March 14, 2011
Tonight was Family Home Evening. We sang together. My nine year old daughter led the song Count Your Blessings by Johnson Oatman, Jr., my grandmother’s favorite hymn. We were supposed to sing two verses, but somehow we ended after one. My six-year-old said the prayer. She was sitting next to me and whenever she ran out of things to say, she would give me a little nudge with her elbow and I would help her along. I gave the message: showing love to others. We talked about the Church’s humanitarian organization, LDS Charities. We had just received their mailer and I told the family about their work in the Congo, helping families with their cassava planting, harvesting and processing. I briefly told them about the aid provided in the aftermath of the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti and that they are involved with the relief effort underway in Japan. I feel honored to be a part of a church that does so much good, for so many all over the world.
Our lesson lasted about 15 minutes. Next we had acknowledgments- a family tradition we started a few years back. My nine-year-old acknowledged our neighbor Rachel for giving us her aquarium, since she’s moving. This was followed by unanimous applause. The kids have spent hours in front of that aquarium since we set it up two days ago. I acknowledged my eldest son for getting such a good report at the dentist’s office today. My husband acknowledged two of my daughters for being great hikers and for making some very cool splashes from the rope swing at the falls on their hike. My youngest acknowledged all of us for being the “best family ever.” My oldest daughter was acknowledged for making our mochi cake, bathing our youngest when she spilled black finger paint all over herself and her white clothes, and for helping Rachel, the aquarium giver, with her homework — all of this while I was at the dentist’s with my son. I so appreciate her and it filled me with such satisfaction to thank her and to acknowledge her efforts in front of our whole family. Each acknowledgment was followed by lots of clapping, and an occasional whoop for emphasis.
When the acknowledgments wound down, we read from the Book of Mormon. Each person took a turn to read a verse. Finally, we closed with a prayer. Normally this would be the time to bring out the treat, and end with dessert, but the mochi cake was half gone by this point. Ah well.
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Family Home Evenings began in the church in 1915. In 1970 members were encouraged to reserve Monday nights for the family. In 1976 the members of the church were given this teaching with a promise from the First Presidency of the church:
“Family home evening is for everyone. It is for families with parents and children, for families with just one parent, and for parents who have no children at home. It is for home evening groups of single adults and for those who live alone or with roommates. …
“Regular participation in family home evening will develop increased personal worth, family unity, love for our fellowmen, and trust in our Father in heaven. It is our promise that great blessings will come to all who conscientiously plan and hold weekly family home evenings.” (President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985), President N. Eldon Tanner (1898–1982), and President Marion G. Romney (1897–1988), Family Home Evening: Happiness through Faith in Jesus Christ (1976), 3.)
These promises continue to be fulfilled in our home. I know that the blessings of regular Family Home Evening observance are real. I see them in the love, laughter and loyalty that are growing here.
I’m grateful to be a part of a church that does so much good, for so many all over the world, and that it starts right here, in my own home.