Reminders of His Love

My wife loves the Christmas season. Every year she hangs lights, places ornaments on the tree, and arranges decorations in our home. Before our first child was born, my wife had wanted to make something beautiful and lasting, something that would convey a message about our family’s love for the Lord Jesus Christ. She did—and for many years her homemade ceramic nativity scene has had a place of prominence in our home during the holiday season.

The years we spent in the Virginia Roanoke Mission were no exception. Displayed in the mission home were the nativity scene, a tree trimmed with ornaments, and Christmas lights. One day I heard some guests comment to my wife about the decorations. Her response fascinated me. “I bear my testimony through decorations,” she said. And looking around the rooms, I could see it was true. The many decorations, and the large picture of Christ next to our family portrait all spoke of her love for the Lord and for our family.

I have often thought of that conversation I overheard. Each of us has an opportunity to share or reflect our testimony daily through what we say and do. Our lives demonstrate our commitment to Christ by what we say, wear, read, and even by how we decorate our homes. You can tell a lot about someone by watching what is important to them.

Our reverence during the sacrament and during prayer is an expression of our devotion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and of our belief that we can communicate with them. By singing hymns and carols, we powerfully express our desire to worship through music. These and other actions demonstrate clearly to the Lord as well as to people around us that we want to fill our minds with noble and pure thoughts and become more Christlike. Every person we encounter can learn by the way we speak, the way we live, and the way we work that the Lord is first to us.

This year as my wife sets out the ceramic nativity scene she made with such care, it will again be a testimony and reminder to all who see it of the love our family has for the Savior.Larry Johnson, Fountain Valley, California

Enjoying His Presents

I wanted our family’s Christmas celebration to focus more on the Savior and less on commercialism. As I pondered this idea, I was reminded of the many gifts the gospel has given us in addition to the promise of eternal life, the greatest of all (see D&C 14:7). I realized that we needed to be more thankful for those priceless gifts.

I found twenty-five scriptures that mention a gift we have received or will receive from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

I typed the references on slips of paper and put them into a tin I had labeled with a phrase from Moroni 10:18—“Remember that every good gift cometh of Christ.” [Moro. 10:18]

Each day of December, a family member would draw a paper from the tin. We’d locate the scripture and read it aloud, identifying the gift it described. I kept a master list of the references and gifts in case the children needed help identifying the specific gift mentioned.

This took only a few minutes daily, but during those minutes we thought about and expressed gratitude for the many marvelous gifts we have received from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. And isn’t that what Christmas is about?

Here are some of the references I have used and the gifts they mention:

1. Atonement

John 3:16–17

2. Scriptures

D&C 20:8–11

3. Baptism

3 Ne. 11:33

4. Testimony

Alma 5:45–46

5. Prayer

3 Ne. 13:9–13

6. Earth

Isa. 45:18

7. Repentance

D&C 58:42

8. Spiritual gifts

D&C 46:11–26

9. Music

D&C 25:12

10. Jesus Christ

Luke 2:1–14

You can personalize the list for your own family.Janet L. Brodie, Kendall Park, New Jersey

Earthquake Drill

Responding to the need for family preparedness, our family periodically sets aside a family home evening to teach and practice different preparedness skills.

One Monday evening just before dinner, my husband, Richard, and I turned off every light in the house except the kitchen light. When dinner was over, Richard got up and turned off the kitchen light as well. At the same moment, I told our children we were having an earthquake drill. The children and I scrambled under the table while my husband took refuge in the kitchen doorway. We talked to each other throughout the “quake,” reassuring ourselves of each other’s safety, just like we would do if the quake were real.

After two or three minutes, we told our children that the imaginary earthquake was over but that it had left us with no electricity. We asked the children to show us what they would do if we were not with them. The children led us through the dark house to the shelf where we keep our emergency supplies—an emergency pack for each member of the family as well as flashlights and extra batteries.

We then pretended that we could smell gas, and we taught our oldest son how to turn off the gas, water, and power before we evacuated the house. We secured the house, grabbed our emergency packs, and climbed into the car.

Making believe that the nearest safe place to go was the ward meetinghouse, we drove there and unloaded our packs. We sat down in a circle to talk about the things we had done during our earthquake drill and what we would do next.

We located our emergency notebooks kept in the handy outside pockets of our emergency packs. In these notebooks are the names, birth dates, and other pertinent information for each member of the family. There is also a list of telephone numbers of extended family members and friends, including the number of a contact person living outside our geographic area.

On another page is an inventory of everything in the emergency pack and basic instructions on how to use some of the items. There is also a list of simple games and activities to help the children pass the time.

We then discussed the proper use of each item in our packs. Our Scout-age sons told us how we could build a shelter with the piece of rope and the ground sheet. My husband reviewed the contents of the first-aid kits and showed us how to do various types of bandaging. We ended the evening by reading from copies of the Book of Mormon we had in our emergency packs.

When we returned home and replaced our supplies on the shelf, we were grateful that the experience had only been a trial run. We know, however, that if a disaster ever does strike, we will already have made an important step toward realizing the Lord’s promise “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).Brenda Molnar, Abbotsford, British Columbia

Home Evening—Primarily by the Book

Our ten-year-old twins have a number of speech and learning problems, and it is sometimes difficult to find family home evening games, stories, and visual aids they enjoy and that keep their interest. One day, I realized that I had overlooked a valuable resource—the Primary manuals. I immediately looked through a manual from the class my sons had attended the year before; I found stories, games, and crafts the twins loved and remembered. When I found that our other children also enjoyed the Primary-lesson activities, I purchased a few manuals to use as permanent resource books. (You can also check out manuals from your meetinghouse library.)

Now we regularly use ideas from the Primary manuals in our home evenings. But I am careful never to take away from a teacher’s presentation by choosing something from a lesson before he or she teaches it. Instead, I reinforce what my children have already learned.Susan Pfeifer, North Ogden, Utah

[photos] Photography by Matthew Reier

[illustration] Illustrated by Phyllis Luch