I am always on the lookout for neat Family Home Evening ideas; That being said, I am a lover of object lessons. I believe that we can preach and preach all we want to but some kids, or even adults for that matter, have to see something and have it relate to them. Most of our Family Home Evenings are short, quick, and more discussion-like, than lesson-like. It has to be in order to keep 7 kids remotely interested!
So, the other night, when I brought in a hatchet and a piece of wood, it certainly grabbed some attention. One of the kids conducted, as usual. Ali played a hymn on her violin, and we started with a prayer. I will not lead you on here…. sometimes, family night seems like a disaster; however, I loved Elder Bednar’s conference talk in 2009 about being consistent with our family night and I am most certainly grateful that our family is not the only one who has kids break out into a fight during FHE …. “He’s looking at me….. He’s BREATHING my air!!!!” They may not remember specific lessons but they will remember that we were consistent!
We’ve been struggling with a certain sibling showing kindness towards another certain sibling and holding grudges. So, this FHE is dedicated to removing the “wedges” in our hearts and to try to teach the importance of forgiving.
First, show the hatchet in the wood as it is in the picture…. not all the way through, but wedged in the wood.
Relate the following story:
In April 1966, at the Church’s annual general conference, Elder Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a memorable address. He quoted an account written by Samuel T. Whitman titled “Forgotten Wedges.”
Whitman wrote: “The ice storm [that winter] wasn’t generally destructive. True, a few wires came down, and there was a sudden jump in accidents along the highway. … Normally, the big walnut tree could easily have borne the weight that formed on its spreading limbs. It was the iron wedge in its heart that caused the damage.
“The story of the iron wedge began years ago when the white-haired farmer [who now inhabited the property on which the tree stood] was a lad on his father’s homestead. The sawmill had then only recently been moved from the valley, and the settlers were still finding tools and odd pieces of equipment scattered about. …
“On this particular day, [the lad found] a faller’s wedge—wide, flat, and heavy, a foot or more long, and splayed from mighty poundings. [A faller’s wedge, used to help fell a tree, is inserted in a cut made by a saw and then struck with a sledgehammer to widen the cut.] … Because he was already late for dinner, the lad laid the wedge … between the limbs of the young walnut tree his father had planted near the front gate. He would take the wedge to the shed right after dinner, or sometime when he was going that way.
“He truly meant to, but he never did. [The wedge] was there between the limbs, a little tight, when he attained his manhood. It was there, now firmly gripped, when he married and took over his father’s farm. It was half grown over on the day the threshing crew ate dinner under the tree. … Grown in and healed over, the wedge was still in the tree the winter the ice storm came.
“In the chill silence of that wintry night, … one of the three major limbs split away from the trunk and crashed to the ground. This so unbalanced the remainder of the top that it, too, split apart and went down. When the storm was over, not a twig of the once-proud tree remained.
“Early the next morning, the farmer went out to mourn his loss. …
“Then, his eyes caught sight of something in the splintered ruin. ‘The wedge,’ he muttered reproachfully. ‘The wedge I found in the south pasture.’ A glance told him why the tree had fallen. Growing, edge-up in the trunk, the wedge had prevented the limb fibers from knitting together as they should.”
Wedges in Our Lives
Be sure to emphasize the fact that if we refuse to forgive others, it is as though we are burying wedges in our hearts. Without removing those wedges, or forgiving others, we will soon find out that we are suseptable to falling, just as the great tree did.
If you have examples from your life, or the life of others, share it with your children. Let them know how important it is for EVERYONE–even adults– to forgive…
THEN…apply pressure to the hatchet and watch it split the wood. Let the spirit guide your discussion!