The purpose of this lesson is to encourage us to follow the prophet’s counsel to improve the physical and spiritual environment of our homes.
One sister who had just returned from a visit to Holland reported: “One striking observation we made while in Holland is that the homes in that tiny land have choice personalities. The window sills in those red brick homes with the red tiled roofs are always filled with rows of flower pots—usually containing geraniums. The windows are large—with never a blind or a screen to cover them. These glistening windows add to the sparkle of the home’s personality. Many of the homes are named. Above a door you might see names such as: Sunny Corner, Sunbeam, Sun Cottage, Peace Haven, Tranquility, or Peaceful Nook. … Warmth and sunshine and pleasantness, together with peace and tranquility and contentment! THESE ARE THE THINGS WHICH MAKE A HOUSE A HOME!” (Daryl V. Hoole, The Art of Homemaking , 117–18).
How do you feel when you see a clean and tidy home?
How does keeping your home and yard clean and neat show appreciation to your Heavenly Father?
Clean windows, bright flower pots, hanging baskets, and window boxes reflect individual personalities. Well-kept gardens, yards, fences, and outbuildings indicate to the community that we are fulfilling our responsibility to care for our surroundings.
The Lord gave man instructions in the Garden of Eden “to dress it, and to keep it” (Moses 3:15). The Lord requires this of us today as He did then. We are expected and required to care for and beautify whatever space we occupy on this earth.
Whether we are homeowners or tenants, we should feel responsible for keeping property clean, neat, and attractive. We should also take proper care of our animals by keeping pens, barns, and barnyards clean and in good repair and order.
“There is a story that President Brigham Young, having urged the people of certain communities to properly dress and clean their premises, refused to go back to them to preach to them, saying something like this: ‘You didn’t listen to me when I urged you to fix up your premises. The same doors are off their hinges; the same barns are still unpainted; the same fences are partly fallen’” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 5; or Ensign, May 1975, 5).
President Kimball often reminded members of the Church of the need to clean, repair, and beautify their homes. “Now we ask you to clean up your homes. … We urge each of you to dress and keep in a beautiful state the property that is in your hands” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 4–5; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 4). “Whatever your circumstance, let your premises reflect orderliness, beauty, and happiness” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 171; or Ensign, May 1976, 125).
President David O. McKay also counseled us to make our homes attractive and to have more activities there (see Gospel Ideals , 485–86). Our children will be happy and glad to bring their friends home if home is a warm, friendly, happy place.
What advantages come from cleaning and fixing up your surroundings?
When our homes are neat and orderly, they increase in value, safety, and beauty.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 132:8. Why is order important in our homes?
Order is essential in the heavens; if it were otherwise, chaos would rule. Order is just as necessary in our homes. President Kimball said, “Plan well and carry out your plan in an orderly and systematic manner” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 171; or Ensign, May 1976, 125).
Display visuals 27-a, “Children can help with household chores,” and 27-b, “Family members working to beautify the family home.”
When Brother and Sister Fox bought an old house in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA, it was in need of much repair. “Truckloads of ‘stuff’ were hauled from the house. Scrubbing and painting became a family project with Heidi, 17; Erin, 16; Nathan, 14; and Paige, 11, doing their share of the work. …
“Brother Fox explained that not all the walls and doors are exactly straight and there are breezes that blow through the rooms. …
“‘It was scary,’ Paige broke in to say. ‘But we love it.’ …
“‘Now it is a Mormon house,’ Erin said” (“A Romance between Home, Family,” Church News, 19 Aug. 1978, 5).
Why were the parents and children excited and happy about their home? Why should your home be an example to your neighbors?
We should keep our homes clean and attractive. However, we should also avoid excess in doing so. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin cautioned us against “placing improper emphasis on the obtaining of material possessions.” He warned: “Even if we are blessed enough to afford … luxury, we may be misdirecting resources that could be better used to build the kingdom of God or to feed and clothe our needy brothers and sisters [see 2 Nephi 9:51]” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 81; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 65).
We do not need expensive furnishings to improve our homes. We can often make something useful from old or discarded items. By working together we can repair and refinish old furniture that we have purchased at thrift stores or auctions. We can paint walls, ceilings, and doors, sew draperies and bedcovers, make pillows, and weave rugs.
Three simple steps can help us accomplish much with our families. First, as a family we should look around our homes to discover areas that need repair, cleaning, painting, or reorganizing.
Next, we should plan as a family to accomplish these tasks. It is important for us to organize and select only one area at a time to work on. Then we need to obtain the necessary materials, tools, and supplies to do the work we have chosen. We should involve family members by allowing them to perform tasks suited to their abilities.
Finally, we should do the work together as a family. Each person involved in the work should take pride and feel satisfaction in his or her part of the completed task. In this way, each project can be enjoyable and rewarding for the entire family. Many things can be accomplished when families organize and work together.
What home improvement or beautification projects could your family do that would cost little or nothing?
Display visual 27-c, “Temples are clean and beautiful.”
What impresses you most about the appearance of the temple? Why are temples kept so clean and beautiful?
In the Doctrine and Covenants we are told that if anything that is unclean is allowed in the Lord’s house, the glory of the Lord will not be there; His presence will not abide in unholy temples (see D&C 94:9; 97:15–17). Because we want to have the Spirit of the Lord in His holy temples, we keep them clean and beautiful and admonish all who enter to be worthy of worshiping there. We also need the Spirit of the Lord in our homes. We should, therefore, follow Church leaders’ admonitions to clean up and tidy our surroundings, making the inside and outside of our dwellings as attractive as possible.
Pleasant and orderly surroundings can do much to help us enjoy life. “A sister tells of a difficult period in her life when she lost friends and family because of her conversion to the Church. She said, ‘I was compelled to take a small apartment. And, as I looked at its squalor and disarray, a deep depression descended on me. Suddenly I could hear an inner voice saying, “The Lord’s house is a house of order.” I threw off the shackles of self-pity, rolled up my sleeves, and worked steadily until my little home was clean and cheerful. … A new spirit of home was born’” (Relief Society Courses of Study 1978–79, 69).
Plants, cut flowers, and music bring beauty into our homes. Most of us have or can develop special talents and abilities, such as embroidering, quilting, weaving, painting or drawing, flower arranging, nurturing houseplants, and so on. With these abilities, we can create beauty in our surroundings. We can soften the harsh and bring luster to the dull. We have a special, God-given role to perform as homemakers.
What simple things can you do to make your home more pleasant and spiritual? How do you feel when you clean, organize, improve, or add a touch of beauty to your home or yard?
In addition to improving and beautifying our homes, we need to do what we can to create a peaceful, tranquil spirit there. Elder Boyd K. Packer told us:
“You can do a great deal to create in your home an atmosphere of peace and homeyness and reverence and tranquility and security. You can do this without much to live on.
“Or you can create something angular and cold … and artificial. In a thousand different ways your youngsters will be influenced by the choice you make. You can set the tone. It can be quiet and peaceful where quiet and powerful strength can grow, or it can be bold and loud and turn the mainspring of tension a bit tighter in the little children as they are growing up, until at last, that mainspring breaks” (Eternal Marriage, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [14 Apr. 1970], 8).
We can improve the spiritual environment in our homes as we accept and apply the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Church leaders have reminded us often of ways to bring spirituality into our homes:
Pray together as a family night and morning.
Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Attend church regularly together.
Fast with a purpose once a month.
Study the scriptures together.
Pay a full tithe.
Hold family home evenings.
Love and serve one another unselfishly.
How can living gospel principles improve the spiritual environment in your home?
When we live according to the teachings of the Savior, we can have the Holy Spirit with us and our homes will radiate a gentle, pleasant, and attractive atmosphere for our families.
Church leaders have given us instructions from the Lord to organize, clean, paint, repair, and beautify our homes and property. As we work together as families to beautify our surroundings, we learn skills and habits that help us throughout our lives. When we give time and effort to improve our dwellings and property, we appreciate them more.
The scriptures tell us that the Spirit of the Lord cannot dwell in a place of confusion or uncleanliness. If we make our homes cheerful, clean, and inviting, our loved ones will want to be there. As we live in harmony with gospel principles, the Spirit of the Lord brings us peace and tranquillity.
During a family home evening look around your home and yard with your family to discover things that need to be cleaned, organized, discarded, painted, or repaired. Follow the instructions listed in the lesson to accomplish at least one of these tasks this month. Encourage children to clean a drawer, organize a closet, sweep, or clean a room. Express pride and appreciation to each child for his or her contribution. Determine to improve the spirituality in your home by regularly applying gospel principles in your family life.
Doctrine and Covenants 109:8 (organize, prepare, and establish a house of God)
Before presenting this lesson:
Be prepared to help class members identify areas in or around their homes that need to be cleaned or repaired.
Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.