Using Spark Station Principles – The Sunday Box

by Mary Ann on May 10, 2010

I recently received a wonderful email from a woman I admire who attended a class that I taught. She said, “I am certain that teaching principles works.  That’s what you did and so I can then take it and be inspired in the right way for me and my family.”

She couldn’t have said anything that would have made me feel happier. The whole goal of a well taught class or seminar is that people go home and do something, make some change for the better. So what was the change for the better that my friend made? In what way did she use the principles I taught? Here is what she shared with me.

“I want to share my own experience with your Spark Station presentation.  I loved it and learned a lot.  I especially appreciated that you taught from principles and encouraged individual application for each family.  Well this is what came to me from your class and a bit of prodding from the spirit.  About two weeks ago after church my three boys donned their play clothes and off they went out to the garden to dig.  They had been digging there all week, working on this fort they are making.  As I watched them go I wondered how right it was for them to go dig on Sunday when that is there everyday “work.”  But I enjoyed the quiet of my house while they were out there for hours digging.  Then this last Monday I happened to glance–it was just a glance– at a title in the Ensign [magazine] about meaningful Sabbath activities.  Then yesterday morning while I was meditating I had this cool idea to make a Sabbath day “box” or you would call it a Spark Station.  So this afternoon I am going to create our Sabbath day Spark Station using the principles you taught in your class.  I am excited.”

Well, I am excited also. I am excited because the whole premise behind “The Spark Station” is that parents will use it to inspire their children with things that matter to them, may matter to the child or will enrich the child’s life and/or experience. Some one once said that this was a bit like manipulation. Pashaw!! It isn’t anything like that. Every good mentor or coach helps the student or mentee look beyond what they know and are familiar with, to things that can possibly give them wings.

In this case, a mother wanted to teach her son’s about honoring the Sabbath as she believes in it; she wanted to expand their thinking of “rest” and she wanted to give them tools that would take them in that direction. I assume that the term inspire not require is working for her. She isn’t requiring a certain behavior or outlook but she is inspiring her children in that direction. So what happened when she made this “Sunday” Spark Station?

“I put the box together this last week and couldn’t wait to unveil it after Sunday dinner.  My husband and I were amazed that for hours on end we had all six children in the room together.  The box had that kind of power.  Whereas, other Sundays they would have been scattered through the house doing their own things.  So I had my 17-4 year old all right there around the table.  I had Sunday samplers material (embroidery stuff) and every child except the 4 year old made at least one yesterday.  There were inexpensive journals and three children chose to write in their journals with mom’s help. I had three recipes in there and one chose to make pudding from scratch.  One chose to write a letter with the letter writing material in the box.  So much wasn’t even touched yesterday and I look forward to changing out what I have in there.  It was the highlight of our Sabbath and it brought such a nice feeling.  Can’t wait til next Sunday and neither can the children.  In fact we will have to bring it out on Saturday because of conference this week.  I am sold …”

Don’t you just love it? I don’t care whether you are talking about home school, family solidarity, Sunday observance or any number of other “family engagements.” The principles that make the Spark Station work make families work. Let’s review the “5 rules of engagement”.

1. Structure time not content and be consistent

2. Be present.

3. It is only available during the structured time.

4. When you add an item remove an item.

5. Weekly planning.

If you can just internalize these 5 principles I think that whatever you are trying to deal with will be more successful and you will feel more powerful in your role as a parent and mentor.

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