100 Years of Family Home Evening

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Thomas S. Monson has said, “We have come to the earth in troubled times. The moral compass of the masses has gradually shifted to an “almost anything goes” position. …Where once the standards of the Church and the standards of society were mostly compatible, now there is a wide chasm between us, and it’s growing ever wider.”

As a parent, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by raising a family in these ‘troubled times.’ One can feel powerless to the influences of society’s standards upon their children and may question how their testimony could possibly counterbalance the world’s view.

Do not feel overwhelmed! We are not powerless! The Gospel of Jesus Christ provides answers!

The Family: A Proclamation to the World encourages, even warns, parents to turn to Gospel principles when rearing our families.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.”

This is how we can strengthen and protect families! We start by empowering our own through regular Family Home Evening!

Read some of the counsel given us by the prophets on holding regular Family Home Evening:

We, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, must stand up to the dangers which surround us and our families. To aid us in this determination…begin with family home evening. We cannot afford to neglect this heaven-inspired program. It can bring spiritual growth to each member of the family, helping him or her to withstand the temptations which are everywhere. The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.” (President Thomas S. Monson, Constant Truth for Changing Times, April 2005.)

In our Home Evenings and other positive family experiences we can fill our souls with the things of God, thus leaving no room for evil to find a place in our hearts or minds” (The First Presidency, Family Home Evening [manual, 1972], 4).

Surely, the most important ingredient in producing happiness at home for members of this Church is a deep religious commitment to God and His gospel. In family home evening, such commitment can be nurtured in children by the wise, mature supervision of parents. Couples can strengthen and sustain each other in living and understanding gospel principles…..Devotion to God developed in these settings seems to forge the spiritual moorings and stability that can help families and individuals cope with the complexities of life. Some may say this is an oversimplification of a very complex problem, yet I believe the answers lie within the framework of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
(President James E. Faust, Enriching Our Lives through Family Home Evening, Ensign, June 2003)

We advise and urge the inauguration of a Home Evening throughout the Church, at which time fathers and mothers may gather their boys and girls about them in the home, and teach them the words of God … If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase, faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset them.” (The First Presidency of 1915, Family Home Evening: Counsel and a Promise, Ensign, June 2015)

The blessings promised 100 years ago through Family Home Evening are still applicable today! Filling our children’s souls with the things of God will not only fortify our homes and strengthen family bonds. It will also provide a powerful foundation upon which our children can stand firm through troubled times.

by Shelby Rodgers

The Culture of Family

by Jenny Baker

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Isn’t it wonderful that we live in the day and age of being able to travel the world via plane, boat or even internet?  It has only been in recent decades that this was even possible for everyday people like you and me.  We now have friends from all over the world, different cultures, backgrounds, religions, etc.  We have been enriched by each other in ways we probably don’t even realize!  For instance; we can eat Chinese food for lunch and Italian food for dinner, we can decorate one room in French Country Chic and the next room can have a Bohemian Flare, we say “Gesundheit” to a sneeze and we recognize a blue police box as a Tardis.  The culture of even the most remote, farming community has been enriched by this ever-shrinking world.

Each country may have their own art, history, church and traditions, but the fact that we all have these precious things is precisely what we all have in common!  Families throughout the beginning of time have helped develop their own culture to be passed down and enriched from one generation to another.  This has given us mere mortals flavor and depth that continues to roll forward to following generations.

It is the work of true evil when groups have desired to wipe the culture of a people from off the face of the earth.  We have seen this happening throughout the history of time.  Conquerers have left a wake of devastation as they destroy art, burn books, force the extinction of a language, and remove religion from any group of people.  This devastation not only affects the living generation, but destroys the work of all prior generations and halts the progression of all generations to come.

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Is it no wonder that the Lord has commanded:  “Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children;”  The connection throughout generations of time gives us the power to grow from one generation to another as we improve upon what our fathers have learned and we pass to our children something better.  Countries that experience frequent wars and genocide have to start over again with each new generation.  Each family has to rely on itself to relearn basics such as crop cultivation, industry, education, healthcare and a loving family life because basic knowledge cannot be passed down if an entire generation of people and culture is destroyed.  One generation cannot achieve greatness on it’s own!

For those who wish to stop the wars and contentions of this world, renouncing war and proclaiming peace isn’t enough.  We must ensure that each generation is allowed to diligently turn their hearts to their children AND to their fathers.  As we learn to remember the sacrifices of our fathers, learn from their experiences (good and bad) and work to leave a better treasure trove of knowledge and works for the next generation, we will be able to avoid repeating mistakes and secure a brighter tomorrow for our children and grandchildren.

Unfortunately, it is not only war that can destroy a culture.  Any behavior that focuses on the wants and desires of the immediate generation will leave only consequences for those who follow.  The Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die attitude can be seen in modern day examples of abortion, pornography, sexual deviancies, the worshiping of money, careers and education, and the accumulation of needless debt.  This selfish behavior simply cannot sustain itself into the future.

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War and contention never has been between left and right, north and south or right and wrong; they have been between those who want to defend their right to honor the past and defend the future and those who would rather serve their own, immediate needs by destroying the past, present and future of others.  It is up to all of us to recognize when political and social trends serve to sacrifice our eternal perspective for a more temporary agenda.  It is the job of our generation to defend our eternal families just as so many of our fathers have done throughout time.  Elder L. Tom Perry quoted Pope Francis on this subject; “In referring to those of the rising generation, he said it is important that they ‘do not give themselves over to the poisonous [mentality] of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern’; this must be done.”

Let us not forget that covenant families are blessed with great promises that will empower us to direct our families back to God:  “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.”  (emphasis added).  It is our joy to spread the doctrine of the eternal nature of the family with our friends throughout the world.  This is how true peace can be achieved in our generation and the generations to come!

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Families Last Forever

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Families last forever. Summer doesn’t. That’s why this summer, Mormon.org is helping families make the most of every single day. It’s called #73Days of Summer, and it’s a fantastic source of fun, powerful, wholesome activities that can make family ties stronger—and make some incredible, lasting memories along the way. To find the latest, follow Mormon.org on Facebook and share photos of what your family is doing using the hashtag #73Days.

This week includes fun ways to bring everyone together by planting a family tree, finding time to perform an act of kindness for a neighbor, roasting s’mores, planning a family hike, making a time capsule, and designing your very own family flag.

You can see this week’s blog post here, written by Kristen Hills. Follow Mormon.org’s blog and visit their social media pages daily to see their great ideas for summertime family activities. Have some of your own? Share them in the blog comments!

The Praying Family: The Hope of a Better Society

by Shelby Rodgers

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“Who’s turn is it for prayer?”

It is a question which always solicited eager responses from my daughters when they were younger.

“Me!” “My turn!” “I want to say it!”

Sometimes, they were too eager.

“No, it’s my turn!” “She said it last time!”

Thankfully, we had several opportunities, daily, to each take our turns. We used, and continue to use, those opportunities to teach our children the importance of prayer, especially the undeniable power it can bring into our lives as a family.

It was exciting when the baby, our son, was old enough to take his turn, too. At first, he shared in the joy of saying the family prayer. One day, about the age of 4, we were surprised by his sudden willingness to give his turn over to one of his older sisters.

Family prayer had always been a priority for my husband and me. From day one in our marriage, we wanted to follow the counsel of the Savior when he said, “Pray in your families unto the Father, in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.” (1)

We knew of the blessings that come from family prayer.

We knew it would bring greater peace, love, gratitude, humility, compassion and obedience.

We knew our example, as parents, would allow us to more fully share our testimonies and teach our children important eternal truths if we were consistent in family prayer.

We knew it would provide faith building opportunities when our children saw and felt our prayers were answered. We believed President Henry B. Eyring when he stated, “Parents should teach their children to pray. The child learns both from what the parents do and what they say. The child who sees a mother or a father pass through the trials of life with fervent prayer to God and then hears a sincere testimony that God answered in kindness will remember what he or she saw and heard. When trials come, that individual will be prepared.” (2)

We knew it would safeguard our children against succumbing to the world’s ever-changing and declining morals. As President Thomas S. Monson warned, “Perhaps there has never been a time when we had greater need to pray and to teach our family members to pray. Prayer is a defense against temptation. It is through earnest and heartfelt prayer that we can receive the needed blessings and the support required to make our way in this sometimes difficult and challenging journey we call mortality.” (3)

I credit my husband for his diligence in taking the lead on family prayer. By supporting his rightful role as a presiding father, we have appreciated each of these blessings and loved watching our children grow in faith, understanding and unity. We wanted each of our children to participate in and recognize these blessings.

I asked our young son about his hesitation. He explained his frustration that he couldn’t say them like the rest of us. He didn’t like that his were just “little boy prayers.”

Together and over the course of several weeks, my husband and I assured him that his prayers were heard and were just as important as anyone else’s. With renewed confidence, he eventually started volunteering more often. A few weeks had passed when he gave me the most tender hug after morning prayer and said, “Thanks for always helping me say my ‘little boy prayers,’ Mom.”

Prayer will strengthen our families and, in turn, will strengthen society. With the widening gulf between the world’s way and the Lord’s way, family prayer can provide our children with a strong foundation and will to follow the Lord’s way. President Gorden B. Hinkley counseled, “…family prayer in the homes of the people is one of the basic medications that would check the dread disease that is eroding the character of our society….The family is the basic unit of society. The praying family is the hope of a better society.” (4)

25 years ago, President James E. Faust told of an interview President Spencer W. Kimball held with a bishop. President Kimball had asked this bishop how often he held family prayer. The bishop admitted that although he tried to hold family prayer twice a day, his family probably averaged only once a day. The prophet wisely answered, “In the past, having family prayer once a day may have been all right. But in the future it will not be enough if we are going to save our families.” (5)

I believe that future is now. Now, more than ever, we need to “teach our children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord” (6) for the “Lord heareth the prayers of the righteous” (7), even ‘little boy prayers.’ Now is the time to pray IN our families and FOR our families.

One day, your children and their posterity may give you the most tender hug and say “Thanks.”

1. 3 Nephi 18:21
2. Henry B. Eyring, That He May Write upon Our Hearts, Liahona, Aug 2009
3. Thomas S. Monson, Three Goals to Guide You, Oct 2007 General Conference
4. Gordon B. Hinkley
The Blessings of Family Prayer, Ensign Feb 1991, emphasis added
5. James E. Faust, The Greatest Challenge of the World-Good Parenting, Oct 1990 General Conference
6. Doctrine & Covenants 68:28
7. Proverbs 15:29
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No Time To Waste

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It was a Tuesday morning in January 2005 and although we had experienced rain for a few days, it wasn’t coming down hard enough to cause too much concern.  The rivers were rising, and my husband, along with other men in our ward, were busy placing sandbags around the homes closest to the rivers.  I was home, taking care of my daily activities.  We were taking precautions, not getting too overly anxious over a little rain… UNTIL…..   I received a call from my husband: “Creekside #58 is going into the river, get men down here NOW!  There is no time to waste!”  In a moment, my focus went from making lunch to panic!  I ran down the street to the men who were sandbagging by the river and I yelled for their help as I approached.  Within seconds, they were piled in trucks, heading for the neighborhood down the street.  A few of the neighborhood moms offered to watch the little children while the other moms rushed to the Creekside neighborhood to lend a hand.  Older children were sent home early from school before the roads and bridges closed, which would force children to be away from home for the evening.  We all anxiously waited for news….

#58 fell into the river, followed by houses on either side.  The stream that we graciously call the Santa Clara “River” now resembled the roaring Mississippi and it commenced in taking chunks of land out from under the homes as it cut a new path, far from it’s original course.  Other neighborhoods were now being evacuated as more homes were being undercut by the torrential flow of water and debris.  Volunteers from all over the valley were carting off any possessions they could safely get their hands on and taking it to higher ground.  Work continued after the sun went down.  With the power out, car lights were focused on each house as workers made their way through darkened homes in order to save family pictures, grandma’s china and other precious odds and ends.  Shortly after the fire department deemed the house unstable and the workers evacuated, a loud crack would echo through the air and the house would completely disappear into the dark mouth of the mighty Santa Clara.  No one could believe their eyes.  Where did this come from?  How can something as important as a home be here one minute and gone the next?  This just didn’t make sense.

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At one point in the afternoon, I ran to the store to get supplies for the neighbors before the bridges washed out.  Diapers, water, batteries, and other essentials were on my list.  As I ran into the store, heart racing and mind focused on protecting the families in my neighborhood, I was shocked to see a store full of people doing their weekly shopping, looking at greeting cards, and browsing the candy aisle.  It was like walking into an alternate universe!  How could I be in such a panic, knowing that my neighbors were losing their homes, while others didn’t seem to have a clue what was happening only a few miles away?  It was a surreal feeling to say the least.

I have felt a similarly surreal feeling over the past few weeks since the Supreme Court changed the definition of marriage.  I feel a great desire to gather my family and work with my neighbors to protect our homes from a different kind of flood.  But as I look around, I find that so many others see no danger and feel no desire to head to higher ground.  It is a lonely feeling, but I have felt a great closeness with friends and family members who recognize the storms that are raging all around us.  I have found comfort in their words, they have strengthened my feeble knees and have given me courage to head to the safety of our one and only True Foundation.

It doesn’t matter what our individual trials look like, if family and friends gather together, work together, pray together, and serve each other, we can find peace.  One of my fondest memories is from the night of our terrible flood.  All of the neighborhood moms and children gathered into my neighbor’s home, the goal was to calm the fears of the children.  The power was still off, but we were able to light the room with our flashlights and laughter.  Games were played, sandwiches made, songs were sung, and hugs were shared.  It was the most lovely feeling.  We were protected, loved and watched over by angels on this side of the veil and from the other side.  As we gathered the children to pray on the food, we asked the Lord to watch over the fathers who were working hard to save other homes, we prayed for the families who were being afflicted and we gave thanks for protecting the lives of our loved ones.  The powerful feeling of that night still fills my heart with peace.

I believe it is time to start gathering in family, friends and neighbors again.  We cannot wade through the torrents of attacks on home and family alone.  There will be times when we need a shoulder and testimony to lean on.   Now is not the time to hide our voices or dim our lights!  We find great peace as we help strengthen others and as we create a safe place for our children to be.  Open your Christ-filled homes and hearts to others who seek peace, don’t hold back the life-saving truths of the gospel that will serve as a life-line to someone who is struggling.  Just do it now!!!  There really is no time to waste.

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