Monday, 16 November 2015

Family Devotional & the Thank You Jar

The Ogrins Family Devotional

President Ezra Taft Benson:
“Rearing happy, peaceful children is no easy challenge in today’s world, but it can be done, and it is being done. …

“Children must be taught to pray, to rely on the Lord for guidance, and to express appreciation for the blessings that are theirs. ...

“Families must spend more time together in work and recreation. Family home evenings should be scheduled once a week as a time for recreation, work projects, skits, songs around the piano, games, special refreshments, and family prayers. Like iron links in a chain, this practice will bind a family together, in love, pride, tradition, strength, and loyalty.

“Family study of the scriptures should be the practice in our homes each Sabbath day.

Daily devotionals are also a commendable practice, where scripture reading, singing of hymns, and family prayer are a part of our daily routine.” [source]

I believe it was the quote above that gave me the idea to have an official “family devotional” rather than just family scripture study and prayer.

Our Family Devotional goes like this:
  1. Scripture reading
  2. Thank You Jar
  3. Prayer
I hope, as Tevia grows up, to enrich our devotional to become something like this:
  1. Song
  2. Scripture reading & brief discussion
  3. Thank You Jar
  4. Review plans for the next day
  5. Prayer
We have our Family Devotional early in the evening, shortly after the dinner dishes have been cleaned up and before putting Tevia to bed.  (Sometimes an evening walk or drive is included before or after our devotional to help Tevia relax.)

The Thank You Jar

The idea of a “Thank You Jar” started a few years ago in my own family.  The idea is similar to keeping a gratitude journal, but for the entire family to share.  I’m not even sure who came up with the idea or why we started it in the first place.

What you need:
  • 1 jar
  • 1 writing utensil for each family member
  • 1 small piece of paper for each family member

The Thank You Jar
Our fancy jar

Each person completes these sentences on their slip of paper:
  1. I am thankful for…
  2. A blessing I saw today was…
Then he or she flips the paper over, writes his or her name and the date on the back, and folds the paper in half.  The jar is then passed around and each person drops in their folded piece of paper.

Once the jar is full, the papers are read aloud to the entire family and you find out what your family really is grateful for!

Nearly full thank you jar
It's nearly full!

Since we want Tevia to understand what we are doing when we write on our pieces of paper, we each read what we wrote down before we put them in the jar.  Maybe we will always do it this way – who knows!

How We Include Tevia

Tevia already knows and understands the order of how we do things.  When we say, “Time for Family Devotional!” she goes to the living room and will either point at the scriptures or jar or clasps her hands together (her sign for “praying”) and sits on the floor.  (I really wanted to include a picture of this pose but there was no way she would sit still once I took out the camera!)

So you can admire these scriptures instead... right?

Lucas and I take turns reading a few verses of a chapter in the Book of Mormon and, before we are even close to being done, Tevia points and yells at the Thank You Jar.  While we write down our thoughts, Tevia gets to play with the screw lid and then helps put it back on the jar after we put our pieces of paper inside.

Then, if she hasn’t done it already, Tevia clasps her hands and sits on the floor where we kneel with her.  She usually doesn’t stay in that position for the whole prayer, but she is generally quiet and moves very little.  I’m so proud of her whenever she is still!  Soon I know she will be able to repeat words of the prayer.

Of course, next is bedtime (the saddest part of the day for her).  But at least she is excited for Family Devotional!

If you don't already have something like this in place, I challenge you to make your own kind of Family Devotional!  What does (or will) your family do?

Next week’s topic: [Redesigned House Plans: Introduction]

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