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*Focus This Month: Families are Part of Gods Plan
This newsletter is a little late, but I have a good excuse. On May 1st, 1998 at 1:43 am, I gave birth to our first child, a girl we named Sarah. She was 6 lbs. 15.9 oz., 21 inches long, and had a full head of dark brown hair. This new addition to our family has made me think more about Heavenly Fathers plan and the role families play in it.
Where did you come from? When people ask me where I came from, I tell them "Heaven." Latter-day Saints believe that birth is not the beginning of life, nor is death the end. Before we were born, we lived in a family in Heaven with our loving eternal parents. They taught us and helped us grow. After we had developed as much as we could in Heaven, we came down to earth to receive physical bodies and continue our development. We come down into earthly families, patterned after our heavenly family. After we develop a little bit and become adults, our responsibility is to marry and invite spirit children into our home so other spirit children of our Heavenly Father can come down and continue their development. When we become parents, we not only help another spirit progress, but we progress as well, since we learn how to act more like our Heavenly Parents as we nurture and teach our children.
Families are the training ground for eternity. Since the Celestial Kingdom is structured into family units, we need to know how to act celestially as both children and parents to live there. In our earthly families, we can practice all of the virtues we need to live in the Celestial Kingdom. Can you imagine Heaven without love, patience, compassion, kindness, service, gentleness, tenderness, helpfulness or selflessness? Should we strive for anything less in our homes? Home can and should be a Heaven on earth.
Our new baby Sarah is just starting her earthly experience and we are given a special stewardship as her parents. She comes to our family with her own set of characteristics, talents, strengths and weaknesses that were hers in the preexistence. As her parents, we are here to love her, help her develop her talents and overcome her weaknesses, but most importantly, help her learn about God and how to get back home to live with Him.
Imagine the tremendous trust Heavenly Father has given us! She is His precious daughter whom He desperately wants to return to live with Him. Were first time parents. We have a rough theoretical idea of how we should act as parents, but were learning on the job. Hes relying on us to help her make it. Wow!
Luckily, Heavenly Father has not left us alone to parent Sarah, just as He has not left us alone for anything else. In the scriptures were told: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matthew 7:7). Were also told: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5). Ive got a feeling that I will discover Im lacking a lot of wisdom and will need to ask God for help. And I know that He can and will help me. After all, Sarah was His daughter long before she was ours and He knows what to do for her. We have to stay close to Him to learn what He would do if He were here raising her on earth.
Sometime after giving birth to Sarah, I recalled a poem by Carol Lynn Pearson which goes sort of like this (I dont have an exact copy):
To My Day Old Child
My little baby, please grow up fast.
I want to tell you about Heavenly Father.
I see a reply reflected in my newborns eyes.
Oh, Mother, if only I could speak.
I was with him only yesterday.
This poem reminds me of my sacred responsibility to teach my child. It also reminds me of how close to Heaven these little ones really are. They really were with Heavenly Father very recently. As a mother, I am blessed to associate daily with my daughters pure and sensitive spirit and should treat her with all the love and tenderness that I can. And Ill try to keep her from getting too homesick by making our home a Heaven on earth.
To learn more about LDS beliefs on the family, see http://www.mormons.org/basic/family/index.htm
To learn more about LDS beliefs on parenting, see http://www.mormons.org/daily/parenting/index.htm
To learn more about our pre-earth life, see http://www.mormons.org/basic/premortal/index.htm
To learn more about the afterlife, including the Celestial Kingdom, see http://www.mormons.org/basic/afterlife/index.htm
*Object Lesson: THE COLLEGE PROFESSOR AND THE RETURNED MISSIONARY
A personal experience of Elder J. DeGraff, former member of the MIA General Board, as given in a testimony meeting in Portland, Or.
Several years ago, at a western university campus, a college professor was taking great delight in depreciating the testimonies of a number of "Mormon" students enrolled in his science class. At the beginning of the course, he would inquire "How many of you have testimonies that Mormonism is true?" When the students would raise their hands, he would challenge them by asking: "How do you know? Can you prove it? Take out your testimony and show it to me! Can you bisect it? Can you put it under a microscope and observe it? I challenge you to prove it to me."
Seated in back of the room was a young returned missionary. When the professor offered his challenge, this young man waved his arm and desired to tell that professor and the class how he knew the gospel was true. Seemingly sensing the young mans desire, the professor refused to acknowledge him. Shortly, the bell rang ending the class.
After the class was over, the professor walked out of the room and proceeded to go to his office across campus. The missionary followed behind with members of the class that he had asked to follow. The returned missionary called out to the professor to wait and in the presence of the class members said: "You probably feel pretty smug about shaking the testimonies of these people, but I hear you dont love your wife any more." "What do you mean?" shouted the professor; "Im very devoted to my wife." "Prove it," said the student. "Can you take out your love and show it to us?"
The class roared with laughter as the professor walked away. He was not to mention the subject of testimony in his classroom again.
*Whats New on All About Mormons?
LDS Humor is continually expanding. Thanks to all those who have contributed so far! Keep on sending us your funny stories, jokes, etc. We want our humor to be enjoyable to all of our visitors, members and non-members alike, so please use discretion when choosing which ones to send. Our Other Good Stuff section is especially for non-religious humor. Laugh With Us!
All About Mormons has information to keep you in touch with the Church, including Church related web sites and internet services, Church phone numbers, and magazine information. Check it out on our Welcome page!
For links to the following articles, check out our Whats New page.
A Teachings About the Sabbath Day home page has been created with articles from various Church leaders (05/10/98)
The Dating and Marrying Nonmembers article has been updated. (05/09/98)
Are Mormons Prejudiced has been updated. (5/09/98)
Blacks and the Priesthood has been updated with comments from Joseph Fielding McConkie. (5/09/98)
Anti-Mormon Tactics has been updated. (5/06/98)
The Why is a Temple Recommend Necessary to Enter the Temple? article has been updated (5/04/98)
A new page on Cola Drinks has been added. (4/13/98)
A new accusatory question has been added answering the Question Do you believe only Mormons go to Heaven? (4/12/98)
The April 1998 General Conference talks are now available. (4/11/98)
A new page has been created explaining the priesthood ordinance of Shaking the Dust from the Feet. (4/06/98)
*Response of the Month: What are ways I can strengthen my relationships with family members who are far away from me?
Try a family newsletter
Encourage everyone to get email accounts and make the family email addresses available to everyone
Plan a yearly family reunion
Do a Round Robin lettermake a list of family members (your name at the bottom) and place it in a large envelop. Then, write a letter to the whole family and send it to the first person on the list. That person will read your letter, add his own letter, and forward the envelop to the next person on the list. When the envelop full of letters returns to you, remove your letter and replace it with a new one. Send the envelop off to the first person on the list and repeat the process so everyone will know whats new!
Have days that everyone calls each otherMothers Day, Christmas, birthdays, etc.
Record family stories and send copies of the stories in 3 ring notebooks to various families. Continue adding to the notebooks every year.
Make videos or scrapbooks for each other so youll recognize each other
*Question of the Month: What fun things do you do together as a family?
Let us know what you think. We want your wisdom and input!
*Other Reader Responses:
Bryan's response to the Response of the Month question: How can I teach my children about Jesus Christ in a meaningful way? deeply touched my heart. (April 1998 edition) Sometimes it's easy to be caught up in focusing on oneself and not reflecting about and acting upon Christ's humble yet loving example on how to conduct oneself amongst our fellow human beings. Tears ran down my face as I read Bryan's response and reminded me again of one of the reasons why I became a church member: the selflessness and pure love of so many members. ~CHurley500
*I'll add my comments on inappropriate material. When I was in High school in Oklahoma, high school English assigned "Catcher in the Rye" as a "coming of age" book. It was not great material, then and still wasn't when my children hit high school in the '90s, and the teachers in Connecticut had it on their reading lists. They had many other doubtful books and movies as well. I did go to them, and explained that I had a list of great literature.
I never really had anyone refuse to allow us to read great literature. You've heard the authors: Shakespeare (3 dozen plays and many poems), Byron, Shelly, Longfellow, Hawthorne, Dickens (6 massive volumes of collected works), Poe, Hale, Swift, (if you need more names, let me know). But also translated works of Caesar, Dante, Dumas, &c. If you want clues for famous works look to the Disney classics, Little Mermaid, Aladdin, SLeeping Beauty, Pinnochio, Peter Pan, Pooh-Milne, (Grimm, Anderson, etc). Then you have religious authors, Smith, Young, Pratt, Benson, Kimball, Hinckley, Monson, Jesus, etc. All polished writers. The politicians were remarkable Churchill (biographies and histories), Jefferson, Choate, Washington, Kennedy, Lincoln, etc. They wrote long and short. They wrote persuasively. The military authors: Patton, Eisenhower, Lee, Grant, (I have not read the modern ones yet, I assume they are polished also), etc. The great historians: Gibbon, Scott, histories on Cortez, foreign adventure. Then you can read from the specialists in Music, Gilbert and Sullivan for poetry, and other specialists. Biographies of great people Boswell on Johnson (the author of the dictionary), Galileo, Franklin (scientist, politician, publisher), Roosevelt, &. You get the idea. ~John
Reader responses will appear in the next newsletter. E-mail responses to firstname.lastname@example.org
See you next month!
John and Jenny Walsh
All About Mormons
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