Family Home Evening started out as many do for me- flying by the seat of my pants and a prayer. You see, I know the family needs this moment in time, but sometimes, especially lately, I’m just plain unable to plan ahead through the stress of day. But the Lord never lets me down when I let him help; and this one was so awesome I had to share!
As I gathered my family around for the song and a prayer, I was casting my thoughts and my eyes around the stuff in the room, wondering what would be a good object lesson for the day. I had caught onto a question in church, about how we can “make our influence felt?” but I didn’t know where to go with it. Then, just as all the kids were all settled and ready for me to talk, my eyes landed on one of the small jars of homemade vanilla extract that I had made for local Christmas gift exchanges this year. Suddenly the whole lesson was there in my head. So I began.
“Do you know what this is?” I asked. After the round of no’s and good guesses, I told them. “This is the gift that I made for us to give away this year- Inside this little jar is a real, actual vanilla bean. What do yo notice about it? “and this is where it got Good. So here it goes…
“You see, the vanilla bean looks a bit like a piece of hard, dark leather or shoestring. It has a tough skin, like maybe it’s had a hard life. But after you bruise and scratch it to get through it’s shell, maybe even brake it in half, you put it into a jar of liquid and leave it there for a while. Slowly, bit by bit, the clear liquid starts to take on the warm brown color of the vanilla and starts to smell sweeter and sweeter.
We are all like the Vanilla Bean, and the world is like the clear liquid. We color and influence those around us- bit by bit, by sharing with those we meet the sweet goodness inside of us. Sometimes we get bruised and battered around a bit- and we feel a little torn around the edges. But it turns out, in the big picture of things, that those superficial things serve to let our goodness be seen and noticed by others. Then as they are touched by our example and influence, they feel more like touching those others around them that we might not even know about. Soon our vanilla warmth and goodness has flavored a whole jar full of liquid, and it’s ready to flavor things we cook.
“Christ taught about the power of influence and example, but the object that he used was a candle. ‘You are a light to the world.’ He said. And there is no amount of darkness that can put out our flame by itself, not without help. What puts out a candle? Wind, moisture, direct touch, suffocation; there are things that can influence the light if we let it, just like there is things in the world that can make it hard for us to keep shining. To protect a candle, we put it into a hurricane glass. the high walls keep out the wind and influences, allowing the flame to burn. Our hurricane glass is ours to create, by what we allow around us in our own home. Staying in control of our TV and media input, praying, all these things that we already know, as well as helping each other- our family was created as a place to go to recharge and refresh 0ur own candle’s hurricane glass, so that we can keep on going in this world of wind.”
Well- that was the main lesson- and it took a full 20 minutes to move through this much. I don’t ever try to shut down all the details and repeats. It’s more like directing a singalong, and just par for the course in a family full of lots of Aspie and HFAutistic good kids who want to make sure they got it all down and have had their say heard. It’s all good; repeating is how we learn. Anyway, wrap-up how you want to… Most weeks I am way too tired for games and treats and everything all in a single production- and my kids can’t sit still, all together in one space that long anyway. I think I’ll work on slipping the rest of the pieces in during the week. 🙂
(recipe to follow)