We'll start today with a multiple choice quiz:
Family Home Evening is
a) a family fight that begins and ends with a prayer.
b) the name of a program introduced in 1915 to LDS families designed to promote family togetherness and provide parents one evening each week (usually Monday) to teach their families the gospel and counsel with their kids.
c) a chance to practice your mad Rice Krispy making skills.
d) a way of organizing dating pools in Young Single Adult congregations.
e) all of the above.
I love family home evening. Now. I didn't really grow up with Family Home Evening. Last fall when I was at my mom's house, I threw together a Thanksgiving family home evening in just a few minutes and had a nice, simple lesson on gratitude with the Jedi. My mom remarked that as she had observed her kids holding FHE with her grandchildren, she realized that she always tried to make it to complicated and special. She hadn't ever held it regularly because it seemed like so much work. In retrospect, her feeling was that just doing something simple and establishing a regular habit would have been much better than irregular evenings that were more dramatic.
When Plantboy and I were first married, FHE wasn't great, and I really disliked having the responsibility to put the whole thing together myself. Then, as our kids got older, I was nearly always tutoring on Monday nights. (The night typically recommended for FHE and the one night each week you are guaranteed not to have other church-related activities.) But since quitting tutoring last year, we have been able to focus on having simple, regular FHE.
A few weeks ago, it was Jedi Knight's turn for the lesson. He nearly always shares the story of Ammon, with a heavy emphasis on Ammon's sheep-herding skills and less on his missionary aspect. That week, I steered him in a different direction, showing him my gospel art kit (a series of pictures from the scriptures and Church history that have descriptions on the back). He found a picture he liked, read the back and then, with very little prompting, told the story during his turn at the lesson. Plantboy said, "That's probably more than I've ever done for one of my lessons!"
I laughed, though it isn't exactly true. Plantboy's statement would imply that he had EVER done a lesson. (Insert playful, winking emoticon here.)
Still, as the kids get older, and the burden of prepping and participating on our family night gets spread out, it gets a lot more fun. I'm glad I didn't miss the boat waiting for the kids to get older. When it is the Youngling's turn to do music, we always have to sing the action songs--Five Little Speckled Frogs, The Wheels on the Bus, Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree, Pearly Shells . . . . you get the drill. There is nothing sweeter than those tiny, chubby patties doing "popcorn."
Make this treat at your next FHE to be a huge hit:
$1 a Pitcher and Better than the Mall Orange Julius
Add the following to the blender--1/2 can (6 oz) of orange-based juice (can be a blend of other flavors), 1 1/2 cups of milk (fattier milk makes a creamier out come), 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar (depends on how sweet your juice is to begin with), 2 tsps vanilla and ice to fill the blender. Mix until smooth and thick. Like sunshine in a glass.
Last night for our Family Night, we focused all of our time on just the activity. We are heading camping to the Redwoods late next month and we needed some equipment. This is the year we are going to really start family camping and need some supplies to help with this. Last year we bought the tent and had some wonderful backyard excursions, but this year we are going to be a little bit braver.
The kids each picked out a camping chair and a plate and cup set. We looked at various camping stoves and coveted the kayaks. Good times.
In the spirit of getting a day ahead, since I know how bad I am at this daily thing, I'm going to add one more today.
I don't just loving blogging, I love blogging about really meaty stuff. So the rest of this post is going to read less like it belongs on 28 Days of Love, and more just like a regular entry.
Saturday afternoon I was running around doing errands. Traffic was crowded, particularly down by the shopping center where we live. This area of the city is always a bit chaotic. The streets there don't quite contain the traffic flow at peak hours and lights get backed up. There are some major bus stops nearby so there is a lot of foot traffic. It is also the intersection between a belt-line that goes around the city and a major cross street. There are a lot of panhandlers in the area because of the stop and go traffic and cheap eating places. You get the picture.
I had finished at the grocery store and was waiting for a green light to turn left at this busy intersection. There were cars in the lane to my right and the late afternoon sun flashed between the heavy traffic in the cross-street. My head hurt, and I was thinking, what on earth am I doing shopping this time of day? On a Saturday? I still had to hit Costco before heading home, the one consolation is that I was listening to Hunger Games on a friend's MP3 player. While waiting for the light to change, something caught the corner of my right eye and I turned my head.
A very unkempt man, traveling in a low to the ground pedaling device (not a bike exactly--you know you live in Eugene if you regularly see home-made bikes in every odd sort of configuration around the streets every day) was pulling a kids' bike trailer. The man was scruffy and dirty, his trailer more gray than yellow, and he clearly had everything he owned in his trailer. As he rounded the corner on the sidewalk, his load had gotten tipped sideways, spilling all of its contents onto the ground in the midst of several other pedestrians and cyclists loitering at the corner.
My heart lurched both for the awkwardness of the situation as people stopped to watch, gape and ogle, but also for sorrow at an already difficult life made that much harder. While my light still didn't turn green, the man, though he had stopped was very slow about getting up to correct his load.
Then then churning in my stomach started when I saw him struggle to a standing position, using an arm brace for each hand to help his nearly useless legs. Tears smarted in my eyes as I wondered what to do to help. I couldn't turn right--there were too many cars and it would have only taken me into a bus lane. I would have had to drive three or four blocks up to find a place to park before doubling back. If I turned left, I could go down another block, turn left again (through three cycles at a light), and cut back through the parking lot I just exited. It would have taken probably five minutes to do so. His load may have been cleaned up by then. Or not.
I didn't double back. But I can't stop thinking about it. I wonder if anybody stopped to help him right his load. I wonder if I should have. I wonder at people living in such a manner in the midst of so much bounty. I wonder about how charitable I really am. The only thing I don't wonder about is what Christ would have done. I think that is pretty clear.
The image of him rounding the corner, falling, and then struggling has driven home to me just how intense the need in our world is, and not just far away in places where we can write a check and say "good enough." But instead of helping, I just went to Costco, spent my typical hundred bucks there and came home to stock a pantry already filled with food. I wonder what he ate Saturday night? And where did he eat it? It was a cool 35 degrees Sunday morning. Where did he sleep? Hunger games indeed.