Sunday Box

As the mother of seven children, I wanted to be more organized and to spend more quiet time on Sunday with my children. As a result, the idea of a Sunday box was born.

I covered a box with vinyl-coated adhesive paper. Then I filled it with special storybooks, games, coloring books for the younger children, music, pretty cards, and stationery. Periodically, I rotate items in and out of the box, and I provide both fun and quiet activities for the children.

This box comes out each Sunday after our family council, and the children are encouraged to write, read, draw, or play quiet games. The older children take turns reading to the younger ones, and I sometimes include a special treat (or the ingredients to make a treat), with enough to share with a neighbor.

There are many adaptations to the Sunday box. Each family can use it to fit their own situation for Sabbath activities. My children look forward to the appearance of the box, because they are never sure what it will contain. Having special things just for Sunday teaches them that the Sabbath is a special day, apart from the rest of the week, and that Sunday activities don’t end when church is over.Lory Fuller Beacham, Glendale, Utah

My Turn to Support

When we were newlyweds, my husband was called to serve as elders quorum president. At the time, I thought supporting my husband in his Church calling meant only one thing—not complaining. But now, after more years of marriage and of our supporting each other in a variety of Church callings, I have a broader understanding of this role.

Of course, supporting your spouse in his or her Church calling starts with not complaining about it. This means we do not complain to our spouses or to anyone else: our children, parents, visiting teachers, or neighbors. Unfortunately, our children can pick up our attitudes if they hear us say, “Dad’s late again!” or “Mom’s got another meeting!” We must not be guilty of murmuring in our homes as the children of Israel were found murmuring in their tents. (See Deut. 1:27.) What desire will our children have to serve in the future if they see us reacting negatively to the callings that come? How unfortunate it would be if an individual did not serve fully in a calling because of a desire to lessen a spouse’s complaining. Instead, we would be wise to pray that our spouses may have more control over their schedules and that other burdens our spouses are carrying may be lightened.

Supporting your spouse also means encouraging him or her. When your spouse is set apart to a new Church calling, it is your privilege to be there as a family and listen to the blessing he or she is given. These blessings can be a great source of strength and inspiration. Try to appreciate the fact that your home is being blessed by your spouse’s service and your support. Recognize the extra efforts your spouse puts into a calling and compliment him or her. Encourage your spouse to attend ward and stake meetings. Sincerely express gratitude to your spouse and to your Father in Heaven for the fine job your spouse is doing.

Beyond spoken praise, support each other by doing things to show support. Give your spouse a quiet place with a telephone for making phone calls. Set up the chairs for Primary if that would lighten the load of your wife. See that your husband has clean and appropriate clothes to wear. Take over a few of his or her chores to increase your time together and your family time. Be flexible in your mealtime. If your spouse has a 6:30 P.M. meeting, you can show support by being ready to eat at 5:30 P.M. so that your spouse has time to prepare for the meeting without being rushed.

Be creative in supporting your spouse. For example, if your wife is the ward organist, perhaps you could go early enough to listen to her prelude music. If your spouse is a teacher, go to the meetinghouse library to pick up the supplies he or she will need for a lesson. Work together on visual aids and discuss the upcoming lesson. Make or buy something for your husband to take to his home teaching families or for your wife to take to her visiting teaching families. Be creative! Magnify your role as supporter so your spouse can magnify his or her Church calling.

One of the blessings of this latter-day church is the opportunity for everyone who can serve to be given a calling. Some callings are more time-consuming than others. Some are less visible than others. But everyone can benefit by praise and encouragement from their spouse. All the support you give comes back to you as joy. Your spouse will grow in testimony and commitment as a result of magnifying his or her calling. Your home will be blessed, your spouse will be blessed, and you will be blessed. The love you share with your spouse will deepen as you each become devoted to serving and supporting each other.Kathryn R. Bates, Folsom, California

Tips for Mothering Mom

Because people are living longer these days, many of us are giving care to elderly relatives, who quite possibly have serious health problems. After caring for my dad and mom, I developed several guidelines for others who are caring for elderly loved ones.

  1. 1.

    Let them do as much as they possibly can for themselves. When my dad was still living, his mind was very alert and he handled my parents’ financial affairs. But his handwriting became illegible, and I had to write checks. He directed me and balanced the checkbook after my mother was unable to do so. Just before he died, he was in so much pain that he was happy to be relieved of these chores. But even then, I drove him to the bank to do the major transactions so that he could remain in control of his finances.

    After my dad died, my mother was unable to do any banking, and I took care of all her financial transactions. I always explained to her what I was doing, and together we reviewed her checkbook weekly.

  2. 2.

    Help them feel that they are contributing members of the household. When my daughters came home from college in the summer, they would stop in for lunch with my mother when they could; being able to feed them made Mom feel needed. I often asked her advice on Relief Society lessons I was preparing. I had heard most of the stories she related to me—some of them many times—but I was happy to hear her tell them again.

    We often reminded Mom that she had been a great influence on our children. We all felt we could benefit from her sharing this phase of her life with us. She did this by writing weekly letters to all of her children, who passed the letters on to her grandchildren.

    These letters contained not only family news but words of encouragement, faith-promoting stories from her life, and other uplifting items.

    We also found it important to share our lives with Mom—both the good and the bad aspects. When we held back information about people—especially family members—who were suffering or having problems, she felt left out and hurt if she found out about these matters later or from someone outside the family.

  3. 3.

    Ensure that they have the privacy they want and need. When my parents were in my home, they had their own room with an adjoining bath. But we welcomed them in any other part of the house as well, especially encouraging them to join us in the family room and kitchen, where most of our family activity took place.

  4. 4.

    Encourage them to keep in touch with friends. If their hearing is impaired, get a hearing device attached to the telephone headset so it is pleasant for them to chat with others. Help provide ways for them to socialize, too. When my mother was living alone in her mobile home, I occasionally helped give luncheons for her friends. She was hostess, but I did all the preparation. This gave her a way to thank her friends for their many kindnesses.

  5. 5.

    Let them reminisce. We had family home evening with my parents nearly every week. We often showed family slides, sang around the piano, and talked about our childhood experiences with them. Once we had a “This Is Your Life” party in their honor. We had my parents record stories from their lives on audiotapes. They loved it—and the finished product is priceless to our family. Later, we encouraged Mom to finish writing her life history so her posterity would know her. She faithfully spent a few hours at the typewriter each day, even though her arthritis made it a painful task.

  6. 6.

    Help them to look their best. People always need to be able to look in the mirror and feel good about themselves. Make sure men are shaved and have a good haircut and women have a perm when needed. Find someone to come to the home and help you with grooming tasks, if necessary.

  7. 7.

    If their health permits, take them out for a change of scenery. Take them for rides to the country, to malls, to the beach to smell the ocean air. Even just getting out in the yard can be therapeutic.

  8. 8.

    Regularly get away for a few hours or even a few days. Arrange for someone to care for your loved one while you are gone. You’ll come back refreshed.

  9. 9.

    Hold them and tell them you love them and will be there for them every day.

  10. 10.

    Pray for strength. When times get tough—when older loved ones become cranky or irrational—pray daily to be able to meet the challenge. Remind yourself that the cranky person you are dealing with is not the real mom or dad you know but someone who is waiting for death to release him or her from physical problems. Regularly remind yourself of all the people they’ve served and of those who love them.

As I look back now at the six years I spent caring for my parents, I have come to the conclusion that our family grew from the experience of caring for them. I’m glad we had the opportunity to serve them in this way.Helen Johnson Mitchell, Meadow Vista, California

[photos] Photography by Phil Shurtleff