Tuesday, November 15, 2016

So, for family night...

For family night we discussed gratitude. We briefly told the story of Samuel, the boy prophet, using the back of the picture from the Gospel Art Kit. That synopsis leaves out any mention of Samuel's mother—which is mind boggling when you consider what a faithful, strong woman she was. Eli surely played a large role in Samuel's development, but I'm sure Hannah influenced him bigly* as well.

It was good for the kids to hear the story of Samuel—the boy prophet—because a few weeks ago we talked about Samuel the Lamanite, so that story was fresh in the children's minds. Samuel wasn't really what our lesson was about, however. I wanted to focus on Hannah.

We read 1 Samuel 1 and talked about how difficult life was for Hannah and how she had so many reasons to be miserable. She goes to the temple to pray and the priest there accuses her of being a little tipsy. When she says, "Uh, no. Actually, I'm legitimately upset," Eli responds by reminding her that Heavenly Father has heard her prayers and then she "was no more sad."

She had enough faith in prayer that knowing her Heavenly Father had heard her was enough to change her outlook on life. She didn't even have to receive an answer; knowing she'd been listened to was enough.

But then her prayer is answered, she ends up having Samuel, and then allows him to go live at the temple, and then is blessed with five more children. Her words exemplify humility and gratitude so perfectly: "For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord."

Anyway, we talked about how showing gratitude can help us to be "no more sad" and also how it is an expression of love. Elder Eyring spoke about showing gratitude in conference last month; he said, "what matters most is the love we feel for the givers of the gifts."

We made a list of all the hard things that have happened the past couple of weeks: the car crash, the broken oven, the broken toilet, Rachel losing some competition at school, a ludicrous presidential election, Zoë having croup, three of my mom's cousins dying over the weekend.

After we made our list the children quickly figured out what we needed to do for the other side of the column—turn the bad things into good things (and if that's not possible, then just listing any old blessing).

"For example," I offered, "Yesterday David Hardy died."

"That's a sad thing!" the kids pointed out.

"Yes, but yesterday was also his daughter's birthday," I said.

"That's even worse!" the girls objected. "Having your dad die on your birthday doesn't make anything better!"

"But," I said. "When my mom mentioned this sad time surrounding her birthday, Camilla responded with, 'I now share a birthday with my dad! It's been a beautiful day.' She was grateful that her dad had passed away peacefully and that he was having a spiritual birthday on her special day."

Camilla had taken a tragedy and turned it into a blessing. I guess a lot of tragedies are—often, eventually—blessings. Our blessings for the past couple of weeks are: a new van, popcorn & hot chocolate while at a dealership on Saturday, learning something new (about plumbing), getting new boxes to "live in" (from our new car seats), Zoë isn't sleeping well and I'm really feeling it because it's a break from her schedule (yes, she's been going to sleep around 9:00 every night for a few weeks now and it's amazing), art (I can't remember why this was on the list), the kindness of others (and specifically the Browns, who helped us get our new van today), and good health (because Benjamin was sick with a cold before Zoë got croup and he's feeling better).

We probably could have kept going but sometimes it's best to keep lessons short and sweet so we finished up by driving home the point that expressing gratitude fills you with feelings of love and peace.

And then we gathered round the table to sample some Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans that Andrew had brought back from London. The girls have been begging to get into them for weeks.

Here's Miriam discovering that the beans are as disgusting as they sound:

Andrew had given her a worm flavoured one (of course, he didn't tell her the flavour). Up until the moment she bit into it she was 100% certain they were disgusting in name only because who would even make candy that is certifiably disgusting?

I just smelled this jelly bean and that was enough for me.

Now that the cat was out of the bag, here's Rachel acting quite nervous about her fate. "Is it chocolate or dirt?" she wanted to know in advance. "Can't tell you," Andrew said.

It was dirt, of course.

Then the girls split a soap jelly bean. To wash the nasty flavours out of their mouths, of course.

Benjamin could not be coaxed to try any of the beans after he saw his sisters' reactions:

That is, until Andrew pulled one out and said, "This looks like it's pepper."

Benjamin wanted in on that flavour so they did a three-way split.

Andrew pulled out a blueberry bean for me and a tutti-frutti bean for himself. The kids gasped in amazement as we chewed and swallowed without pulling faces.

"Wow! What flavour was yours, Mom?" Miriam asked.

"Blueberry," I shrugged.

"WHAT?!" she shrieked. "There are yummy beans in there?!"

It was quite a hilarious taste test.

Zoë was a somewhat silent observer (she can hardly scream, her poor little voice is so hoarse). We didn't let her try any of the jelly beans (meanies), but here's a picture of her showing us how to get ready for prayer (it's from a couple of days ago (P.S. she fell down up the front steps)):

After this we gathered for scriptures and prayer. We started The Book of Mormon within The Book of Mormon today: chapter one. Rachel was reading verse three and came to the word 'deposited' and very fluently read "despoited" instead.

"What does 'despoit' mean?" I asked.

"Not sure," she shrugged.

The kids are used to me asking that question in the middle of reading. Today in Mr. Popper's Penguins we came across the word morose and I asked what that meant. Miriam said it meant "sad." I asked if there was a time they could think of when they felt morose. 

"When that car pulled out in front of us and we had a crash," Benjamin offered. "Zoë and I were very morose that day."

Anyway, no one could think of what 'despoit' might mean. 

"It means to de-spoit something," Andrew said. 

"And what does spoit mean?" I asked.


"It means nothing!" I said. "Spoit is not a word. Despoit is not a word. Deposit is."

I don't know if that sounds as funny as it was when it happened. Perhaps it's something you just had to be there for. We were all laughing so hard we were crying.

After scripture study we asked Rachel to gather the scriptures up and "despoit" them on the shelf, so she did but everything was all skewampus.

"Despoit them soberly," I said.** 

"I can't!" Rachel giggled. "There's a truck in the way."

"Then move the truck," I suggested. "It doesn't belong on the shelf, anyway."

"Yeah," Andrew said. "What the truck?"

That little inappropriate remark (Andrew's been full of those lately) made Miriam double over with laughter. "You...almost...said...hell!" she gasped out and then got all serious to add, "I can say that because this is still scripture study time and hell is a scripture word!"

Oh, man. 

I don't think I've laughed so hard in a long, long time.

We had just settled down from that chaos and finally had everyone kneeling down for prayer when Andrew decided to ask Benjamin to pray. Here's the thing about Benjamin praying: when he's asked to say a prayer he dives right in. He doesn't wait to see if anyone's ready. He doesn't wait to be asked half the time. If there's a prayer to be said, he's saying that prayer and he's saying it now.

"Benjamin," Andrew said. "Will you pl..."

"DEAR HEAVENLY FATHER!" Benjamin plowed through Andrew's request like a bulldozer.

" say the prayer..." Andrew finished mumbling.

I had only just regained my composure from the truck/scripture word incident and this was too much to keep contained. I started giggling and it spread like wildfire. Soon Rachel and Miriam were laughing along with me. And then Andrew started sniggering, too.

But not Benjamin.

Benjamin was praying and he was going strong.

How he managed to pray and pray (and pray and pray) while everyone was melting into a heap of laughter—without losing his soberness once I will never know.**

After he ended his prayer he stood up, stoically wandered over to the keyboard and turned on the metronome. This is the only "song" he has figured out how to turn on. His big sisters can play any of the hundred or so songs in the database. He doesn't know how they do it (I'm not sure I do, either) but he's perfectly happy with the metronome so it doesn't matter.

"Everybody dance!" he ordered gleefully, turning into a wild hurricane of limbs.

And so we did.

"This is my jam!" I said to the ding-tic-tic-tic of the metronome.

"MINE TOO!" Benjamin bellowed.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I'm not sure which category today's family night fell into, but life sure is a mixed bag. We've had our share of the good, the bad, and the ugly lately.

And joy. So much joy!

* Can I just say...the argument I've seen floating around that a certain president-elect can't be all that bad because his children are good people is ridiculous. Because if it's possible for a good person like Eli to have children who were of Belial (translation: of the devil), then I'd say it's possible for children to grow into wonderful adults in spite of having less than ideal parents. Also, I'm pretty sure that all of these children had other adults in their life to help nullify negative influences. Please see: Ezekiel 18:20. Or take, for example, Jonathan, the son of King Saul. And surely you've seen this happen with your very own eyes in the lives of people you know. Also, when Jesus is talking about "by their fruit ye shall know them," I have always, always translated that to mean "works" and not "offspring." Besides, "Every subject's duty is the king's; but every subject's soul is his own," as we learned last week in FHE.

** Sober is another word we discussed at length during scripture study. I believe it also involved a lot of laughter.

1 comment:

  1. Reading this involved a few particles of laughter, too. I love you and your funny family.