Every year our family plants a large garden because we believe in the first law of the harvest which is, you cannot reap if you do not plant first. As I throw the seeds into the ground I visualize what will begin to grow in a short time and how the garden will make the yard look. It is exciting to know what is coming and to practice faith in those little seeds.
“…for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance.” (2 Ne. 5:11)
Over the years I have learned about another law of the harvest which is equally as important to me. This second law is that if you don’t reap, or use the growing crop at the right time, then the crop is wasted and no more fruit will grow. Most things in my garden are repeat producers. Beans, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, peas, Swiss chard, asparagus, and squash are all some of our favorites. With each of these plants you have to keep harvesting or the crop will stop producing. I have found that this second law of the harvest, like the first law, applies to parenting and relationships.
What The Law Looks Like
Every day I am planting seeds of wisdom and understanding into the hearts of my children, and every day I am plucking out bad behaviors, or weeds which creep up around them. I am working diligently to keep them blooming correctly and making sure they will yield good fruit for God and the family. When everyone in a family is producing good fruit then the atmosphere is perfect. It becomes the ideal vision we are seeking each day.
In order to keep my young plants blooming and producing in their season, I have to harvest, or they will no longer produce. Holding regular family home evenings and family activities are the perfect times to harvest as a family.
A family that is growing needs personal attention, opportunities to lead, deep discussion, and fun shared experiences. All of these components are part of family home evening. The more often we have experiences like family home evening the more deep our discussions become, the more fun we have and the better leaders we make.
Leadership Is Learned At Home
Each week when our family prepares for family home evening, we look at a wooden chart on the wall to see what our individual stewardships are. Then each family member takes some time to think about his or her leadership position and prepares to fulfill what is required for that particular stewardship. Even the littlest ones, and the more shy ones get excited about their opportunity to share with the family and be a leader for a moment.
What happens if the parents don’t take their family night stewardships seriously? If dad, or mom don’t take at least a few minutes to prepare they invite their children to also treat their stewardships casually and not value the experience. This means the harvest won’t happen for them. They will have produced testimony for no immediate use. Testimony only grows when used to strengthen others. Parents, never underestimate the power of your example, for the good or the bad. Leadership is learned at home more than anywhere else.
Leadership Is Fun!
When children play with each other they take turns being the leaders. One might get to be the mommy sometimes, but has to be the sister the other time. One basketball game has one team captain while another captain is selected for another game on another day. When families play they do the same!
Our family believes in giving each family member opportunities to use their fruits by leading in family fun.
I don’t know about your house, but at my house whoever is on activity is the luckiest member of the family. This even beats out the treat person in importance. Being the leader of the fun activity is one of the highest family honors of the day. The person in charge of activity takes his planning very seriously. In our family the activity person often comes up with multiple planned activities and a back up plan should the most desired activity not be able to work.
Parents should encourage this excitement and planning and similarly plan on their activity days. We should also recognize that these fun moments are very significant in multiple ways.
First, they are very important to the person who has put the time into planning and thinking about what kind of experiences he wants with the family to build relationships, and should be valued.
Second, they are the time of the week when the family’s only objective is bonding, laughing, and loving. This makes these times magical. Maybe an argument has occurred days before and there is a relationship scar, or maybe a child or adult has felt noticeably distant and distracted from the family vision lately. Maybe a child feels disconnected from the group because she keeps getting corrected for bad behaviors. This family activity time is the perfect time to change the tone in the home and reconnect as a family.
The fun we have validates all the teaching and correcting we have to do throughout the week. It makes our family be about good positive times and not only about correcting.
In Sean Covey’s book The Six Most Important Decisions You Will Ever Make: A Guide For Teens, he talks about what he calls an RBA, relationship bank account. Covey says that the RBA is like any other bank account. That the deposits come in and the withdrawals go out. He says that when you are serving and connecting with someone you are putting deposits into your shared RBA, and when you are taking someone for granted, disappointing, disconnecting from, correcting, and negatively reacting to another person you are taking from your RBA.
When your RBA gets empty or goes into the hole your relationship is in seriously bad shape. At this point you can’t influence the other person for good anymore, and can’t effectively correct negative behaviors. Deposits must be made on a regular basis in order to keep the relationship producing positive rewards. I will only be discussing the family group relationship at this time. Much more could be shared about depositing to RBAs on an individual level.
Family home evening is the perfect excuse to make multiple deposits. It can be an environment everyone loves, especially if started while the children are young. And, is most certainly a time when families can laugh, love, and show respect to each other in a bonding sort of way.
The second law of the harvest also applies to conversations we have with each other individually and as a family. I can only discuss family conversations at this time, but will say that holding regular individual discussions is also part of our family culture.
Each day as a family we hold regular deep discussions.
This time is called family scripture study. This discussion time has no time limit and is meant to be exciting and engaging for the whole group. We offer each child a time to present reports on what they have learned during their own personal scripture study times. We memorize scripture mastery together, learn a new church song each week, and discuss the messages in the scriptures deeply. We use books to help us in our study such as: Mormon Doctrine, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, Preach My Gospel, Scripture Reader, and institute and seminary manuals.
We practice discussing each day, and then write in our scripture journals about what we studied and how we are going to be different because of it. The small children draw pictures and ask for help writing new words in short sentences, and the older children and parents write inspiring thoughts they have had. We do daily scripture study at a time when we don’t need to be pressed for time because we all feel cheated if we don’t get our deep discussions and writing time.
Since the family practices discussing each day it becomes something we all look forward too. So, at family home evening we like to allow a lot of time for group discussion and participation in the material presented. This time, as well as daily discussion time is spiritual harvesting. New gospel understanding grows when acquired knowledge is shared and discussed.
Discussing material prepared and presented my family members also shows them they have value and their ideas are helpful when shared. It is a confidence builder essential for building leaders.
What If My Children Don’t Want To Discuss?
Many families find themselves in this situation because they are just starting to hold regular gospel discussions and the children aren’t used to it. Actually, if you asked the children they may even say they are opposed to it. I was one of those teenagers who would, on purpose, distract from the flow of family home evenings because I thought I didn’t need them and that they were a bother.
So, show them they need the discussions. At my home I don’t believe in “Gerber Gospel.” We purposely discuss things that we have to search out the answers to. We liken scriptures and go as deeply as possible because it creates excitement and gives the discussion value. My husband and I have also decided to set the example of how exciting gospel study is. We always take some time to share deep thoughts with each other in front of the family. This shows that the learning never stops and that there are more exciting discussions to come.
When we had foster children who weren’t used to our faith and our family culture of open communication my husband and I would discuss in front of them so that they could learn from our discussions and see the value. We would also make a point to ask questions of the children which directly pertained to their lives and experiences so that they could comment and teach. When a person teaches and participates in a discussion they take a momentary leadership role in the family, and harvest their knowledge. This inspires them to invest more effort into the family culture, or discussion, prepares them to lead out in other situations in life, teaches them that the things taught at home help them in daily life, and shows them they have value in the family.
Harvesting Is A Family Blessing
Having regular family home evenings takes planning and disciple, but it is so worth the effort. We are promised that if we hold these meetings we will be blessed. I have seen that families who do hold family night are blessed, but I have also seen that families who use their family home evenings as an environment for the second law of the harvest are even more blessed. The family consciously shares the Spirit to testify of the gospel and strengthen an eternal bond.
The brethren have told us to bare testimony to our children and families. Family Home Evening is the perfect time for that as well. On occasion our family has even had a family testimony meeting as part of the lesson because we feel ourselves grow when we share the Spirit.
When you consciously remember to deposit in your family RBA and to incorporate the second law of the harvest into your family, then you and your family will be blessed with spiritual strength and understanding to help face the challenges of living in an “increasingly complicated and wicked world.” (Parenting A House United, Nicholeen Peck)
http://teachingselfgovernment.com is Nicholeen’s blog where she answers parenting questions and gives timely advice.