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.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Being One

Almost 15 years ago I married a man that is better than any I have ever dreamed of.  He was perfect for me, and still is.  We met at school, got engaged about six months later, and then married six months after that.  You can read the full story here. We had almost known each other for a year.  Some would say this was crazy, they may have thought we were too young (I had just turned twenty).  I say we were young, yes.  We were naive, perhaps, but we were full of faith, love, and hope--all of which creates the perfect beginning.
What creates an enduring love and a unifying marriage?   "By divine design, men and women are intended to progress together toward perfection and a fullness of glory. Because of their distinctive temperaments and capacities, males and females each bring to a marriage relationship unique perspectives and experiences.  The man and woman contribute differently but equally to a oneness and a unity that can be achieved in no other way" (David A. Bednar, Marriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan, Ensign, June 2006).

When we marry, we each bring certain gifts, abilities, and more.  I have found in my marriage that my husband fits me so well.  He helps put strength into the areas I have problems with, and I feel that perhaps I do the same for him.  In a sense, together we complete each other.  Sheri L. Dew said, "Our Father knew exactly what He was doing when He created us. He made us enough alike to love each other, but enough different that we would need to unite our strengths and stewardships to create a whole. Neither man nor woman is perfect or complete without the other. Thus, no marriage or family ... is likely to reach its full potential until husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, men and women work together in unity of purpose, respecting and relying upon each other’s strengths."
What I am thankful for in my husband is that he doesn't let my troubles and weaknesses blur his love for me.  He continues to treat me like the queen he married all those years ago, even after I have exposed so many of my failings to him.  He continues to amaze me with his thoughtfulness and strength.  He continues to show me that he loves me and that we are in this together.
A Mother's Day creation for me.
 We read Jesus reply to the Pharisees about marriage, "And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt 19:5).

We sacrifice for each other.  As marriage partners, we both give our 100%.  It isn't a 50/50 effort, it is our full effort.  We serve with no thought of what is in it for us.  We put God first.  David A. Bednar also taught that "the ultimate blessings of love and happiness are obtained through the covenant relationship of eternal marriage.  The Lord Jesus Christ is the focal point in a covenant marriage relationship.  ... The Savior is positioned at the apex of [a] triangle, with a woman at the base of one corner and a man at the base of the other corner.  ... [As the man and woman] individually and steadily "come unto Christ" and strive to be "perfected in Him" (Moroni 10:32), through the Redeemer the man and the woman come closer together."

Through this kind of living, the man and the woman can become one.  Unified in all things.  Their family will be strengthened, and the children will understand and know the love of God better because of the example of the parents.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Importance of Family

There are a lot of questions in the news in regards to family; what a family is, looks like, etc.  Why is this such a big issue.  In "The Divine Institution of Marriage", an LDS commentary from January 2014, a very common question is stated, "It won't affect you marriage, so why should you care?"

Why should we care how the world and society view marriage and family, and how does it affect those of us who choose to live the traditional way?

First of all, lets talk about what my family believes and lives.  On 23 September 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley presented and read "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." 

This proclamation given to the world states what we believe about an individual, a marriage, and a family.  We believe that we lived in Heaven before we came to earth; we were "spiritually born" to Heavenly Parents. We grew and were taught the way of God.  We learned the plan our Father had for us to become like him.  In this plan we learned about earth and the need to receive a physical body to progress.

The plan is to come to earth, which all of us have done, and be born to a father and a mother and live in a family.  This familial experience both as a child and then later as a parent, teaches us lesson that help us learn and progress to our eternal goal: to be like our Heavenly Parents.  Lorenzo Snow taught that "As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be."  This is our goal.  Just as in this life we grow to become a responsible adult just as our parents, our goal is to learn to become like our Heavenly Parents.

Now I want to address the confusion of our day.  Elder D. Todd Christofferson said,

"A family built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for God's plan to thrive ... A critical mass of families built on such marriages is vital for societies to survive and flourish.  That is why communities and nations generally have encouraged and protected marriage and the family as privileged institutions.  It has never been just about the love and happiness of adults."

I want to emphasize the last sentence, "It has never been just about the love and happiness of adults."  We live in a "me generation."  Society encourages us to think mainly of self and what self wants.  We see this in children, young adults, middle aged, and even elderly; it is not one age group, it is widespread selfishness.  This is not how the family functions.  The family has need of hard work, self-sacrifice, devotion, unconditional love.

A mother and father work in a large green garden with their five children, who are all helping.

Referring back to "The Divine Institution of Marriage," how do the trends we see affect society?  There is an increase in the likelihood that children will not be able to "form a clear gender identity;" and their "social identity, gender development, and moral character" will erode as well.  "Strong, independent families are vital for political and religious freedom."

The Prophets have warned "that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society." (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)

Even if you don't believe in modern day prophets as I do, there has to be an agreement that the best place to raise children is in the stable home of a family, where a mother and father love and teach their children.  I take the words of the above mentioned proclamation as prophetic and true.  It isn't just a message to the Mormons, it is a message and warning to the world.  We need families.  We need families that are strong and true to each other, who hold fast together through the tough times, who sacrifice for each other.  This is something worth protecting.