October 4, 2010

Think long term... think long term...

My old seminary scriptures

I have vivid memories from my childhood of my parents waking up all of us kids to have family scripture study at 5am.

I'm not sure if the 5am time was so we could have it before my dad needed to head off to work, or if it was because they wanted to teach us good early morning habits, or if it was simply that my parents enjoyed torturing us.

Whatever the case may be, I admit, it was not my favorite experience.

Then I turned fourteen and started attending seminary. Early morning seminary to be exact, which started at 5:50am.  (seminary is a religion class that high school students of our faith attend for those four years)

Fast forward to today.

Here I am, a mother of four young children, doing my best to teach my children good values and principles, and the importance of prayer and scripture study.

And that catching bugs to put into the refrigerator may not be the best of ideas.

While we do have family prayer every single night with our children, reading the scriptures together is pretty hit and miss, stop and go, up and down.

And it is usually far from reverent.  Screaming, fighting, wiggling, squirming, and any other word that can be used to describe young children and their ability to hold still, could all be applied to our experiences.

I could probably sell circus tickets.

And popcorn.

But after watching General Conference this weekend, my husband decided we should start having family scripture study in the morning instead of at night in an effort to be more consistent.

At first, I was a bit hesitant. Okay, let's be honest, what mother WANTS to wake their kids up early?

Besides my own mother of course.

And what about the off chance that they actually sleep in, who wants to mess with that?

But truth be told, by 7:15am, my kids are usually up anyway, so I agreed.

This morning, was our first attempt.

And you know what? It was amazing!

There wasn't a dadgum smidgen of difference in the kid's attitude or behavior. They still wiggled and squirmed and fought and whined.

Anyone care to purchase a circus ticket?

I'll throw in the popcorn for free.

And it wasn't five minutes after we finished family prayer, and Luke went off to work that the boys were fist fighting over an apple.

An apple!? I mean come on, it should have at least been a cookie! An apple isn't worth the effort.

The screaming that ensued was incredible. I'm finally seeing my father's wisdom in his wearing industrial ear muffs to block out the noise of eight loud children.

I'm serious, he really did. I'll show you a picture sometime.

I understand the long-term benefits of our efforts. But hang it all, it would sure be nice if they would suddenly turn into sweet little angels.


What? A girl can dream!

*Update: We have discovered that reading together at the kitchen table instead of in the living room, really cuts down on the wiggles!

17 super cool people speak:

Kristina P. said...

Good luck! We always had a honeymoon period, and then we would sleep through it. But I think consistency is the key.

T said...

for about a year we had regular scripture study in the morning... and then I had a teenager...

so now (after the conference admonitions) I am resolving to start anew - scriptures will be placed on the dinner table instead of plates with a yummy dinner ready to replace it after a full chapter - I'll let you know how THAT goes over :)

One Cluttered Brain said...

Woo to the hoo about scripture reading...it really must BE done...
I'm thinking with dinner though...;)
We do pray in the morning and have a spiritual thought so that counts right? ;)
Love ya babe!

Sue said...

Amen. It takes quite awhile sometimes before those scripture-reading efforts pay off!

=)

nikib4kids said...

You are brave...it's so hard to do it in the morning! I'm lucky to get my 6 year old up in time to get dressed and on the bus for school! We've been really hit or miss here too....I know we need to work on it....especially since I know that my kids are old enough to sit for 15 minutes of reading. Good luck with your "angels"! =)

Cheeseboy said...

Don't feel too guilty, it is pretty much MAJOR MISS for us. If you figure out the secret, please let me know.

Patty Ann said...

Serene,

I love it!! We tried for years, fought, argued, drew pictures, everything. I never did figure out how to do it for eight kids. Now, we have the last three and we have finally gotten it down. Two years in a row with very few misses (and those are usually Sunday mornings). We started small. On the bad days, we did maybe 10 verses. Over time, we started doing a whole chapter and now we do two or three chapters. The girls all read. They don't argue about it, they get up willingly (usually faster than me). I am amazed. The difference??? I think it is that we sat down and talked about what the Lord wanted us to do. We told them what the prophet said. Then we asked them how we could keep those commandments. We looked at all the schedules and agreed that the ONLY time we could all participate was in the morning at 0530am. I must admit, I was skeptical. I was surprised. I was amazed. I have learned that you just do the best you can and they can and will help you. My husband and I also prayed about it before we approached the girls. We felt so strongly that we needed to do it, and He provided the way for it to happen. I can't say it enough.....start small! Don't make it hard for them or you, you just add a little bit every couple of days. Don't say anything about the negative behavior, but praise, praise, praise every positive thing they do to participate and make it easier. Good luck. This is so important! I wish I would have known way back when, the things I do now. I might just have been able to do it better.

Cherie said...

Good for you! There are definate blessings you will start to see as your children grow - even if you just read 2 verses a day.
I always noticed how much better my children read at a younger age and even though they mostly don't understand what they are reading being together as a family is so important.
Awesome!
P.S. Fighting and fidgeting are normal and part of the territory - ha ha

Garvin Smith said...

I have been trying for some time now to be the first one to respond to one of your posts, but to no avail. People must just sit and refresh the screen until your new post comes up!

I remember well the morning scripture study. How can one forget years of that?

Maybe with enough therapy (read chocolate) one can overcome such experiences!

Saimi said...

They still are sweet little angels they're just spreading their wings and flying around the house!

ldsjaneite said...

In a couple of years, they'll go the way of all early morning family scripture studies: struggling just to keep the kids awake. Or was that just my family? Throw in early morning paper routes AND the early scripture study and yeah. There is a reason I feel bad for sleeping past 6, devastated for sleeping past 7, and cursed to a fiery place for sleeping past 8. (That's not saying I don't do that here and there, but, well, the guilt never goes away...)

Amy said...

A few months back, our bishop challenged us to read the book of Mormon before the end of the year. We thought we'd try to take that challenge.
Well, I have to say that now we are so far behind we'd have to have a major BOM reading marathon to catch up.
We won't make the challenge. But you know what? Though we miss a lot and read only a little, we are reading the Book of Mormon together more now than we ever have in our marriage. And I love the feeling it gives me!
So yeah, we're not perfect, but we're trying and we're doing better.
Blessings will come! This I know! May the Lord bless you and your efforts to raise a righteous generation! :) bugs in the fridge and all.

Mama Smith said...

The Lord will BLESS your family...by simply doing what He asks of each of us...DAILY FAMILY/PERSONAL SCRIPTURE STUDY...All I know, my darling daughter, is what the Lord admonished you to do...TRUST what the Lord revealed to you in your patriarchal blessing...

hjsmith said...

oh my goodness it sounds like our house(: Nice to know we are not alone with the struggle to teach our little ones the importance of prayer and scripture study even if it is quiet for only 3 seconds at a time(:
Sure miss you guys it has been way too long. Hope you are all doing great.

Charlotte said...

Well then, no need to attempt to get up early, right? I will never forget a conference talk once where the speaker talked about how family scripture reading was just like you described, but in the long run it was the repetition and commitment they learned. I did forget who the speaker was and have yet to be able to find it again.

Jocelyn Christensen said...

Thanks for the nudge! We started an "early" morning routine with our 2, 3,4 year olds this week reading scriptures at 6:55a...not too early, but it has been wonderful so far! Thanks!

Valerie said...

Awesome that you found something that works better for you guys! It is definitely one of those things that you don't see the benefits to right away. My children are older and I love to have scripture study with them. They are old enough to sit and to understand many of the things, although we do always have to go over everything. But us adults need that too. :)

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