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When the Kids Move Out, the Spirit Moves In



Every family will admit that they have bad days.

“Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.”

Swiss Family Robinson

As a stay at home mom and homeschooler, we spend a lot of time together! We recently finished the book “Swiss Family Robinson” and decided to have a celebration by watching the old Disney version of the film. Since my kids had never seen it before, they enjoyed the crazy antics of this family’s imagination. At one point, the two older brothers in the movie were fist fighting due to some harsh feelings for one another. As I looked to my side, my oldest son was sitting on top of my second son, elbows were flying and there was crying and yelling. I was left wondering what had just happened.

Bad Days

Every family will admit that they have bad days. Sometimes it seems like we have more days of broken dishes, spilled food, tantrums, short tempers, piles of laundry and sticky faces than we have of joyful interactions with our little family members.

The competition between my three children can be ridiculous at times. I am not sure if it is more common among boys or if it is just a standard case of sibling rivalry. Most days are like this. I know I am not the only mom who goes to bed at night mentally exhausted from playing referee to her children daily, but I wonder if anything I am doing to teach the gospel in our home is truly sticking.

Elder Bednar shared his experience with less than perfect family time. He said, “Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.” 1

He went on to explain that his grown children don’t remember specific lessons or prayers, but they do remember the consistency of those family activities.

One brush stroke at a time

If an apostle of the Lord experienced the same things that we have as we strive to raise righteous children, then we’re probably doing alright.

He explained further, “In my office is a beautiful painting of a wheat field. The painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes—none of which in isolation is very interesting or impressive. In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, all you can see is a mass of seemingly unrelated and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and brown paint. However, as you gradually move away from the canvas, all of the individual brushstrokes combine together and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field. Many ordinary, individual brushstrokes work together to create a captivating and beautiful painting.

“Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results.” 1

While it may sometimes be hard to feel the Spirit often or to get unlimited amounts of time for our personal study and prayers right now, we will one day look back and miss these times. The Spirit will not be affected by the quarrels, contentions and raised voices once the kids are grown and move out, but we will certainly miss holding our little ones close as we realize that those difficult times made the sweet moments so much more precious.

  1. “More Diligent and Concerned at Home”, Elder David A. Bednar, October 2009, General Conference

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