At the top of most LDS mothers’ wish list is the hope and prayer that their children will be faithful and grow up willing to serve the Lord and keep his commandments. Many mothers, including me, often insist they want no other gift for Christmas than for their children to make correct choices.
It can be a blessing to remember that there is a commandment with a promise that can help to make this righteous desire happen. Not only are we taught that our families will be given temporal and spiritual blessings if we keep the Sabbath, but the Lord also specifically promises us that by keeping his day holy we will be able to “more fully keep [ourselves] unspotted from the world” (D&C 59:9-10).
Certainly in a world where our children are surrounded by evil influences and are confronted by temptations at every turn, the promise of such divine protection for them brings hope and reassurance.
Even though a righteous father and patriarch in the home may declare, “As for me and my house, we will honor the Sabbath,” it is generally the mother who manages the home in such a way that this can actually happen.
The mother knows just how true the catchy maxim is that “in order to keep Sunday holy, she has to keep Saturday hopping.” In other words, it takes two days to keep the Sabbath holy. If it can’t be Saturday, then it needs to be Friday for making Sunday preparations, with the help of everyone in the family doing such things as grocery shopping, laundering and ironing clothes, cleaning the house, and preparing meals as much as practicable so as to require only minimum effort on Sunday.
Sunday dinner, basically prepared the day before, could well be one of the best meals of the week. Such a meal seems to have a positive effect on children as they associate a delicious dinner and a pleasant family time around the table with church attendance and keeping the Sabbath.
For example, Sunday dinner could consist of pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, hot rolls, a vegetable, a green salad, and ice cream for dessert. Each family member “specializes” in one aspect of the meal: someone makes the roll dough on Saturday, someone else prepares ahead for a salad, another is in charge of peeling the potatoes, someone puts the roast in the crock-pot Sunday morning, and so on, down to setting the table. Then the family works as a team to quickly clean up afterwards.
It’s the advance planning and preparation that does the trick. Those who cook, clean, do the laundry, shop, and iron seven days a week usually find that life is a miserable grind and may feel themselves wearing down. They can hardly face Monday morning and “the same old thing all over again.” They miss the refreshing and needed break Sunday should offer in the routine of their lives.
Just as the law of tithing is the Lord’s way of helping us budget our money wisely and have it go further as a result, so is keeping the Sabbath day the Lord’s plan for helping us schedule and manage our time more effectively. And just as with paying tithing, honoring the Lord’s holy day brings blessings, both temporal and spiritual.
The spirit of the Sabbath can be further enhanced in a home through a variety of ways. Strains of inspirational music heard throughout the house can help create a beautiful Sunday atmosphere. Videos, DVDs, games, projects, and activities that are appropriate for the day can be set aside to be enjoyed by family members.
Children can be taught that the Sabbath is not just a block of meetings, but rather it is an entire day. Wise parents will help children see appropriate activities as pleasant and edifying, not as limiting and depriving. Children need to be carefully and lovingly guided to look forward to Sunday rather than to dread it.
It is important to manage Church meetings and assignments in a way so as not to interfere with important family togetherness. Extra effort in planning and prioritizing is helpful when responsibilities are especially heavy so the family feels blessed, rather than neglected. A typical Latter-day Saint Sunday is not a day of rest in the sense that we become idle, but that that we rest from our worldly cares so that we can give special attention and care to the Lord’s work. Doing so in this spirit can make all the difference.
There is cause for rejoicing for us mothers in knowing that if we manage our household in a manner so as to honor the Sabbath, the Lord promises we will be able to “more fully keep [ourselves] unspotted from the world” (D&C 59:9-10). Certainly in this world of much filth and degradation, the promise of such divine protection for our children is a blessed one indeed. It would be a gift beyond measure.