Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Born Into A Family

Think of a nest with baby birds in it.  These birds are unable to care for themselves, and the mother and father bird give their all to feeding, protecting and teaching the birds what they need to know.  These baby birds belong to a family that will help take care of their needs.

 Three baby robins in a nest with their beaks open and fragments of blue eggshells around them.
Heavenly Father planned for each of us to come to earth and be part of a family. When a baby is born, the baby can’t take care of himself or herself. A baby can’t feed or dress himself or herself. A baby needs a family to take care of him or her.
The “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” reads:
We solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

As we learn that family is central to the Father’s plan, we also learn that every family is a little different. Some families have a mother and a father, and some have only one parent.  Others have grandparents or other relatives caring for the children.  Some families have many children, while others have one or no children.  Every family is different, and yet Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, love each and every family.

Two parents with their four sons walk on the beach.

Bonnie Oscarson said in the April 2015 General Conference:
"May I point out something obvious? Life rarely goes exactly according to plan for anyone, and we are very aware that not all [people] are experiencing what the proclamation describes. It is still important to understand and teach the Lord’s pattern and strive for the realization of that pattern the best we can.

Each of us has a part to play in the plan, and each of us is equally valued in the eyes of the Lord. We should remember that a loving Heavenly Father is aware of our righteous desires and will honor His promises that nothing will be withheld from those who faithfully keep their covenants. Heavenly Father has a mission and plan for each of us, but He also has His own timetable. One of the hardest challenges in this life is to have faith in the Lord’s timing. It’s a good idea to have an alternative plan in mind, which helps us to be covenant-keeping, charitable, and righteous [men and] women who build the kingdom of God no matter which way our lives go. We need to teach our daughters [and sons] to aim for the ideal but plan for contingencies."

I learned that life didn't always go as expected when I was preparing for college.  I had my life planned and I knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go to school.  Then came my life-changing shock, I didn’t get accepted to the school of my choice (which happened to be the school everyone in my family had gone to, even my parents). 
I learned to adjust my goals and plans and find a new route, the path God wanted me to take. These changes continued to happen as I was pleasantly surprised to meet Clark at my new school, and marry him in the Salt Lake Temple.  


 I had always wanted to marry and have a family, but thought that it wouldn't happen for a few years.  A few years after our marriage, we started our family and life continues to teach us that in order for us to find our way through life we need to rely on the Lord and His divine guidance. 
The difficult part we are in now is doing our best to raise our family and teach our children.

King Benjamin from the Book of Mormon taught in Mosiah 4:14-15,
"And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another."
Clark and I decided right from the beginning that we were going to do our best to keep God first in our lives, in our marriage, and in our family—even before children came into the picture. We started by simply doing the small things every day to create tradition:  Family Home Evening, Scripture study (individual, couple, and family), Praying (individual, couple, and family), Tithing, attending our church meetings and fulfilling our callings, and attending the temple.


If we fill up our lives with all these small, simple traditions we are filling ourselves spiritually and will draw closer to the Holy Spirit and our Heavenly Father.
We need the Lord’s guidance in our lives and need to put ourselves in a position to hear his word.  As I draw near to the Savior and our Heavenly Father I feel the strength to make it through trials and peace.

"Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
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).

Just as the baby bird has a family, a father and mother, to care and nurture it; we too are born into families and Heavenly Father has a plan for us.
None of our families are the same, none of our families are perfect, and things often don’t go the way we plan them to. As Bonnie Oscarson said, “We need to aim for the ideal."  That should always be where we set our sights.

A painting by Del Parson showing Enoch surrounded by the people of his city on a large cloud being raised into the air.

I know that Heavenly Father loves us, He has a plan for us and someday we can realize the ideal.  Until then we can do our best and come close as we stay close to God and do those things we know are right.
I am thankful for the knowledge the gospel gives me that families can be forever.  I am thankful for my family, and that includes friends as well.
“Life’s greatest joys are found in the family. Strong family relationships require effort, but such effort brings great happiness in this life and throughout eternity”(True to the Faith: Marriage).

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Being There

I have been thinking a lot about love language because of a lesson in my class.  I was to go to become familiar with Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman and learn my love language and a few others' in my family. After doing this activity, which turned out to be fun family time, I was able to see how others in my life receive and feel love.

Being more aware of how others feel loved, also made me aware when I fall short as a mother.  There is so much I need to do to improve as a mother.

 A conceptual photograph showing an eye test poster with the letters spelling “Love one another,” paired with the words “Improve Your Vision.”

The "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" says:

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

 This really touched my heart and pushed me forward in learning ways to improve.  I am not sure how or what, but I am on the path and will continue.  I will seek divine guidance through prayer and scripture study, and I know that I will be directed in the endeavor of parenthood.  I hope I can be there for my children just as Elder Hales shares in the video below.

Some ways to strengthen our families:

  1. Learn together. During family scripture time and everyday teaching moments, discover the gospel together.
  2. Pray together. As you call on Heavenly Father, you will find that He loves each of you.
  3. Hold family home evening. Set aside a time each week when you can count on being together.
  4. Make wise media choices. Ensure that what enters your home is edifying.
  5. Serve side by side. Grow closer together through service, such as helping a neighbor, sharing the gospel, or doing family history.
  6. Express love daily. In word and deed, show Christlike kindness.
 family love poster

Friday, June 17, 2016


 A mother and father kneel in the grass next to their son and help him while he tries to walk.

Last week I wrote about marriage and having children.  As I thought about these thoughts throughout the week following, I wanted to make sure I addressed one more aspect.  Life is full of opposition and trial.  There are many people who wish with all their heart to be married, but the opportunity slips by and as time progresses hope that it will become a reality dims.  This applies to having children as well.  There are many couples that have married and anticipated having children, and as time goes by with no results, their hearts become heavy with sadness.

We live in a fallen world where there are many trials and disappointments.  We strive to do our best and serve God, following the Savior. This is why marriage and child bearing can be a hard topic.

An image of a man’s hand holding a woman’s hand, combined with a quote by Elder Neil L. Andersen: “No trial is so large we can’t overcome it together.”

Elder Anderson taught, "The bearing of children can also be a heartbreaking subject for righteous couples who marry and find that they are unable to have the children they so anxiously anticipated or for a husband and wife who plan on having a large family but are blessed with a smaller family.
We cannot always explain the difficulties of our mortality. Sometimes life seems very unfair—especially when our greatest desire is to do exactly what the Lord has commanded. As the Lord’s servant, I assure you that this promise is certain: “Faithful members whose circumstances do not allow them to receive the blessings of eternal marriage and parenthood in this life will receive all promised blessings in the eternities, [as] they keep the covenants they have made with God.”"

I feel it would be hard to think that an anticipated blessing will not happen until after this life is over, but we all experience trials that try our patience and these trials teach us.  As we turn to the Lord in our trials our eyes can be opened to see the blessings and opportunities that come our way.

Seek the Lord in your trials and "I [the Lord, will] make weak things become strong unto them."

 A plain gray background with the words from Ether 12:27 printed over the top.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Only Between Husband and Wife

In continuation of my blog series on the family, I want to address a sensitive issue this time.  Please know that I am not trying to push my beliefs and standards on anyone.  Rather, I am wanting to share it with, and if it is something you think will bless your life like it has mine, then you are free to adopt these beliefs and standards as well.

This week I am memorizing a couple paragraphs in "The Family: A Proclamation to the world" (I brought up in previous posts, here is the full document).

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

Between husband and wife
 I have said it before, but I will say it again, I believe in having families.  This doesn't mean that I believe in popping out children until my days of child-bearing are done.  This is something a husband and wife pray about and the Lord helps them to know when and how many children is good for their family.  For some it might be eight, for others it might be one, but we do believe in having children.

There is a disturbing trend in society where children are being born out of wedlock, and among those who are married, having children is something to do only after you have done all the amazing things you want to do with your life.

In a talk Neil L. Anderson gave on children, he shared a blog by a mother (she is not of my faith) where she shares exactly what motherhood is:

Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure.  Below toning your body at the gym. Below any job you have or hope to get. ... Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you  find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for."

Having children and making families grow in unity is what God sent us here to do.  If you search deep in your heart, I am sure you will feel that family is the most important unit in society.  The first commandment between a husband and wife is to have children, and that those God given powers to create life are to ONLY be used between a husband and wife.

The world has fallen into a twisted view of physical intimacy, it is not about satisfying the animal desires of humans.  It is beautiful when done in the way God intended it to be, between husband and wife. "It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife. God has commanded that sexual intimacy be reserved for marriage." (For the Strength of Youth, 2012, page 35)

Reserving intimacy after marriage is important because this is the best way to build love and trust between a husband and wife, and it creates the optimal situation for bringing children into this world.  I know there are those who would say that there are terrible examples where the family situation was not the best, but I feel deep inside that if a man and woman are trusting in God in their marriage together and bringing children into their family where the gospel of Jesus Christ is taught, those terrible examples my not even exist.

Marriage and children are a beautiful gift God has given us to live in and it is something that needs to be worked on and protected.  We can do this as we strive to be like our Savior Jesus Christ, and follow the commandments of God.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Letter to my Friend

Dear Friend,

I wanted to write you a letter to tell you how thankful I am for you.  There have been times in my life when I really struggled with feeling lonely, and then you came into my life and blessed me with your friendship.  You have been patient with me on the days I crawl into my shell and ignore the world.  You have also helped me come out of my shell and have fun.

Thank you for listening and conversing with me, filling my life with laughter and light.  I hope you don't mind when I share my beliefs with you.  Or when my children invite you to church activities.  This is my main reason for writing to you.  I want you to understand that part of our life a little better.

Being a Mormon has been a part of my life since before I was born, and yet I don't know why I get so nervous to share that side of my life.  I guess I am afraid to offend someone or perhaps make them turn away and not be a friend, but not sharing that side of me is kind of like lying about who I am.

Every decision I make, way I speak, way I dress, the food I eat (or don't eat), or what I choose to participate in is based on me being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Sometimes when I think of you I see things I would love to share with you.  When your spouse passed away, my heart ached for you.  I wanted to share with you my beliefs in eternal families through ordinances performed in our sacred temples.

A view of the Gilbert Arizona Temple rising above the trees from afar in the late evening, with pink and orange light.

"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" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

Or when I saw you suffering through other trials that came into your life, I wanted to share with you the comforting power of prayer and also priesthood blessings.  I know that even if the trials don't go away, gaining strength from God can help us conquer any challenge.

Two men in white shirts and ties give a priesthood blessing to a young boy who is lying sick in bed.
Two priesthood holders blessing a sick child.
There have been many times I want to share with you the Book of Mormon.  Having this book as a companion to the Bible has brought me so much closer to feelings Gods love and word in my life.  I know it is an inspired book.  I know that if anyone chose to read it with an open heart, they would find it uplifting and inspiring because it rings with truth and a testimony of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

A diptych depicting Christ’s Crucifixion and Christ visiting the New World, with the emblems of the Bible and Book of Mormon at the top.
Bible is a testimony of Savior, and the Book of Mormon is another testimony of Savior from a people who lived in the Americas.
I know that we Mormons may be strange, and it might be strange that we love to talk so much about what we believe, but that is because it is the most important part of our life.  This is who I am.  I know and love God better from being a Mormon.  I sincerely hope that someday you might take an opportunity to investigate and learn about our beliefs for yourself.  Feel free to ask me!  I am your friend.  Also, please know I will always be your friend.

Thank you again for being my friend.  You are a great blessing in my life!

With love,


Thursday, May 26, 2016

This I Believe

Everything for God and Family
            What matters most in my life?  What motivates my actions? When I think about a life motto, this is what I believe: I will give everything to serve my God and my family. I don’t know if this motto was ingrained in me by the teachings of my parents, but I do know that over time it has grown to be everything to me.  I was a spirited little redhead that loved to laugh and play with my friends; however, what I loved the most was being in the refuge of my home.  It was there that I learned, at the knees of my parents, who God is and how much He loves me.  I saw how my parents served God and their fellow-men, and loved those whom they served.  I am thankful for the relationships with my siblings, who have become my best friends. The example of my family has been worth more than anything else in the world.

            One particularly low day, when I was a teenager, I came home from school crying that I didn’t feel I had any friends. My mother hugged me and let me know she loved me, and then she taught me a lesson that changed my life.  She said, “Maryann, everyone at school is waiting for someone to smile at them and say hello. They need a friend just as much you.” The Savior is always reaching out to us, and I knew this was what I needed to do.  So I made it my goal to smile and be kind to everyone around me, even if I didn’t feel I had a close friend.  By the end of my high school experience, I no longer felt friendless. When I forgot myself and shared the light within me, I could add light to the lives of my peers.  When I loved and served them, the love and light grew within me.

             Soon I came upon a new phase of life, adulthood with parenthood.  I have been tested, but as I live by my motto of giving everything to serve God and my family, I feel I have purpose and direction in my life.  As a young mother I gave my all as I changed diapers, washed clothes, made meals, and cleaned the ever-dirty home.  I can’t say how many nights of sleep have been disrupted by children, or how many spills and accidents I have cleaned up, but I have gave and give continually to my family and God. I sacrifice my own personal desires for them. Yet with all the sacrifice and work, I love more than I have ever loved. I trust God more than I ever did as a youth. I find myself expanding in abilities.  There have been nights when I have rocked a baby or sang a lullaby and my heart expanded with love and gratitude for the precious gift of motherhood.
            Motherhood has taken me farther in living my service to God and family.  The funny thing is that the line between serving God and serving my family seems to be fading.  As I serve and love my family, I know I am also serving God. I believe that loving and serving God and our families with all our hearts will bring us pure happiness; we will better understand the potential we have in life.  I will continue serving God with all my might, and loving and serving my family with all my heart. When I growing up, my Grandmother always said, “Family is everything,” and I know “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). This I is my belief and the motto that I live by.