother in-law use to say” teach them to pray and read their scripture, pray and read their scriptures!”, now she says “teach them to pray and read their scriptures AND REPENT!”.  Part of our family’s mission statement says “I repent when I make a mistake” because we believe in redos, we believe in repentance., we believe trying again and we believe in moving on.

I love what Pres Packer said: “Had He not accomplished the Atonement, there would be no redemption. It would be a difficult world to live in if we could never be forgiven for our mistakes, if we could never purify ourselves and move on.”
(The Reason for Our Hope” October 2014)

Wouldn’t it also be hard to live in a home were we could not be forgiven and move on?

 Pres. Monson quoted Mary Anne Radmacher
 “Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

 My husband’s mission president and his wife said they decided in their family that “anything worth doing was worth doing….Poorly!” Which to them meant if they tried to read scriptures with their kids and is was a total gong show? They tried again. They didn’t give up. If it was worth doing, it was worth striving to get better at and could not be discarded simply because things didn’t go well.

We have had and are still having this battle with pray. There was a time our children were excited to pray, which then quickly turned into every prayer being a fight over who got to pray, which then evolved into a fight  that somebody else should pray not them, and half our prayers, are said while at least one of our children in doing some sort of dance, and actual words of the prayers range from “Help Levi to be quiet” to “thank you for everything amen”.

Then at our Canadian-wide  stake conference where I had a brand new baby, I heard nothing! I walked the halls, with various children in tow to the bathroom to the drinking fountain, and I smiled at you, and I watched. So many young families. All pacing the halls just like me. An hour of church with young kids is hard,  two hours of stake conference is basically impossible and yet, we were there!

But in all that chaos, and truly hearing so very little, I had a tender mercy moment where the stars aligned and I actually got to here just  a snippet of Pres. Eyrings talk:  ( from an unofficial transcript)
“I have spoken to this boy today of our obligation and opportunity to serve family members who must be rescued because they have become lost. Sadly, we all have such opportunities, and they seem to be increasing. Yet, there is another and heartening change. I see the church that young families are more and more following with great faith the counsel of the prophets, which will make it less likely that their children will need rescue. None of the counsel they are following in faith is new. Prophets have given it for generations. But I see more young parents following it with vigour and consistency.   ( I knew exaclt what he was talking about, because I had spent the last hour in the halls with EXACLT that kind
More and more, I see young parents acting with faith on that doctrine in the daily lives of their families…. Parents…  are more and more letting children, even before they even can read, hear the words of scripture. …They will learn early the joy that comes from a choice to reject evil and choose good. There is a similar blessing from letting children pray in the family setting. .. tHe he suggested: Rather than wait for the last moment to ask someone to pray, I have seen a father approach a child alone. The whispered conversation may be to ask for a child to pray for a purpose, or a person, or to give thanks for a specific blessing received. Done carefully, that can have a profound effect on a child. What might have been a routine prayer, becomes speaking to a living and loving God. And when the prayer is a petition for someone else in the family, the joy of giving service is added to the experience of prayer. The bonds of love are strengthened in the family as family members feel the strength in their uniting in prayer for each other.

That was an answer to MY prayer, about how to help my children’s prayer more meaningful, my personal revelation on how to Keep my covenants better, and help our family, in a loving way get betterJ

The Spirit whispering to my heart
“Lets do this better. Let’s try harder at that, your doing good in this area. keep it up!”

If we center on Christ He is there to help, to lead and guide and walk beside
On our right hand and on our left, as abundant as our challenges

Nephi explained how and why his people centered their lives on the Savior
“we talk of Christ, we rejoice, in Christ, we prophecy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies”…why? “So that our children may know what source they may look for a remission of their sins!” (2Nephi 25:26)

Why do we do all we do, why do we strive to talk of and teach of and sing of the Saviour every chance we get?
Because He is the only true source of redemption,  “There shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3:17)

Our children, our families, each of us, the whole world and family of God, need the Saviour Jesus Christ if we are going to be forgiven of our sins and shortcomings, if we are going to be made whole and happy .
He is the true source of strength and peace.

Right now that might mean He’s helping you bite your tongue as you try to carry out a family home evening that, despite your time effort and planning, is crashing and burning;  it might mean a gentle whisper to ask a teenager really sincerely how their day went, it might mean going to church without the support of a spouse.

And one day because your children have seen you turn to and rely on the Saviour it will be their turn for life to pull them down, and they will like Enos remember “ the words which I had often heard my father speak “
and they are going to have their own wrestles before God, for forgiveness of their sins and directions in their life decisions and finally in their own homes and families one day when it will be their turn to do as you are now….doing your best to show everyday, that “as for you and your house…you will serve the Lord!”

Sister I know we can do it, I know you can do it. Don’t let Satan tell you you’re not doing it, cuz you are! Read your scriptures say your prayers, those simple tasks unlock the power of the Atonement in our lives, they open the channels of revelations.  Take the sacrament and attend the temple, those sacred covenants will fill you will the Spirit and with power and remind you of all the promises the Lord has made to you as His covenant daughter. I know He loves us, I know He desires to be apart of our families to dwell in our homes and in our hearts for as he has promised, where two or three are gathered in my name there will I be also. 
May He be on the midst of you and your families is my hope and prayer in the name of Jesus Christ Amen


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thanks Chelsea...that was just what I needed to hear today....!