Many years ago, we were excited when we first learned that Latter-day Saints could dedicate their own homes. The idea had never occurred to us, and we sensed that the important things we wanted to have happen in our home could be accomplished better if we dedicated it to the Lord.
We wanted to have the Spirit of God dwell in our home to help us shape the lives of our daughters. We were grateful for Primary, Sunday School, Young Women, and seminary teachers, but we knew that the ultimate responsibility to teach our children to live the gospel was ours.
We wanted our home to be a place where we could study and live the commandments of God and where we could learn to pray, sacrifice, and forgive. If we wanted to live in love and harmony eternally, we needed to begin within those walls.
We hoped our daughters’ friends would see our home as a holy place and treat our girls as daughters of God. We wanted our home to be a place of worship—not an overly solemn, pious place, but a place where every diaper changed for a crying baby, every meal cooked, and every offer to stay home and baby-sit was a godly service and a step toward understanding the Savior and his love.
The decision to dedicate our home was ours to make. God himself has given parents stewardship over their own family and home. A bishop or stake president must seek permission from those in authority in the Church in order to dedicate a chapel or stake center, but a member who wishes to bless his or her home may go directly to the Lord.
When we dedicated our home, the counsel was that it should be paid for. Today the counsel is different. The Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook notes that Church members may dedicate their homes, whether or not they are free of debt, as sacred edifices where the Holy Spirit may reside. A member may dedicate his home as a sanctuary where his family can worship, find safety from the world, grow spiritually, and prepare for eternal family relationships. To dedicate his home, a member might gather his family members around him and offer a special prayer that would include the elements mentioned above or other appropriate thoughts.
Because we were dedicating our home to the rearing of our children, we decided to invite those friends, neighbors, and relatives who taught or cared for them to share this experience with us.
To remind us of the purpose for our home, we decided to order a small brass plaque engraved with the words, “This home is dedicated as a place where the Spirit of the Lord may dwell, where our daughters Denise, Carrie, Sara, Beth, Rachel, Josie, Louisa, and Jennie may learn to love God and serve others, and where friends may feel welcome.”
The dedication itself was simple. Our friends, including nonmembers, came, not knowing exactly what to expect, but with a warm willingness to share in something they knew was important to us. We performed a short musical number, “Bless This House,” in the living room. Then, with our daughters seated around the dining table and the adults standing behind them, Gene offered a short dedicatory prayer. Afterwards, we nailed the plaque to the wall and enjoyed homemade soup and bread.
Did everything change in our home after this dedication? Did we stop hearing cries like “Who stole my hairbrush?” or “Get out of my room!”? Unfortunately not. But the dedication inspired a commitment to invite the Spirit of the Lord into our home. Today, as we often glance at the plaque on the wall and think back on that lovely afternoon, we are reminded that this is His home as well as ours—and we each try to live accordingly.