Making Home a Haven
yourLDSneighborhood News for Monday, 19 December, 2011
Our Home as an Island
by Jennifer Ricks
Do our lives sometimes feel full of dark, foggy winter days? Perhaps the answer to dispelling the mists of uncertainty and fear is that we need to make our homes islands, havens of safety from the world’s darkness.
How do you make your home a haven? Leave us a comment.
Wintertime always brings special memories to my mind. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, instead of snow and ice in the winter, we had rain, fog, and frost. The fog could come year-round but was especially
Although the winter was wet and chill, the memories I have are of warmth, comfort, and love. As I think about those winter morning memories, I feel so grateful for my childhood home that was like an island—a haven from the chill of the world—and wonder how I can make a home like that for my own children.
Once President Monson described the state of the world before the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in a way that reminds me of foggy winter mornings: “One word and one word alone describes the dismal state that prevailed: apostasy. Generations before, Isaiah had prophesied: ‘Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people’ (Isa. 60:2). Amos had foretold of a famine in the land: ‘Not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord’ (Amos 8:11)” (“The Way Home,” Thomas S. Monson, April 1975 General Conference).
Do our lives sometimes feel full of dark, foggy winter days and a desperate thirst for warm hot chocolate and thick, hot, buttery toast? Perhaps the answer to dispelling the mists of uncertainty and fear is to do just what my siblings and I danced about on those foggy mornings: We need to make our homes islands, havens of safety from the world’s darkness.
I loved the story Elder Ronald A. Rasband shared in his conference talk “Special Experiences” in the April 2008 General Conference. He shared an experience of visiting “a small group of local members who lived out on the floating reed islands of Lake Titicaca” in Peru. As he tells the story, “A few Latter-day Saint families had joined together and built their own small, new floating island. . . . Their children paddled by canoe 45 minutes to and from Puno for seminary and school each day. . . . These members knew the scriptures well, understood them, and loved them. Eagerly they showed us their current temple recommends.”
That story has always struck me with awe. Do I have such faith and strength in my family? Am I doing as much as these faithful saints in Peru to make my home an island of safety? How can I do as much to empower my children with faith even if I live five minutes from a temple, even if I can walk to do my visiting teaching, even if my area has released-time seminary?
No matter where we live, the living prophets have taught us how to ground our homes in the gospel of Jesus Christ, creating a spiritual haven of safety for our families. In the October 2009 General Conference, Elder David A. Bednar taught us to be “more diligent and concerned at home . . . [by being] more faithful in learning, living, and loving the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” (“More Diligent and Concerned at Home”).
His third suggestion about how to be more diligent and concerned at home was to be consistent: “Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But . . . our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results.” I have realized that if I want my children to be consistent in their spirituality like the Peruvian youth, I need to make sure that I am being just as diligent in my own and in our family’s habits.
In his most recent conference address, President Thomas S. Monson said, “We must be vigilant in a world which has moved so far from that which is spiritual. . . . The storms will still beat at our doors from time to time, for they are an inescapable part of our existence in mortality. We, however, will be far better equipped to deal with them, to learn from them, and to overcome them if we have the gospel as our core and the love of the Savior in our hearts” (“Stand in Holy Places”).
Winter mornings make me think of the haven home that I was blessed to grow up in. I think of the comfort of a warm cup in my hands and smiling faces around me and remember that the peace and happiness we had stemmed from the gospel of Jesus Christ. I had the security of knowing that my family loved me, that they had faith in the Savior, and that they were consistent in doing things that would fortify me spiritually. I think of what I need to do to chink my family’s walls against the fog of the world’s deceptions in following the counsel of the living prophets, and know that by living the gospel inside our home all can be warm and bright.
Jennifer Ricks is a wife, mother, and freelance and creative writer. Her personal experience articles have appeared in all four LDS church magazines, and her blogs reflect her primary interests in living the gospel, strengthening marriages and families, and reading and writing. Visit Jennifer at aperfectbrightness.blogspot.com.