Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Author: Stance Studies on the Family (page 2 of 33)

A: Aspirations as a Married Couple

You spend your whole life planning what you want to do and be for the remainder of life, and then . . . BAM! You get married, and everything changes. It’s a challenging experience to try to take two lives with two plans and merge them into one. In some cases, there has to be a lot of compromise so that the two partners can live their idea of a fulfilling life.

When I was deciding to marry my husband, Tyler, I thought integrating my plan into his life would be pretty easy. My plan in life was to grow up, go to my dream college studying the thing I love, marry the love of my life, have some cute little kids, and otherwise insert myself into his plan. I thought my plan was very conducive to married life. This plan would have worked out great, except that life doesn’t always go as planned, and I didn’t have a back-up plan.

Shortly after I married Tyler, I realized that the thing I was studying was not something I loved. This was problematic because I was almost done—and if I wanted to insert myself smoothly into Tyler’s plan, I had to graduate when he did, or not at all; so changing my career track was not an option at that point.

Another problem we encountered was the fact that Tyler’s plan wasn’t fully developed. Sure, we knew the basic outline: graduate from college, get a master’s degree, get a job. But, all of a sudden, we started figuring out that the track he was on would not lead him to the career he thought it would. We applied for internships, but he didn’t get any because he just wasn’t in the right field (even though he’s brilliant, and any company would be lucky to have him).

These problems led to many nights of stress for Tyler and worrying for me. Sometimes we’d lie in bed about to go to sleep, when I would start worrying out loud and end up in a fit of tears. Why aren’t things working out for us? I’d ask. Why didn’t everything go as planned?

Now, I still don’t have the solutions to our problems, but I have a formula for dealing with aspirations as a married couple that I recommend to anyone having similar issues.

First, you have to talk to each other. You have to get together and write down the things you enjoy doing, the things you could see yourself doing as a career, your ultimate dreams and goals.

When you’re done with that, I recommend that you rank the things on your list in order of importance to you. Talk about the things that you feel are non-negotiable, and things you wouldn’t mind doing without. Work out possibilities for the future, and how those things might affect your relationship and your family.

Then you have to make a plan together. And not just one plan, but several that range from broad to specific, from semester to fifty years, from ideal to worst case scenario. This could take several hours, so make sure you have a block of time set aside for doing this, or else you could end up scratching things out at 3 o’clock in the morning.

The last step is making a plan of action for right now. What will you do today to set you on the right path? Even if it’s just research, it will help you out in the long run. Decide on a timely plan for both of you, and help each other out. Remind your husband when his internship application is due. Encourage your wife to look for opportunities to acquire new skills. Take it day by day—if you always make sure you’re on the right trajectory, you will eventually end up where you want to be.

BY CARI AVERETT

5 Ways to Study The Family: A Proclamation to the World

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a document titled “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” that discusses the role and importance of the family. This beautiful document intends for the whole world to benefit from it, not just those of the LDS faith. We invite all to read and study this inspired document regularly.

Reading a religious article is easy, but studying a religious article can be difficult to do. We often find ourselves reading the scriptures or religious articles on a “repeat” motion as we might feel with waking up, showering, and eating every morning. Daily routines are good for us, but what can we do to make them better? We could exercise after we wake up, listen to some pumped-up music while in the shower, and start reading that new book we just bought while eating breakfast.

We can also enhance our personal religious readings by finding new ways to study the words of God. Here are five fun and different ways to study “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” to enhance our routine studying of this precious document.

  1. Make it Personal – While reading the Proclamation, insert your name into every place appropriate, along with the name of your spouse if you are married. For example, I would read the opening sentence as, “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 Joshua and Elizabeth is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of Elizabeth and Joshua’s family.”
  2. Highlight Your Part – Highlight every section that applies to you. If you are a woman, highlight all the parts pertaining to a woman’s role and a mother’s role, even if you do not have children. The same goes for men. Knowing what the Lord desires for each of us specifically, will help us improve in these roles or prepare for them.
  3. Discuss the Worldly Differences – It is no secret that the statements made in this Proclamation are very different from the world’s opinions of what gender can be and how romantic relationships can look. Don’t shy away from these topics. Mark the differences between the Lord’s words and the world’s words and discuss them with yourself and your family. Be prepared to know and stand up for what you believe in.
  4. Live what you Read – When we practice what we learn, it truly becomes a part of us. The Proclamation contains nine paragraphs. Starting from the beginning, read one paragraph from the Proclamation each week for nine weeks. Each week, pray for and look for experiences in which you can practice what the specific paragraph you read teaches. Even if the paragraph talks about the roles of the opposite gender, look for ways to sustain and respect the roles of that gender.
  5. Make a Plan – We are more likely to fulfill our goals in life once we have written them down. Write down a plan of how you intend to incorporate and continuously live the principles taught in the Proclamation. Revise this plan as necessary and return to study it often. Nobody and no family are perfect, but this Proclamation gives us the guidance and tools to strive for perfection.

BY ELIZABETH HANSEN

Make Decluttering a Joy

I was going to write about new and creative ways to organize, but while I was looking for inspiration, I saw this phrase: “Why organize when you can declutter?”

When I was a senior in high school, my mom read a book about decluttering. The following Family Home Evening on decluttering was traumatic for all of us, a family of pack rats, but it was especially traumatic for me, as I knew that going off to college soon meant I would have to do some serious decluttering.

I remember cradling each of my books (more than 120 in total) in my hands, bawling, and asking myself, “Does this spark joy in me?” and if it didn’t, I hesitantly placed it in a pile destined to end up at the local thrift store.

Now, I’m terrible at decluttering (I only threw about 6 books out), but I can see how necessary it is when space is limited, and things are just getting too hard to organize.

I think that one of the problems I encountered when attempting to declutter so long ago, was that I only had the one question to base my decluttering on, “Does this spark joy in me?”. Joy is defined as a feeling, source, or cause of great happiness, not just something that you’re used to having. This makes things hard, because some things you just have to keep, even if they don’t bring you joy. Conversely, some things that you may think bring you joy just have to go.

William Morris said, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” So how can you decide what is clutter and what is not, with so many vague parameters? I have compiled a list of questions you can use to evaluate.

  1. Do you know what it is? (I’ll give you a hint on this one: if the answer is no, just toss it.)
  2. Does it have sentimental value?
  3. Does it work?
  4. If not, can you fix or repurpose it?
  5. If you can, do you have a realistic plan to do so?
  6. Does it take up a lot of space?
  7. Have you used it in the last year?
  8. If you were shopping right now, would you buy this?
  9. Do you have a similar item that serves the same purpose?
  10. Does it spark joy in you? (If your item answered yes for 6 and 9 and no for all the others, be very strict about the definition of joy in this question.)

I encourage you to use these questions to aid you in your decluttering. And maybe if you do, decluttering won’t be as much a traumatic experience (like it was for me), and more of a joyful experience.

BY CARI AVERETT

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

How 3-D Printing Strengthened my Testimony

This semester, I had a fantastic and eye-opening opportunity afforded me by my Foundations of the Restoration professor. He assigned everyone a semester long term-project, and my project ended up being a significant experience for me.

The guidelines for the project were loose. Early on, I decided that I wanted to combine some aspect of the Restoration of the Gospel with computer modeling. I came to the conclusion that I could create an accurate, three-dimensional model of the gold plates, based on the several accounts we have of the plates’ size, shape, and color. This would give me the opportunity to both learn about Church history and develop my computer skills.

Soon after deciding on the idea, I realized that creating the 3-D model wouldn’t be substantial enough for the term project. So, I resolved to do something more: to send my design to the library’s 3-D printer, and to create an actual scale model of the plates.

After many hours of researching, modeling, and working with the 3-D printing gurus on the second floor of the library, my project idea became a reality:

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Thanks to the help of my wonderful wife, the 3-D printing gurus, and several YouTube videos, I was able to create a computer model of the plates. Then, I was able to make that model and turn it in for my term project.

I was led to reflect on several things when I completed the project. For a moment, I was brought back to Uruguay (where I served my mission). Our Stake President said (in Uruguayan Castellano), “Elders! You must have a strong testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel and of Joseph Smith. Can you imagine seeing God the Father and His Son in the Sacred Grove? Can you hear the words of the angel Moroni? Can you imagine the weight of the plates in your hands?”

These were powerful questions that I’ve remembered for over two years now. For my project, I didn’t use real gold. The model did not weigh as much as the plates would have. It wasn’t as shiny or as impressive as I’m sure the real plates are. But, in some small way, my testimony of Joseph’s receiving and translating the golden plates grew. I can now imagine what it would have been like to receive the plates from a heavenly angel. 6–7 inches wide, 8 inches long, and 4–6 inches thick. And all of it “the appearance of gold.” I can think how it must have been to carry the heavy plates (about 60 pounds), and run away from those who would try to take them. I can imagine Joseph taking the plates home for the first time, the heavy, cool metal in his hands.

I know that the gold plates are real. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and he translated the gold plates by God’s gift and power. Because of this, we have the incredible Church and Gospel that blesses our lives today.

Source: Henrichsen, Kirk B. (compiler). “How Witnesses Described the “Gold Plates.” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 10/1, 2001, 16-21, 78.

BY TYLER AVERETT 

Get Pumped (and Prepped) for General Conference

It’s that time of year again, folks! Six months of sunshine and warm days are nearing an end as we say hello to changing leaves, all things pumpkin spice, and the excitement of a new school year and new possibilities. With fall on the horizon, General Conference is on its way! This year’s October session schedule* is: 

September 30 at 6:00 pm: The general priesthood session for priesthood holders

September 30 and October 1 at 10:00 am. and 2:00 pm: The general sessions for individuals and families

*This schedule is set according to MST time*

With conference just a few days away, we thought we’d give you a few helpful suggestions to prepare for it. Being prepared and willing to feel and hear what the Spirit is saying to you is key to having an amazing experience!

1. Pray for questions and answers to those questions

Now I know this might sound silly, but if God knows everything, then He knows what we are struggling with now and what we will need help and guidance with in the future.  He will help if we’re willing to listen! Praying to know what kind of topics to seek out for General Conference or what questions to ask Him (during any time of our lives) is a great way to practice listening to the still small voice as we search for answers.

Already feel like you have some questions that you would like some answers to? Take those to the Lord and ask for help in listening and understanding what each speaker is saying and how it relates to you and your questions personally.

2. Invite a friend

Do you home or visit teach anyone that is less active or a recent convert? Have you gone on a team-up with the missionaries lately? Do you have a friend that you think would really appreciate and benefit from the messages being taught? Do you have that one friend that is always down for a GNO or a bro’s night? Feel free to invite someone to be uplifted and help them understand that they have a Father in Heaven who loves them. If you’re inviting out of love, they will be honored that you asked them. (Plus, some ice-cream afterwards never hurt anyone.)

3. Bring a notebook and (your favorite) pen

Long ago, my EFY counselor told our group, “An open pen is a satellite to the Holy Ghost.” I have carried those words of wisdom with me ever since. As you listen to these inspired talks, take notes on how you feel and the thoughts that come to your mind. You don’t need to bother taking notes on what the speakers are actually saying because you can have your own copy of the talk in a few weeks. Just focus on the thoughts, feelings, and impressions that you receive.

4. Get a good night’s sleep before conference so you can be awake and alert!

5. Study and ponder the scriptures, attend the temple, fast, and serve

These suggestions are all things we can do throughout the year so we can always have the Holy Ghost with us and be constantly prepared for General Conference. Study scriptures that relate to the questions that you are thinking about. If you can’t attend the temple, walk around the temple grounds or go on a nice walk to admire all of God’s creations and silently say a prayer of gratitude. Fast and ask for guidance on the questions you are pondering. Service is a great way to show our Heavenly Father how much we love and appreciate Him and all of our brothers and sisters.

If you would like, here are all of the talks given in last April’s session of General Conference. Staying up to date on the words of the Lord’s anointed servants is always a good way to prepare for conference (and life!).

For many of us here at Stance, General Conference is one of the most wonderful times of the year. We hope you prepare to receive and enjoy all that our Prophet and Apostles have to say to us. Feel free to share your experiences on how prepping for General Conference helped you this year!

For more tips on prepping for this weekend, check these out:

- A Family Home Evening lesson all about general conference

-General Conference activities for children

-Ideas to Prepare

 BY CARLY CALLISTER

The Influence of a Dad

A dad in a fishing boat with two little boys
Many years ago, when my oldest son, Kevin, was a little boy, I used to tell him over and over that his daddy was a really good man.

One day we were looking at the Ensign, at the picture of the general authorities. I said, “These are pictures of really righteous men.” Kevin immediately asked, “Where’s Dad’s picture?” He had the right idea. Even though Dad is not a general authority, his picture could be with theirs in terms of being a good, righteous man.

There is no substitute for a good, righteous dad. All kids learn from their fathers, even if they are absent or part-time. The good news about this is that if you are a hands-on kind of dad, you can teach your children all they need to know, mostly by example!

When I was little I used to spend a lot of time with my dad. I would go to his store in Arnold, Nebraska, and he would give me little jobs to do. One of my earliest jobs was to fill the peanut machine. Then, I graduated to stocking the pop machine. Sometimes I would “get” to sweep the floor (using sawdust and a push broom). As I got older he let me answer the phone or run errands for him. As a sixteen-year-old, he let me drive a car (that belonged to a dealer) all the way home from Omaha (five hours away) all by myself. (Too bad he forgot to teach me to check the gas gauge and I ran out of gas 10 miles south of town!!!)

There is no substitute for a hands-on dad. I appreciate the time and effort my own husband put in to raising our children. I remember him reading stories at bedtime, playing catch, going golfing, trying to style girls’ hair, making pinewood derby cars, going camping, finding children who ran away, giving blessings . . . the list goes on and on.

There is one common trait that made both men great fathers: they were willing to spend time with their children. There’s a popular idea floating around that quality time is what counts. This is a lie. There is no such thing as quality time. There’s only quality moments that randomly occur when you spend quantity time together! You never know when those moments will happen. They show up almost by accident, when you least expect it.

Today, dads are often treated poorly in the media. They are portrayed as unnecessary at best and bumbling buffoons at worst. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dads are important in every child’s life. Their influence (for good or bad) is lasting and of great import. If you are a dad, step back and look at where you are spending your time and your talents. If you don’t feel like it’s with your family, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate your priorities. If you’re not a dad, take time to think about the influence your own father had on you, and spend some time calling, visiting, and thanking him for all the sacrifices he made for you.

By Phyllis Rosen

Home Sweet Home: More Than a Location

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Why did I take this class?
It was a question I hadn’t stopped asking myself for the previous 48 hours. I asked it when I lay shivering in my soaked sleeping bag, when I stood in dripping wet clothes as snow came down in large flurries, when they separated me from class and left me to survive on my own in the wild. Why did I take this class?
 
The survival class sounded like a good idea two months ago when I signed up for it. They told us the final would be four days long, that they would separate all of us and survive based off the skills we had learned. I could be home! I thought.
Home.
At the time I was sitting by my homemade shelter made from branches and bark. Home. I stood up and searched and found a large piece of bark and then started carving that very word: Home.
 
Later, in charcoal I would add below the poorly carved “home” the words “sweet home” to read “Home sweet home.” This little signed changed everything. I began to “tidy up” camp, brushing away the dead leaves and twigs, dragging a large fallen branch over to sit on, creating little tables for my tools and food.
 
Suddenly, I wasn’t just surviving: I was thriving, and it was all because I had created a “home sweet home.” So many times even in my own, snug, cozy life I had been living moment to moment, simply trying to  get by to the next day. In the back of my mind, I knew that I would be leaving that makeshift shelter in just a day or so, but that didn’t matter. This home had become a place that I thrived in, and I knew coming back from the final I would do everything in my power to make my little apartment a place where I could continue to thrive.
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They say home is where the heart is. I used to see that as a passive phrase, that home would just happen to be wherever my heart was and that where my heart would be was completely out of my control. I know now that you can make a home by working to put your heart and love into wherever you are.
By Jessica Olsen

I: How to Deal With Imperfections in Marriage

imperfectionsIntelligence has been humorously defined as an adjective used to describe people that agree with oneself. The wisdom in that joke is very applicable to this entry in our marriage series: our perception of perfection will be based on our imperfect understanding of the world and our desires. With that in mind, before we seek to improve all the weaknesses of our spouses as though on a religious crusade, it is good to remember to keep our own imperfections in check in the following ways:

Realize that weaknesses are often closely linked with strengths.

If your spouse is someone who really sticks to something, you may find in her or him stubbornness, or you may find dedication. If your spouse is someone that shows little emotion, a possible word to describe that attribute would be, well, emotionless—but if you analyze that attribute you may see that calm would be a better description. As such, be grateful for what your spouse contributes to your marriage and find out how to work as a team despite the difficulties that may be associated with his or her strength.

Don’t be unrealistic in your expectations.

Perfection should be defined according to one’s capabilities and efforts rather than against an unrealistic standard. One unrealistic standard is expecting to have at the beginning of your marriage everything your parents have after years of marriage. It is likely that the only way you could have all the tools, toys, and luxuries they have would be to go into considerable debt, which is not a good financial decision. You may not even have enough extra cash for more than a monthly ice-cream cone, as my parents did when they started out.

See what is really important.

You may be bothered by little imperfections every now and then. When this happens, consider if they are really important. If not, move on with life. If they are important to you specifically, communicate about that need and see what you can work out together. For example, if you can’t live with your spouse’s bad breath, you might be able to keep mints on hand. And if he or she doesn’t like mints, maybe you can take a toothbrush and toothpaste everywhere. Whatever the specific circumstance, you can work through it, as long as you do it together.

In summary, dealing with the imperfections of our significant other is likely to require dealing with our own inability to judge perfectly and doing whatever is necessary to improve that judgment as much as we can. This might not be an easy task, but with that special someone that committed specifically to be with you in the good times and the bad, it should work out.

By Austin Tracy
This is the fifth post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post will highlight a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are just preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition. 

R: Resources for Married Couples

couple-168191_1280If you’ve ever started a fire with flint and steel, then you know how frustrating it can be—or at least, it frustrated me. There I was with my small steel striker, charred cloth, and the only rock I could find in the wild that barely made a spark. I hit that rock for probably an hour, bloodying up my knuckles in the process, and getting colder by the minute.

And then it happened: I started a fire, and in the process, I learned a lesson.

In life and in marriage we can find ourselves doing all the right things, striking in very different ways at the rocks (or relationships) in our life, getting a spark but no fire. It can get frustrating, and yes at times it can be easy to give up, but if you don’t keep striking, you don’t get a fire. You don’t even get sparks.

So when marriage gets hard, what do we do to keep the sparks flying and to work at keeping that fire? Here are just a few resources married couples can use.

  1. Prayer and Scripture Study

First and foremost, your best resource is the third member of your relationship: God. Coming together as a couple to pray and receive guidance and inspiration from the scriptures should be the first thing you do when the going gets rough. Spend time searching the scriptures and praying not just on your own, but together.

  1. Speak with an ecclesiastical leader

This can be a Bishop if you are LDS or a Priest or other religious leader if you are of a different faith. The important part here is that you go together. Ecclesiastical leaders can receive inspiration for you and your spouse; however, it’s important to remember that if you are dealing with a more serious and sustained problem, couple those visits to the bishop with seeing an actual professional.

  1. Consider marital therapy

Therapy and professional counseling sometimes come negative connotations. However, most professional therapists advise couples to see a counselor before any problems arise. For example, premarital workshops and therapy can help prevent future problems in a marriage.

  1. Go to a marital workshop

Universities will sometimes host marital workshops, as well as professional counseling organizations. These workshops can be especially insightful about communication styles and how little adjustments can drastically improve a couple’s communication. For example, BYU Counseling and Psychological Services holds a six-week marriage prep course each semester.

  1. Go on a couple retreat

A couple retreat doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, even a simple date or series of dates can be a way for couples to reconnect and stay connected.

  1. Read a good book

And by “good book” I specifically mean marital books (although I don’t oppose reading aloud to each other your favorite book every night). Some well-known, successful marital books have been The Seven Principles of Making a Marriage Work, His Needs Her Needs, and The Art of Intimacy. If you are seeing a counselor or ecclesiastical leader, ask them what books best meet your needs, or do this research together on your own.

  1. Do what you love

Think of the last time you and your spouse were at your best. Think of all the things you were doing at that time of your life and then do it. Maybe you were serving more, or you were more attentive, or you went on more dates. Whatever it is, try to revive those good habits.

Of course, it’s always to easier to keep a fire going than to start one. Don’t be afraid to use these resources before you’re in the dark striking at a rock and praying for sparks. And if you are at that point, keep striking, keep going: the ember will catch and the fire will come.

By Jessica Olsen
This is the next post in a series about making the transition from single life to marriage. Each post highlights a topic about marriage that begins with a letter in the word. As we work our way through M.A.R.R.I.A.G.E, whether you have been married for a while, are a newlywed, or are just preparing to get married, we hope that these posts will help you to make a smooth transition. 

The Best General Conference Memes and Tweets

We all love General Conference. We love the spirituality, the stories, the songs. But we also love a little good clean humor. Here are a few of the funniest memes and tweets that came out of the April 2017 General Conference.

For more Conference memes and tweets, check out this page.

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