Just Spencer and Me
September 2001

“Just Spencer and Me,” Ensign, Sept. 2001, 67–68

Just Spencer and Me

As a single mother of a toddler, I had little motivation to hold family home evening. It seemed like a great deal of work to plan a home evening for just Spencer and me.

One Sunday the lesson in Relief Society was about preparing our children to serve missions. Being a convert, I wanted nothing more than to have Spencer someday go on a mission. Even though he was only 18 months old, I knew if he was going to serve a mission when he was older, I should lay the foundation for his service now.

So I left Relief Society that day determined to begin holding family home evening with my little son. It would be a lot of work and require ingenuity, but I had hope for great rewards down the road.

As I moved forward, I felt that Heavenly Father blessed me. I was amazed and grateful to find that ideas popped into my head at the oddest moments. While removing mascara with a cotton ball, I realized cotton balls would make a nice little sheep to go along with a lesson about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. While pouring juice into a tall paper cup, it occurred to me that the cup could be a great stand for paper figures of Joseph and his many-colored coat that Spencer and I would be painting during family home evening.

Because I have little musical talent, for our opening and closing songs I turned to tapes of Church music. Spencer became the person in charge of our music, which meant that he selected one of the tapes and loaded it into the tape player.

By the second week Spencer was excited about family home evening. He would eagerly run for the Church music tapes. He looked forward to our simple stories and art projects. He loved helping Mommy prepare the treats.

Rewards I thought were many years down the road began to come immediately. Each Monday evening, no matter how hectic and horrible the day had been, the sweetest spirit entered our home. Spencer anticipated family home evening with an eagerness I never thought possible for one so young. He also seemed to fall asleep more quickly and contentedly on these nights than on others. My prayers were filled with gratitude for the help I received in finding ideas suitable for my little son.

Several months later, we started to visit a young girl from our ward named Shelah who had muscular dystrophy and was on an extended hospital stay. One week as I planned family home evening, I thought it would be a good idea to visit Shelah and hold family night in her room so she could join in. Shelah’s parents had divorced, and I thought she might enjoy participating with us.

The first Monday we held family home evening in Shelah’s hospital room a group from the ward stopped by to visit and joined in the lesson. It was an enjoyable experience, and we returned the following week and held family night in the common area of the hospital. Several patients became curious about what we were doing. We let others join us, and our group grew.

Blessings continued to come as we diligently held family home evening. Spencer became familiar with scripture stories, latter-day prophets, and the blessings of prayer. He also became sensitive to people who were sick or lonely.

When I began to hold regular family home evenings, I thought only of the blessings that would come later in life. Now I realize that following the counsel of latter-day prophets regarding family night opened the portals of heaven, allowing sweet blessings to fall upon my family right from the start.

  • Bonnie Sprinkel Bell is a member of the Manassas Second Ward, Centreville Virginia Stake.

Illustrated by Brian Call