You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Family’ category.

While I was talking with one of my business contacts the other day at the YMCA, I told her we were due to have a baby this week.  She told me she would put my wife on the prayer chain in her local congregation and I was very grateful for the offer.

My wife is scheduled to be induced this Wednesday.  For all of you who read this blog, please keep her in your prayers.  Pray the delivery will go well, the doctors will be inspired, and that I will be inspired as well to support her.   I feel the more “prayer chains” we have out there, the better.  Her name is Becca.

Thanks again for all your faith and prayers and also for your thoughts of faith you share regularly on this blog.  I’ll let you know how everything goes with the delivery.

With Fathers Day right around the corner, I thought I’d share this.  A few months ago in Elders Quorum (Mens Group), we had an excellent lesson on the roles of fathers to their children.  Part of the lesson included a list of ways fathers should give spiritual guidance to their children.  This list comes from the talk given in 1987 by Ezra Taft Benson (the LDS prophet at the time) entitled “To the Fathers in Israel“.  I’ll share the list with my comments to each point.

1.) Give Fathers Blessings to your Children

In the LDS church, Elders receive what is called the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Fathers who are Elders and hold this priesthood can give blessings to their children under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and say the words that God prompts them to say.  For those who are not LDS, saying a prayer under the guidance of the Spirit with your children is another way to do this.

Personally, I saw the value of fathers blessings while growing up.  I remember when I needed some extra help with school work or I was sick that I could always come to my father for a blessing.  It brought peace to me knowing I could do that and helped me on many occasions.

2.) Personally Direct Family Prayers, Scripture Study, and Family Home Evening (Family Night)

I think it is interesting that he doesn’t just say “have family prayer,etc.” but he makes a point to say “personally direct” family prayer.  I think it is important for children to see their father take initiative in spiritual matters.  I feel it is important mainly because children are used to seeing the “soft side” or “spiritual” side from mothers, but it can be more impactful coming from the father.

3.) Whenever Possible, Attend Church Services Together as a Family

It makes a big difference having the whole family at a church service.  It is important for children to see their fathers eager to learn and gain spiritual knowledge.  Also from a practical standpoint it is much easier to help teach children the importance of worship when the father is there to help the mother.

4.) Go on Daddy Daughter Dates and Father-Son Outings

During the lesson, this was the greatest thing that stood out to me.  Those of you who read regularly know I have a cute little 2 1/2 year old girl.  As I reflected on this message, I realized I didn’t set aside a specific and special time for us to go out.  I’ve only done it 3 times now, but what I did was schedule monthly daddy-daughter dates with her.  I’m sure that as long as I keep it in my schedule that we’ll be able to make it a habit.  I only worry about what we’ll do later on when she may not think I’m as cool as she does now (those of you with any older daughters, please share your advice!)

5.) Build Traditions of Family Vacations

One of my most charished memories as a child was a trip we all took to Yellowstone.  I remember floating with my family in a canoe in the river.  Although the water was totally cold, my parents seemed to have fun with each other and we all bonded as a family when a water fight broke out!

6.) Have Regular One-on-One Visits with Children

As a young kid my one-on-one visits with my father saved me spiritually on some occasions.  It seemed that my Dad was always inspired and had answers that could help me with decisions.  The one-on-one visits weren’t usually scheduled “interviews”, rather they were held usually as we were working on the farm together.

7.) Teach Children to Work

Work is something that my father definitely taught me.  As alluded to in the previous section, I feel it is important for fathers to work along side their kids.  Not only will it show them a good example and teach them how to work, but they will bond with you through conversation as well.

8.) Encourage Good Music, Art and Literature in Home

Right now, it is very easy to have good music with a 2 year old and a supportive wife.  Where I would be interested in hearing from readers are from those of you with older kids who want to listen to pop music that may not be the best.  How do you go about encouraging good music, literature, etc. in the home?

9.) Regularly Attend the Temple with your Wife

My wife and I used to work in the temple.  I notice that the more time we spend in the temple, the more patient, kind, and loving we are with each other.  I think it is crucial for parents to love each other if they want their kids to have the best chance against temptations out there. 

10.) Serve in the Church

I feel that church service is something that is good, but that shouldn’t take precidence over the other items mentioned previously.  I have seen people who focus too much on the church and their families are neglected.  I have seen where this causes animosity between the kids and the church because they feel it is taking too much time away from their Dad.  I have also seen personal relationships damaged because the father is building relationships with other people they serve in the church, while neglecting their own family. 

What are your thoughts about this list?  Do you have any other suggestions or experiences with this?

Thanks for the feedback!

One of my friends told me the other day that the Church was against birth control and that it was a sin to get a vasectomy.  I had always heard (and believe) that it is up to the husband and wife and how they feel they should raise their families with the Lord’s guidance.  I decided to look it up in the online version of the LDS Handbook of instruction.  It turns out that both my friend and I are correct.  See below:

21.4.4

Birth Control

It is the privilege of married couples who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for the spirit children of God, whom they are then responsible to nurture and rear. The decision as to how many children to have and when to have them is extremely intimate and private and should be left between the couple and the Lord. Church members should not judge one another in this matter.

Married couples should also understand that sexual relations within marriage are divinely approved not only for the purpose of procreation, but also as a way of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife.

 

21.4.15

Surgical Sterilization (Including Vasectomy)

The Church strongly discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control. Surgical sterilization should be considered only if (1) medical conditions seriously jeopardize life or health or (2) birth defects or serious trauma have rendered a person mentally incompetent and not responsible for his or her actions. Such conditions must be determined by competent medical judgment and in accordance with law. Even then, the persons responsible for this decision should consult with each other and with their bishop and should receive divine confirmation of their decision through prayer.

 

As you can see, on one hand, the Church Leaders say that birth control is a decision between husband and wife.  However, on the other hand, when it comes to getting a vasectomy (which is probably the ultimate form of birth control) they strongly discourage it and encourage the couple counseling with the bishop first. 

For LDS members who have a hard time with making decisions and relying on guidance from the Lord without having Leaders tell them what to do, I can see how this would be a hard decision.  However, I personally feel that the way a husband and wife chooses to use birth control (including a vasectomy) is between them and God and the Church doesn’t need to be involved.

Thoughts?

In the book, “Raising a Family to the Lord” by Gene R Cook, he relates a story about a conversation he had on a plane trip with an LDS couple.  As they talked, the parents shared how they had raised children, but two of them had gone wayward and were not “active” (for the LDS, active means they do not regularly attend church).  The mother then goes on to say the following:

What did we do wrong?  [our children] went through the Youth programs, Boy Scouts, and all the Church activities.  We made sure they were active in Churche, believeing that would keep them on the right track.

We also believed that if we fulfilled all of our Church callings, which we did, our children would be blessed and protected.  Now we’re confused–we don’t know what we could have done differently.”

Later on in the book Cook goes on to state not to “make the Church the cornerstone of your hope for your children” (p.26).  He then shares some interesting statistics on what makes children stay “active”.  According to the study, the two major factors that lead to children serving missions and marrying in the temple are:

  1. Personal prayer
  2. Personal scripture study

No other factors in the study helped an individual with their spiritual growth like those two factors did.

The study goes on to uncover what leads to children to develop a habit of personal prayer and scripture study.  According to the study, there were 4 factors that led to children developing these habits which are:

  1. Family prayer
  2. Family scripture study
  3. Family home evening
  4. Agreement on values

He goes on to say that Church should not be the sole source of spiritual nourishment for our children, rather it should be a supplement. 

I think this is excellent advice for both LDS Christians as well as those who are not of the LDS faith.  I’ve seen throughout the years people who rely heavily on the Church programs thinking that will be what guides their children, when in reality, the relationships at home and the training that parents do is far more beneficial and necessary to ensure the child has a personal relationship with the Lord.

“The numbers of decisions to be made, judgement reguired, the sensitivty, love, inspiration, diligence, and hard work needed to raise children are beyond anyone’s ability to describe” (Gene R Cook in “Raising up a Family to the Lord“).  Also, in this book he gives an example of the proper order for children to learn the gospel.  He discusses the importance of parents being the main source of learning the gospel rather than relying solely on the church.  In fact, he shares that parents who teach children the gospel in their homes statistically have children who stay strong in the gospel vs. parents who rely too heavily on the church to teach children the gospel.

Later in the book, he outlines 10 principles found in Doctrine and Covenants section 68 verses 25-35 that every parent should teach their children.  I found these very helpful in providing a guidline for parents to follow in raising their children.  These are:

  1. Faith in Jesus Christ
  2. Repentance
  3. Baptism
  4. Gift of the Holy Ghost
  5. Prayer
  6. Walking uprightly before the Lord
  7. Observing the Sabbath Day and keeping it holy
  8. “Laboring” in faithfulness and not being idle
  9. Preventing children from having eyes full of greediness
  10. Seeking for the riches of eternity

There are many things that we as parents can become distracted by with raising our children.  I thought this outline was very helpful in providing an outline to follow.  Obviously, in order to teach our children these principles, we should first be following them ourselves.  Particularly interesting to me were the last two points, which focus on removing our hearts from love of worldly things and seeking for riches of eternity. I think it is easy as parents to look around and see neighbors who have bigger and better houses or cars, or clothes, etc. and get caught up in pursuing that.  If we aren’t careful, our children will follow suit. 

Also, what stood out to me about this list were the proactive things we should do as parents.  For example, there are many chances for us to teach examples of repentance, faith, prayer, and walking uprightly before the Lord.  I liked the example Gene Cook gave in his book of teaching our children these principles.  He said rather than just telling our kids to pray, or “say you’re sorry”, tell them to do so and then give them a reason as it relates to the scriptures. 

For example:  your child does something wrong and needs to learn the lesson of repenting.  You could just tell the child to “go tell so-and-so you’re sorry” and leave it at that, but the better route would be to tell them to go and say they’re sorry and then share with them a scripture that discusses the importance behind repentance.

Being a pretty new parent (only have one 2 year old daughter and a little boy on the way) I appreciated this advice.  For you more seasoned parents out there, how have these principles worked for you and what strategies have you used to teach your children?  Also, are there some things you see here you wish you would have done better?

Thanks for the feedback!

Today during church I heard a quote that I’ve heard numerous times throughout the years from David O McKay (a former LDS prophet), which I think is a very good quote to hear and apply over and over again.  The quote given in 1965 to a group of LDS church employees is as follows:

“Let my assure you, Brethren, that some day you will have a personal Priesthood interview with the Savior, Himself. If you are interested, I will tell you the order in which He will ask you to account for your earthly responsibilities.

First, He will request an accountability report about your relationship with your wife. Have you actively been engaged in making her happy and ensuring that her needs have been met as an individual?

Second, He will want an accountability report about each of your children individually. He will not attempt to have this for simply a family stewardship but will request information about your relationship to each and every child.

Third, He will want to know what you personally have done with the talents you were given in the pre-existence.

Fourth, He will want a summary of your activity in your church assignments. He will not be necessarily interested in what assignments you have had, for in his eyes the home teacher and a mission president are probably equals, but He will request a summary of how you have been of service to your fellowmen in your Church assignments.

Fifth, He will have no interest in how you earned your living, but if you were honest in all your dealings.

Sixth, He will ask for an accountability on what you have done to contribute in a positive manner to your community, state, country, and the world.”

I thought it was interesting that the top two things mentioned are relationships within the walls of the home.  I was touched as I read the post “Remembering my Dad.”  In this post, the author describes how he lost his father over 30 years ago, but not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about him.  He then goes on to describe what he misses about his father, most of which includes how his father treated his wife and kids. 

As I reflect back on my own memories of my father, I don’t think about the church assignments he went to or how hard he worked to provide for us (even though that is definitely important, and he definitely did work hard to provide).  I do think of the time we spent with each other though.  The following things come to mind:

  • My Dad teaching me how to read by the age of 4 and also teaching me to play the piano by the age of 5.
  • Watching my Dad mow the lawn while I was very young wishing I could mow the lawn (now I wish my Dad was here to mow my lawn!)
  • Dad’s homemade popcorn
  • Dad playing church songs on the piano
  •  Loading too much hay on the trailer and it broke the axle as my brother an I fell off the wagon laughing. 
  • Long talks at 4:00 a.m. in the barn milking cows. 
  • The time my father and mother took us in a canoe at Jackson Hole, Wyoming and had a water fight in the canoe. 
  • Dad making donuts for my brother and I after a long days’ work on the farm and eating so many donuts that we couldn’t breathe anymore. 
  • My Dad staying up late when his sisters would visit laughing and being silly.  I learned by watching him interact with them how to have a good relationship with siblings no matter how old you are.
  • I remember the way he treated my step-mom and how impressed I was at a young age and how I wanted to have a wife like her and treat her like my dad did. 
  • He was our scout leader and had so much fun with all of us.  One time as he was swinging in the rope swing with all of us into the river he lost his glasses and we had to guide him back to the car afterwards.  All the boys thought my Dad was awesome and I remember feeling proud that he was my dad.
  • Coming home after a date in highschool and my Dad waiting up for me to hear how the date went.
  • Staying up late with my friends talking with Dad in highschool until I fell asleep (and my friends and Dad kept talking)
  • After going to college and returning home for a visit; wrestling my Dad discovering that he wasn’t invincible after all.
  • Teasing my Dad about his bald head only to discover 20 years later that I have the same fate!
  • Seeing him cry with joy and love as my wife and I were married.
  • Watching him play in the sand on the beach with my little daughter.

Now that I am a father, I strive to remember the memories of my father that I cherish and I try to create memories for my little daughter.  I try to make sure I spend time reading with her and playing with her regularly.  I try to make sure she always has some time to get up on my shoulders or ride my back.  I try to make sure I am there to give her a bath at night and tuck her into bed.  There is never a day that goes by that I do not think about the first day I saw her eyes look up at mine as a newborn and tears came to my eyes to see such a precious and sweet little girl fresh from Heaven.  I try to always whisper into her ear that Daddy loves her and has always loved her since the first day I saw her before I tuck her in at night.  I hope that out of all of the things I try to do that she remembers at least a handful of them and it helps her in her life.

Recently Elder Nelson gave a talk at the World Congress of Families V entitled “The Family: The Hope for the Future of Nations“.

You can view his talk here, but I’d like to just highlight some quotes I found inspiring from the talk.  Feel free to share your thoughts on the talk as well.

Here are a few quotes from the talk I liked:

After 59 years of marriage, my dear wife, Dantzel, died of a sudden rhythm shift of the heart. Ironically, my professional life as a heart surgeon included intensive research in the very malady that claimed her life. Even so, I could not resuscitate her. I know about a widower’s silent loneliness

In General Conference we rarely see the human side of the Apostles unfortuneatly.  I found it refreshing that Elder Nelson got personal and shared some of his deepest heartaches.  My heart went out to him as he shared this story.

Throughout my life, I have answered to many titles, including doctor, captain, professor, and elder. But the titles I revere most are those of husband, father, and grandfather.

Having become a new father myself last year, and for all you mothers and fathers out there, I’m sure you totally understand and appreciate this quote.  It is important for us to always remember which roles are most important in our lives and that our children feel that we put them above our jobs and church callings.

Spiritually, we need children as much as they need us. They are our spiritual wealth.

Just think how beautiful and fun life is with children.  It’s no wonder Jesus told us to become as a child.

…future happiness and even the future of nations is linked to children. Families with children need to be re-enthroned as the fundamental unit of society. We simply must value children more than we do!

Any attempt to broaden the definition of marriage to encompass a contractual relationship between adults outside of the traditional family weakens the institution of marriage as God Himself defined it, and undermines the separate, divinely decreed responsibilities of man and woman for procreation, protection, and rearing of children.

These quotes drive home the importance of marriage as God defines it.  Not as we try to define it.  It also drives home implications and effects on children and how that will affect society in the long run.

Take some time to read the rest of his talk, along with the excerpt from The Family Proclamation.

What are your thoughts?

My wife and I were recently blessed with our first child.  A beautiful baby girl.  Words can’t describe how amazing it was to see and help out with the birth of our daughter. 

I’m sure you’ve all heard the old saying of wishing kids came with instruction manuals.  I didn’t get a manual, but I did get a great book from my mother called “She Calls me Daddy” by Robert Wolgemuth.  Within the book was a CD from a broadcast from Dr James Dobson from Focus on the Family.  In this CD, Dr Dobson had Dr Kevin Leman, author of “The Difference a Daddy Makes“, as a guest.  Dr Leman highlights 7 steps in being a good father to your children.  I’ll list the 7 steps and then share some thoughts as well.

7 Steps to Being a Good Dad

1. Honor your Wife

In his talk “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Howard Hunter, a former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, states “…one of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”

I believe this to be true.  In my father’s second marriage I witnessed how deeply he cared for my mother and how she loved him in return.  It brings a peaceful spirit to the home.  I noticed how he would help with cleaning, cooking, and worked very hard to provide for the family.  He was (and still is) a deeply religious man who strives to live a good life and serve the Lord.  His example is what turned me around when I was wayward as a youth.  I pray that I can implement the good I saw in him into my marriage and strive daily to love and support my wife with her various duties.

President Hunter also mentions that helping is important, but also important is telling your wife that you love her and respect her.  Both actions and words are important to nurturing and honoring our wives.  If we haven’t told our wives how much we appreciate them, I encourage us to do so.

2. Be There for your Kids

There were times after my parents were divorce at one point or another where one or the other parent was completely out of the picture.  I’ve shared in previous posts somewhat about how much anxiety and depression it caused for me later on.  From personal experience I know first hand how crucial it is to be there for your kids.

Being there means much more than merely sharing a physical presence with them.  This means emotional and moral support for their dreams and goals, disappointments and failures. 

3. Believe in your Kids

Having a dad who believes in you and trusts you can make all the difference in the world.  I remember when I wrestled in early high school and seeing my father in the crowd.  He didn’t like wrestling, but it meant that much more to me in my performance when I looked out there and saw him there to cheer me on.  It made me feel like he believed in me.  Kids need a father to tell them and more importantly show them that they believe in them even when they make a mistake.

4. Let your Kids Fail (but be there to pick them up)

I can see how this step could be the hardest step.  However, sometimes the greatest love is to stand back and allow our children to fall.  For their sake and the sake of others sometimes, it is necessary to let the child learn on their own.  However, it is very important to be there for them to pick them up after they’ve gone through the experience. 

Many times our children are struggling to obtain a good thing as well and it can be tempting to want to do it for them.  It is important for their sakes many times to allow them to struggle and be there for them.

As I was thinking about this step, I also thought about probably the greatest father-son relationship:  Jesus Christ and Heavently Father.  Throughout Jesus’ life he turned to Heavenly Father for guidance and gained strength from Him through prayer and direct communication.  At the end of Jesus’ life, both He and the Father knew Jesus needed to go through his suffering on the cross for our sakes.  This one time, Heavenly Father stood back and allowed the Savior to go through intense suffering and Jesus cried out “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

5. Strive to be Good…not Great

Being LDS and Christian have many great qualities, one of which is the striving for excellence by living as good and wholesome of a life as we can.  However, I’ve frequently seen people in the church who put pressure on themselves to “be perfect as God is perfect” because that is a commandment.  People then busy themselves with so many church activities, callings, and striving to be perfect.  The moment they make a mistake, they beat themselves up over it.  I’ve fallen into this trap before as well.

The author makes an excellent point by advising to just be good…not perfect.  Allow your kids to see you as a human with flaws and mistakes.  When you make a mistake, turn to God and allow Him to pick you up and make the difference for your shortcomings. 

6. Compliment Kids

The author advised to give our children “commercial announcements.”  Commercial announcements are encouraging statements about a child’s behavior.  Examples include: “I think you choose great friends.” “You did a great job cleaning your room.” “I like the way you treat your brother.”  Or any other compliment.  These quick 15 – 30 second “announcements” encourage good behavior and build a child’s trust in you as a parent.

7. Don’t be a “Disneyland Dad”

Finally, the author states not to be a “Disneyland Dad.”  Especially after a divorce.

Disneyland dad’s are the dads who show up once or twice a year and promise the moon to their kids.  They treat them lavishly for a few days and then leave them for months at a time.  In my opinion, this type of a behavior is just like going to Disneyland for the child: a rollercoaster.  An emotional rollercoaster that destroys trust and a steady and stable relationship.

 

In Wallace D Wattles’ Book “The Science of Getting Rich” he makes the following statement in chapter 12:

The world is advanced only by those who more than fill their present places.

If no one quite filled their present place, there would be backward movement in

everything. Those who do not quite fill their present places are dead weight upon

society, government, commerce, and industry. They must be carried along by others at a

great expense.

Jesus also made a simpler, yet similar statement in Matthew 5:41:

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declares the family as being central to God’s plan.  Elswhere, prophets have declared the family as being the fundamental unit of society.

There are wars raging in the world, natural disasters, disease, and many other things going on that affect societies.  It can be overwhelming to think of what can we do to improve society?

 What if we did as Jesus and the prophets suggest and “go the extra mile” starting within our family?  I believe that if we just did one thing each day to go the “extra mile” within our families each day for our spouse, children, siblings, parents, etc. we would strengthen our family and in turn strengthen our government and society.

What one thing can you do to improve your family relationships?

 

 

 

 

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 895 other followers

GraceforGrace Community

Pages

Blog Stats

  • 522,592 hits
%d bloggers like this: