Sunday, June 8, 2014


  In the April 2008 issue of the Ensign, our newly sustained prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, provided three guides to eternal happiness. Speaking of the first guide--"Learn from the Past"--he said it was our privilege and responsibility to build on the "firm and stable" examples of, as well as the faithful lessons learned by, our stalwart forebears. President Monson then emphasized his point by recounting the true story of Benjamin Landart, a man who lived in the late 1800's. In brief, Benjamin was a violinist who loved to play his violin. However, when "the test" came, the one that determined which he loved more, music or God, he chose God and sacrificed not only his cherished, musical opportunities, but also his instrument, to serve a mission for the Lord.

   As I read that story, I pondered on the faith and sacrifices of my own forebears, a few of whose stories I have had published in the Friend, and I wondered, what more can I do to remember my past? Or, more importantly, what more can I do to help my children remember and learn from their heritage?
    Three ideas came to mind:

1.     We can attend/hold family reunions and take part in their many and varied historically oriented activities, like Family Scavenger Hunts and Tours into the Past.
2.     We can use events from our ancestor's lives as teaching tools. For example, when I need to talk with my children about chastity, I can tell them about their great-great grandmother who disarmed a would-be rapist with her unquenchable faith and complete trust in God. Or when I want to discuss the importance of keeping our language clean, I can recount how their grandmother, a slight but steadfast woman, stood up to a large, foul-mouthed war veteran, telling him in no uncertain terms that he must discontinue his blasphemous speech; and he, to everyone's surprise, contritely complied. 
3.     We can create simple, Family History Coloring Books during Family Home Evening. ( I give credit to my mother for inspiring this idea.) The steps are:
    • Choose an ancestor whose life you would like to highlight. For example, when my mother put together a similar idea, she chose my grandfather, Henry Gibb. 
    • Designate someone (an older child or adult) to read your chosen ancestor's life history and list several, one or two sentence facts about him or her. These can include birth/wedding/death dates and places, lifestyles, accomplishments, beliefs, and humorous or touching anecdotes. For instance, my mother's book included:
          1.  Henry was born in Lehi, Utah.
          2.  When he was a child, he fell into a rain barrel. A neighbor who happened to be walking by saw his feet poking out of the top and rescued him.
          3.  Henry enjoyed riding "willow horses" in a nearby grove of willow trees. 
    • Write a separate statement at the bottom of several pieces of paper.
    • Divide the pages among the children.
    • Ask the children to "illustrate" them with simple, able-to-be-colored drawings.
    • When the pages are complete, gather and organize them into a book then photocopy. 

    As I previously indicated, my mother inspired my Family History Coloring Book idea, but what I didn't mention is that both my parents have been the motivational link in all my family history efforts because they have regularly worked to acquaint--unite--their children with their ancestors. Maybe this is because FAMILY is so important to them. Or maybe it's because their hearts are fully turned to their fathers. But either way, or both, one thing I know is their hearts have turned my heart. Now I, in like manner, have the privilege and opportunity of helping my children's hearts to "turn" as well.

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