A photo of my children several years ago.
I had 5 children in 7 1/2 years. When my 5th child was born, my children's ages were 7 1/2, 6 1/2, 4, 2 and newborn. Yep, I even did that on purpose! Life was definitely crazy, but OH SO MUCH FUN! But I'm not sure I would have called it PEACEFUL!
At General Conference this past weekend, Elder Richard G. Scott gave a wonderful talk titled "For Peace at Home". I really loved it, and it has made me think back on those years when my children were young and being a mother was exhausting. But I look back at that time in our family and have such happy memories. Those were very good times, and even though our home may not have been quiet and peaceful (because we are a loud and crazy family), it was a time of wonderful peace and happiness in our lives.
Then my children grew up to all be teenagers at once, and we still actually had a happy home with good, respectful children who loved us and they really loved each other too. (Of course, we had your typical teenage moments, but overall, they were really good kids.)
So I have been thinking about what made the difference. And I am convinced it was the little things we did on a daily basis, not the big grand events that have made the difference.
One of my favorite scriptures is Alma 37:6. "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass."
It was the seemingly small things like having family prayer together every morning and night. It was reading the scriptures together every morning, even if one or two kids were wiggly or falling asleep. It was supporting each other in church assignments. It was having family dinner together as much as possible. It was having a fun Family Home Evening each Monday night where we had a short gospel lesson, did crazy "special numbers", played hilarious games, and had yummy treats together. Those are some of the things that I know have helped make a happy family.
But you need to know that "special numbers" may have consisted of a spitting contest, or burping a song, but sometimes was something more dignified like playing a piano piece, or reciting a memorized scripture. I rarely had lessons truly prepared in advance. Many times we read articles out of the Friend or New Era, discussed a needed topic, or read a section out of For the Strength of Youth. Games could be anything from Duck Duck Goose, Hide and Seek in the Dark, Buckle Buckle Beanstalk, or having a rubber band war shooting army men off a Lincoln Log fort. And many times treats were whatever we could scrounge up from the pantry because we did not have time to make something really good. Those crazy made up treats were some of our favorite and most memorable.
Nope, everything was definitely not always perfect, cause that's not real life. But it was consistently doing these things that bound our family together in love and unity, that still exists today. Just a little note - I used to keep a Family Home Evening journal where I wrote down each week what we did. One entry said how fussy and whiny the kids were being, so I put them all to bed early and enjoyed a truly peaceful evening. Yes, life happens, but the happiness comes as you keep trying.
Here is a little excerpt from Elder Scott's talk:
Many voices from the world in which we live tell us we should live at a frantic pace. There is always more to do and more to accomplish. Yet deep inside each of us is a need to have a place of refuge where peace and serenity prevail, a place where we can reset, regroup, and re-energize to prepare for future pressures.
The ideal place for that peace is within the walls of our own homes, where we have done all we can to make the Lord Jesus Christ the centerpiece...Regardless of your circumstances, you can center your home and your life on the Lord Jesus Christ, for He is the source of true peace in this life.
I’m sure you can identify the fundamental principles that center your home on the Savior. The prophetic counsel to have daily personal and family prayer, daily personal and family scripture study, and weekly family home evening are the essential, weight-bearing beams in the construction of a Christ-centered home. Without these regular practices it will be difficult to find the desired and much-needed peace and refuge from the world.
As you center your home on the Savior, it will naturally become a refuge not only to your own family but also to friends who live in more difficult circumstances. They will be drawn to the serenity they feel there. Welcome such friends into your home. They will blossom in that Christ-centered environment. Become friends with your children’s friends. Be a worthy example to them.
One of the greatest blessings we can offer to the world is the power of a Christ-centered home where the gospel is taught, covenants are kept, and love abounds.