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: