Joshua 1:9

Hello readers! I wanted to get back into writing about the gospel and The Family: A Proclamation to the World and was given a great opportunity to do so in another class. Right now, I am studying the Old Testament. The Old Testament is full of many of the stories we grew up reading in our youth. We also learn a lot about the importance of sacrifice and obedience in these scriptures. When it comes to marriage, sacrifice is obviously a huge part. But something that I find so comforting is that we don’t have to do it alone. In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, it says:

“Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

But what about when this is hard to do? What about when we feel like we are struggling in our marriages? I believe that we can find the greatest happiness in our marriages. However, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t pain as well. But, if we keep the Lord’s commandments and work hard to keep our covenants, I know that the Lord will help us through these difficult times.

In Joshua 1:9 it says, “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with the, whithersoever thou goest.” Did you hear that? The Lord can be with us wherever we go! This means that even when our marriages feel far from perfect, the Lord can be with us. When we have faith, and are strong and have the courage to keep going, the Lord will help us through any trial.

Divorce is becoming more and more accepted as time goes on. While the divorce rate for members of the Church is substantially lower than the rest of the population, it is still alarming that the divorce rate is nearly 50% for the general public. But what if instead of giving up on our marriages, we turned to the Lord for help? While some marriages may be beyond saving, many are not. In the Old Testament we learn of sacrifice. In Joshua we learn that the Lord will help us do hard things.

In this Mormon Message, Elder Dallin H. Oaks teaches us about the importance of saving and healing our marriages and how if we turn to the Lord, He will help us to do just that.

I can testify that when we have faith and are “strong and of a good courage,” the Lord can, and will, help us through any trials that we may face. He wants our marriages to succeed, and if we ask, He will be with us “whithersoever” we go.

Advertisements

The Eternal Family

“The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

~The Family: A Proclamation to the World

            “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was given to the world in 1995 by President Gordon B. Hinckley. At the time, the family, the institution of marriage, and morals in general were already starting to deteriorate in society. In fact, they had been for many years. But in the last 21 years since it was given, it has been happening at an alarming rate. There are many reasons for this that, while all are important to address, are not what I want to focus on today. Instead, I want to talk about how wonderful it is that families can be forever.

img_7313

In Chapter 32 of Successful Marriages and Families, Daniel K. Judd reiterates part of the Plan of Salvation. He teaches, “During [the] premortal period, a grand council was held where God, our Heavenly Father, presented the ‘plan of salvation’ to all of His children. The plan presented by our Father included many of the doctrines involved in the plan of salvation, including the doctrine of eternal families and the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (p. 338).

img_2079-1

The Family: A Proclamation to the World” teaches us that “The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.”

img_1597

This “divine plan of happiness” or “Plan of Salvation” that we learn about is unique doctrine to our Church. Through it we can know where we came from, what our purpose is here on Earth, and where we go when we die. Through this, we can also know that families can be eternal.

img_0931

When the gospel was restored by Joseph Smith, all of these sacred ordinances that allow us to progress and gain eternal life were restored! Elder Parley P. Pratt (who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the early days of the Church) shared his feelings about learning about the doctrine of eternal families. Part of what he said was, “I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved with—with a pureness—an intensity of elevated, exalted feelings, which would life my soul from the transitory things of this groveling sphere and expand it as the ocean” (Successful Marriages and Families, p. 343). How beautiful this is! The doctrine of eternal families can magnify love in a marriage and love within a family.

img_9124

Judd also taught that “God and His plan are eternal. He instituted marriage and family in the beginning. God created the earth, the garden, and our first parents in order to create families for all of His children to be born into and experience mortal life—especially mortal family life” (Successful Marriages and Families, p. 344).

img_1792-1

I have a strong testimony that families and marriage can be eternal through the sacred ordinances and covenants that we make in the temple. I have a testimony that our Heavenly Father loves all of His children. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, into the world to atone for our sins so that we could be able to return to Him. He loves us so much that He has given us the opportunity to have our own families and be able to be with them for eternity. I have a testimony that these blessings are available to everyone. No matter what your circumstance is, you can always come unto the Savior and prepare to go to the temple so that you can be with your family for eternity. I know that the doctrine of celestial marriage is some of the most beautiful doctrine in the gospel. I have a testimony that Joseph Smith is a prophet and was called to restore the church upon this earth so that we could have these blessings in our lives. I also know that President Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet on the earth today and that we can learn the will of the Lord through his and his disciples’ teachings. I know that our Savior lives, loves us, and wants us to feel the joy that comes from having an eternal family. I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

les-photos-363

If you want to learn more about our church, or if you are a member and have any questions at all, you can go to lds.org or mormon.org. There, you can find a treasure trove of information and also find the resources to help you contact members and missionaries alike!

I hope that you have been able to learn more about “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and how its teaching can apply to you and your family!

Image Sources:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjo3p2R6t7QAhVY-GMKHVp2DbsQjRwIBw&url=%2Furl%3Fsa%3Di%26rct%3Dj%26q%3D%26esrc%3Ds%26source%3Dimages%26cd%3D%26cad%3Drja%26uact%3D8%26ved%3D0ahUKEwjo3p2R6t7QAhVY-GMKHVp2DbsQjRwIBw%26url%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.lds.org%252Fchurch%252Ftemples%252Fportland-oregon%253Flang%253Deng%26bvm%3Dbv.140496471%2Cd.cGc%26psig%3DAFQjCNHb_zf-L7hoWnEa0Onnv8YHrT5HQQ%26ust%3D1481088323539920&bvm=bv.140496471,d.cGc&psig=AFQjCNHb_zf-L7hoWnEa0Onnv8YHrT5HQQ&ust=1481088323539920

 

When Things Get Hard: Forgiveness in Family and Marriage

“The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to change…Repenting means giving up all of our practices—personal, family, ethnic, and national—that are contrary to the commandments of God. The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change.”

~Elder Dallin H. Oaks

            Before I was married, and early in my marriage, I was studying divorce rates and causes of divorce. One of the main causes was money. My husband and I were poor, but still happy with each other. I would (naively) think that it was so silly that people would divorce over money issues. Why can’t they just work it out?

Today, I am not going to talk too much about divorce, but rather the importance of repentance and forgiveness in marriage and family life. However, my first example does have a point!

A couple of years into our marriage my husband and I were both still in school, working, and had a little daughter. Money was very tight to say the least. We had a series of very unfortunate events occur, that we could have never accounted or budgeted for, that completely depleted our savings. We were also waiting for some money that we had planned on having, that ended up not coming. We were not only living paycheck to paycheck, but it was Christmastime and we were not sure if we could pay some of our bills. The stress of this situation caused us both to be very overwhelmed. After several weeks of trying to find solutions, we started fighting. It was small at first, but eventually we were arguing over petty things and blaming each other when things went wrong. One day, it got to the point where we had to decide that this was enough. Fighting all the time and about money wasn’t helping our situation, and in fact it was making it much worse. Unfortunately though, the damage from our fighting had already been done and we had to begin the process of repentance and forgiveness to work through our hurt feelings.

In Chapter 20 of the book Successful Marriages and Families, authors Elaine Walton and Hilary M. Hendricks teach that, “Repentance and forgiveness are two sides of the same coin and are frequently addressed together. For example, apologies facilitate forgiveness, and forgiveness motivates repentance” (p. 200). I love this because it is so true! An ideal situation is when both people feel mutual sorrow for what they have done or said and apologize to one another. Sadly, many times it is not the case. However, repentance and forgiveness will not only strengthen an individual, but a family as a whole.

I want to talk about apologies. Walton and Hendricks teach that “apologies are essential for reconciliation” (p. 204). But apologies can be hard! It is hard to apologize. It is also hard when you think someone should apologize to you but doesn’t. While the idea of saying “I’m sorry” sounds so simple, it is often a difficult step that people struggle to take. So, I am going to outline some steps that Walton and Hendricks teach that constitute a successful apology.

1) an accurate acknowledgment of the offense

2) an appropriate expression of regret, remorse, or sorrow

3) a suitable offer of repayment or restitution and

4) a pledge for behavior reform to ensure that the offense is not repeated (p. 204)

Knowing how to apologize can be very helpful for both sides. It can be helpful not only between spouses, but in any familial relationship. Children and parents often have to practice forgiveness with one another. It can be especially hard as a parent to go to your child and admit that you did or said something you shouldn’t have and apologize to them. But teaching them the importance of repentance and forgiveness by example is one of the best ways for them to learn.

Now I’ve talked about how to apologize and repent, I’m going to focus more on forgiveness. If you feel like you were the victim in a situation in your family, you have to learn how to forgive. Walton and Hendricks teach that, “For victims, forgiveness means being released from anger and developing empathy for the offender” (p. 205). It also means letting go of the grudges you may hold. They also say, “Being able to say “I forgive you” means that the feeling of injury no longer supports resentment, though the definition of forgiveness does not specify how the injured person arrives at this change of heart” (p. 205). Forgiveness can be very difficult, especially depending on the offense. However, we know that we are commanded by the Lord to forgive every offense. But that can take time and help from the Lord to do in many situations, and that is okay!

I am going to end with one of my favorite quotes from Elder Richard G. Scott. Like I have mentioned several times, repentance and forgiveness are not easy. But thankfully we have do not have to do it alone. We have the Savior, Jesus Christ to help us. Elder Scott said:

“The beginning of healing requires childlike faith in the unalterable fact that Father in Heaven loves you and has supplied a way to heal. His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, laid down His life to provide that healing. But there is no magic solution, no simple balm to provide healing, not is there an easy path to the complete remedy. The cure requires profound faith in Jesus Christ and in His infinite capacity to heal” (Successful Marriages and Families, pp. 207-208).

There is so much more I could write on this subject. But these are just a few things that could help you with forgiveness and repentance in your family life when things get hard. I have linked several talks from LDS.org on forgiveness that are great sources of information and can help you if you have any other questions.

“Forgiveness” by President Gordon B. Hinckley

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/10/forgiveness?lang=eng&_r=1

“The Healing Power of Forgiveness” by James E. Faust

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/04/the-healing-power-of-forgiveness?lang=eng&_r=1

“Finding Forgiveness” by Elder Richard G. Scott

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1995/04/finding-forgiveness?lang=eng

“Forgiveness Fills Hearts with Love” video and multiple sources

https://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/forgiveness-fills-hearts-with-love?lang=eng

Image Sources:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwicoq2S-tPQAhVnllQKHdWfDP0QjRwIBw&url=%2Furl%3Fsa%3Di%26rct%3Dj%26q%3D%26esrc%3Ds%26source%3Dimages%26cd%3D%26cad%3Drja%26uact%3D8%26ved%3D0ahUKEwicoq2S-tPQAhVnllQKHdWfDP0QjRwIBw%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%252F2014%252F09%252F08%252Frelationship-problems-_n_5725796.html%26bvm%3Dbv.139782543%2Cd.cGw%26psig%3DAFQjCNFO3IcXryqesgTagXe2eQ-8UbxhUg%26ust%3D1480714667826729&bvm=bv.139782543,d.cGw&psig=AFQjCNFO3IcXryqesgTagXe2eQ-8UbxhUg&ust=1480714667826729

Wholesome Family Recreation

“We suffer from depression, anxiety, and discontent. Wholesome family recreation can help us strengthen our relationships and reduce negative emotional and spiritual consequences. Wholesome recreation strengthens families”

~Mark A. Widmer and Stacy T. Taniguchi, Successful Marriages and Families, p. 225

            Today I am going to talk about one of my FAVORITE subjects: family recreation! I have talked about a lot of deep (and important) subjects, but today I want to talk about how important it is to have fun as a family, the benefits that it provides, and some small (and big!) ways that you and your family can engage in wholesome family recreation.

My best friend was the oldest of three children. While her and her family are not members of the Church, they are very close. We went through school seeing many of our friends’ parents get divorced. However, our families stayed intact. Do you know what I think the biggest difference was? Our families had fun together. I watched her and her parents and brothers do all sorts of things together. They ate dinner together every night. Rented movies together. Walked the dog together. Went shopping together. Went to the gym together. Went on family vacations together. Played board games together. They didn’t live under the same roof and lead separate lives. They spent time together and formed close bonds and relationships.

family-playing-cards

In Chapter 22 of Successful Marriages and Families, Mark A. Widmer and Stacy T. Taniguchi teach that:

“…when we spend time with or families by reading to our children, teaching them to ride a bike, playing a board game, gardening together, or going backpacking, we build knowledge, relationships, memories and skills. These forms of family recreation promote social and psychological growth” (p. 226).

dick-van-dyke-show

Wholesome family recreation does not just mean seeking pleasure, thrills, or having fun. There are many things that families can do to simply have fun, and while fun is a big part of wholesome family recreation, it is important to recognize that there are “good, better and best” ways to be together, and I will talk about that a little more when I give some ideas for what you can do in your own family.

brady-bunch-goes-to-hawaii

One of the major reasons that families have for not engaging in wholesome family recreation is time. Between work, school, church, and extracurricular schedules, life is busy! However, “wholesome family recreation” doesn’t have to be some big, planned event. Going to the zoo or going to Disneyland are great ways to grow closer. In fact, big family vacations have been shown to strengthen family bonds. However, usually these big events or outings are not realistic on a day to day basis.

fun-family

So, to help you with that, I want to give you a list of several things that you can do with your family on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to ensure that you can find time to have wholesome family recreation!

  1. Read to your kids.

You could read a picture book or a chapter of a longer book to your kids after school while they eat a snack, or while dinner is cooking. While it may only take 5 or 10 minutes, they are likely to remember it for a long time.

  1. Go on a walk.

As more and more time is spent on technology, less and less time are spent outdoors. In fact, this is becoming such a problem that some people, children especially, are starting to get Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD). This just means that people are not getting enough time outdoors and their health and well-being are affected (Widmer, p. 229). So, going on a short walk as a family not only gives you and your time outdoors, it is an opportunity to exercise, talk, and spend time together.

  1. Play a game.

After dinner is over and before the rush of bedtime begins, play a game. If you have younger children maybe it’s “Candy Land” or “Go Fish.” With older children and teenagers, you can play cards and a plethora of other board games that are fun. This gives you time to talk and laugh together.

  1. Eat dinner together.

While this might not necessarily sound like recreation, it certainly can be. Make it a picnic and eat in your backyard. Or have an “indoor picnic” and set up a blanket in the living room. Or even just eat at the table instead in front of the television and talk.

These are just some basic things that you can easily do regularly. I’ll list a few more that you can also do for more special occasions, and even for a big trip.

  1. Take a drive to a new place.

I live in Oregon, so the forest, beach, mountains are less than an hour away in any direction. Taking a few hours to explore the area (you can even just stay in town) can be a great way to have fun together (that is if your kids cooperate ;))

  1. Go to the park.

Depending on where you live and the time of year, this can be a regular thing, or a special thing that you do on the weekends. It’s free and the activities are practically built in. Pro tip: Don’t sit on the bench and watch your kids play. Play with them! Swing, catch them as they go down the slide, play tag, get on that teeter-totter. I promise that it will be a lot more memorable for both you and them!

  1. Go to the zoo.

This can be a fun and educational experience. The nearest zoo where I live is two hours away, so it is more a planned event. But maybe the week before, you could learn about a new animal each day. Just google it and read about it with your kids. It will be more exciting for them to see a lion in person if they have been learning about it beforehand!

  1. Visit a museum or science center.

There is an art museum in my town where every first Friday of the month is free for families. Do a little research and see what events like this are in your town!

  1. Do a service project.

Okay, I know, I know, this doesn’t sound like fun or easy. But it can be! On Sunday afternoon, you could bake cookies with your kids and take them to the neighbor. Then you could home and eat more cookies together! There are so many small ways to serve those in your community that don’t take a lot of time, effort, or money.

  1. Plan a family vacation.

This could be for next month or next year! It could be small like staying a day or two in a cabin, or big like flying to a new state and seeing the sights. My family hasn’t been able to go on a vacation for a few years, but next April we are driving down the coast of California and going to Disneyland! This has taken a lot of saving and planning, but hopefully it will be a fun (and no matter what I am sure it will be memorable) week!

I am going to leave you with one more quote that sums up the importance of family recreation. It doesn’t have to be big. In fact, most of the time, it is small things that you fit into your busy days that will have the longest lasting impact on your families.

“We live in a world full of opportunities to engage in wholesome family recreation, if we know where to look for them. Wholesome family recreation is an intentional process. It can serve to promote positive development in our children, strengthen our marriages, and build strong families. We must know, however, what constitutes wholesome family recreation and purposefully seek opportunities for our families to meaningful recreate together.”

~Mark A. Widmer and Stacy T. Taniguchi, Successful Marriages and Families, p. 233

Image Sources:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiw79Wmhc_QAhVN3mMKHY_qAV4QjRwIBw&url=%2Furl%3Fsa%3Di%26rct%3Dj%26q%3D%26esrc%3Ds%26source%3Dimages%26cd%3D%26cad%3Drja%26uact%3D8%26ved%3D0ahUKEwiw79Wmhc_QAhVN3mMKHY_qAV4QjRwIBw%26url%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.pinterest.com%252Fpin%252F534028468291314523%252F%26psig%3DAFQjCNGpJxg2euNiS6e1EkuDcK78Oo2GKw%26ust%3D1480545864857596&psig=AFQjCNGpJxg2euNiS6e1EkuDcK78Oo2GKw&ust=1480545864857596

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiTgeaJhs_QAhUEy2MKHQxxAXMQjRwIBw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinterest.com%2FJDAusmus%2Fdick-van-dyke-show%2F&bvm=bv.139782543,d.cGc&psig=AFQjCNFrZZdFjeuNZwOJEIXCo3-QL_VDhw&ust=1480546041437739

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwi0qLG_hs_QAhUUUWMKHY7jDy8QjRwIBw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinterest.com%2Fpin%2F264797653062364616%2F&bvm=bv.139782543,d.cGc&psig=AFQjCNEc4sIzYomjtUDVIbLVs-kF5XerjQ&ust=1480546182920284

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjbxpyBh8_QAhUOx2MKHWMCBD0QjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fbakerhood.tumblr.com%2Fpost%2F20157114417%2Fthe-brady-bunch-guide-to-hawaii&bvm=bv.139782543,d.cGc&psig=AFQjCNGj1FXYWQnXJV3jZY5_bTPMe6D2eA&ust=1480546308178436

 

Fathers

“The most important of the Lord’s work you and I will ever do will be within the walks of our own homes.

~President Harold B. Lee

            “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” teaches that, “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”

But what does this mean exactly?

ward-and-the-boys

Fathers and husbands sometimes get a bad rap. There have been many fathers, through many, many generations, that have taken this counsel to the unrighteous extreme. Presiding does not mean that they are to rule their family with an iron fist, so to speak. Instead, the Proclamation specifies that they are to preside in love and righteousness. They are also not supposed to do it alone. They are supposed to do it with their spouse. However, this is only some of the fathers! There are so many good and great fathers out there! But, what does it mean exactly to be a good father?

When I was 12 years old, my class was going on an end of the year field trip to a small summer camp. I was not the most popular girl in my class, and I was so worried that people would make fun of me in my old, little girlish swimsuit. My family didn’t have much money at the time, so asking for a new one wasn’t really an option. However, the day before the trip, I came home from school, and there was a brand-new, rainbow striped one-piece laying on my bed. My sweet dad had gone out and bought it for me. I was so happy, very thankful, and it has been a gesture that I have never forgotten.

swimsuit

Now this story isn’t to illustrate that the best way to father is to buy your children’s love. Rather, it shows how a father can pay attention and influence their children’s lives for good. Family researcher John Snarey has said, “Good fathering, it seems, really does matter. It matters over a long time, over a lifetime, and even over generations” (Successful Marriage and Families, p. 141). My father’s continued example of generosity and love have influenced me, as well as my siblings, to be giving and generous whenever we can. We all take joy in doing things and serving others—which is a direct result of his good fathering.

In Successful Marriages and Families, Sean E. Brotherson teaches that, “Involved fathers bless children from the time of birth onward. For example, preschool children whose fathers are involved and interact positively with them display greater cognitive ability, more individual control, and more empathy than other children” (p. 142). My dad was also a great example of this. He loves to learn. From the time he was a small child, history and politics have fascinated him. From the royal family of Great Britain to the presidents of the United States and their time in the White House, my dad values learning. Because of this, he taught me to read by the time I was four. A father’s responsibility to preside can mean more than asking someone to say a prayer or leading a family meeting. It means to be involved and influencing their children for good. In fact, President Howard W. Hunter counseled fathers to give “time and presence in their social, educational, and spiritual activities and responsibilities” (Successful Marriages and Families, p. 143).

druns

To me a good father also means to be present and provide your children with a sense of security. Brotherson said, “What is a child’s greatest need? Though there are many things a child needs, the greatest need of any child is security” (p. 144). It is important for a child to be able to rely on their father to protect and provide for them. While it is not possible for any parent to be with their children all of the time, it is possible for them to know that they can count on you for anything.

Finally, a good father provides for their children. While every family situation and circumstance is unique, a father is generally the financial provider for a family, and when they are not they often provide other services that benefit their family. But for this purpose, I am going to focus on providing for the temporal needs. Doctrine and Covenants 75:28 says, “Verily I say unto you, that every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, et him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown.” Providing doesn’t mean being wealthy or giving your children every luxury or desire that fancies them. However, it does mean to meet their needs. In Successful Marriages and Families, authors Dollahite, Hawkins, and Brotherson write that, “Stewardship work involves creative, dedicated effort to provide resources for children and family and provide opportunities for children to develop and learn to care for their own and others’ physical and psychosocial needs” (p. 146).

So, a good father is one who loves their children, pays attention, is involved, teaches, protects and provides. While this may sound like quite the task, I promise you fathers, you are up to the job!

I am going to end with a quote from one of my favorite talks from an April 2016 session of General Conference called “Fathers” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson. He said:

“As a Church, we believe in fathers. We believe in ‘the ideal of the man who puts his family first.’ We believe that ‘by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.’ We believe that in their complementary family duties, ‘fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.’ We believe that far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.”

Image sources:

https://www.google.com/search?q=old+movie+fathers&espv=2&biw=1242&bih=602&site=webhp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjlwuXd5r_QAhUCzWMKHVh4CJUQ_AUIBigB#tbm=isch&q=father+knows+best&imgrc=_Yw443ObDka5sM%3A

https://www.google.com/search?q=old+movie+fathers&espv=2&biw=1242&bih=602&site=webhp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjlwuXd5r_QAhUCzWMKHVh4CJUQ_AUIBigB#tbm=isch&q=little+girl+swimming++1950s&imgrc=vZklH0vjtJpm_M%3A

https://www.google.com/search?q=old+movie+fathers&espv=2&biw=1242&bih=602&site=webhp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjlwuXd5r_QAhUCzWMKHVh4CJUQ_AUIBigB#tbm=isch&q=little+ricky+and+ricky+&imgrc=pJTyVO59xUN8_M%3A

 

Mothers

“One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.”

~President Thomas S. Monson

            This post today is for all mothers and future mothers. However, it is also good for fathers and future fathers to read too! So, I guess it is really for everyone, but especially for the mothers.

Officially, I became a mother on October 6, 2015 at 4:56 pm when my little girl was born. However, I felt like a mother all throughout my pregnancy. As the oldest in a family of eight, I also felt that I had more practice than some in the art of mothering. However, nothing could have prepared me for the mother’s love that I felt at the birth of my little girl. I felt like it was a glimpse into how God must feel about all of His children.

IMG_2038.JPG
Baby Violet and I 

Being a woman, though definitely not easy, is a wonderful gift from God. President Spencer W. Kimball once said:

“To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age. To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling. The righteous woman’s strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times” (“Successful Marriages and Families, p. 128).

So, as you can see, being a woman today (whether or not you are a mother) is so important. You are needed. You are valued. What you say is important. What you do is important. Your contributions to your home, families, and communities are so important.

However, motherhood is hard. My pregnancy was a bit of a nightmare. I was sick every day! The sleep-deprived nights are something that you cannot even imagine until you are in the thick of it. Luckily for me, that only lasted for a few weeks, but boy, what a hard few weeks! The monotony of days that include feeding, cleaning, feeding, cleaning can seem so endless and unimportant. It can be easy to think that the men and women working hard in the workforce are doing more than you are or are more important than you are. But that is just a lie!

mom-and-baby-in-air

In the book “Successful Marriages and Families,” one mother relates her feelings on this exact topic. She said:

“I reflected on the bachelor’s and master’s degrees I had received and couldn’t help but wonder how after all that preparation, I ended up on the floor with a rag in my hand wiping up juice spilled by my toddler. Hadn’t I been prepared to do something more significant? Something that would really make a lasting difference?” (p. 129).

As I read this I thought, “Yes! That is exactly how I feel! This is already the third time I have mopped the kitchen floor today and it’s only 11:30 am!” But do you want to know a secret? As difficult, insignificant and demeaning as it may seem at times, it is the most important work you could be doing. I am going to share some of my favorite quotes from prophets and apostles (both present and past) about motherhood. And, while you may not feel that this could really apply to you, I promise you, it does.

“Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assured my mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.” ~James R. Clark

lucy-and-little-ricky

“Mothers have a sacred role. They are partners with God, as well as with their own husbands, first in giving birth to the Lord’s spirit children, and then in rearing those children so they will serve the Lord and keep his commandments.” ~President Spencer W. Kimball

Meet Me in St. Louis mom.jpg

“The world would state that a woman is in a form of servitude that does not allow her to develop her gifts and talents. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be further from the truth. Do not let the world define, denigrate, or limit your feelings of lifelong learning and the values of motherhood in the home.” ~Elder Robert D. Hales

Samantha Mom Bewitched.jpg

“There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family…what matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else.” ~Elder M. Russell Ballard

laura-and-richie-petrie

“Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve ‘the mother of all living’—and they did so before she ever bore a child…Motherhood is more than bearing children…It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us.” Sheri Dew

Lucy Pregnant.jpg

These are just several of many, many quotes regarding motherhood in the gospel. But, all of this is to say that being a mother is important. You are not some second-class citizen in the world or in the kingdom of God. You are, as President Monson so eloquently stated, a partner with God in creation.

Image sources:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiMkKef3KvQAhVDLmMKHenmDS8QjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailymail.co.uk%2Fhome%2Fbooks%2Farticle-2304041%2FA-VERY-potty-routine-baby-nice-ciggie-mum–A-1950s-MOTHER-BY-SHEILA-HARDY.html&bvm=bv.138493631,d.cGc&psig=AFQjCNHOCmRxcmbkZ7fhgwjwm2SdtCYLsg&ust=1479332249742107

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/e0/5b/bd/e05bbd6a3cdcae54419fb8cc3765fc2b.jpg

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiLlaaT3avQAhVLz2MKHX4MCXkQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.imdb.com%2Ftitle%2Ftt0037059%2F&psig=AFQjCNHhZDOV5f_HzMeX0-R7NlLC6iMmHg&ust=1479332493384352

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/41/a0/52/41a05234b67bfbcf9dc0d636805af928.jpg

https://thefamilyproclamationproject.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/c05a9-ritchiemilk.jpg

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiq2-bh3qvQAhUUS2MKHSq0D-MQjRwIBw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinterest.com%2Fpin%2F116249234101661424%2F&psig=AFQjCNEsKqQNjq8yAsWBqMjMz-PF5GUAzg&ust=1479332872017277

Parenting and the Gospel

“I have never accepted the principle of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child.’…Children don’t need beating. They need love and encouragement.”

~President Gordon B. Hinkley

            There are so. many. different ways to parent your child. In my last post, I talked about the three main types of parenting. However, many times, while a parent may generally fit into one of those categories, they will also do things that fall into other categories as well. There is so much advice on the “right” way to parent that it can be so confusing. Luckily though, we have the gospel of Jesus Christ to help guide and direct our paths!

Whether you like it or not, parents have influence on their children. You were influenced by your parents, and you will influence your children. But this is the way it is supposed to be! My mother taught me the importance of scripture study, General Conference, visiting teaching and so much more. But she also taught me sarcasm. My dad taught me to cook, be generous, be kind to others, be open to new ideas, and the importance of praying for guidance. However, I also learned from him how to argue and the tendency to not stay quiet when I am angry!

like-mother-like-daughter

like-father-like-son

In Chapter 11 of “Successful Marriages and Families,” David A. Nelson teaches:

“The family proclamation makes clear that Heavenly Father expects parents to have significant influence in the lives of their children. God’s plan for His children may be ideally characterized as the placement of children into home where parents are committed to their development and proclamation principles are practiced” (p. 118).

A key part to being successful at doing this is positive interaction. Children need love. Love is central to God’s plan. While it is important to teach and discipline your children, it is most important to love them. You are only going to be a successful parent if love and kindness are the primary feelings found in your home.

David A. Nelson also taught that, “Parents must realize that they have the opportunity to proactively help their children develop positive traits or overcome undesirable tendencies. Children will be most open to instruction when they feel loved and accepted by their parents” (p. 120). Like I said, love is the key.

the-beatles-all-you-need-is-love

So, how do we make sure that we have love at home? Well, there are some main principles that Latter-day Saints are taught to do that will help create a home filled with love and the Spirit. In fact, Elder Robert D. Hales has taught that, “The key to strengthening our families if having the Spirit of the Lord come into our homes.”

Here are four things that you can do to help not only teach your children, but bring the Spirit into your home and helped your children know that they are loved.

  1. FAMILY HOME EVENING

fhe

Family home evening was started in 1915 when President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors sent out a letter saying, “We advise and urge the inauguration of a ‘Home Evening’ throughout the church, at which time fathers and mothers may gather their boys and girls about them in the home and teach them the word of the Lord.” Then, in 1970, Monday nights became the designated night to hold family home evening (https://www.lds.org/church/news/2015-marks-two-milestones-for-family-home-evening?lang=eng).

Family home evening is not only a time to share the gospel with your children, but also just to have fun and spend uninterrupted time together.

Growing up, we had family home evening every Monday night. Sometimes it was fun, and sometimes there was lots of yelling and little learning. However, no matter what, we had it! Because of this, our family was strengthened and we were able to, over the years, learn so much.

  1. SCRIPTURE STUDY

books-of-mormon

David A. Nelson wrote that scripture study “is most essential to promoting understanding and internalization of important values that will guide behavior” (p. 126).

Something that my family does, is read a chapter of the Book of Mormon each night. We each take turns reading a verse so everyone is listening and following along. This is just one way to study the scriptures together, but do whatever works best for you!

  1. PRAYER

Family Prayer.jpg

Praying together as family helps unite a family in whatever causes they are concerned about as well as gives children and parents an opportunity to thank the Lord for all of their blessings. Nelson also taught that, “prayer encourages a child’s sense of accountability to their Heavenly Father for their lives and actions” (p. 126).

Saying family prayer will likely also remind a child to say their personal prayers as well.

  1. EATING DINNER TOGETHER AS A FAMILY

Family diner.jpg

It has been shown that children are more successful and less likely to participate in risky behaviors when their family eats together at the table each night. This doesn’t have to be a time for structured teaching and lessons, rather a good time for casual conversation and learning about one another’s days. Doing this will help everyone stay connected and feel valued and important.

These are just some of the ways to use the gospel of Jesus Christ to help you become a better parent. As you study the scriptures and the words of the prophets and apostles, I promise you that you will find so much more guidance in what you can do to help lead your family and parent your children.

 

 

 

 

You Have Children! Parenting 101

“The proclamation admonishes respect for the divine and individual nature of children as parents love, teach and guide them with their emphasis on teaching and preparing children rather than unrighteously controlling their wills.”

~Craig H. Hart, Lloyd D. Newell, and Julie H. Haupt, “Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives,” p. 105

            Congratulations! You’re parents! Or, you will be parents someday. At the very least, you are a child of some parents, so whether or not children are in your foreseeable future, parenting has had an effect on you. Today I’m going to outline the three main types of parenting and some of the best tips and ways to raise your children in love and righteousness.

I think I have mentioned this before, but just to reiterate, I am the oldest of eight children. My parents were 18 and 20 when I was born and my dad was the youngest in a family of large age gaps (10 years respectively), so he was practically an only child. Being the oldest, I was kind of like their “guinea pig” when it came to the ups and downs of being a parent. My dad came from a rather difficult home life where his father wasn’t involved and my mom came from a home where her parents and siblings were far from close to one another. In an effort to be better than their parents, they worked hard. They were determined to be the perfect parents. However, while their hearts were in the right place, their parenting practices weren’t always what one would consider the best way. I’ll talk more about this, but first I want to go through the three types of parenting, so that we can see why it is so hard to know how to be a good parent and what to do.

  1. The Coercive Parenting Style.

discipline-1950s

This is often called the “authoritarian” style of parenting. Distinguishing features of this type are “parents who deride, demean, or diminish children and teens by continually putting them in their place, putting them down, mocking them, or holding power over them via punitive or psychologically controlling means” (, “Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives,” p. 105). Frequent “spanking, yelling criticizing, and forcing” (p. 105) are often seen in homes where coercive parenting rules.

            Now, this all sounds harsh. But, to some extent, most parents use at least some coercion, and you have probably seen this in the extreme sometime in your life. Why do we do it then? Well, because it is often the natural response. When your child is hitting their sister, or screaming in the store for candy, or throwing a tantrum in your bathroom because they refuse to get in or out of the tub, our initial reaction is to stop them. We can generally get a quick response by yelling or threatening, and so we do it. The same is true with teenagers who talk back, disobey, or do things that go against everything that you’ve taught them. It’s upsetting, so we respond accordingly.

  1. The Permissive Parenting Style.
the-bad-bad-seed
The Bad Seed (1956)

            This parenting is on the other end of the spectrum in comparison to coercion. In “Successful Marriages and Families,” it is said that “Permissive parenting is categorized by parents who overindulge children or neglect the, by leaving them to their own devices” (p. 107). When I was growing up we had neighbors who had two little boys. They were five and three years old at the time they moved in and they would come to our house constantly. They would show up at 7 am, knock until someone answered, invite themselves in, and stay until my parents sent or walked them home. Their parents didn’t question where their two young children were, didn’t check on them, or even ask if it was okay if their children came over. It got to the point where my parents had to go have a conversation with them.

This example of permissive parenting is just one of the many times I have seen this type of parenting. But, it doesn’t just have to mean neglect. It can also be the opposite and be spoiling, over-indulging, and allowing children to make all their own decisions from a young age (when they don’t necessarily have the right boundaries or knowledge to do so).

  1. The Authoritative Parenting Style.

the-perfect-family

            This is called the “optimal parenting style” (“Successful Marriages and Families,” p. 108). This type of parenting balances the two extremes. Hart, Newell and Haupt write in Chapter 10 of “Successful Marriages and Families” that “Authoritative parenting fosters a positive emotional connection with children, provides for regulation that places fair and consistent limits on child behavior and allows for reasonable child autonomy in in decision making” (p. 108).  It’s no wonder that this is the ideal! While no parent can be perfect, like my parents tried to be, it is good to have clear principles that we can follow to have the most likely success.

But what do these principles look like you might ask? Well, I have (drumroll please) a list for you! Once again, this list comes from Chapter 10 of “Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives” and goes as followed:

“In order to promote optimal development and to rear children in love and righteousness, the following are crucial elements for each child, although specific implementations and approaches may be individualized based upon the needs and personality of each child:

  • Love, warmth, and support
  • Clear and reasonable expectations for competent behavior
  • Limits and boundaries with some room for negotiation and compromise
  • Reasoning and developmentally appropriate consequences and punishments for breaching established limits
  • Opportunities to perform competently and make choices
  • Absence of coercive, hostile forms of discipline, such as harsh physical punishment, love withdrawal, shaming, and inflicting guilt
  • Models of appropriate behavior consistent with self-control, positive values, and positive attitudes” (p. 105).

My parents, whom I love and adore, had trouble at times from veering from one end of the spectrum (coercive parenting) to the other (permissive parenting) at times when it came to raising some of my siblings and I. Like I said, and was mentioned, it is so much easier said than done to find that balance while still disciplining with love and allowing your children to make their own choices and mistakes. On top of it all, every child is different! So, if you think you’ve mastered these skills with child number 1 or 2, remember child number 3 could always throw you a curveball! I am (mostly) kidding, but it is just to say, take heart! Try your best, love your children, be patient, and know that you can always try again the next day!

Image sources:

http://blogs.pjstar.com/mindingbiz/2013/05/25/leave-it-to-beaver-will-we-ever-fully-understand-or-appreciate-its-impact/

http://www.skykomishhotel.com/america-1957-vs-2013/

http://www.btchflcks.com/2015/11/the-bad-seed-mother-and-daughter-autonomy-through-violence.html#.WBu-sPkrLIU

Perfect Chaos by Greg Calise

 

Marital Sexuality and Deciding When to Have Children

“A loving Heavenly Father reserved something divine, the physical union between husband and wife, for the heart of marriage.”

~James M. Harper & Leslie Feinauer, p. 49, “Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives”

            Marital sexuality and intimacy is often a wonderful, and sometimes complex, topic. The Lord has commanded us to keep sexual relations within the union of marriage. There are so many reasons for this! One of the reasons goes along with the commandment to “multiply and replenish” the earth. God wants us to have children and families, and He has blessed us with the procreative power to make this possible. However, there are also other reasons why marital sexuality and intimacy are so important. Today, I am going to talk about both!

movie-couple

“Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives” list four reasons that marital sexuality is so important. Let’s first discuss the first three.

  1. Becoming One

“Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said that sexual union is a ‘welding…in matrimony…[a] physical blending [symbolic of a] larger, more complete union of eternal purpose and promise…a symbol of total union….of their hearts, their hopes, their lives, their loves, their family, their future, their everything’” (Harper and Feinauer, p. 49).

Sex is more than just an act of pleasure, like Elder Holland teaches, it is a literal and poetic way in which a couple can become one.

  1. Connection with God

Satan loves to corrupt. Perhaps nothing has been more corrupted, darkened or dirtied than sexuality. So, therefore, how can we remember and recognize that sexual relations within marriage can strengthen a couple’s connection with God? This is certainly not the mindset or view of the world. However, Elder Holland went on (from his previous quote) to say that “Sexual intimacy is…symbolic of a union between mortals and deity, between otherwise ordinary and fallible humans uniting for a rare and special moment with God himself and all the powers by which he gives life in this wide universe of his…”

  1. Strengthening Bonds

Sexual relations in marriage can strengthen both physical and emotional bonds within a marriage. It can build trust and love for a couple. In “Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives,” Harper and Feinauer say that, “Husbands and wives can learn to share a view that marital sexual expression is designed to protect and strengthen emotional bonds, which in turn will influence marital sexuality and satisfaction” (p. 50).

All of these things are some of the ways and reasons that sexuality in marriage are important. However, this is often easier said than done. Intimacy is a sensitive issue, and sometimes it causes problems, fights, and insecurities. In “Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives,” there is a list given that can help you have a better and more positive attitude towards sex in marriage, and that may help you if you ever face problems. The five things that it lists are:

  1.  “1. Sexual interaction is a healthy component of marriage that need not be a source of negative feelings or guilt.
  2. Married persons deserve to feel good about their bodies and to view sexual expression as a normal, healthy part of marriage.
  3. A primary component of marital sexuality is giving and receiving pleasure-oriented touching in the context of an intimate, committed and divinely supported relationship. As such, it requires relaxation and focus on the other person as well as one’s own pleasure.
  4. Sexuality should be expressed in a way that enhances your intimate, marital relationship and bonds you together.
  5. Couples should strive to create a ‘we’ relationship, where both partners’ sharing and pleasure is important as opposed to one person individually focused on what he or she will get out of the experience” (p. 52)

See. I told you it was sensitive! However, while it can be difficult to be open and discuss these things with your spouse, it can really help and strengthen this area of your marriage.

Now, before you think I forgot about number 4 on my other list, I want to tell you I didn’t! But, before I talk about it, I want to tell you a story.

A friend of mine recently relayed a story about her and her husband’s desire to have a third child. They have two kids- a boy and a girl. They are nearly three years apart and they think that this is the perfect age gap. They are best friends, they got to enjoy their children’s babyhood before a new little one came to the family, and it overall just worked for their family. So, when the second birthday of their youngest was quickly approaching, my friend and her husband started discussing having third baby. This was always their plan. When their children turned two, they would try for another. However, the idea gave my friend anxiety and no matter how much they talked about it, they just kept having the distinct impression that it wasn’t quite time yet.

1950s BOY GIRL HEAD TO HEAD ANGRY FACIAL EXPRESSIONS ARGUMENT FIGHT

She told this story to illustrate the importance of taking pressures, plans, and preconceived notions about how we think we want our life to be off of ourselves, and instead trust in the Lord’s plans and timing. In addition to that, her story shows the importance of deciding not only as a couple, but with the Lord, how we want our families to grow.

This leads me into the fourth reason why marital sexuality is so important:

  1. Procreation

love-marriage-baby-carriage

The scriptures and the Proclamation teach us that we need to “multiply and replenish the earth.” However, we also learn that “lawful marriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which premortal spirits enter into this earthly experience” (p. 51).

If you look back at the other three reasons, this makes sense. If sex is an act that connects you to God because it gives you the godly power to create life, then we must do it on God’s terms.

President Gordon B. Hinckley (former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) said, “If you are married, you and your spouse should discuss your sacred responsibility to bring children into the world and nurture them in righteousness” (p. 55).

We are also taught that, “married couples are required to exercise their agency by applying divine principles, considering their own circumstances and seeking inspiration” (p. 55). This is just what my friend and her husband did. By counseling with the Lord, and being willing to submit to His will, couples can know when to start their family and when to add to it!

Image sources:

http://www.rogerebert.com/far-flung-correspondents/looking-back-at-it-happened-one-night

http://www.melonybrown.com/2013/06/moving-mountains/

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjVucC55vbPAhVQ-2MKHXCRCjYQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.whiskeyriff.com%2F2016%2F06%2F26%2F8-things-only-girls-who-grew-up-with-an-older-brother-will-understand%2F&psig=AFQjCNHLMRveg7oEbEmbdAqqwCOb6bepAQ&ust=1477513926160406