After months of having church at home, I've missed the interactions that exist at church more than I expected. I'm so grateful we're able to have some sense of normalcy in our weekly at-home church meetings though, and recognize that many are in far more difficult circumstances.
The boys grow so much as they prepare a talk each week, and our Primary lessons have been afforded a bit more flexibility than we could have at church. Today we talked about some of the war chapters in the Book of Mormon. We discussed the ways the Nephites prepared themselves to fight the Lamanites and how they were protected with lots of armor. The boys went around and listed ways we put on armor in our battle against Satan, and I put a piece of armor on Lincoln with each thing they suggested.
Afterward, we talked about Lehonti and Amalickiah and pointed out ways Satan works like Amalickiah--by getting us to compromise our standards just a little at a time (like Lehonti coming down just a little from the mountain), and by sneaking evil into seemingly innocent places a little at a time (like Lehonti being poisoned by degrees).
After that, the boys cut pictures out of Friend magazines of people making good choices that paralleled armoring ourselves against Satan. We taped them to a big poster board shield, and then they wrote different sins on strips of paper. We crumpled up the sin papers and the boys got to take turns holding the shield while the others threw the crumpled papers at them, the shield blocking the sins.
It is fun and satisfying to be able to take part in these experiences with the boys. I have also especially loved hearing them sing the hymns with conviction each week.
I miss hearing from others and learning from their different perspectives and experiences. But one cool thing about the kids growing older is that they can sometimes provide that additional perspective and their own individual experiences with the Gospel. A few weeks ago, Talmage shared in his talk that when everything was getting shut down because of COVID-19, he started to feel discouraged. But then, he felt prompted to start creating and he felt comfort as he did so.
And boy, have the last 5 months been filled with creating!
Another mom recently asked on Facebook what kinds of activities kept pre-teens busy because she was frustrated (her son is Talmage's age) and was ready to throw electronics out the window.
It hit me that I really haven't struggled with Talmage being bored because he is CONSTANTLY creating--and he typically creates things to keep his brothers entertained. The last couple of days he has had his own restaurant with different menu items his brothers can order, and then he sets to work on his inventions in the kitchen, making everything from peanut butter playdough shaped into doughnuts to "cheesy medley" to drinks with names like "shoe polish," "cinna-milk," or "chocolate overload."
The kids have ziploc bags filled with origami animals he invented, he has designed cardboard swords for each of his brothers, the Dead Moon Opponent card game he invented is still going strong and literally hundreds of cards have been made with amazing intricacy--different phases each creature evolves into and everything. He is in the middle of writing a book (almost 10,000 words so far!) that has his brothers on the edges of their seats. It has been truly amazing to see his creativity explode.
I had not realized that was in response to a spiritual impression he had received,
and it was a sweet thing for me to learn and see how he had followed through and had such a good experience with it.
After church, while the little ones were napping, I watched the Youth Music Festival with the older boys. I felt oddly a little bit emotional as I watched because in January Talmage will officially head into Young Men's, and it is so gratifying to see the young man he is becoming and the incredible opportunities that lie before him with the youth program.
It's an amazing thing to be a part of.
I admit, sometimes Sundays can be a bit challenging with 5 young, very energetic boys in the house all day as we try to keep them engaged in quieter, more reverent activities.
But sometimes they are so rewarding--or at least moments along the way are. ;)