“Family Home Evening—Any Size, Any Situation,” Ensign, Dec. 2001, 40–43
Single? Married with young children? A family of teenagers? Widowed or divorced with children? “Empty-nesters”? Home alone? No matter your situation or the size of your family, family home evening can work for you. The Ensign asked its readers to write about their family home evening experiences. Following are some of their testimonies and memories.
As a single parent with three sons, I have learned that the Lord will bless us when we make an effort to have family home evening. One Monday evening I had not prepared a lesson but went ahead anyway. We sang “I Am a Child of God” and then knelt down on the living room floor and had an opening prayer. I began by reading out of a Book of Mormon picture book about the Lamanites in the forest. We took special interest in an illustrated picture of the Lamanites by their tents. Before long, we were discussing how it would be to live in a tent all the time with wild animals around. We decided to build our own tent and pretend that we were like the Lamanites in the wilderness.
Our tent used up every blanket, chair, stool, and pillow in the house and consumed the entire living room. When it was finished, we rolled up one side so we could see the television. We ate ice cream cones while we watched a Church video. The boys and I grew closer together that night as we sat snuggled together in that tent. The Spirit was so strong as I felt their love for me and each other.—Lauri Meacham Saunders, Nampa Second Ward, Nampa Idaho South Stake
One family home evening, we all gathered around the dining room table in a room at the back of our house. It had a sliding glass door facing a fenced field with our sheep. We sang some songs and had an opening prayer. For the lesson, Dad asked us to call the sheep. We each took our turn and called the sheep, but they didn’t come.
Dad then walked to the door. As he called out, all the sheep ran quickly to the fence, bleating loudly at him. They called to him until he returned to the table.
Then Dad read to us from the New Testament: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
I learned that night the importance of building a strong relationship with the Savior so that I would always know the Shepherd’s voice when I heard it.—Becky Shaw, Sandy Second Ward, Sandy Utah West Stake
In our family, the first family home evening of the month is reserved for testimony bearing. On one such occasion, when I was 14 years old, I was determined not to bear my testimony. However, as our testimony meeting began, I literally felt a burning within that urged me to stand. Unwillingly I stood before my family, not knowing what I was going to say. Incredible feelings of the Spirit enveloped me as I bore witness of the things I knew were true. I was astonished at my feelings, and by the end of my testimony I sat down, sobbing.
Later that evening, my father talked with me. As I tried to explain what had happened, I was again overwhelmed with those same feelings. My dad explained that what I was feeling was the Holy Ghost witnessing to me that what I had said was true and of God. Dad gave me a big hug. I told him that this was the first time I had ever felt such strong feelings pertaining to the gospel. He then said something I will never forget, “Isn’t it wonderful that you could feel these first-time feelings with your family?”
I’m grateful that family home evening provided the opportunity for this important spiritual experience in my life.—Darla F. Jones, Maple Hills Ward, Tooele Utah East Stake
After my children left home, I stopped holding family home evening. One day I realized that I could hold it by myself, so I decided to give it a try. I sang a hymn and read the scriptures and an article in the Ensign. I finished up with another hymn and prayer. I felt very good about it all and shed a few tears of joy. I felt the Spirit of the Lord strongly, letting me know I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do. That was a few years ago, but I still hold family home evening on my own every week.—Elena Neale, Swansea Ward, Merthyr Tydfil Wales Stake
As a divorced dad, I worried about my two young children—David and Sarah—who lived more than 500 miles away in Hanover, Pennsylvania, from me in Indianapolis, Indiana, and without the gospel. I talked with my bishop, and he suggested that I use my family home evening time each week to write a personal letter to each of my children. He promised me that my faithfulness in this task would provide the key to answering my prayers for my children’s well-being and lead my children to baptism. I was skeptical that letters could make the difference, but I followed his counsel.
Years passed, and I continued to write each week and visit whenever I could. Unfortunately, my children seemed to be moving further and further away from interest in the gospel. It was discouraging, and I worried about their spiritual welfare.
Nonetheless, as David and Sarah became young adults, both of them chose to be baptized—one in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and the other a few years later in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Tears of gratitude came to my eyes as they gave me the great honor of participating in their baptisms. Exercising faith in the promises of the Lord helped bring forth this blessing on behalf of my children.—Larry D. Kump, Martinsburg Ward, Winchester Virginia Stake
Our family home evenings were a bit different as all of us who gathered together were single—the only Latter-day Saints in each of our families. Our group included a kind and intelligent bachelor in his 60s, a loving woman in her 30s, a 17-year-old student, and me, a young single woman. The missionaries and numerous others who passed through our ward were always welcome too.
We took turns giving the lessons and planning the activities. It was a joy to teach the gospel to each other, and we always finished off with sausage rolls, biscuits, and a lot of laughter. One time we hired a minibus and went to see the Christmas lights in a little village some distance away. Meeting every Monday evening, we became close friends. The Spirit of the Lord was always there.
I’m married now with two little girls, but I’ll always be grateful for my treasured memories of this family home evening group.—Lorraine Wallis-Plant, Barnsley Branch, Sheffield England Stake
We were having difficulty teaching our 14-year-old daughter a certain principle, so we decided to use family home evening as a tool. When it came her turn to give the lesson, we assigned her a topic that would address her problem. She was very diligent in preparing and presenting the lesson. Right in the middle of the lesson she stopped talking, took a quick deep breath, covered her mouth with her hand, and burst into tears. Very humbly she turned to us and said, “I’m sorry.” For the first time she realized what she had been doing was wrong and understood why we were so concerned. Family home evening opened the door to repentance for her.—Liana R. Richins, Valencia Branch, Tucson Arizona West Stake
Gardening can be a great unifying activity, as President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) and other Church leaders have taught. One of our favorite family home evenings came from working in our garden together. When we started, we never guessed it would bring us so much laughter and become such a treasured memory. We just knew something had to be done, since most of the weeds in our once-lovely garden spot were taller than some of our children! Pulling those huge weeds was too hard, so Mom, Dad, and all five children stomped them down. Then we covered the garden spot with layers of newspaper held in place with a thick dousing of fresh grass clippings. By the time we finished, the garden spot looked great. Because everyone worked well together, the task was accomplished quickly and we weren’t even very tired.
Though it was late in the season, the next day we scraped aside a small section of newspaper and grass from the center of the garden and poked some pumpkin seeds into the ground. Everyone was curious to know if we would have pumpkins before it became too cold.
We watched as little pumpkins began to grow. By the last week in October, we had several good-sized pumpkins. The only problem was that they were still green. Undaunted, we decided to pick them anyway and carve jack-o-lanterns. What a surprise when we turned them over and discovered that they were bright orange on the other side! When we carved them, they looked like little orange pumpkin faces with lots of green hair! They were the funniest looking jack-o-lanterns we had ever seen. This activity brought us not only a few gardening skills, but family unity and joyous memories as well.—Kathey Ahlstrom, Fairborn Ward, Dayton Ohio East Stake
“Family home evenings are for everyone, whether it be in a two-parent home, a single-parent home, or in a single-member family unit.”
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “‘Therefore I Was Taught,’” Ensign, May 1994, 38.
More on this topic: See “A Tale of Two Families,”Ensign, Dec. 2000, 58–61; “Looking for a Family Home Evening Lesson?”Ensign, July 1999, 22–27; Robert D. Hales, “Strengthening Families: Our Sacred Duty,”Ensign, May 1999, 32–34.
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