Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Page 5 of 33

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).

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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.

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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

Dating & Serious Relationships

nature-1790138_1920I’d personally love to tell you all about how great all my relationships have been going and what the biggest successes and positive signs are . . . and I’ll still be glad to share. However, I’m coming from a unique perspective at this time. After a pretty serious relationship, I have recently broken up with my boyfriend because we weren’t ready for anything more, so instead of being enveloped in worries and doubts, we decided to stop seeing each other. To sum it up, my heart and dreams were crushed. I had hoped he would choose a different direction and confidently move forward with me one step at a time. But he chose the other route I was afraid of. However, as I’ve now sulked enough, I am recognizing that it was for the best. If he believes there’s someone better out there for me and that right now is not the Lord’s time, then I’ll take it. I know what I want in life and did come close – very…to a life with him. It had quite the potential. But, as I look back on it, I realize that although it very well could have been good, I’m looking for and capable of great. And so are you!

Don’t just settle for good, instead aim for great.

Now, I’ve had my share of experiences and heart breaks but I’m not exactly the most qualified relationship counselor out there. However, I would like to share some general tips and pointers on basic dating and serious relationship perspectives.

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General Dating:

  • Have confidence, smile everywhere you go, and just be yourself. This is the number one way that you attract a potential friend and date.
  • Don’t be afraid to open your mouth and talk, even if it is a simple “hi.” You never know where a simple conversation can go, but more than that, the smile and recognition is priceless.
  • Always make these casual dates an adventure. Be yourself, learn from them, laugh and make memories, and don’t worry about where they could go – everything relationship wise happens very naturally, and you definitely don’t have to worry about your future life on the first few dates.
  • Have fun. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, relax and enjoy the ride. So many people are focused on the end goal, but enjoy the journey! 

Committed Relationships:

  • The number one most significant step is communication. Without communication as your foundation, the relationship will not work out for the best. You need to be able to talk to each other about anything and everything. You need to be able to share yourself, your feelings, and your thoughts. Through communication you will be able to open up to each other and share your hearts and build a bond of trust you can never imagine is possible.
  • Make sure you set your boundaries and expectations.
  • Have time together. Make sure to set aside specific times in your busy schedules and make one another a priority.
  • Show them how much you care for them – words of affection, acts of service, surprises, touch, etc. Get to know their needs.

10154481_372319126240623_1959066281_nAlright, that’s all the basics I have for today. I just want you all to remember that no matter what happens and where your relationships go or do not go, everything will work out for the best. Someone is out there for you and there are so many blessings that await you. Your potential is so great and powerful. You make a difference and you are capable and worthy of being loved. Your dreams will come true and the great is out there.

Written by Rebekah Day

 

Parenting Tip #4: Support Your Spouse

As my husband and I were discussing parenting (we often do) we realized that a large part of parenting is supporting your spouse. You may wonder “what does that have to do with parenting? Turns out it plays a large role.

There are many ways to show support to your spouse:

  1. Being there for big moments 
  2. Upholding the rules set by partner
  3. Recognizing when help is needed and giving it
  4. Being happy for each other’s successes.
  5. Listening to the problems/triumphs
  6. Bragging about spouse to others
  7. Touching:  a hand squeeze, a hug, a high-five

Parenting is a tough job.  It takes time, hard work, perseverance, patience, creativity, and divine help.   When you feel overloaded or alone, it’s hard to endure through the tough moments (yes, everyone has tough moments).  I’ve found that the only way to get through it is to have support.   Unless you are a single parent (a topic for another day), that support ought to come from your spouse.  

These moments of support are not time-consuming or costly. It can be as simple as Rosen 2011 1277walking in the door at night and giving your spouse a hug.  It might mean showing up to his or her presentation, performance, or work party. It could even be as easy as asking “What can I do for you today?”  One of the best ways to support your spouse is by continuing to “date” each other.  Taking the time to do fun things together allows you to remember why you got married in the first place.   Weekly dates keep the fires of romance burning and they help you remember that there is more to life than parenting!

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Over the years, my husband has given me tremendous support. When I held piano recitals, my husband would always be there early to hand out the programs—a huge show of support since it meant he had to leave work early.  He would also hand out treats after the recital, allowing me time to visit with the parents of my students.

But how does this help our parenting? Happy spouses make for happy parents. When you know your efforts are appreciated, or even noticed, you feel valued as a person. Feeling valued as a person allows you to focus on others—the kids—and not yourself.

Another part of being supportive is being willing to sit down together and come up with a parenting plan.  Although you can’t cover every possible circumstance, you can set some guidelines for yourselves that put you and your spouse on the same parenting page.  When parents take the time to do this, something wonderful happens.  The kids soon realize that their parents are a team.   The kids will not be able to manipulate or pit the parents against each other.  (If you don’t think kids do this, you don’t have kids yet!)  This is a big step in positive parenting! Even though kids express the idea that they wish they could pit one of you against the other, the truth is that if they know the parents are united, they feel secure and confident.

IMG_1766If your parenting feels disjointed, if you feel alone even though you have a spouse, if you need encouragement or recognition, now is the time to take your honey on a date, sit down somewhere, and discuss how you can support each other in ways that matter to the two of you.  Your kids will thank you for it later.   

 

Written by: Phyllis Rosen

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

5 Tips to Fight the Fright of the Flu Shot

family-reading-921279-galleryParents across the country watch their child scream and cry as a nurse tries to insert a needle into the muscle on the child’s arm. The dramatic response of children to as simple of an injection as a flu shot causes parents to dread the flu season worldwide.

Luckily, flu shots this year can be a little easier than shots your child may have had in the past. Factors, such as position, distraction, timing, social support, and language can help your child better cope with injections.

Factor #1: Position

Colleen Lacey, Marsha Finkelstein, and Megan Thygeson tested a variety of different positions to administer a shot to determine which position resulted in the least amount of fear for the child. The team found two important characteristics that helped reduce a child’s distress during an injection are that the child sat up and is able to sit on their parents lap face-to-face.

Factor #2: Distraction

Children who are afraid of needles often benefit from being distracted. Some of the ways that you can distract your child during a vaccine are:

  • Have your child play a game on an electronic device
  • Talk to your child
  • Have the child blow bubbles

Factor #3: Timing

While your child needs to know before the nurse comes in that they are getting a flu 16571595778_52133c3e7e_oshot, you as the parent determine when to inform them. For some children, it may be best to wait until you are on the way to the doctors to tell them. This is best for children who anticipation leads to increased anxiety. For children who become anxious from surprises, it is probably better to tell them a little sooner. For these children, you can tell them when you drop them off at school that you will be picking them up from school to get their flu shot.

Factor #4: Social Support

Lacey, Finkelstein, and Thygeson also found that children experience less distress when a parent is present with their child. To let your child know you are there to support them through the injection, sit next to the child and offer to hold their hand during the procedure.

Factor 5: Language

What an adult tells a child shapes their perception. While certain messages need to be shared, how we say them to children can result in either a calm or frantic child. When communicating with your child about the shot use soft language that is concrete. For example, a parent could say “the needle will pinch you for half a level of Angry Birds.”

In order to reduce the child’s anxiety, it is important that the parent avoids ambiguous statements, such as “This may help.” These statements leave it to the child’s imagination to determine the severity.

Try It

Implementing all of these tips this year may seem overwhelming. This flu season try implementing one of the suggestions above. You will be thankful you did when you child is able to successfully fight the fright of needles this Halloween season.

Written by Laura Fillmore

 

Parenting Tip Series #3

Consistent Parenting

There’s an old saying:  A jug fills drop by drop (Buddha). In light of the saying:  What do these stories have in common?

  • My daughter was home schooled for two years of middle school.   Each morning we had school:  math, history, reading, science, and electives. Then we ate lunch. If all her homework was finished, we did fun things.
  • Every Monday night our family had family home evening. We varied the activities—sometimes having a lesson, sometimes playing games, occasionally inviting neighbors to join us.  But not matter what, we had family home evening and spent time together.  
  • Saturday was a time for chores.  In the morning there would be a list of chores that needed to be done with a note telling the kids how many chores  to sign up for.  Those who came first got to choose their chores first, and as soon as they were done, they could move on to other activities.
  • If the kids had to be taken out of church, they had to sit on a chair in a room with no toys and no treats and no interaction with others.  We never changed or varied from this rule.
  • Bedtime was a time for reading!  Every night we tucked our kids into bed with a story.  

The common denominator here is CONSISTENCY.   Good parenting requires consistent parenting.  Children need consistency.  It’s important that they know what the rules are and what is expected of them.  When children understand what is expected, they know what to do, how to behave and better understand consequences for their actions.   

Consistency works in multiple areas of life. Our kids loved to play at all hours of the day. Like most kids, they would beg us to let them skip dinner to continue playing. While this was sometimes tempting, I knew that the lesson they needed to learn of consistency (and eating nutritious meals) was more important than the short reprise it might mean for me if they skipped dinner. As soon as Dad came home, we would make sure the kids would come in and be ready to eat. This allowed us to enjoy quality family time and helped my kids learn important values.

Our kids didn’t always jump at the opportunity for family scripture study, so we made it an expected routine just like dinner. While we would vary our family scripture reading time, we always read with our children. This helped our kids learn the value in consistently putting our Heavenly Father first and also helped our children learn what we, as their parents, valued.

Another way to look at consistency is to think of it in terms of routine.  As you build routines into your parenting, you actually reduce the stress of everyday life and help children to feel secure.   For example, if you teach your children that they should brush their teeth every night, and you consistently make sure that happens, soon they brush their teeth by themselves without putting up a fuss.   They just know it’s part of the daily routine.  This eliminates discussion and arguments and hopefully cavities.

As you develop a routine for chores, children can learn that doing chores quickly and efficiently allows them to move on to more pleasurable activities.   This, in turn, motivates them to work hard and to organize their time.    When you have a routine for fun things (going to the park, visiting the library, etc.), then children learn that they can put off their wants for a period of time because they realize that the fun activity really will happen.  They are able to trust that you mean what you say.

Never too old for Easter egg hunts.

Never too old for Easter egg hunts.

Even as teenagers, (maybe especially as teenagers), children feel secure when they know you mean what you say.   When my kids were out with friends and we had agreed on a curfew, my kids knew that I would be sitting up waiting for them.  They also knew that if they didn’t come in on time, there would be consequences.   (Yep, once I made my teenage son put 30 puzzle pieces into the jigsaw puzzle I was working on because he came in late!)

These words of advice make sense and seem easy to follow.  Unfortunately, kids like to test you and your resolve at almost every stage of life.  When my oldest son was about twelve, I discovered how valuable consistency was, not only for the kids’ security, but also for making parenting easier.    My son started giving me a lot of grief about obeying the rules.  When I’d remind him it was time to do his chores, he would whine and complain and twist the issues around until we were arguing about all kinds of things—like why didn’t his brother have to do this chore?  Why did he always get the hard jobs? or Why did I love his sister more?  It got so out of control I finally I went to a counselor for help. The counselor changed my life. He explained I didn’t have to answer all the accusations my son was making.   All I had to do was be consistent. So then the dialogue went like this:  

Mom:  You need to clean your room
Son:  What??????????????   I just cleaned it.
Mom:  Oh, really?  Well, you still need to go clean your room.
Son:  Why doesn’t Steph have to clean her room?  Her room looks worse than mine!
Mom:  Really?  I’ll have to look.   But you still need to clean your room.
Son:  But I want to go outside to play!!!!!!!!!!
Mom:  Great idea.   As soon as you clean your room you can go outside.
Son:   Mommmm!
Mom:  I’m sure you can do it.   Let me know when you are done.

No matter how many excuses or changes of topic he introduced, I consistently returned to what I expected of him.   AND IT WORKED!   He eventually gave up and did what he should.   All it took was consistency on my part.

Being consistent isn’t always about chores, consequences, or nagging mothers. Being consistent is just as important when it comes to traditions and family fun.

Every family has traditions; and what builds traditions? Consistency.

One of our favorite family traditions is an annual Easter egg hunt.   Every year, on the Saturday before Easter we get out the dying gear and color our eggs.   Then later in the day, we hold our annual Easter egg hunt.  We fill plastic eggs with candy and then hide both the plastic and the boiled eggs all around the yard.   This is such a tradition, that we even took eggs with us (plastic ones!) when our family was on an outing over Easter.   We hid the eggs at the cabin where we stayed!

It is not just holiday traditions that are important.  Birthday traditions, family outings, or extended family get-togethers can also add consistency to the family.   One of our favorite habits as a family was the Sunday evening game night.   We spent many happy hours playing board games, card games, and in the summer—croquet!   These consistent moments built memories that glue our family together even today.

So if you feel like parenting is the hardest thing you’ve ever done, pause and ask yourself if maybe a little consistency wouldn’t help to smooth things out and make parenting easier.

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Written by Phyllis Rosen

Faith Counts: New study looks at religion by the numbers

In a video called “Faith by the Numbers,” Brian Grim discusses the amount of social programs that religion offers to the public, adding up to about 1.5 million. (Faith Counts YouTube)

This graphic details the expenditures of religion and religious-affiliated businesses. (Faith Counts)

A recent study quantified the economic impact of religious institutions and religion-related businesses throughout the U.S.

The study, entitled “The Socio-economic Contribution of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis,” is the first of its kind and was conducted by Brian Grim of Georgetown University and Melissa Grim of the Newseum Institute. They held a panel event at the National Press Club on Sept. 14, 2016 to reveal their groundbreaking study.

“For the first time, we have been able to quantify what religious institutions, faith-based charities and even businesses inspired by faith contribute to our country,” Grim said at a Sept. 14 panel. “In an age where there’s a growing belief that religion is not a positive for American society, adding up the numbers is a tangible reminder of the impact of religion.”

This pie chart shows the socio-economic contributions of religion to American Society. (Faith Counts)

According to the study, religion contributes nearly $1.2 trillion to the US economy. Congregations and religiously-oriented charity groups contributed 130,000 programs for alcohol and drug abuse recovery, 121,000 programs for support or skills training for unemployed adults and 94,000 programs to support veterans and their families.

“People at various times have various needs,” said church history professor Richard Holzapfel. “You have church that is relieving the pressure on state institutions.”

Holzapfel said religion offers a substantial amount of support for character development, which cannot always be calculated. However, he said this development can be seen in the LDS Church through missions, the counseling offered to individuals through bishops and church programs addressing various struggles.

This chart shows the number of programs religious organizations put on for various social issues. (Faith Counts)

“What would that cost the state if the church didn’t provide those services?” Holzapfel said. “It would be massive. We would overwhelm the welfare department, the juvenile court systems; the impact must be tremendous.”

Faith Counts, a multi-faith non-profit organization promoting the value of faith, sponsored the study. According to the “Faith by the Numbers” video on their website, religion institutions are not just houses of workshop, but the “nucleus of many communities, centers for education, job training, charity, childcare and social events.”

The video also states that religious institutions fund over 1.5 million social programs. Hunter Buxton, an economics major, was surprised by the findings.

“I had no idea,” Buxton said. “That’s not something you hear about a lot in economic circles of news.”

Buxton said this study and influence on religion should be talked about more because it could “definitely benefit the way America sees religions in general.”

More information about this study can be found on the Faith Counts website.

Family, Food and Fun: Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving is coming up and FOOD is the word. When thinking about Thanksgiving, many of us number turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pie among the many things that we are grateful for. Many of the memories that I personally have surrounding this time of year involve cooking and eating together with my family (especially my grandma’s amazing coconut cream pie).

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Isn’t it interesting how the food we eat is such a central part of our culture and identity? Traditions surrounding food can vary widely from family to family, and even wider from culture to culture. Something that does not change between cultures, however, is the fact that food brings people together. Research shows that eating together as a family can make a huge difference in having a healthy family life.

Consider using this holiday season as an excuse to take some time to eat a good meal with your family. Cook together, or even just go out to a restaurant together if cooking isn’t your style. No matter where the food comes from, eating a meal and spending time together will create memories, and bring your family emotionally closer.  Now get together and eat up!  

P.S. I thought I’d share with you two of my favorite recipes that my mom would always make during the holidays! They’re easy, inexpensive, and delicious! Bon appétit!

Frozen Cranberry Whip

1) Mix in a large bowl: 1 package whole cranberries (ground in a food processor or blender), 2 cups of sugar, and 1 small package mini marshmallows (10 oz package)

2) Cover bowl and let it sit all day or overnight Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 9.13.24 AM

3) Later: Whip 1 pint of whipping cream until stiff. Add 3 oz cream cheese (chopped into little chunks), and 1 large can crushed pineapple (drained)

4) Mix everything together (including sugar and cranberry mixture)

5) Separate into two bread-loaf pans, cover and freeze

6) To serve: Briefly run warm around the outside of the pan to loosen frozen loaf and slice up servings

Candied Sweet Potatoes

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking dish

2) Boil a large pot of water, add sweet potatoes, boil until slightly underdone, about 15 minutes.

3) In a large saucepan combine 1 1/4 cups margarine, 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, 2 cups marshmallows, cinamon and nutmeg to taste.

4) Stir potatoes into the margarine sauce. While stirring mash the potatoes.

5) Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, remove and top sweet potatoes wtih 1 cup of mashmallows, cook until marshmallows are slightly golden.

Written By Rian Gordon

How to Tell if He is Marriage Material

wedding-322034_1920After coming from a city where righteous, kind, ambitious, loving young men were few and far between, I can understand the appeal of dating in Provo, where that is  not the case. There are so many practically perfect men that cross your path every day, and if you happen to snag one, how can you know that he could be your eternal companion?

When I had been dating my boyfriend (now fiancé) for 6 months, I knew I loved him, but I just wasn’t sure if he was the one for me. Some people say they “just know,” but for a logical thinker like me, that kind of thinking just didn’t work out.

Luckily, my brother sent me this document of questions for couples anticipating marriage to ask each other. I cut these questions into strips, folded them up, and put them in a bag. Every once-in-a-while, we would pull out the bag and take turns picking random questions and answering them. Not only was it informative, but it was also both spiritual and fun. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee, but these questions can give you a deeper insight into the heart of your loved one.

My fiancé and I highly recommended these questions to anyone who is considering getting married, as most of these questions do not usually come up in normal conversation.

These questions (and my fiancé’s answers to them) were pivotal in my decision to marry my best friend. Maybe you already know that he’s the one, and maybe you don’t, but regardless, give these questions a shot—you might be surprised by your results.

Written by Cari Taylor

Parenting Tip Series #2: Teach Your Kids to Serve

Near our house is a fairly steep hill.  There are lots of big trees beside the hill, but no houses, so no one is in charge of the sidewalk.  During the year leaves, dirt, and junk collect in the gutter.   It never really washes away because of the cement barriers that are next to the curb.  When our kids were young we started an annual tradition to clean “the hill”. With donned gloves, gathered shovels and brooms, and wheelbarrows we made it our job to clean out the gutter and haul away all the junk.  We tried to do this before school started in the fall so the neighborhood children could have a clean sidewalk on which to trek up to the elementary school.

Needless to say, not all our children thought this was a great idea.  Some of them wondered why someone else didn’t take a turn.  (To make it more fun—and less work—we did invite other families to participate in this project.)  But we just reminded them that we were strong and capable and since no one else was doing it, we would.

897 There were other projects our kids weren’t too keen on.  After large snowstorms my husband took our boys over to  a neighbor’s house to shovel her walk and driveway.  Since she lived on a corner, this was a rather large task.  But she was single and older, and my husband (and one or  other of the boys) was her home teacher, so it wasn’t up  for discussion.   Often our other neighbors would be gone  for the Christmas holiday so we would shovel their  driveway as well.  

Not all of our service projects involved so much hard work.  I was talking to one of my neighbors recently, and she reminded me that our family had washed their cars the night before their daughter’s wedding.  Occasionally we babysat someone’s kids while they went out. We  also served food for the homeless on Christmas eve, and took pipe chimes to the memory care unit to sing Christmas carols with them.

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What did we accomplish with all these random acts of service?  They say the proof is in the pudding, and about three years ago I had a wonderful validation of the value of  teaching our kids to serve through example.   I got a call from a neighbor who needed someone to be with her as she cleaned out her horse’s stall.   She was in the middle of a divorce and couldn’t be at the barn alone, due to hostilities with her spouse.   So she called me to see if I’d come talk to her while she mucked out the stall.  Unfortunately, I was out of the state.  “Not to worry,” I said.  “My twenty-five-year-old son is home and I’ll call him to run over.”   (Luckily he had worked at a horse barn when he was younger so it wasn’t totally out of his comfort zone.)  And he did it!!  He walked over and helped her out!!!

President Monson has spent a lifetime reaching out to “the one” and he is always encouraging us to do the same.  He counsels us:  

“To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy.”  -President Monson

When the kids were little, I taught them this poem:

“I have wept in the night

For the shortness of sight

That to somebody’s need made me blind;

But I never have yet

Felt a tinge of regret

For being a little too kind.”    (anonymous)

I hope that we taught our children that life doesn’t just revolve around themselves, but that others have needs that are just as important. I hope we taught them compassion, helping them to see that others might be suffering, or be lonely, or just need a little boost here or there.  I hope we taught them that it doesn’t hurt to give of your time and talents. Last of all, I hope they learned that they are always better off for having served.

Written by Phyllis Rosen

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