I am so good at wasting time. Two hours ago I sat down to my computer to look up a "couple of things" and then I was going to sit down and prepare my Young Women lesson for Sunday. Well, here I still sit at my computer looking at this and that and I just looked at the clock and realized I wasted all my time because now it is past time for going to bed. It's so easy to get caught up in something and get sidetracked.
My lesson for Sunday is "Creating a Spiritual Environment in the Home". There are two aspects the lesson focuses on 1-physical environment, 2-attitudes. To me the physical environment is obvious - that we want our home to be neat and orderly so the spirit can dwell in our home. Some other outward things we can do is have uplifting and inspiring pictures, particularly of gospel centered things - Temple, prophets, scenes from scriptures. What we surround ourself with is a silent sermon and helps direct our thoughts whether we think about it or not.
The second aspect - attitudes - was a little less obvious to me. There's a quote that says something like "if mama aint happy nobody's happy". I think this goes to the heart of the matter - as the mother I set the tone of the home - that's a big responsibility for me. As of late I have been striving to be extra happy and positive in the mornings, trying to wake up before the kids, so that I can be the first one to set the tone for the day. If I'm slow to get out of bed and drag myself to get ready the day tends to have a slow dragginess to it. We really can decide our attitude and how we will respond to things. There is a story in the New Era (June 2007, Doing Dishes) that talks about a young woman who wasn't too keen on doing dishes, but was challenged by her Sunday School teacher to learn to love doing dishes. So every day for weeks she would tell herself that she loved doing dishes while she was doing them. After a while she realized that she did enjoy doing dishes ( I don't think it went as far to say that she "loved" doing them, but like is better than hate). I think I need to try this with some of my household chores. I don't have any that I feel strongly opposed to, but there are some that get greatly neglected and always pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.
Listed under the additional resources for this lesson was the conference talk by Elder M. Russell Ballard, "Creating a Gospel-Sharing Home". "Gospel-sharing homes are very ordinary. They may not always be spotlessly clan nor the children perfectly behaved. But they are a place in which family members clearly love each other, and the Spirit of the lord is felt by those who visit." He also talks about praying for missionary opportunities, and for us to "care, share, testify and invite".
One thing that I've been doing with my kids is helping the attitude and feeling in our home. I have been doing "morning devotional" with the kids each morning. We sing a song, pray, recite the Primary scripture of the month and then either read out of the Friend or read a scripture story or do an activity. Most mornings it goes okay, some mornings the kids complain and don't want to do it, most mornings they fight over who gets to lead the music and who gets to pray (I really need to make a chart so it's already pre-assigned).
Charlie really surprised me the other morning, because he's the strongest voice of opposition. He was up before Tom and I was on the couch in the living room, just starting my scripture study and he said, "mom, can we do morning devotional right now". I have to admit that my first thought was "after I finish my scripture study", because I never get it done, I always get interrupted. But I quickly said, "Ok" and we sang a song and he said the prayer and I don't remember what else - but I do remember that he was in a much better mood that day then he is on most days (he is a moody child).
I can see how establishing habits early on is such a good thing. I think that if we set the habits early on while they are young, and usually excited about such things, the habits will stick and will be easier to follow later on when life gets more hectic and less predictable. Charlie is usually the one that reminds us to do scriptures at night. We got in the habit of reading to the boys at night, right before turning out the light. If there is a night that we are late getting the boys to bed they won't go to bed until we've read scriptures - it's nice because it holds us accountable and we usually do it.