Monday, October 18, 2010

Increasing Religious Observance in The Home

Oh, what can I say about the last few weeks of my life? 

I've learned so much.  I've pondered a lot.  I've been inspired by what other bloggers have said about living in the world, but not being worldly--and what our leaders have said in the recent General Conference.  I've felt the Spirit opening my eyes to patterns of behavior that needed to be tweaked in my life and in my home in order to more fully align our lives with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in order to strengthen and fortify our home from evil influences.

After listening to Quentin L. Cook's talk in General Conference, I started to look more closely at the influence that TV has over my young children and over me.  He said:

"An ever-present danger to the family is the onslaught of evil forces that seem to come from every direction. While our primary effort must be to seek light and truth, we would be wise to black out from our homes the lethal bombs that destroy spiritual development and growth. Pornography, in particular, is a weapon of mass moral destruction. Its impact is at the forefront in eroding moral values. Some TV programs and Internet sites are equally lethal. These evil forces remove light and hope from the world. The level of decadence is accelerating.5 If we do not black out evil from our homes and lives, do not be surprised if devastating moral explosions shatter the peace which is the reward for righteous living. Our responsibility is to be in the world but not of the world.
In addition, we need to greatly increase religious observance in the home. Weekly family home evening and daily family prayer and scripture study are essential. We need to introduce into our homes content that is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.”6 If we make of our homes holy places that shelter us from evil, we will be protected from the adverse consequences that the scriptures have foretold."

I used to be someone who would get pretty annoyed when I sat in a conversation where people talked of Television as if it were completely "of the devil".  And people who wouldn't watch any TV, forget it, I didn't get them at all.  I hated "TV bashing".  After all, any tool can be used equally for good or evil, right?  

But now, as a Mom, and as time passes, more and more often than not, the seemingly innocent programs that I watch, with my children even, are full of false, deceiving, and offensive messages that I do not want my kids to absorb.  Not on my watch.  

As I pondered this new awareness, I realized that it wasn't necessarily the content that my kids are seeing right now that is bothering me, but the relationship that my children are building with television.  It is this relationship that I believe Satan is banking on for future influence in the lives of my children.

Now I had a career in Television for crying out loud.   If anyone should KNOW about's me.  I know the good, the bad, the ins, and the outs.  I know the power that TV wields.  I know.  I am a Mother who knows.  And I know that I want my children to have a better relationship with their scriptures than with a TV.  And I know that what Sister Wixom said in General Conference this month is also true:

“The world will teach our children if we do not.”
"What we want them to know five years from now needs to be part of our conversation with them today."
“When we are intentional about holding them and teaching them of Heavenly Father’s plan through prayer and scriptures, they will come to know where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going.”

As I have thought about our family's relationship with these two things...TV and the Scriptures, I also asked myself, which do we spend more time with?  Which comes first in our day, sitting down to study or turning on a cartoon to keep them from crying and to give me a minute to get breakfast on the table?

After seeing how some brave Mothers get their kids up at insane hours to study scriptures, I knew that that is what I must do too!  My kids are generally awake way too early anyway, so instead of shooing them off to bed again, we have started having scripture study in the early morning hours with our 4, 3, and nearly 2 year-olds.

And I love it.  I think that they love it too.

Nothing else happens before Scripture study, because I want them to know what is most important to me...I want them to know what comes first.

I should amend that...Two things happen before we actually read our scriptures.  

First...we snuggle...a lot.  We turn on the little space heater in our play room, wrap up in blankets and snuggle and giggle and laugh and tickle.  (Which is so funny given Sis. Wixom's advice about intentionally "holding" our children.  It is so true!  Children need to be held, no matter the age, and showing them affection during scripture time is a great way to express joy and love for them and to create happy feelings that can be associated with family togetherness and family scripture study.

Second...I get them all dressed...when the snuggling has run its course.

And Finally, we read.  Verse by verse.  Each child "reads" by repeating the words that we whisper in their ears.  We only read about five verses or so a day.  Then we sing a favorite Primary song, and then we say Family Prayer.

Then we march downstairs for breakfast, and do you know what?  No one is cranky or crying or fighting.  Everyone is (generally) very happy.  And this new routine is working for far.

On Saturday morning, I had to leave early to go to a Stake RS meeting...My kids would NOT let me leave without reading and praying together.  I like that.

It has been a very good change, and we are already creating sweet memories together because of the simple advice of our church leaders.

There are many more changes that need to be made in our family, I am sure.  

What changes are you making to "greatly increase religious observance in your homes?"

I would love to be inspired by your ideas...


...also if you are looking for a way to study the words of the prophets, you might want to join this General Conference Book Club...I am really enjoying it!


  1. I love all your ideas here. And thanks for the shoutout for GCBC.

  2. You know it took us a while to finally figure out what worked best for our family with scripture study. I commend you for figuring it out in the early years! We've been doing early morning scriptures for almost two years now and it has been wonderful. Before that we always did it in the evenings and I was just not my best self then. In the morning we are all fresh and ready to embark in study.

  3. Good for you, Jocelyn! Your kids will be blessed by making this a priority every morning. If I had it all to do over again, I would do exactly the same thing.

    And I would limit TV the second time around, too!


  4. I loved loved loved this post. I had been pondering similar thoughts lately. This is just what I needed to hear. :~)

  5. We don't have any TV service right now, and I love it. We occasionally watch an episode of something online, and check out DVDs from the library, but our home feels different without the TV on. It's not even the programs so much, but the commercials are so often full of garbage, not to mention promoting an attitude of consumerism with parents and children alike. When my kids don't see commercials and don't hang out at Target, they are much more content with what they have. They don't even know what they're missing!

  6. I love your blog. You always get me excited about the gospel and living it and teaching my children. I really appreciate all that you've said in this post. Thank You!

  7. You are truly an inspiration. Thanks!

    (and yeah I love Evernote...let me know if you have any questions about using it. I feel like an Evernote missionary!)

  8. I love this. Each family is so different and I love hearing how they make gospel living work for them. We never did too well with the morning scripture time (especially once the kids started school), but I'm a firm believer in snuggling, talking, and laughing time!

  9. I know it is so hard for LDS Mommies to get everyone on the go on Sunday mornings, but it is worth it, even if they get there without one shoe.

  10. That comment from Sister Wixom you quote is my absolute favorite quote from general conference: "What we want them to know five years from now needs to be part of our conversation with them today." what was even more amazing was that the Friday before conference I was sitting in the temple thinking the exact same thing that I need to start preparing my children now already for the things I want them to be doing years from now! I know her talk was for me!

  11. That is the best idea ever. I already love cuddling and giggling with the kids in the morning. And adding scripture study would be perfect. thank you. I have been wondering why I can feel such a strong difference in the Spirit in some others homes as to mine and struggling with what I can do to boost the spirit in my home. I think this will be very good. Thanks again.

  12. Every night before family prayer we have a bit of time where we say one thing we are happy for that day. It can be as simple as "its time for bed" as my 13 year old often says. But they all have a chance to start and end (very important to be fair with 5 kids) but it is our time!

  13. All great comments and ideas...thank you! :)

  14. My husband is a new memeber of the Church and so for time being I am the spiritual leader in our home. I reaqlly struggle with this responibility and so appreciate this post. my children are very small-just 11 months old but I pray with them before meals and sing primary songs to them throughout our days but my husband and I struggle to find time to read together simce he works 13 hour days. Your thoughts have given me a push to make a greater effort-even if we just read a few verses together in the morning it will still benefit us as a family! Thank you, Jocelyn!

  15. I love that you wrote this. I've been having so many thoughts about the TV and it's negative effects. We've been debating getting rid of it for multiple reasons and maybe the spiritual aspects are the reasons we need to focus on. I am packing away the idea of family scripture study for down the road. We are trying to making family prayer a part of our babies bed time routine and it's making a difference I feel. It's no longer an after thought.