NT 10: Finding a Way Back

I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks, feeling like I had lost my way in scripture study and the blog. But I’m recommitting to daily study and weekly posting! My family needs this spiritual boost every day, and I need it to stay sane, be a halfway decent parent, and keep myself focused on spiritual things. Sometimes we lose our way and think that’s it, there’s no going back. But the Gospel teaches us that every day––every moment of every day––we can start fresh. Seeking forgiveness and help through the Savior’s Atonement allows us to find our way back to God and the path He wants us to walk.

Last week I intended to post some ideas for teaching children specific principles from the Sermon on the Mount. Here they are:

  1. Matthew 6:6, 17-18     One central idea I took from these verses was the need to not seek recognition for good things we do. We don’t need praise to justify good deeds or righteous choices…we just do/make them. Secret service can be a lot of fun for families to do together. Select one or more individuals or families and identify one way your family could serve each. Perform the service secretly and/or anonymously.
  2. Matthew 6:22-23      “[I]f therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” Make two large eyes, one from dark (opaque) construction paper, one from vellum or another translucent but sturdy paper. On the opaque eye with the help of your children write a list of bad choices within the realm of their understanding. Hold a light behind the opaque eye. Can you see any light? Can that light illuminate anything through the eye? Make a similar list on the translucent eye but of good choices (e.g. praying daily, sharing, attending church as a family). Repeat the exercise with the light. Read the scripture and discuss.
  3. Matthew 7:7    “Ask, and it shall be given you.” Have a child stand on one side of a door and you on the other. Tell your child the goal is to reenter the room where you are but without pushing the door/turning the knob. Once s/he has figured out knocking and asking, invite her/him into the room and share the scripture. My girls did the object lesson at the same time and worked through the dilemma together. I testified that God hears their prayers and will answer them. Understanding that God does hear our prayers and questions, and will provide answers establishes an important foundation for additional Gospel understanding. For example, today we revisited Matthew 7:7 while talking about Joseph Smith and the First Vision.

Best of luck this week as you work on Matthew 8-9 and Mark 2-5!

NT 6: The light that shines in darkness

(My post on Abortion has been moved to a new essays page, available here. The light that shines in darkness was written at the same time but I neglected to publish it. It is dated to reflect my original publishing intent.)

Early last week my husband introduced the Book of John to our kids. He talked about how Jesus has many different titles including “the word.” I built on this foundation later in the week when we talked about Christ being “the light that shines in darkness” (John 1:5, 9, NT).

We were gathered in the kitchen for dinner when I decided to share the scripture and talk about how Jesus is “the true light.” I had already turned off most of the lights in that part of the house and it was dark outside. I recapped my husband’s lesson from a few days before to ready their minds. All of the girls screamed and the baby started to cry when I turned off the rest of the lights! It was pitch dark. I talked to the kids about light and it’s importance to our lives. They told me how difficult it was to see or do anything in the darkness.

Then I twisted the bulb on one of my window candles; the light was small but it penetrated the darkness. We talked about how Christ’s light shines in the darkness, how that light can spread from one person to those around them. I turned on more lights as I talked.

This visual created a memorable experience for my kids to which we referred in subsequent days. It also sparked my memory as I mourned the loss of a dear but geographically distant friend last week.

Ten years ago this month I found myself in a really dark point in my life. My environment was dark and cold (winter in Northern Europe), I felt alone and isolated, I was still experiencing some culture shock, and I was very, very unhappy. I walked into a mid-week Ward Council meeting for my new ward and saw her. Jenn was nursing her baby, an American in a foreign land, speaking her second language beautifully and contributing to this council meeting. A light sparked in my life. I came to admire Jenn for the goodness and light she exuded. Her delightful family, her spirit-filled household, her model discipleship filled me with hope for my own future. The light of Christ shone out of her and provided warmth as well as an objective for my lonely path. There was light even in the midst of my dark night.

The light that Jenn provided for me shone out from her quiet but compelling belief in Jesus Christ. Her discipleship continues to inspire me and impel me to share that same light with others.