Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Nine Habits for a Happy Healthy Home

The apostle Paul had lots to say about happy homes. In part of a letter to the early saints of Colosse, Paul urged the families of the church to live nine basic habits that would make their home and family life happy and centered on the Savior. Drawing on Paul's words from Colossians 2:15-21, here are those nine habits:

1. "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts"

How do we get peace in our hearts. Christ himself said that he gives peace not as the world giveth. In our homes, I believe this means avoid contention, work on patience with eachother. Most importantly slow down and let the Lord have room to breath and move and wisper and influcence us.

2. "Be ye thankful"

My sister has a large tree literally painted on the wall of her home. It has paper leaves glued to it. Each leaf has one thing that someone is thankful for. I asked my sister when they put the leaves on. She said, "Oh whenever I feel like someone needs to be reminded to be thankful for what they have!" Gratitude seems to help us all be more content with what we have.

3. "Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly"

The words of Christ through prophets ancient and modern will do more to strengthen a family than another other single thing. As our family has made time to study the Book of Mormon together each morning, things run more smoothly. We made a decision in October of 2012 to get our kids up at 5:45 a.m. before I teach early morning seminary and my husband goes to work at 6:00 to read together from the scriptures. It is a miracle how attentive and REtentive the boys are that early in the morning. No breakfast to fight over, no distraction of stopping a game or a tv show. And they are remembering and making connections with things they hear other places and the things we are reading together as a family.

4. Teach and amonish one another, especially through music

We have spent many prayers asking the Lord to help us recognize what our children's spiritual gifts are. I am certain there are important and significant things each of them are to teach me and others about the love of the Lord and other precious truths. When we use the hymns and other positive music, the teaching flows naturally. Sometimes music can say things, especially when it is time for correction or reproval or admonision, that a sit-down conversation cannot say. Correct principles taught through music stay with us. We often tell our young boys to think of a favorite primary song when they feel scared or can't sleep. What an asset we have in teaching eachother.

5. What ever you do, do it in the name of Christ

The primary children are learning a song this year called "If the Savior Stood Beside Me." I would do well as a parent to use these words as my guide. Would I do the things I do? Would I say the things I say? Would I be the kind of person that I know I'd like to be? I also imagine what changes would happen if we adoped the philosophy that we are here in families to do for eachother what Christ would do if he were here. Would I be so inclined to put off the house keeping? Maybe, if it ment spending meaningful time in the scriptures or prayer or with my family or serving others. We want to be people of great character, honor and repute. This is probably the single most important way to do that.

6. Wives submit to, or counsel with, your husbands

Part of God's great eternal plan is that husbands and wives should be helpmeats for eachother. As women (or at least THIS woman) I often think I can just do it myself. I'm strong and indepenant. And yes, I could. But that is not God's plan. To seek out my husband's counsel refines my ideas, gives me persective, assures me of the wisperings of the spirit, confirms truths, opens solutions. Most of all, we become closer to eachother has husband and wife as we work as a team, pray as a team, counsel as a team.

7. Husbands, love your wives!

I have had the sad experience of seeing women I love dearly who do not enjoy the blessings of deep and sincer, Christ-like and romantic love from their husbands. Interesting that Paul felt like he needed to remind the men of Christ's church to love their wives. I am certain, and grow and deepen in that conviction every day, that my husband loves me. He says it with words and deeds. A wife who feels loved and appreciated is maybe the single most noticeable factor in how happy and healthy family life is.

8. Children, obey your parents in all things

As I was sitting with my stake president to be set apart as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I learned a phrase that has been a guide for my whole life since: Obedience is the first law of heaven. Obedience brings blessings. My sister-in-law always tells her children that obedience keeps us "safe and happy." As parents we are obligated to teach our children right from wrong and to be wise stewards of Heavenly Father's precious children. As we require obedience, it would be well for us (note to self) to help our children understand WHY such and such behavior is so key to their happiness and safety. Sometimes I think it is as simple as saying things like, "it makes our home a happier place."

9. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

I asked my husband, the father in our house, what this ment to him, especially the discouragement part. In essence we discussed how we never want to break our children's spirits. Too much anger, often through frustration at a child's mistake, can cause them to be discouraged and retreat. They withdraw from conversation and family time. I am not what you would call patient. I learn this lesson the hard way all too often. It is a good thing my husband and I seem to balance eachother out.