Mormon Parenting: Our Christmas gift to readers

Published: Friday, Dec. 23 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

We talked last week about a plan for making Christmas more Christ-centered for our children. This week, may we offer a Christmas gift to parents and grandparents that we hope will help in a small way to make the whole coming year more Christ-focused.

A little background first.

Many years ago while presiding over the England London South Mission, we had the strong prompting to do everything we could to help our missionaries center their work and their thoughts and their testimonies on the Savior.

We became adamant that they testified first and foremost of Christ, and that their message and witness of prophets and the Restoration and the Book of Mormon came after that and stayed focused on the added insight and faith these sources can give us about Christ and his gospel.

We did not want those who slammed their front door on the elders or sisters to go back inside their homes and report that they had just got rid of a couple of missionaries who wanted to tell them about Joseph Smith or about some golden plates. If people shut the door, we felt they needed to know they had shut it on people who were testifying of Christ and offering to teach more of him.

This concern carried over to the missionaries' study and prayer and to their partaking of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

One Sunday as we sat on the stand in the magnificent Hyde Park Chapel in the West End of London, I was looking out on a sea of missionary faces during the passing of the sacrament.

I found myself wondering what each elder and sister was thinking about. Were their minds wandering as mine often did? Were they thinking through the same thoughts they had every week of the Atonement and Resurrection — wonderful thoughts but a little repetitive and rote?

Both for ourselves and for the missionaries, we began to work on 52 little vignettes about Christ and his character and his power and his wisdom and his perfection and his total sacrifice for us. One vignette for each week of the year.

The idea was to focus each week, during the sacrament time in sacrament meeting, on a fresh, new insight or thought about the Savior. By the end of the year, having pondered 52 different facets or aspects of the Lord, perhaps we would feel like we knew him a little better, felt a bit more awe, and could worship him a little more completely.

We wrote down each of these 52 separate facets, rarely more than a page or two long, and sent them out to the missionaries for each Sunday. Coming up with them and composing them caused us to do a lot of thought and research ourselves, and we were greatly benefited by the process.

The elders and sisters would write back, sharing their thoughts, and we would edit them into the weekly vignettes.

It made the sacrament more meaningful and seemed to help with our goal of helping the whole mission to be more oriented to, and centered on, Jesus.

After returning home, we had requests from the returning missionaries and from others to share the weekly vignettes. So we edited them one more time and put them in a book called "What Manner of Man: A one-year plan for beginning to know the Savior."

We could not think of a more meaningful gift to offer readers at Christmas, so we have put it online and invite you to partake freely. Find the whole book at www.valuesparenting.com.

May it help you and your family, and us and ours (we are still reading one facet each Sunday after all these years) to have a more Christ-focused 2012.

Richard and Linda are the founders of Joyschools.com and New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com or at www.valuesparenting.com or read Linda's blog at www.deseretnews.com/blog/81/ A-World-of-Good.html. Their three latest books are "The Entitlement Trap," "5 Spiritual Solutions" and "The Three Deceivers."

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