Monday, April 27, 2015

Music of the Gospel FHE

My two oldest children, aged 7 and 9, started taking piano lessons this year, as did I at their age.  

One of my children loves music and always has.  At her recital, she even sang while she played the piano and had more than a few parents tearing up with her heartfelt performance.

My other child sees his piano lessons as mechanics.  He knows how to hit the right notes, and hits them with precision, but I'm pretty sure he does not feel the music deep down in his soul like my other child does.  And that's ok, for now.  

We all learn things--and even catch on to or learn to love things--in our own way, and often, in our own time.

There is, of course, allowance for and time to grow when it comes to spiritual things.  Heavenly Father has set up earth life this way...with everything we need to progress.  But as parents, of course, we hope that our children will catch on to spiritual things sooner rather than later.

Because of years of hard work in our home, our children are pretty well-versed in the gospel, but knowing gospel teachings and feeling gospel truths are not always the same thing, as Elder Wilford W. Andersen points out in his General Conference talk The Music of the Gospel.

This idea spilled out into a gospel discussion that our family was having one morning last week.  After reading about the parable of the sower during our morning family scripture study, we talked about what we can do to make sure our hearts are fertile ground for gospel truths...which lead us to the idea of "hearing the music of the gospel."

Quoting an old medicine man, Elder Andersen said, "'I can teach you to dance, but you have to hear the music.' 

He continued, "Sometimes in our homes, we successfully teach the dance steps but are not as successful in helping our family members to hear the music.  And as the old medicine man knew well, it is hard to dance without music." 
Even in the best of homes, under the finest instruction, this can happen.

When I was taking piano lessons as a child, from my own mother, I too did not let myself "hear the music".  Learning, and more importantly, practicing the piano was something that I just did not want to I picked up the very most basic skills, and then I quit. My mother did an excellent job of teaching me the notes, but I did not have the desire to hear the music.  That is on me. Being willing to "hear the music" is a choice we each make in life, whether it's acquiring a new skill or acquiring a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

During our family discussion, I asked my children if they understood what it means to "hear the music of the gospel."  They each gave me their version of what this phrase means.

One said, "to feel the spirit," another "to feel good inside," another "to do what Jesus teaches."  I asked them if they have ever heard the music of the gospel.  Each responded in kind and gave examples from their own 6, 7, and 9 year-old experiences, which included the happiness of being baptized all the way to the calm one felt when he prayed that he wouldn't throw up!

I shared with them that I probably hear the music of the gospel just about every day.  I said, "You know when Mom cries, and I say I feel happy, and you guys look at me funny for crying??  Well, those are times when I'm hearing/feeling the music of the gospel."  But times when I'm not trying very hard, not listening hard enough, it's easy for a day or more to go by and not really hear the music.  Those are the times I need to tune out the world more and listen to recognize that gospel music in my life.

Earlier last year, our family was working on our Family Media Plan.  We created an outline of principles that we'd like to guide the decisions we make when it comes to what media we welcome into our home.

I started by showing them a radio with a dial tuner.  I demonstrated how it works.  Each child was given the opportunity to practice tuning the radio to a station of their choice.  At first they heard static, and then after careful listening and fine-tuning, they could hear beautiful music.

This, we learned, is how we practice listening to the voice of the Spirit.  This is what we must do every day of our lives in order to hear the music of the gospel.  The fine-tuning includes daily personal and family prayer, daily personal and family scripture study, weekly family home evening, weekly partaking of the sacrament, and regular temple worship.

When we neglect to do these things, it is easy to fall out of tune with the gospel.  When we do them, especially as parents, our gospel teaching in the home will become much more effective.

Elder Andersen made this clear...before children can hear the music, parents must hear it first, be living in tune with it always, and demonstrate that gospel harmony in the home.

When parents hear the music of the gospel and live in harmony with that music and fill their home with the sweet music of gospel living, children are much better able to hear the music of the gospel as well.  In teaching my children gospel principles of any kind, I am most effective when I am living that gospel principle to the best of my ability.  All the time.  Not half-heartedly, but with all the energy of my soul.

Although I did not take to playing the piano at first, I grew up listening to the beautiful music that my Mom and Dad produced when they played the piano in our home. Their examples, their ability to hear, love, and produce beautiful music in our home day after day, year after year, planted in me the desire to learn to play that music as well, after I did a little maturing of my own!  

The same will be true for our children's spiritual growth.  We cannot and must not force them to "hear the music" of the gospel, but through long-suffering, showing of great love for them, and demonstrating OUR love for the music of the gospel, seeds will be planted that will one day bear spiritual fruit.

When I am doing that, when I am living the gospel consistently and in plain sight of my children...the teaching comes easily.  My passion for the gospel is palatable and transfers to my children contagiously.  

Again, hearing the music is your children's choice, but making sure that your behavior is not blocking the music is yours.

I am so grateful for the Family Home Evening program

One of the biggest blessings that I've noticed over years of holding FHE in our home is that the more we do it, the more FHE spills over into every other facet of our lives.  Gospel discussions can happen any time, any where, and often do.  It does not always need to be structured, perfect, reverent, or pinterest-worthy.  It can be beyond-silly, spontaneous, and hands-on.  Holding FHE each week is an act of obedience that is always acceptable to God and yields great blessings!

Here are some more ways you can gauge whether or not your children are "hearing the music of the gospel" or just going through the motions.  These are things you can do casually or as part of a Family Home Evening:

1. Ask them if they hear it and let them tell you about times they've felt the music of the gospel personally.  This is also nice to do one-on-one together, possibly while going on a walk or doing something calm together.
2. After teaching spiritual lessons to your children, invite them to teach these same lessons to their siblings and observe how these messages are delivered by them.
3. Give children opportunities to make choices with spiritual consequences after they have been taught correct principles.
4. Bear your testimony to them often and hold regular personal interviews, in which they are free to express themselves to you without judgement.
5. Make sure they feel comfortable asking you questions as you can learn just as much from their questions as from their answers.

HAVE MORE IDEAS for helping your children hear the music of the gospel?  Please leave your ideas in a comment on this post...

Family Home Evening 100th anniversary blog event

...go ahead and visit these other bloggers to find more great family home evening lessons based on a talk from the April 2015 General Conference! Be sure to leave them comments thanking them for their hard work in putting the lessons together.

Whitney @ Southern Hope | Jocelyn @ We Talk of Christ | Montserrat @ Cranial Hiccups
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Monday, April 6, 2015

What Did Your Children Learn from Conference?

I hope you had an absolutely wonderful General Conference weekend!  My children amazed me with their ability to sit and listen this time around. I guess that's what NINE years of practice watching all of the sessions together will do for ya!  Either that or they were in a candy coma! :) 

Seriously, though, I think we've all grown *a lot* in the process of watching General Conference together, including/especially myself!  

As I mentioned on Facebook, neither my printer nor my oven were working this weekend, so we kept things very simple!  Just putting that out there...less IS more.  Since we were forced to watch it in our back room, I think there were also less distractions back there...and fewer ways out!

In this post, I'm including pictures of some activities that helped us learn during Conference this weekend.  More than ever, the kids really enjoyed writing notes on the Apostles' talks on our erasable chalk board banner (read more about it here.)  And we kept track of our memorized scriptures quoted during Conference on this big paper on our wall.  

The other activity that proved to be precipitous was writing down every mention of children, stories about children, songs sung from the Children's Songbook, etc.  My children were given this note-taking sheet by their Primary teachers, and boy did they use it, especially on Saturday, when children were spoken of in nearly every talk!

The day/morning following conference, I like to poll my children to see what teachings they remember.  If they take good notes, they usually remember a lot.  Scarlett took good notes.  

This time around, I asked them which talks they'd like to be in charge of teaching to the family during our General Conference lessons.  I wrote down the stories that they volunteered:

This always tells me what they really heard, what stories grabbed their interest, who was paying attention, and how much did they actually retain!  

I'm proud of Autumn for being the first to volunteer a story: "stay by the tree!"  Knowing her like I do, this just made me happy to see her growing in her ability to vocalize her beautiful thoughts.  Guy did not take very many notes, so he struggled to recall three teachings/stories from Conference.  Scarlett, being such a compassionate girl, can't stand to see anyone struggle, so she volunteered some of her notes for Guy to "use" for his answers.  (Sharing her oil, as it were!)

Well, we've had a very adventurous Spring Break so far, and we've got the day off today, so I must be off and doing with my kids!  I wish I could journal/blog about all of my thoughts from the weekend/week previous, but there's no time for that.

I will share the scripture that I read part of my General Conference resolution to "every day, every day, every day" read The Book of Mormon and learn from the living prophets.  I happen to be reading in Jacob 6...might be a good one to read with your families tonight in FHE (as we did this morning!) and think about how it applies to you and General Conference!

7 For behold, after ye have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, will ye bring forth evil fruit, that ye must be hewn down and cast into the fire?
8 Behold, will ye reject these words? Will ye reject the words of the prophets; and will ye reject all the words which have been spoken concerning Christ, after so many have spoken concerning him; and deny the good word of Christ, and the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and quench the Holy Spirit, and make a mock of the great plan of redemption, which hath been laid for you?

9 Know ye not that if ye will do these things, that the power of the redemption and the resurrection, which is in Christ, will bring you to stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God?...
11 O then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gate, and continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life.
12 O be wise; what can I say more?
(Jacob 6: 7-12) ‪#‎LDSConf‬

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Grateful for the Glue

I am so grateful for the glue that General Conference has become for our family.  This week, we had to make a decision about our travel plans which meant we might be away from my husband over General Conference weekend.  My children protested vehemently against this option, because, they said, "General Conference is our family's thing that we do together.  We can't watch it without Daddy!"  We felt this power of unity again today as we heard dissenting voices raised against the prophet.  We looked into each other's eyes and sustained our leaders again and again...and we did it together. ‪#‎TogetherForever‬!

What amazing doctrines we heard taught today on the power and purpose of family!  What a blessing it is to be members of Christ's true church on the earth and to know what we know about God's plan of happiness!  Just feeling so grateful for it all!

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