Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fantasy General Conference October 2015


My sister-in-law Emmalee Christensen is at it again with her Fantasy General Conference Brackets!  Every General Conference season, she updates, improves, and includes little surprises in her brackets.  They are fun to fill out and follow-along with, especially for teens and antsy adults! ;)

You can follow along at the Fantasy General Conference Facebook Page or print off the bracket here.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Faith in God General Conference Companion


Hi guys!  Just dropping by today to tell you about an opportunity my readers have to download this new Faith in God General Conference Companion.  It is a workbook that kids can complete during General Conference that guides them through six Faith in God activities.  It also helps children practice the Articles of Faith, and keeps them focused on the speakers during General Conference.

The packet is normally available for a cost on Etsy, but if you PIN the Faith in God General Conference Companion and message the creator Lori Fillmore, she will send you a free download of this resource, which is great for girls and boys ages 8-11.

Print them out for your children to use this weekend.  And keep in mind that there are a few scriptures that should be read prior to watching Conference to help with the Faith in God requirements, so read through it prior to Conference with your child.

If you enjoy the workbook, be sure to leave some positive feedback via a review on Etsy.  Just follow the links above to access the download.  And thanks to Lori for offering this fun resource up to our readers. (It's available for free through Saturday, October 3, 2015, so get a move on...)


If you're in search of more easy #LDSConf ideas, please check out my
Very Best of General Conference Ideas page and my posts from earlier this week, including my FREE General Conference Doodle Book.
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Monday, September 28, 2015

10 General Conference FHE Ideas for Tonight


[Scroll down for my list of FHE ideas...but first I'll tell you about #10]

I was pretty happy to see that LDSLiving gathered pictures of the Apostles and put them all in one place.  That made it really easy for my kids and I to have a fun General Conference family counsel together last night (and by "fun" I mean sort of crazy, because they were in a wild Sunday-afternoon funky mood!) But yes, it was fun.




Using our now "world-famous" (haha, thank you, Friend) Apostles Name Board (which will soon need to be updated!) we played a little game in which we tried to guess which kid picture went with which Apostle.  You can print out all the Apostle/Kid pictures here.

I even incorporated them in the General Conference Doodle Book which you can download for free right here.

My kids were cracking up over the photos.  They had lots of thoughts of which kids were "soooo cute", which ones looked like and older kid they might have looked up to and wanted to hang out with and follow around, and which ones still look old because of their clothing!

This would make for a fun FHE tonight, if you're in a crunch.  Just print out the photos and go to town.  Here are some other ideas from my VERY BEST OF GENERAL CONFERENCE IDEAS PAGE!


10 General Conference FHE IDEAS FOR TONIGHT: 


1. "Come Listen to a Prophet's Voice FHE" Play voices of three apostles and see if your family can guess who is speaking.



2. As a family, come up with a menu plan for the weekend and/or brainstorm on REVERENCE STATIONS that would be enjoyable to do together while watching Conference this weekend.



3. You might also want to download the newest Sugardoodle Gen Conf Packet and put them together...together.  Available here on the Sugardoodle General Conference Page.



4. Download & Fill out the latest Fantasy General Conference Brackets...makes for a fun and friendly family competition!  You can find the brackets at the Fantasy General Conference Page on Facebook.



5. Pick one Apostle to spotlight...make one food representative of either the country where they served or where they are from. See this post for ideas.

6. Take an online behind the scenes tour of the Conference Center, lead by a child. (See link on my page.)

7. Go over this article about HOW AN APOSTLE IS CALLED.

8. Together, come up with questions you would like to find answers to during General Conference and Create a General Conference Questions Wall.

9. Clean the house as a family...if you're like us, it'll be trashed again by Friday night, HOWEVER, it will give each member of the family a feeling of reverence for the weekend and what it involves...especially if you watch at home like we do!


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10. Print out pictures of the Apostles as children and try to guess who they match (as mentioned above!) Link here.

For more ideas, see my VERY BEST GENERAL CONFERENCE IDEAS PAGE! It's all GOOD!

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Free General Conference Doodle Book 2015



So much has happened since last we talked, but no time for chit-chat now, because we all need to get ready for #LDSConf!

Many of you downloaded my previous General Conference Doodle Book, so, GOOD NEWS, I put my mediocre drawing skills to work again last week to make a new General Conference Doodle Book for my kids to work on while they watch this weekend, and of course I'm sharing it here with you!  



As you can see each page has a brief review about what the person taught previously as well as a brief, creative way to take notes, and a picture of the apostle now and as a child...(Thank you, LDSLiving!)

If you like it, please be a dear and share a link to this post online, or, better yet, PIN it so others can make their way over here. 



Printing Instructions:  I printed mine on card stock.  There are ten pages in all.  Print single-sided, then cut them in half along the line (making 20 pages) and join them together with a ring or a ribbon to create a flip book.  There are pages for each apostle and the three yet-unnamed apostles.  

Click on the link below to view and print this free doodle book.




We've already got some excited and happy Campers around here.  I hope you and your family enjoy this week of anticipation as much as we do! As always, you can find what I consider the BEST GENERAL CONFERENCE IDEAS right here and I will be back with more free General Conference downloads later this week (or find me on Facebook!)




Continue reading... »

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Goodly Parents Teach by Sasha Takis



Recently I purchased a Book of Mormon to study with the sole purpose of searching for specific guidance relating to parenting and education. I have been color coding verses according to subject and theme. 

I think it is significant that the most true book on Earth begins with telling us of good parents; Nephi's father taught him what he knew because he was a good parent, the converse being true that because Lehi taught his son, he was a good parent:

"I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father..." (1 Nephi 1:1)

As I studied the family of Lehi anew, and reread of their two return journeys to Jerusalem after fleeing to the wilderness, I paused to consider the reasons for these return trips. The acquisition of the Brass Plates served to preserve a language and provide a record of doctrine and commandments, both necessary for the support, teaching, sustaining, and building of this family and their future generations, and also to provide the genealogy of Lehi's family. 
The convincing of Ishmael and his family to join Lehi's family was for the forming of the most important companionship in this life, those of marrying and making families. 

These two necessary trips were all about the family! From the dust of 600 BC comes the Book of Mormon version of the Proclamation on the Family.

Juxtaposing this part of the Book of Mormon with the Proclamation, I'd like to suggest what it is that is imperative for parents to teach their children.

Teach them where they come from.
  • Teach your children that they are eternal beings. Teach them the Plan of Salvation and that they are children of a loving Father in Heaven.
  • Teach your children their family history. More than names and dates, search and study the true life stories that are their heritage. Come to know your ancestors as real people and internalize their trials, triumphs, and testimonies.
  • Keep in touch with living relatives. Be diligent in strengthening family relationships. Those who make up the members of your family are not a matter of chance.
  • Teach your children the history of your nation and to be patriots. Help them recognize the Hand of God in the affairs of history.
Teach them where they are going.
  • Teach them that this life is the time to prepare to meet God. Continually walk with them the path that leads back to Him.
  • Demonstrate a love of learning and an appreciation for education and improvement.
  • Teach your children to work.
  • Teach your children to make and keep covenants both in word and by example. Take your family to the temple. Prepare them for the day when they will marry and begin families of their own. 
  • Discuss family life and help your children acquire skills for homemaking and providing, as well as those for nurturing family relationships.
Teach them what you know. 
  • Follow the example of Lehi and share your knowledge, your passions, your experiences, and your testimony with your children. Be interested in and an active part of your children's educations.
  • Set an example of standing up for what is right. Do not underestimate yourself or your influence. Employ the skills and knowledge you've acquired to bless your children  and guard against any enemy.
Teach them language.
  • Don't leave to others the responsibility you have to ensure your children are learning and literate. Read to them, read with them, have them read to you. 
  • Create a home environment where record keeping is the norm. Journals, scrapbooks, letters, memoirs, even poetry and creative writing should abound.
  • Teach good manners in speech and how to effectively communicate with people, being good listeners as well as strong but tempered speakers.
  • Help them learn, recognize, and understand the language of the Spirit.
  • Teach them to pray.
Moses counseled, "And thou shalt teach (these words) diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (see Deuteronomy 6:7). This means good parents are teaching all the time. 

Children are born into families. They aren't born to governments, to schools, to clubs, or even to churches. The Plan of Happiness--the blueprint for finding and achieving real, lasting happiness--is centered on the family and not any other organization or group. Therefore, the rearing and education of children is both the responsibility and privilege of parents to whom children are born. They may employ the help of others for support, but they should never give up what is both their right and their charge in the teaching of their children.



About the author:  Sasha Takis loves hiking, watching her kids play baseball/softball, and doing a lot of laundry in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. She blogs about a little of this, a little of that, and a whole lot about homeschooling, parenting, truth, and gospel analogies at http://pegsacademy.blogspot.com/
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on Facebook! Be sure to check out the other host blogs today for more wonderful posts and testimonies about family.

You can also share your love of family by sharing photos online this month under the hashtag #ILovetheFamilyProclamation.

Here are links to the other blogs:
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Friday, September 25, 2015

Standing Firm for Gender by Sarah McBride



“ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.”


Over the past few years and months, it has become increasingly popular to blur the lines of gender. Not only moving towards redefining what a man is or what a woman is, but posing the question: “Why should we make any distinction at all?”

I am currently studying to become a midwife. An alarming trend in my field is that we are no longer saying “women’s healthcare.” The language now being proposed is that of supposed inclusiveness, which is in fact, insulting the very women we care for. Giving birth to new life is indeed the very essence of womanhood.

Not only is defining gender good science, (think chromosomes xx and xy, the only two combinations) it is God’s divine design.

President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “Your Heavenly Father has known you for a very long time. You, as His son or daughter, were chosen by Him to come to earth at this precise time, to be a leader in His great work on earth.” (Oct. 2013 General Conference, “Decisions for Eternity”)

As men and women, we each have sacred responsibilities. How do we honor and uphold these responsibilities? How do we stand for truth and lead during this time of confusion? We begin by denying the power of Satan in our own lives.

Satan is clever. He wants us to believe and even deny our own divine potential. When we lose sight of who we are and who we can become, he acts quickly. We need to stand firm in keeping the commandments of our Heavenly Father. He wants to protect us and keep us on His path for our lives. When we begin and end each day having upheld His commandments, we will be prepared for the greater work we need to do.

The second thing we need to do is to love our roles. We need to be examples of righteous manhood or womanhood. Men need to honor the priesthood they have stewardship of. They need to love their duties of leadership, providing, and fatherhood. They need to show their love of the gospel to those around them. Women need to be caring, nurturing, and examples of service and strength. We need to show that our divine roles matter by loving those roles.

Each and every person on this earth came here with divine potential, which has existed from the beginning of time. Before we came here we were male or female. That knowledge is essential to our eternal beings. It is not fluid, changeable, or of little worth.

We live in a changing world, where it is increasingly popular to accept anything and any lifestyle. It is my prayer that we will rise up and stand firm, while also practicing the Christ-like attributes of loving our neighbor as ourselves. That we will recognize our divine nature, strength, and power that lives within each one of us. We do not always need to be bold, but we do always need to be immovable in holding fast to the principles set forth in the scriptures. We are created in His image, as sons and daughters, and by embracing our eternal nature, we will be able to realize and fulfill our full potential.



If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on social media using the hashtag #ILovetheFamilyProclamation 

And be sure to check out the other host blogs today for more wonderful posts and testimonies about family.

Here are links to the other blogs:
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Using The Family Proclamation as Your Blueprint by Becky Meng



This is a picture from one of the greatest days of my life.  

Oh I know, it wasn’t all about me on my daughter’s wedding day but this day last year was in the works long before she even thought about getting married so I think it is okay for me to claim a little bit of it for myself and my husband. 

In fact, plans for this day and others like this for our family started back in 1982 – the year my husband and I were married.  This was when I really started thinking about the importance of raising a righteous family of children that would one day go on and become another family or families.  This is what we were going to work for all the years of our married life.
 
My husband referred to our family, our children, as our greatest investment and at first it sounded a little weird to me.  And then he explained what he meant.

He said that nothing is more important to a parent or a couple than their children.  Everything we do is focused on these people we have brought into our lives and we are investing all our time, energy, money and knowledge on them.  They are more valuable to us than any mortgage we will ever hold because we are responsible for teaching them the Gospel and how to follow the correct path back to our Heavenly Father, so yes, they are our greatest investment!

From the beginning we wanted to have a good start and we wanted to be prepared.  I remember when we were newlyweds and thinking about our future family.  I believed that everything in our life would be smooth sailing and that our kids would be these beautiful, handsome and super smart and really successful people.  Mistakes?  Of course our kids would never make any and neither would we!

Tell the truth, you are now smiling and thinking to yourself, “I used to think the exact same thing!”  We all did.

That’s because when we are young we have these positive outlooks on life and we KNOW that we can do anything.  We know how bright our future is and we are going to make it happen – no matter what.
But how were we going to go about nurturing these wonderful little people that we would be hopefully blessed with someday?  If you were like me, you thought it would just come naturally. 

The reality is that we needed then as we do now powerful resources to achieve our goal of raising our kids to know the importance of parents and the family unit.

We needed a blueprint.

We needed inspiration.

We needed help.

Twenty years ago, in September of 1995, when my daughter Jennifer was just 5 years old, President Gordon B. Hinckley presented “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World” in a General Relief Society meeting, and at the time it was a welcomed aid that I was super excited about.  In this short document is placed the exact map for us to follow in regards to our families.  There is no grey area here but it is a loving document that states directly what a family consists of and what children need to be raised according to God’s will.

When it was first made available in print I read it over and over again, because I wanted to know it backward and forward.  I wanted it to be so familiar to me that I wouldn’t even have to think about it.  All my actions would reflect the importance of each word and the meaning behind what it would mean to truly live the proclamation.  Again, my youth and excitement for all things that were good and that would help my husband and I to raise great kids!     
The 7th paragraph is the one that is studied the most because it gives us in detail the description of our roles in our families as parents but the 1st paragraph really encompasses the whole document.  For me the first paragraph is so very powerful because it states the two things that we know for sure and they are the basis for all we do in our homes.    

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 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.”

Wow!  How could you read that first statement and not just be fired up to live a righteous life and be a better parent?   I thought I was already on the right track but this document was just what I needed to really be the parent I always thought I should be except for one thing.  I wasn’t going to be doing it on my own and it wasn’t because I had this great intuition.  It was the proclamation that was going to set me straight and help lead my husband and I on the right course for our family.  Not my course, but Heavenly Father’s course.

This paragraph gave me strength as a parent because it reaffirmed the fact that marriage between a man and a woman is Heavenly Father’s will for us.  There is no question on this point. 
When our children were young this topic was not really in the mainstream that people were talking about but parents now certainly are faced with this issue because their children are hearing it at school.  Every day.  This is a challenge to say the very least and I worry about all young parents now.  I pray for my children who are now parents themselves, that they will be in tune with what Heavenly Father wants for their families.  I pray that they will know how to answer the difficult questions that will be coming their way regarding the family and how it is to be organized because they will surely come.

I also love the statement that our families are at the center of Heavenly Father’s plan for us to return to live with Him.  That to me reaffirms the importance of our job as parents and the need to place the focus of all that we do on our families.  If we don’t do it, someone else will be more than happy to lead your children – in another direction. 

This is where I would like to make an important point because I think that family scripture study is an activity we can do as a family that is so beneficial to The Family Proclamation because it is going to help keep our children – your children – close to you and on Heavenly Father’s path.  And that is what The Proclamation is all about!

When our oldest son was 8 years old, our youngest was born and it was such a sweet time for us but man was I stressed and tired.  Every day I got up and wondered if I would make it through the day because of exhaustion but I loved being a mother and knew that I needed to take care of all of their needs.  My husband was busy working and I was at home caring for our kids and this was exactly what I wanted to be doing. 

Since we were so busy the only time we had to read scriptures as a family was at night before everyone went to bed.  This was an important time for us and we didn’t want to miss out on it – even if some of us slept through the actual reading part!  I will be honest and say that sometimes I fell asleep too but our good intentions were there.

Our oldest son Matthew loved to lay on the floor while we were reading and he would follow along and listen but sometimes it went just a little too long for him and he would fall asleep.  We would try to wake him up but sometimes he was just too far gone.
Years later I remember talking to some family members at an extended family function about our scripture reading experiences and mentioning in a joking manner that Matthew slept through some of our family scripture time, in particular when we were reading “Jesus the Christ.”  Matthew, who was standing right next to me at the time said to my surprise and enjoyment, that he might have had his eyes closed or even been asleep but he remembered just about everything we read. 

In fact I believe he quoted some pretty heavy doctrine that even I had forgotten.  So cool when these special moments occur for parents!  When they happen for you – WRITE THEM DOWN!  They are precious.

As time goes on things are going to become more and more difficult for parents so it is imperative that we use our most valuable tools that we have to fend off evil, to teach our children the Gospel of Jesus Christ AND to most importantly, know and understand the importance of the family unit.  Because of the Proclamation, we know how to organize and steer our families toward eternal life.  What a great blueprint for everyone!

Use this document in your life now as a parent so that on one of the greatest days of your life, you will be able to look back and say that you had prepared for a day that was all about one of your kids – but in reality, it was all about you too.  “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World” is that document that will help you achieve that goal!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on social media! You can read more sage advice from Becky on her blog: BeckyHasBeenBlogging.com! 

Be sure to check out the other host blogs today for more wonderful posts and testimonies about family.

You can also share your love of family by sharing photos online this month under the hashtag #ILovetheFamilyProclamation.

Here are links to the other blogs:
and

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Journey to the Temple: God's Plan for Us by Katie Landis


There I was, kneeling at the altar, hand in hand with the most amazing man with whom I was about to be joined for time and all eternity. It was a long journey to the altar, both literally and figuratively. We had just spent the past two days in our little Hyundai Elantra driving from our home in central Pennsylvania all the way out to Ogden, Utah to be sealed in what had been described to me as “the castle.” There were obviously Temples closer to home, but there were also three very important people my husband and I knew needed to be there. Brother Done, Brother West and Brother Sparrow, or as we know them, the elders. They were all integral parts in getting us to the Temple and we wanted them to be there!
We met Elder Done when he came knocking on our door one cold, winter evening. He asked us to come to sacrament meeting, and he asked me to read the Book of Mormon. 
I was hesitant but eventually opened the pages and was instantly engulfed by the Holy Spirit. 
Elder Done and Elder West, who joined him a few weeks later, quickly became a part of our family as they visited frequently to eat us out of house and home, and share their testimonies. 
I was a sponge, soaking up every word, every lesson, every scripture they would share with me. My husband was an inactive before they came, but grew up in the church. All I knew of Mormons was what I had been told by others, so I was glad to finally know the truth for myself. After the first sacrament meeting in February, we attended weekly. I read my scriptures. I asked questions. I had a passion for Heavenly Father I had never felt before.
Fast forward to mid-May. Elder Done’s mission has come to an end. I felt as though I was losing a brother and I didn’t approve of the new missionary, Elder Sparrow, taking his place. However, he joined Elder West in continuing to feed my hunger for the Spirit and in no time, he was another part of our family. Weekly meals, lessons, nerf gun battles, became the norm at our house. They came to our civil wedding in July and when Elder West told me he would be transferred soon, I fast tracked my baptism. I was baptized into the church on August 8, 2014. It was one of the greatest days of the life. I spent the next year in anticipation of our sealing. I wasn’t sure we would be ready. It was going to take so much personal and couple preparation. "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.) 

Til death do us part I could handle, but this was for all time and eternity. Were we ready for that? Then the message came one day early on in the year…Elder Done was getting married…in August…and Andy was asked to be a groomsman. Well I didn’t need a ton of bricks to hit me in the head. That was our sign. We could be sealed, in the company of the missionaries that were so near and dear to us, while we were there. We called them all right away. I’m fairly certain they were more excited than me, if that was even possible, as one even yelled when we asked them to be our witness.
The closer August got the more eager I became. I would wake up every day and look at Andy and the first thing I would say was, “’so many’ days to the Temple!!!” However, getting there was no easy feat. We heard there would be trials. We heard Satan would do whatever he could to keep us from getting to the Temple. We had NO idea! Trying to find a place to stay became a problem, trying to find a place to board the dogs became a problem, trying to find somewhere for our kids when the original plans fell through at the last minute, needing new brakes and tires for the car, finances, previously non-existent arguments…Things kept piling up, and being thrown at us. But we were determined, together, to get to the Temple. We are lucky to have some of the most amazing people in our ward, who have become very close friends. These friends are always willing to go above and beyond. They have helped us when it seemed impossible, and kept our faith strong.

Then, Satan made one final move. We had a short 25 minute drive from Centerville to Ogden to get to the Temple. A piece of aluminum metal sheeting that was on the road got kicked up by the tractor trailer in front of us and hit our car. We thought for certain it was coming through the windshield, but, by the grace of God, it hit our bumper, hood and flew off to the side. We made it to the temple, a little shaken, but okay.
There was no stopping us. I understood. This was Heavenly Father’s plan. In the Family Proclamation, it states, "The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan." We were meant to be sealed for eternity on that day, and no matter how hard Satan tried, Heavenly Father was on our side. The day went by in a blur. Everyone told me it would take a while to go through everything, but I felt as though I was there for mere minutes before entering the Sealing Room and saw the smiling faces of our friends.  As the ceremony came to an end, I cannot explain the rush that came over me as anything but pure love and joy. It was real. We had made it.

As I think back from the first knock on the door, to stepping into the Temple on that beautiful August morning, I now realize it had already been written. Each and every word. Heavenly Father already knew the path we would choose and each trial we would face, and that we could come out better on the other side…eternally together.



My name is Katie Landis and I live in Mifflinburg, Pa with my husband Andy, our 5 amazing kiddos, 3 dogs, 2 cats, and a partridge in a pear tree... We're always on the go with sports, scouts and other activities and we wouldn't have it any other way. I love our loud, crazy hectic family, and my equally busy life! I am a fun-loving, spunky gal who runs an at-home daycare during the day and parties with Thirty-One by night! I love singing, football, especially my Broncos, and shopping! I am all about loving the journey and teaching my kids and the awesome people that I meet along the way that life is more rewarding when you love your journey too! 

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on Facebook! Be sure to check out the other host blogs today for more wonderful posts and testimonies about family.

You can also share your love of family by sharing photos online this month under the hashtag #ILovetheFamilyProclamation.

And SCROLL down to enter TODAY'S GIVEAWAY!

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Enter to win three digital prints of your choice from Wild Berry Road!
wildberry road prints
The Wild Berry Road design shop is full of affordable digital prints perfect for so many spots in your home and they make great gifts as well. These designs are made to inspire and make you smile and hopefully find a little spot in your home to remind you of the power of words to inspire. Your can view our designs here www.thewildberryroad.etsy.com
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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Family Proclamation and its Importance to Me by Hannah Gardzalla





Hi!  My name is Hannah, age 17. I absolutely LOVE music, especially singing, and I plan on going to college for music education.  I love volunteering in the community, and hanging out with my Young Women girls at church!

Coming from a broken home, the first time that I deeply focused on the words of the Family Proclamation, it left me with a bitter taste.  My family situation fit nowhere in the model provided in the Proclamation, and I felt ashamed--not of myself specifically, but of what was wrong with my family in relation to what is outlined in the Proclamation.

In my biological family, my father never took charge, and my mother would often leave me and my younger brother in the care of our grandmother.  My parents rarely spent quality time with us kids due to the fact that they were divorced, and they did not teach us many of the values I have learned since becoming involved with the church.

My mother would often go from work to a series of local pubs, and my father did not really want much to do with us children at the time.

For a few years, we would move in with my mother's boyfriend.  They would break up, and we would move back in with my grandmother.  The last time my mother did this, her boyfriend sexually abused me. 

When I tried to tell my mother, she turned away from me, and I finally ended up moving in to a house with my "new" mom, a friend and mentor who takes good care of me.  She is an LDS lady who never married, but takes care of me as if I were her own.

As much as this twinge of bitterness marks my past, the Proclamation also bring me hope.  It gives me a guide to follow so I can avoid putting my children through the same horrors and heartbreaks that I went through.

Because of the Family Proclamation, I know to look for a man that shares my beliefs, and desires to be married and sealed in temple some day.  In the future, I will have a chance to do indexing and to do temple ordinances for the eternal well-being of my family.  My future children will be brought up in a home built on the faith of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and they can have an eternal family as well.

I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ, and that Heavenly Father loves us very much, because we are His children, for now and forever.  He created the Family Proclamation to help His children create households that love each other and love Christ together.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on Facebook! Be sure to check out the other host blogs today for more wonderful posts and testimonies about family.

You can also share your love of family by sharing photos online this month under the hashtag #ILovetheFamilyProclamation.

Here are links to the other blogs:
and

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Counseling as a Couple: 10 Lessons from a Happy Marriage by Stephanie McRae



Counseling as a Couple

10 Lessons from a Happy Marriage


What is Counseling as a Couple?

To “counsel” is “the act of exchanging opinions and ideas” (American Heritage Dictionary).

Counseling as a couple can be a casual conversation in the kitchen about how to divide the housework. It can be at the dining room table around a rough-draft of the coming month’s budget. It can be a consoling e-mail to or from a deployed spouse. It can be a long conversation after the kids go to bed about how to help them cope with a recent move. It can be holding hands in the temple while pondering the possibility of welcoming another little person into your family.

1. Talk Often
If you’re married, you should talk to each other. Are you in the car together? You could be talking. Are you at the table together? You could be talking. Do you go to bed together? You could be talking.

At least some of that talking time needs to be without interruptions (a.k.a. children).
If you find you regularly cannot talk without interruptions, you may need to reevaluate the children’s bedtimes. My parents routinely sent us to bed early, allowing the lights to stay on for quiet reading time. A lot of little troubles can be discussed during such a quiet hour, possibly over the laundry or the dishes.

2. Take Notes on Things to Discuss
As you go about your day, you may have ideas about things that need discussing. If a decision affects both you, it should be discussed (I try not to volunteer my husband for things). If the children you are raising together have a single big problem or a recurring little problem, it should be discussed. If you have ideas for Family Home Evening, an upcoming vacation, or a wish list for dates, those should be discussed.

If you have a great memory, just try to remember to bring it up with your spouse later that day or week. If you like to be organized, you might jot a note on your to-do list or in your planner, to remind you.

Once things have been discussed, decisions may need to be noted on the calendar, budget, shopping list, etc.

3. Take a Rain Check
Suppose I’m in the middle of dinner prep combined with homework help chaos. My husband, who just got home, starts talking about his plans to build a cabinet for the electronic equipment in the living room. It’s too much for me to focus on at once. I can say, “Honey, that sounds important and I would love to talk about it, but right now isn’t the best time. How about after dinner?”

Another rain check to take is if it’s getting late and there is no end in sight (or someone is getting emotional). Just say, “Honey, I’m too tired to think straight. Can we talk about this in the morning?”

4. Research, Ponder, and Pray
For big decisions, my husband and I use a pattern I call “research, ponder, and pray.” The type of research will depend on the decision being made. Are we considering a big move? We will want to research the cost of living in the area. Is there a problem at school? The research might include a book on learning styles or a parent-teacher conference.

When making decisions as a couple, it isn’t enough to just ponder by yourself. To make a unified decision, you need to discuss your feelings and thoughts with your spouse. To equally “exchange opinions and ideas,” roughly half of that discussion should be you talking, and the other half should be you listening. Some quiet pondering (before or after discussing) could happen in the peace and quiet of the temple.

Include God in your big decisions. After attempting to reach a unified decision together, see if it feels right through prayer. This prayer might be at the end of a joint fast, at the end of a discussion, or just at the end of a long day. If possible, praying silently side-by-side in the temple can also be a powerful resource.

5. Allow Time
Unity on some issues may be a distant destination. Elder M. Russell Ballard, explaining how the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reaches a decision, said, “We discuss a wide variety of issues, from Church administration to world events, and we do so frankly and openly. Sometimes issues are discussed for weeks, months, and occasionally even years before a decision is made” (as Quoted in “Counseling Together in Marriage,” Ensign 2012/June by Randy Keyes).

If the Quorum of the Twelve can take years to achieve unity on an issue, surely I can give my husband and myself time where we allow ourselves to not agree, without becoming disagreeable.

6. Divide the Research
For us, often one spouse will research a topic and then we will come together to share findings. It will be whoever is most interested in doing the research. If we’re considering replacing a computer or a car, my husband will spend hours and hours researching the consumer reports, prices, and how things work. That’s his kind of research. I would hate it. He will summarize his findings for me, and we will discuss them together.

If the decision involves nurturing the children or home d├ęcor, I’ll usually do the research or footwork. When “we” planned a summer incentive chart for the children, I spent a lot of time thinking it through. I had ideas for what I wanted the children to learn how to do, and activities they could earn. I presented the plan to my husband in beta form. We discussed it before finalizing it.

In this way, we can synergize our talents and be more effective than we would be otherwise.

Discuss Big Purchases: A Personal Story
My husband just started work on his master’s degree. He needed a laptop so he can take his studies with him when he is deployed. The only laptop we own has barely functioned for the last several years. We had a discussion about it. We decided it was a need, not a want (under the circumstances). We discussed our savings account. He went out and did some research. When he found a special discount, I encouraged him to take advantage of it. After the kids went to bed, he went out and bought the laptop. When the children came down in the morning, they were surprised and excited to see it. “Mom! Look! Dad bought a new laptop!” Cory laughed and said, “Mom knows there’s a new laptop. There wouldn’t have been a new laptop if Mom hadn’t known about it.”

7. We Are Equal and We Are Different
My husband has a degree in Rocket Science. I’m a stay-at-home mom who was unable to complete my B.A. because of our growing family. So what? We’re married, and that makes us equals in our home. Choosing to marry each other, choosing to be yoked together in the work of creating a family, we chose to place each other as equals.

He loves science and technology. I love art and literature. He goes with the flow. I make plans. He’s a man. I’m a woman. We’re different and we love it. Our family is enriched by the different talents and abilities we bring into it.

8. Be Respectful
I am my children’s mother, but I am my husband’s wife.
I don’t volunteer my husband to move the neighbor’s piano, monitor how many episodes he has watched, or pester him about eating in the living room (although I may request he vacuum once he’s done). He doesn’t tell me how to cut my hair or “volun-tell” me to make refreshments for a family he home teaches. He’s an adult, and so am I. We treat each other that way.

The family proclamation teaches us that one principle of a successful marriage is respect. Because we seek unity, we choose not to manipulate, micromanage, or nag each other.
If my husband is having a difficulty at work, I don’t embarrass him by calling his boss and sharing a piece of my mind. I let my husband work through it in his way, unless he specifically asks me for assistance.

Likewise, my husband doesn’t pester me about every little thing I manage around the house. If the children need an immediate answer to playtime or homework and Daddy isn’t around to discuss it with, I’ll address it myself with full authority. Now, if I notice a pattern of problems with the children, I may discuss that separately with my husband.

Do I need to exercise more, start dinner earlier, or coddle the children less? Does he need to play games less and home teach more? We probably already know it. An occasional comment or hint lets us know our spouse is also aware. That’s usually it, for us. If he needs to change, I can’t do it for him, and nagging just makes us both unhappy.

9. Be Romantic
If all you ever discuss are budgets and children, then you aren’t enriching your marriage. In an interview with Elder and Sister Ballard, Sister Ballard said, “When our children were little and my husband was serving as bishop, we would get a baby-sitter and go out at least once a week—nothing fancy but we spent some time together. We would sit down and try to talk objectively about our lives. I would ask, “How do you think we’re doing?”
Elder Ballard added, “And I would ask what I should be doing. They were great councils” (lds.org/Ensign/2003/06/family-councils-a-conversation-with-elder—and-sister-ballard?lang=eng).
Here are some other possible discussion starters:
What is the first thing you want to do when we retire? Place you want to go?
What do you want to do to celebrate our next big anniversary?
I’ve started a Pinboard for redecorating our bedroom. Would you like to tell me what you think of the ideas?
Can you name 5 things I do (or you wish I did) that make you feel loved?
Is there anything I did when we were courting (or newlyweds) that you wish I still did?
How have we changed in the last ten years? Are there things you used to like that you don’t anymore? (My husband was recently shocked to discover I no longer enjoy strawberry milk. He had been using it as a special occasion fall-back for years)

If you really want to improve your marriage, it might help to research some professional ideas. I like The Five Love Languages (If you’re in the military, definitely get the military edition). Just doing the “love language” quiz in the back might be eye opening.

10. Listen to Your Husband
Talking is easy. Listening is work. I have 13 ½ years of experience listening to my husband. Here is what I have learned.
Sometimes, the best thing a wife can do is listen. As the wife of a rocket scientist, sometimes his monologues can be a bit hard to follow, but I try because I love him (and because I expect him to listen to me).

I listen to my husband share his experiences from work. I listen to his concerns about his career. I listen to him talk about his interests and hobbies. Sometimes he gets really technical and I have to stop everything so my brain can follow along. But most important, I listen to my husband when he has been listening to the Spirit. Sometimes I ask my husband for a priesthood blessing. What I am really doing is saying I will listen to him as he listens to God.
Often in the Celestial room, my husband ponders and prays about his career. A military life is not easy on families. Is it still what God wants us to be doing? If my husband has been seeking the Spirit on an issue, I pay attention to anything he has to say about it, and listen attentively before bringing my thoughts into play.

Remember Mary and Joseph? Mary had the baby, but when there was danger, God sent the vision to Joseph to take their family to safety. Mary listened to Joseph, and their little family was able to act on the counsel given and stayed safe.

Sometimes God will speak to one of us before the other on an issue. Sometimes one of us will have more wisdom or experience in an area. That’s okay. That’s why we counsel. We counsel (exchange opinions and ideas) because we are stronger and wiser together than we are alone. More inspiration will come from the Holy Ghost when we are working together than when we are alone.

General Principles in Specific Lives
It seems to me that general authorities often teach general principles, and usually leave up to us (and personal revelation) how to apply those principles to our specific lives.
In this post I have shared a lot of specific ways my husband and I apply the general principle I have occasionally heard of counseling as a couple. These specifics feel right to us, and seem in harmony with our understanding of other general principles.

If the specifics I have shared don’t feel right for you and your marriage, I encourage you to study the general principles (especially those found in general conference talks) about marriage and family. Then counsel and pray about specific applications for your marriage.

Biography
Stephanie M. is a military wife and mother of 5. She teaches Gospel Doctrine and Teachings for Our Times in her home ward on the home front. She authors the blog Love Is Homemade (classicalchristiancuddles.blogspot.com).




Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing this great advice with us. Remember to share your family-related photos and the reasons why you love the proclamation under the hashtag #ILovetheFamilyProclamation all month long.

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