You mentioned a long time ago about something special that you do with the kids for Fast Sunday. Would you please share that with us?
I get this question in different variations quite a lot so here’s my answer (along with a little bit about “family testimony meeting” I wrote about and never posted a while ago):
Growing up LDS meant, among a myriad of other things, that after we turned eight we fasted together once a month on “Fast Sundays” (the first Sunday of each month). We skipped two meals as we prayed for specific needs and searched for needed answers. Fasting has made a huge impact in my life, as it has led me to many really important decisions…where I should go to college, whether or not I should serve a mission for my church, whether or not I should marry Dave.
Sure, it took a while to get to the point of really understanding how powerful something like that can be, but we knew from a young age that fasting made that day stand out. It made it special.
The thing that stood out the very most wasn’t that I was hungry. It was our Family Testimony Meetings right before we had our evening meal.
We gathered together and took turns telling each other what we believed and what we were thankful for. We shared experiences we had had over the last month and shared our love for each other as well as for the Savior. In having an opportunity to share what we believed we essentially figured out what we believed and those beliefs gained more and more strength through the years.
After all those years I don’t remember anything specific that was said. But I distinctly remember the feeling in that room each month. It was thick with love.
Fast forward to now: Dave and I do this with our kids on Fast Sundays. It is funny how I somehow expected that it would be just magically be the same as it was growing up for us.
I forget that the testimony meetings I remember are the ones from my teenage years, not from when we were just a slew of ragamuffins my parents tried so shuush and train to be reverent. Our kids are wiggling, fidgeting maniacs. They complain of starving to death and they often just repeat what they heard in church. But each month our own family testimony meeting brings that much more love into our family room. And I’m extra thankful for that.
One thing I have started in our family to help the kids feel like it’s actually a privilege that they get to fast (because really, it is), rather than being torture is our “Fasting Club.” I started this when Max turned eight and looked a little dubious that his little sisters were eating to their hearts’ delight when he was suffering over in the corner with his stomach growling. I knew that “clubs” are things everyone wants to be a part of, so I told Max (intentionally right in front of his sisters) that because he was eight he got to be a member of a special club with me. It was our own special “Fasting Club” and only those eight and older could be in it.
The girls’ eyes flew open in jealousy that they didn’t get to be in the club, and Max’s scowl turned gradually into a sly little grin.
In our little club we read a few favorite scriptures, talked about what we were fasting for, and talked about any times we had felt the spirit in our lives that past month.
Now, don’t go thinking that this is some miraculous way to get your kids to fast with glee. It’s still tough for our kids even with our “Fasting Club” three kid-members strong now (Max, Elle, Grace are all members now). But it’s a little way to make the day more meaningful and purposeful. And it’s an opportunity for me to selfishly get my kids to myself and to talk about things that are so dear to my heart.
I hope that through this little club I am planting spiritual seeds in the hearts of my children that will grow and flourish. I hope that one day these things will be as dear to them as they are to me.
Love it! Thanks so much for sharing!! We are starting this on Sunday!
What a great idea, my eldest turns 8 in a few months. Can u tell me, fron the age of 8 do your children fast for 24hrs or 2 meals as in ( miss breakfast and lunch. Me and my hubby do 24 hrs, but i don't know about an 8 yr old.. are they ok? LOL
Oh i LOVE the fasting club idea! My 8 yr olds don't fast 24 hours dresselfam, they fast one meal. When they turn 12 then they are expected to fast the full 24 hours (in fact this sunday is my new 12 year olds first time to fast that long….we'll see how it goes!
What a wonderful idea, thanks for sharing!! 🙂
Love this idea!!!! I will be starting it this Sunday!!! Thank you so much!!!!
Love this idea! I think this will go a long way with my "struggling to fast 1 meal" 9 year old.
Thanks so much Shawni for sharing that idea – often my children will act like fasting is a punishment – it will be nice to focus on the blessing it is instead! I remember family spiritual discussions over Sunday dinners with my husbands family when we were newlyweds and I think this will be a nice way to start those in our own family – starting tomorrow night.
I saw this one day too late! My oldest just turned 8 and we were planning on having him fast with us today, but then I completly forgot about having him fast with us this morning! I love this idea and yes he will love the "club" idea too! Thank you!
Hi Shawni —
I'm a single mom of four kids and have an organizational question for you . . . I'm like your husband Dave and crave neatness and no clutter. Unfortunately, this doesn't work out so well when you have four kids! But I try, nonetheless. Just wondering what you do about school work/memorabilia that you want to keep, and how you limit it and organize it. It's the end of the school year here (year-round school) and I'm dealing with the inevitable bring-it-all-home syndrome. They're proud of their "stuff" and want to keep everything and I either throw things away when they're not looking (and reap the tearful consequences later) or stash it to deal with later (which never comes). Thus, I am beginning to have a nice little collection and piles of paintings, essays, piano recital programs, etc., etc. Figured you had dealt with this and just wondered what your system is. Love your blog and even though I am not LDS, I am very inspired by your posts on mothering and family life and feel it has put me back on track more than once with where I need to be. That is appreciated – thank you.
You always seem to be able to take a good idea and make it better. Love it!