Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Category: Spiritual (page 1 of 2)

An Easy Start to Family History

What is it that makes the world go around? What is the main driving force behind the things that people do? For me, the answer is my family. My family is the most important thing in my life, and I love them. One of the great things about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is the knowledge that we can be with our families forever; our family ties are not “until death do you part,” but forever. It is a great comfort for me to know that I can live with both my immediate and my extended family forever.

My grandpa died just a few weeks after I was born; I never met him. My older brothers and cousins have so many stories and great memories of him, and I wish that I had gotten a chance to know him. I know that one day I will meet him and will have the opportunity to get to know him, because we are sealed together as a family.

Our family ties go back further than just our grandparents. By doing my family history, I have learned about many generations of my ancestors. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a website specifically designed for family history: It’s free and super easy to use! When you first open the webpage, in the top right-hand corner, there is a button that says, “Sign In” and another one that says, “Free Account.” If this is your first time using Family Search, click “Free Account” to make your account. (It asks you to make a username and password and to provide a little bit of information about yourself.) If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you can enter your “Membership Number” (you can ask your ward clerk what it is if you don’t know it), and you will be linked into your family tree. After making your account, you can view your family tree by clicking “Family Tree” at the top of the page. From there, you can start to explore your family tree! You can click on the names of your ancestors to view information about them or to add more information. If you know of an ancestor who is missing from your tree, you can add them in, as long as you know a few basic details about them. You can view memories and pictures of your ancestors, and some ancestors will have sources attached to their profile, such as birth certificates or a picture of their gravestones.

Family Search is a great tool to get to know your ancestors better, but it’s even more than that. With Family Search, we can find our ancestors so that we can perform sealing ordinances for them in the temple of God, by the priesthood, which is the power of God. We can seal them to their spouse and their children, linking generations together through the centuries. We will create eternal ties that will allow them to be with us, and all of our family, forever. What a blessing to have Family Search and the opportunity to be with our family forever!

Fitting Christ into Your Family

My husband and I recently attended a Sunday school lesson that opened our eyes to how these doctrines of the gospel are truly one and the same. In the lesson, the teachers asked us to get in groups and discuss how two documents are related to each other. One was The Living Christ, a testimony from the leaders of our church discussing Christ’s life and His importance to our lives. The second was The Family: A Proclamation to the World, a declaration of our church’s beliefs about family and the plan of salvation.

I loved the comparisons we drew between the documents, and I’d like to share a few of them with you. In each point I will explain how a quote from The Living Christ relates to the doctrines found in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

1. “He ‘went about doing good’ (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example.” The Living Christ

When Iooking back on my family, I think of all the good things my parents did for me, but sometimes I resented those same things. I hated being disciplined for arguing with my siblings. Sometimes I really didn’t want to stop what I was doing to read scriptures as a family or join in family home evening. But in retrospect, the lessons I learned from those activities are really meaningful to me now. I love my parents even more now because of the love they showed for me, even when I despised their actions and decisions. The Family: A Proclamation to the World says, “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, [and] observe the commandments of God.” My parents’ discipline and commitment to the gospel taught me in word and deed the things that Christ taught. These things they taught are the good things in my life, the things that have eternal value.

2. “He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our pre-mortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.” The Living Christ

The Family: A Proclamation to the World teaches that “The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” In other words, the family is the eternal basic unit of God’s plan. God is our Father, and all of us are His spirit Children; He wants us all to come back to him. This is the purpose of life on earth. “Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” Our divine destiny is to live with God and our families forever, eternally progressing to become like Him. God is the ultimate example of fatherhood, and He lays out the example for how he wants our families to be in the words of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

3. “His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.” The Living Christ

The Family: A Proclamation to the World affirms, “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” There is no other path that can give you as much joy as the path that is led by our Savior and Friend. He loves you. He wants the best for you. He gave His life for you.  I testify that if you abide by the teachings of Jesus Christ, and strive to live your life like He did, you will be happy. And this happiness, not the brief strokes of pleasure of the world, will last into the eternities.


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:


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.


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


Living up to Expectations

I remember the first reactions I got from my Laurel class advisers when I told them I was going to Brigham Young University.

“Oh my goodness you are going to go down there and be married within the first year!”

Name: Camille
Age: 23
Year in School: Junior
Relationship Status: Single

Now, I understand that I am not ancient. I also understand that I still have some time until I graduate; however, I think it is important to discuss the problem of trying to live up to expectations.

I remember what went through my mind after my Laurel advisors said that. I became convinced, as they apparently were, that I would get married quickly. I mean, it was BYU, right? Isn’t that the way it goes down there? I had decided that I would be married by 20 and would have a child at either 21 or 22. That didn’t happen, but I am grateful for the course my life has taken because it led me to serve a full-time mission and I wouldn’t give that away for anything.

So here is my key piece of advice: turn your expectations into goals. Live up to your goals—your goals—and focus on that. Don’t let others determine what the “correct” course is for yourself. I wish I could remove the idea in my mind that a successful life means getting married early. That isn’t the case. Marriage is ordained of God— that is true—but everyone’s time is different. My time to get married wasn’t at age 20 like I thought it was. My time at 20 was to be walking the streets of Italy talking to people about Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation, and a restored church. I love everything about that. But yet, I have friends whose plans were to get married at 19, 20, or 21, and I love that too.

If there are any expectations you should live up to, it is the expectation that God has for you to become like Him. That is your potential; that is my potential. And eventually marriage will play into that potential, but remember that success in life is not measured by the societal expectation of marriage timing. I know many successful and happy single people that are in their upper twenties. Now, I would say to my Laurel class advisers, “I may not be married, but I am happy.”

By Camille Baker

I’m not Lucky, I’m Blessed



Sometimes I can hardly believe my good fortune!

I have food to eat (more than I need), clothes to wear (more than I need), a roof over my head (more space than I need), friends who care about me (can never have too many of those), a church to belong to (keeps me humble), stores to shop at (definitely more than I need), and a family of my own (I’m open to more grandkids!).

Some might say, “Wow. You are really lucky.”

But I prefer to say, “Wow! I am so blessed!”

What’s the difference? Gratitude. If we think all good things came from luck, then there is no reason to show gratitude to anyone. But I am positive that every good thing in my life is a gift from my Heavenly Father. He has showered me with an abundance of goodness. Does this mean I have everything I want? Am I rich? Have all my troubles disappeared?  Unfortunately, no. I do not have enough money to go to New Zealand, I haven’t been clothes shopping in months, and I would be thrilled if I could buy a new car. But I don’t need the latest and greatest to be happy.  I can be content with what I have.

No, I’m not lucky. I’m blessed.

By Phyllis Rosen


4 Steps that Got Me into Family History


Getting into family history usually takes overcoming one of the greatest obstacles around: the sheer difficulty of an unfamiliar, complex endeavor. It can be a little daunting, but here are some ways to ease into family history work.


Start by Indexing

Indexing is a great way to start because it is a well-defined task. All you need to do is figure out how to read old handwriting and enter that information in the program. Furthermore, it will give you a good basis for finding your ancestors later, as you know very well which letters are likely to have been confused and incorrectly entered by someone that indexed the record you seek.

Research a Particular Family

Start with a family that is easy to research. If you have the option, research one of your ancestors that lived in the US in the 1800s. Online records are abundant for such ancestors. And don’t even worry if they have been researched before. It is probably better if they have been anyways.

This approach will help you familiarize yourself with how to find records (for example, notice the different spellings of your ancestor’s name from record to record), how to evaluate records (learn tips for evaluating records and see how they compare with your family; you may even find something that was missed before), and how to love doing family history work (see the next tip).

Find the Human

Focus on finding the human—not just records—when doing family history. If you only see text on pages, family history can be dull, but discovering insights into your ancestors’ lives is likely to be fascinating. Stories are especially valuable finds. One of my favorites is about my great, great grandpa Andrew. He made it to Utah as a seven-year old boy, and was asked if he had crossed the plains on foot. He responded that he had not; he had ridden his stick horse. With research I found that, later on, he was a great horse rider that managed to stay atop a wild, bucking horse, he bought a car and was determined to tame it as well, and he was very disappointed when he became older and his grand kids managed to beat him in a foot race.

Do It with other People

The final step that got me into family history was an expression of interest in family history by a cute girl I want to impress. This is certainly the best way to get into important and challenging things, as little can beat the motivational power associated with it. But you don’t need a cute girl or boy to motivate you; doing family history work alongside other family and friends can be a great motivation.

As I do it with my mom (and the cute girl) I find that we can bounce ideas off of each other, take advantage of each other’s strengths, correct each other on occasion, spend less time wondering why our search gave us no results, and overall just have a blast as we interact with each other and tackle together a great task.

By Austin Tracy

Why Go to Church?


By Phyllis Rosen

There are many people who ask themselves this question every week. Sometimes they can’t seem to think of a reason they ought to attend church. But they come up with plenty of reasons to not go:

  •                 The kids are a handful…I don’t even hear what’s being said!
  •                 I’ve heard the lessons before, there’s nothing new.
  •                 The teachers are boring.
  •                 I’m tired/sick/grumpy/hungry.
  •                 I don’t have any friends.
  •                 It’s too far away.
  •                 It starts too early /it starts too late/it goes over lunchtime.

Although I’ve experienced each of those feelings, it’s not enough to keep me from going to church.

I learned a valuable lesson ten years ago when I returned to Nebraska for my high school reunion. I went alone. (No sense dragging my husband 700 miles to talk to people he doesn’t know.) I spent the night in my hometown, planning to drive the forty-one miles to church the next morning. Somehow, I forgot to set my alarm. When I woke up it was less than an hour until church started. I raced to get ready, skipping everything but the essentials, and drove as fast as I dared to the chapel. The entire drive I felt an overwhelming urge to get to the church. I arrived just as the sacrament hymn was starting.

As I sank into the pew (can you sink into the pews?) I was overcome with relief and with a great sense of belonging, as if I had arrived home. I can’t really explain it, but I knew in that moment that being in sacrament meeting, partaking of the sacrament, and feeling the Spirit of the Lord was a source of peace and goodness in my life.

There are many reasons I go to church. But for me the most important reasons are these:

  1. Partaking the sacrament gives me a chance to reflect on the week and renew my commitment to do better the next week.
  2. Singing the hymns (when I actually pay attention to the words) fills my soul with love.
  3. I get revelation for my family during lessons or talks. Really.
  4. I receive the blessings that come from obedience.
  5. I need the messages there to sustain me during the week.

Not every week has inspiring talks and stellar lessons. But over a lifetime, being there and listening to the messages and the Spirit has shaped me into the person I am. Each week I add another layer to the armor of God, and slowly but surely I become a better person.



Expressing Gratitude

Keep the Commandments”

The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to express thanks for the many blessings we have been given. A time to pause, reflect, and notice blessings that we may not otherwise recognize. A time to express our love for our Savior and our Heavenly Father, for truly “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father” (James 1:17).


But how can we even begin to express our gratitude to them? King Benjamin puts into words the feelings we may experience as we reflect on our indebtedness to the Father and the Son:

“I say unto that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants” (Mosiah 2:20-21).

Because they bless us with so much, we love them. And as “unprofitable” as we may feel, there are still ways we can express that love and gratitude for our God-given blessings. In John 14, the Savior teaches His apostles a profound lesson about the way they, and we, can show our love to Him and the Father.

He says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” In three words, the Savior Himself gives us the simple formula for expressing gratitude: “Keep my commandments.” It is a phrase so often repeated and even sung in the church, but do we really stop to think about the significance behind it? What does it mean to truly keep His commandments?

In the Oxford Dictionary “keep” is defined as to “have or retain possession of,” “continue doing or do repeatedly,” “retain one’s place in spite of difficulty,” “continue to follow a path or course,” and “guard, protect.” In past times, the word “keep” was used to describe “the strongest or central tower of a castle, acting as a final refuge.”

These definitions may help us understand the plea the Savior was making when he asked his apostles to keep His commandments. Not only does he want us to obey them, He wants us to stay true to them, continually keep them despite difficulty, guard them, and protect them. And as we keep them, they can become a “refuge” for us. If we continue on in the account in John, the Savior further explains how this can happen:

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

We learn another great lesson about gratitude from these words. The Savior doesn’t always promise that our burdens will be taken away, or that our prayers will be answered in the way we may hope. What He does promise is that he will send us the Comforter- He will not leave us comfortless. He will come to us. As one who sees us and our circumstances with a much greater perspective than our own, we can trust that He knows what is best.

As we celebrate this time of year, seeking to count our blessings and express our love for the Savior, let us remember that the Savior has taught us to express our love to Him in ways far more significant than just words. He asks us to keep. Keep His commandments, keep our covenants, keep the faith. And as we “keep,” he promises to bless us with the ultimate gift- the Comforter, which enables us to feel as if we are constantly in His presence.

book-1209805_1920 (1)

Again in the words of King Benjamin, “he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever.” (Mosiah 2:24). Let us love Him. Let us keep His commandments.

Written by Amanda Brower

Strengthening Family: Plan of Salvation

science inquiryBefore we were born we all lived with God. Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he them; male and female created he them.” Thus, men and women were created, spiritually first, as God’s own offspring—spirit sons and daughters with a divine potential. Like all loving fathers, God wanted to provide us with a way to become all that he is, a way for us to gain His inheritance; with this end in mind, he created a plan for us to learn and grow, that one day we could be perfected and able to live in His presence, with our families, for all eternity. Families are central to God’s great plan because it is in our earthly families that we can learn to adopt the attributes of Christ and feel a portion of God’s love for His children.

In order for us to progress toward exaltation (or our goal of eternal life with God), we had to do two things: the first was to gain a physical body, and the second was to prove that we were willing to keep God’s commandments, even without our memory of the premortal life. So, under the direction of our Father, Jesus Christ created the world as a place for us to live and grow as families. Adam and Eve were the first human inhabitants of the Earth, but in order for them to progress according to God’s plan (and therefore give way for us to live and progress), they had to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, bringing upon mankind the first spiritual death, a separation from God and a fall to mortality. In Abraham 3:26, God says, “And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; . . . and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.”

baking-452298-galleryAll people who came to Earth to receive their bodies thereafter have kept their first estate, and those who keep God’s commandments while on the Earth will keep their second. It is important that we keep God’s commandments now so that we may be worthy to receive the ordinances that will, in part, qualify us for exaltation; these ordinances include baptism, confirmation, priesthood ordination (for men), endowment, and sealing. The sealing ordinance is where we are sealed to our families for time and all eternity. No one can inherit all the kingdoms of God without having this sealing ordinance; this reiterates to us the importance God places upon the family unit and our responsibilities to our families, to both our ancestry and our progeny.

In Helaman 10:7, we read that with the right power and authority, “whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven. . . .” Because of this beautiful promise, our sealing to our family is not broken when we die. Those who have proved faithful on earth will live in spirit paradise, and have a mission to prepare those in spirit prison, people who have not accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to receive their saving ordinances by proxy on Earth.

When Christ returns at the Second Coming, all people will be resurrected. This will be a glorious day, when we are not only reunited with our physical bodies, but also reunited with the members of our families. After the millennium (a period of a thousand years without temptation), we will be judged of God by our works and the desires of our hearts. He will place us in one of three kingdoms: either the telestial, the terrestrial, or the celestial, each increasing in glory. Those who qualify to live in the celestial kingdom will live in the presence of God, having completed their second estate, and having been perfected through the power of the Atonement of Christ.

0 (2)It is very important that we learn about and apply the Atonement in our lives, because without the Atonement we cannot enter into God’s presence again. 2 Nephi 25:23 says, “For we labor diligently to write [of Christ], to persuade our chidren, and our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” And we can’t stop there; it is our responsibility to teach the doctrine of Christ to all members of our families, that we might be surrounded by our central unit of happiness with God our Father forever and ever.

Written by Cari Taylor

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