One night I was reading this great book with Ollie.
We were on Chapter 5, "Traveling in the Wilderness."
I read the words of this little square out loud to him: "The Lord wanted Lehi's sons to have wives who would teach their children the gospel."
When I read that it hit me like it never has before. It was of those moments where the Spirit teaches you something you've always known, but in a way that speaks to your mind and embeds in your soul in a way it hasn't before.
Later that night I looked up the scripture referenced below the picture.
The Lord sent Lehi's family back to Jerusalem to get wives - so they could have companionship and create families but - specified here - so they would teach their children the gospel! I especially love how it's phrased in verse 1 - "raise up seed unto the Lord." Not only are our children our seed - but to me they are little seedlings, waiting at our feet to be taught. Two of my favorite motherhood quotes are, "Teach at the cradle" (Elder Perry) and "The cure for crime is not the electric chair, but the high chair." How early is it to start teaching my children the gospel? I guess there never is too early a time. Walking the church halls on Sunday with a child pre-nursery age, wondering what your purpose is at church when you're just in the halls most of church. Well Carly, at least being in the building and allowing your child to feel the Spirit, and showing them the pictures on the wall, and letting them feel your love as you hold them close to your heart - that is good. That is "raising seed unto the Lord."
Sometimes it's hard for me to figure out when to teach my children besides the set times of weekly Family Home Evening and nightly scripture study. I often feel overwhelmed with just taking care of them, let alone deliberately teaching them. Often times (okay, most times) when we have planned, spiritual times they are not reverent and sacred times. They are "we are doing this because we know we should and will be blessed" times and children are whining and parents are disciplining and the Spirit is way in Antartica and there seemed to be more peace in our home before we started the spiritual time. 😂 But. I trust that learning still happens and know it's the right thing to do.
But then there are these spontaneous teaching moments that come up, and come up more and more now that I am trying to notice and act on them better - like Ollie asking what the new picture is on the wall (we learned about Joseph Smith this past FHE and I taped his picture on the wall), and I answered his question but sadly instead of elaborating and teaching I attended to what I was currently doing (cleaning up the table). But then during bath time I remembered his earlier question and had a gentle nudge that this was a great time to elaborate. I asked if he remembered the new picture on the wall. I asked if he could repeat the word "dispensation" and I taught him how Joseph was the first prophet of this dispensation. I explained that he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and they talked to him.
*Carter is whining in the background, Ollie's head is partially submerged under the water, I'm tired*
But then Ollie's head pops up and says, "Yeah, I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus."
My friend Ashley mentioned one of her goals is to sing to her children at night. I agree with her that bedtime is a stressful time, and often I want to throw them in bed instead of take time to nurture and love in that moment. :) But tonight I had a gentle nudge to sing to him. Sing to him more. I sang him a song my dad used to sing to me, "There is a Green Hill Far Away." As Ollie's eyelids became heavy, the tender words testified of a Savior who loves him.
I've also noticed there are little "pockets of time" that come up, in addition to the spontaneous teaching moments, that I am going to try to take more advantage of. Some pockets of time I've noticed are when dinner gets cleaned up quicker than normal and I lay on the living room floor out of exhaustion, but the boys think it's the best thing ever and as we are playing, I can take time to talk to them about what we learned in FHE, what they learned in church, how special they are, where they came from, why families are important, etc. These pockets of time are short and sweet, but when they do happen they can be put to use wisely if I choose to have a teaching opportunity ready in my mind. I've also felt prompted lately to teach my boys a new primary song each week for at the beginning of FHE and then sing it to them throughout the week so they are learning the gospel principle in the song and also learning the song to have in their mind and heart when they are older and need good things in their mind.
I could go more into my fears about what my children will face as they grow older, but this scripture brings me comfort. They will be able to fight their own personal battles and the battles of the world Satan will throw their way not with any weapons, but because the word of God had been taught to them:
And it came to pass that they came many times against us, the Nephites, to battle. But our kings and our leaders were mighty men in the faith of the Lord; and they taught the people the ways of the Lord; wherefore, we withstood the Lamanites and swept them away out of our lands, and began to fortify our cities, or whatsoever place of our inheritance.
That little scripture square on that night many months ago helped me understand my most important role as a mother - to deliberately teach my children the gospel.