Children Are an Heritage of the Lord, by Ken Craig


By the last week of April, our plans for a November baby were in place, and the anticipation was settling in.

By the first week in May we knew a miscarriage was imminent.

It didn’t sneak up on us, but I’m not sure how you prepare for something like that. Katie knew something had been wrong for a few days, and was grappling with the possibility of a miscarriage long before I considered it. And even though she told me when her concern started, I dismissed it. I didn’t discount that something might be wrong, or insist that it wasn’t a miscarriage. But I held on to the thought, or maybe hope, that it was something else. Something less definite.

I don’t think I realized how much of that day for Katie was spent processing what was most likely happening or what could be happening or what she hoped wasn’t happening. As the husband, without the constant reminder that life is growing within me, I operated on the daily assumption that when Katie wasn’t telling me something, it meant that everything was fine; and when she did tell me something, I could take a moment to wish and hope it away.

I prayed often for Katie. More than morning and night. But I remember the palpable moment I realized that my prayers and supplications were subconsciously or maybe intuitively always for Katie, and not necessarily the baby. And I think that’s when I started to slowly, but not out loud, accept what was already impressing upon me in small waves.

This baby was not coming.

Over the next few days, we didn’t discuss it much.  I didn’t understand what might be happening, so I didn’t know what to prepare for. I would often hug her and ask, “Are you okay?”

She would look away, distracted, dealing with her own feelings. “Yes,” she said simply, and moved on with her tasks.

It seemed so ineffectual, merely asking if she were ‘okay.’  I wished I could tell her what was really in my heart.  I wanted to say, “I’m so sorry this is happening to you.  I’m so sorry I can only stand here completely helpless and watch you emotionally dragged and quartered.  I’m sorry I don’t know how to make this all go away and heal your body and strengthen your soul.  Please tell me what I can do to show my concern.  Please tell me that you’re not ‘okay,’ but that if I were to do this or that, you would be.  And please, please don’t let me go through this by myself.”

Then, late one evening, Katie asked me for a priesthood blessing. I knew the request was time-sensitive, so I immediately called a close friend and asked him to come assist me in administering to my wife.  As I placed my hands on Katie’s head, I could feel how loved she was by her Father in Heaven.  How known she was.  How important.

I waited for the clarity to come that all would be well with the baby, but it wasn’t happening.  I waited longer.  Never had I struggled more against the impulse to mix my emotions with the revelation I was receiving on somebody’s behalf.  Everything in me wanted to tell Katie that she would be blessed to give birth to a beautiful baby and her body would heal.  Life would be as wonderful as she hoped.

But those impressions never arrived.  I found myself making all kinds of additional promises to Father, if only He would grant us this one blessing.  But I knew what needed to be said.  I felt impressed to promise Katie that this experience would draw her closer to Him, that whether a baby came or not, she would be at peace in her heart and mind, and in her soul.  Somehow, that knowledge brought me a degree of hope that I had not anticipated.

The next morning Katie seemed remarkably calm. Not carefree, but peaceful. She said she knew this pregnancy would not develop into a child. And she felt calm and comforted by the blessing. I could see that she was blessed with understanding and insight. I felt reassured by her confidence. My feelings up to that morning had truly been focused on Katie’s well being. A miscarriage would affect her physically, as well as emotionally and mentally. My understanding and acceptance of what was happening were a direct response to hers; I was relieved at her confidence and was now determined that everything would be fine. If Katie was at peace, so was I.

Right?

Wrong.

I left for work that morning, hoping that the background noise of the radio would provide a needed distraction during my commute.  I was ten minutes into my drive when the world suddenly slowed down and my mind became singularly focused.

I began to process my own reaction to the reality that a child I was anxious to know and love would not be arriving. I felt like I was going to miss the chance to meet somebody who would have affected my life in a beautiful way…and there was no way to retrieve that specific opportunity.  Suddenly, I felt swallowed up in sadness.  I wasn’t angry or resentful.  I didn’t feel cheated or that life was unfair.  I just felt sad.  And that sadness enveloped me.

The radio became so hushed I just turned it off.  I became unaware of other cars, other drivers.  The air was still and stifling, and I felt energy draining off me like steam.  When I arrived at the office, I pulled into the parking lot and sat in my car, no initiative to leave my seat.

My emotions are very near the surface under even the most benign circumstances; so with the profound sadness I was experiencing, I found that I was crying, quietly.  I wasn’t overwhelmed with emotions, nor did I feel that my exterior was cracking. But I knew that I didn’t feel like talking about what was going on.

I worked half the day and then left for an ultrasound appointment with our midwife. As Katie and I drove to the office, our conversation included speculations from one side of the spectrum to the other. From “Maybe I was never pregnant?” to “What if we’re completely off and everything is okay?” But when the ultrasound showed what we had already suspected, that a miscarriage was imminent, we weren’t startled. That sadness briefly stung my heart again, and I studied Katie’s face, searching for any detectable sorrow. I thought I could see it, but it was buried under a brave, accepting face, so I didn’t say a word to her. I felt like speaking would have pulled the foundational block out from under her pyramid of strength, and her calm exterior might have given way. And that just seemed unnecessary. So I simply squeezed her hand.

We drove home somewhat oddly comforted in knowing for certain where we were at, physically. We didn’t say anything to anybody else, as we hadn’t told anybody yet, not even our parents. The next couple of days were just watching and waiting, but brought us closer. I felt conscious of Katie and what was going on inside her.

At the end of that week, my parents were set to arrive at our house for the weekend, and literally, as I heard my kids squealing that Grandma and Grandpa were here, Katie found me and told me that it had just happened. She cried a light, heartfelt sigh of relief, finally feeling that she had turned a page and felt closure from a long, uncertain experience. I hugged her so close I wasn’t sure if my hug was sustaining her or vice versa.

I walked outside and met my parents at the car. I hugged them, helped grab their stuff, and then told them a little about what the last week had been like. I wanted to let them know so they could be sensitive to Katie.

My dad and I were taking my boys camping for the night, and Katie and my mom and the girls had planned to do a Girls’ Night at home. As Katie went into the kitchen to start their special dinner, my mom pulled Katie in to her and said, “Don’t you worry about dinner. We’re going out. Let’s take it easy tonight.”

I watched Katie melt into my mom’s embrace, crying. Of course it was more than the promise that she wouldn’t have to cook dinner. It was being understood, being cared for. It was the profound link between women, between mothers. It was an answer to prayer and the fulfillment of a blessing.  My mom had had a miscarriage between my two youngest brothers and so understood much more deeply than I, though I wanted to. And Katie felt that. I will always be grateful that my mom was there; that she is exactly who she is, with the instincts that she has, and the love she’s had for Katie since day one.

As I thought about that moment I realized how many people I know and love who have had miscarriages. But for how common they are, rarely are they discussed. I imagine it’s because the event may be common, but the experience is personal. It was for us. It seems like a very private grieving; mourning the loss of possibilities, of plans.

We have since added a seventh child to our little family.  Like her brothers and sisters, she has added a measure of joy to our lives that goes beyond expression.  We’re grateful for her sweet spirit in our home.

I’ll always remember that touch of sadness that accompanied that unique experience of ‘what might have been.’ But through it all, I knew Heavenly Father was mindful of us, that he was aware of our anxiety, our sorrow. And I know He is aware of our unwavering gratitude for the blessing of family.

‘Children are an heritage of the Lord,’ the Psalmist writes. I couldn’t agree more.

Ken Craig is an account executive for SealSource International as well as a small business owner. He has a passion for writing, which he discovered when he began writing comedy sketches in college as a founding member of BYU’s first comedy troupe, The Garrens. This is also where he met and married his wife, Katie. Ken serves as a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he resides with his wife and their seven children.  Their family adventures are featured in Ken’s blog, “The Craig Report,” and he is also a contributing writer to www.parttimeauthors.com.

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Today there is a “Blog Hop” about the Family Proclamation. Please share your own feelings or testimony or inspiring thoughts on your blog.  Then go to any of these other hosting blogs and leave a link to your blog post at the bottom of the posts there. You will find a “Mr. Linky” tool, where you can enter in your information and direct us all to what you wrote.  Go on now; I’m excited to read what you have to say.

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Husband and Wife, by Shawni Pothier

Marriage is the keystone for everything else in a family to fit together.  If we don’t put our spouse first, it is really difficult to do all the other family stuff in the proclamation.

Here is a list of ideas to strengthen marriage. Some of these things Dave and I do great. Others are things we are really working on.

Here you go:

Go to bed at the same time. (I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but it makes a world of difference for us.)

If you go to bed at the same time, you get to have “pillow talk” which leads to belly laughs, which make me happy. (I feel so much more connected to Dave when we make time to really talk about how our day went and what’s coming up the next day.)

Find at least a few of the same things to be interested in together. (We’re always working on that one because we are so different, but I think it’s so important.)

Learn what his “love language” is from this book (I know this may sound cheesy, but seriously, it is a pretty cool concept).

Never underestimate the power of touch. Even just a touch on the shoulder or a on his knee at dinner.

Tell your kids how excited you are to go on a date together with stars in your eyes.

Hug in front of your kids.

Tell your kids what you love about their dad. All the time.

Say you’re sorry before he does.

Continue “dating” regularly forever, even if it’s an “at-home date” after the kids are in bed.

Drop everything you’re trying to juggle some evenings and just snuggle on the couch.

Watch a show you like together while sitting in front of him on the floor…he rubs your back while you rub his feet. (or visa-versa)

Text him love-notes in the middle of the day.

Tuck love-notes in his suitcase when he goes on a business trip.

Make dinner for him.

Dave and I decided right when we got married to keep any complaints or things we were bugged about between us. We promised each other that we would discuss those things and work them out just the two of us, not with our friends or neighbors. We figured it would make us stronger to work through things together and to keep that relationship sacred. And we were right. That’s one of the best things about our marriage as far as I’m concerned.

Show that you value his opinion by giving in more often. (Hmmm…I need to work on that one…)
Let him beat you at Quordy here and there 🙂 (that’s a Boggle game on the iPhone)

Make an effort to give him a sincere compliment before you go to bed each night…something you noticed during the day. Be looking for the good instead of for opportunities to nag.

Talk about your budget often and make sure you’re on the same page with how you spend.

If you’re not on the same page with how you spend, re-evaluate. And give-in a little. Make compromises. Finances are one of the biggest stress-inducing things in marriages.

Forgive. And then Forget. Don’t hold on to grudges.

If something is important to him, make it important to you. No matter how silly it may seem in your view at first. (That’s my favorite one from my Mom and I think about it ALL THE TIME.)

Laugh. A lot. Keep a sense of humor.

Ok, and just to keep it real, here’s what NOT to do to make your husband feel like you really care about him:

Chop your hair off in a moment of mid-life crisis even though you know he loves long hair. But if he’s really nice like Dave is he’ll still love you anyway. 🙂

Cough all night long with allergies.

Back into your in-laws’ car.

Forget to warn him about five different conflicts you have in one night early enough that he can brace himself for it.

Text when you’re on a date.

But hey, I’m working on those, and hair grows, right? 🙂

Strong marriages make strong families, but they take work.

What are some things that you and your spouse do for each other that strengthens your marriage?

Shawni lives with her husband and five children in Arizona.  She takes her job as a Mother very seriously and strives to promote joy in the journey of Motherhood on her blog. Shawni’s youngest daughter (Lucy) was born with a rare genetic syndrome which causes blindness (amidst a myriad of other health problems).  Because of this, Shawni and her mother started the “I Love Lucy Project” and have become heavily involved with the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Aside from being an advocate for her daughter and relishing in motherhood, Shawni enjoys speaking at Time Out for Women and recently published her first book, A Mother’s Book of Secrets.

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Click here to read a complete version of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The celebration will continue from Sept 17-30.

Remember that during the world-wide-web Family Proclamation Celebration, you can read more posts every day at We Talk of Christ, at Chocolate on My Cranium, and at Middle-Aged Mormon Man.

Every time you leave a comment on any of the Proclamation posts or participate in any of the Blog Hops, you are entered in a drawing to win a giveaway prize.

The giveaway this week is a Dream Big Family Rules Subway Art sign from Landee on Etsy. “One of the reasons we love to create things for our homes is because our favorite people live there! We love our families and want them to be in a happy & healthy environment. We always try to create products that are positive, motivating and uplifting. Stop by our shop and find that special detail for your home that you’ve been looking for!

Divinely Appointed Sacred Powers, by Michelle

Original photo : [stu-di-o] by jeanie Photography, via heirloommagazine.com

One of my favorite quotes is from President Boyd K. Packer, who says, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.” I love the Proclamation to the World on the Family because it is a clear, powerful, doctrinal document, full of simple truths that are such an anchor in these challenging times.

Of course, as we all know, some of these truths delve head-first into the most highly-charged social and political issues of our day. For example, consider this simple phrase from the Proclamation:

…the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

As many of us have experienced, sometimes it can be extremely difficult to know how to respond to the questions — and even outright opposition and anger  — regarding our beliefs and standards.

But as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland recently reminded us (if you haven’t yet listened to his talk, I highly recommend it…as in, go listen to it now if you can!):

“This Church can never ‘dumb down’ its doctrines in response to social goodwill or political expediency. It is only on the high ground of revealed truth that gives us any footing on which to lift another who feels troubled or forsaken.”

There is power and love in truth.

I’m grateful to share two examples from lives of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that illustrate this power, specifically how the power of truths about morality and marriage that have helped bring people to Christ and His gospel.

My sister told me a few months ago about a (now 17-year-old) young woman named Sarah who, in response to friend’s simple question, was able to talk about marriage and the law of chastity. Sarah kindly agreed to share the story with Proclamation Celebration readers.

Every day in my art class I sat by a group of girls who had never really heard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I would be tired when class started because I had been to early morning seminary.  The girls had a lot of questions about my morning church class.  They asked about polygamy, dating, drinking and many other things — because I was the only “Mormon” they had ever met. 

One of the girls and I became good friends. Even though our lifestyles were very different, our personalities clicked and we had fun together. Every time we would hang out, she would ask more questions about the Church. When my older brother got engaged, I told my friend about him and his fiancé. She asked me about them and asked if they were both virgins.  I said I was confident they both were. She asked why they would do that. I told her we believe that a sexual relationship is sacred, and that they had saved their love to be given only to their spouse. I had only offered her a simple explanation. I didn’t feel like I had taught any sort of spectacular lesson or shared a new insight.

But, after I had said this her countenance dropped. I will never forget the look of sorrow and remorse on her face when she said, “Wow. . . . I wish I’d thought of that.” The fact that abstinence and fidelity was a new idea to her shocked me. I was given a new appreciation for what I had been taught since I was a child.

My friend, who was once so tied down by the weight of her sins has since joined the Church. Her imperfections were washed away and Heavenly Father remembers them no more. Her sexual transgressions, though they were serious, are no more, and she is now leading a virtuous, wholesome life.

I am so grateful for the protection of the commandments and the grief it prevents me from carrying. Not only am I grateful for the sin the commandments save me from committing, I am even more grateful for the cleansing power [of the Atonement]. I testify that virtue truly is power. I know that being virtuous — though it is not always easy, and it is certainly not popular — is truly the way to happiness.

I was also moved by this recent Mormon Women comment in response to the question “Why do you choose to be a Mormon woman?” Dee wrote about how the morals and values we teach, and the Proclamation itself, drew her to the Church:

I choose to be Mormon because I can feel [the] Holy Spirit within me. I believe in The Church and the word I read in the Book of Mormon. I have strong morals and values and The Church has the same type of morals and values I have always held so dear to my heart. I grew up and attend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints until I was 7 then my mom stopped going. My grandmother has been a member for 32 years and always prayed I would find my way back to The Church. Now, at the age of 24 I have been baptized and live in The Gospel. I love being a member of The Church. I love being Mormon. I love being able to be me and feel comfortable, I no longer feel like the odd one out, I feel like I am back with my long lost family. One of the strongest things I read that made me know this church was right for me was reading The Family: A Proclamation To The World.

As Sarah notes, it is definitely not popular to live and believe what we live and believe. But it’s eternal truth, and there is power in truth. I believe as we calmly, compassionately, and consistently seek for the Spirit’s help to live and share our faith (even in small and simple ways), God can continue calling to His children who, like Sarah’s friend, are still “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:19).

I conclude with the words of Elder Holland…for the next time you have someone ask why it is that a politically neutral church is taking a stand on certain social issues.

“Sensitively explain why some principles are defended, and some sins are opposed wherever they are found, because the issues and the laws involved are not social and political, but eternal in their consequence. And while not wishing to offend those who believe differently than us, we are even more anxious not to offend God.”

And again,

“It is only on the high ground of revealed truth that gives us any footing on which to lift another who feels troubled or forsaken.”

I know the doctrine that our prophets teach is true. The Proclamation is powerful doctrine for our day. The Savior and His Atonement are real. The gospel has been restored. I pray that we may have the strength, guidance, wisdom, and charity to know how and where to share these marvelous truths with others.

Michelle is a wife and mom of three. Before marriage and motherhood blessed her life, she served a mission, got a B.S. in Psychology and an MBA (Organizational Behavior emphasis), and worked as a business consultant. She’s been grateful to be a stay-at-home mom since her first child was born. She is currently the managing editor of mormonwoman.org.

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Click here to read a complete version of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The celebration will continue from Sept 17-30.

Remember that during the world-wide-web Family Proclamation Celebration, you can read more posts every day at We Talk of Christ, at Chocolate on My Cranium, and at Middle-Aged Mormon Man.

Every time you leave a comment on any of the Proclamation posts or participate in any of the Blog Hops, you are entered in a drawing to win a giveaway prize.

The giveaway this week is a Dream Big Family Rules Subway Art sign from Landee on Etsy. “One of the reasons we love to create things for our homes is because our favorite people live there! We love our families and want them to be in a happy & healthy environment. We always try to create products that are positive, motivating and uplifting. Stop by our shop and find that special detail for your home that you’ve been looking for!

Sacred Covenants and Holy Temples, by David Dibb

[Original photo credit: Bobjgalindo CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

A children’s hymn talks of the possibilities:

I have a family here on earth.
They are so good to me.
I want to share my life with them through all eternity.
While I am in my early years,
I’ll prepare most carefully,
So I can marry in God’s temple for eternity.

[Chorus]
Families can be together forever
Through Heavenly Father’s plan.
I always want to be with my own family,
And the Lord has shown me how I can.
The Lord has shown me how I can.

In temples we are bound more specifically to Christ-like attributes by committing to keep covenants we have made there…one being the covenant of marriage and family.  Some of these necessary attributes are described by the Apostle Peter: (2 Peter 1:4-8)

 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A marriage brings blessings and challenges not heretofore experienced.  If we can apply Christ-like attributes, in accordance with temple covenants, an eternal relationship will develop that can overcome all problems.

When difficulties and challenges come into our lives, as they will, the sacred ordinances and covenants of the temple can help us.  Disagreements are inevitable in marriage, but if we can “disagree without being disagreeable,” we can work things out.

“The story is told that reporters were interviewing a man on his birthday. He had reached an advanced age. They asked him how he had done it.

He replied, “When my wife and I were married we determined that if we ever got in a quarrel one of us would leave the house. I attribute my longevity to the fact that I have breathed good fresh air throughout my married life.”  (Slow to Anger, Gordon B. Hinckley, October 2007 General Conference)

If we can have patience and avoid saying things that are hurtful–go for a brief walk, or ‘count to ten’ before something is said that cannot be recalled–we will better approach the Christ-like relationship.

The temple marriage/sealing ordinance and related covenants give us great encouragement to solve problems, rather than to give up.  The knowledge that the Savior is on our side and that through the Atonement He can lighten our burdens can be a great comfort.

I know that our Father in Heaven loves us and wants all to return to Him.  He sent His Son to facilitate that return, and has provided the sacred ordinances and covenants of the temple to help us on our way.

David W. Dibb
Scientist and Association Executive: Soil Chemistry/Fertility and Plant Nutrition
Married to my sweetheart Vivian for almost 46 years
4 wonderful children, 7 even better grandchildren
2 missions: North Argentina; South Africa Durban
15 years of temple service and counting
(Highest credential of honor:  My dad)

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Click here to read a complete version of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The celebration will continue from Sept 17-30.

Remember that during the world-wide-web Family Proclamation Celebration, you can read more posts every day at We Talk of Christ, at Chocolate on My Cranium, and at Middle-Aged Mormon Man.

Every time you leave a comment on any of the Proclamation posts or participate in any of the Blog Hops, you are entered in a drawing to win a giveaway prize.

The giveaway this week is a Dream Big Family Rules Subway Art sign from Landee on Etsy. “One of the reasons we love to create things for our homes is because our favorite people live there! We love our families and want them to be in a happy & healthy environment. We always try to create products that are positive, motivating and uplifting. Stop by our shop and find that special detail for your home that you’ve been looking for!

Divine Nature and Destiny, by DeNae Handy


Seek Earnestly the Best Gifts

On the day I received my Patriarchal blessing, I met this cute guy and his mom in the hall. They were waiting for the Patriarch; the cute guy was next to receive his blessing.

I’ve wondered if the Patriarch had any inkling about that cute guy and me—if he suspected that the nearly identical blessings he gave to each of us meant anything other than that maybe it was time he took a nap, reboot the system a bit. He was getting repetitive, after all—not always a good feature in a Patriarch.

Three years later—admit it, you saw this coming—that cute guy and I were married. That we married on the same day as the Patriarch’s daughter we’ve chalked up to coincidence. The dovetail blessings? Nope, that was Divinely intentional.

Twenty-seven years and four children later, we’ve seen the power of Patriarchal blessings bless our lives. For years we each relied on our own blessing, and that of our spouse, to offer direction, insight, and comfort as we made choices we never thought would even be presented to us.

Now, three of our children have their blessings, and we expect our youngest to receive his in the next few weeks. And in the years since our kids received their Patriarchal blessings, I’ve gained greater understanding of the significance of those blessings.

We tend to think of a Patriarchal blessing as something that is ‘mine.’  We even stress that when teaching others about their blessing: “It’s personal. Meant just for you. It shows that you are unique, and known to your Heavenly Father.”

But if we are to take Paul, Moroni, and others at their word—that spiritual gifts are intended to ‘edify’ or build up others—then we have to assume that our blessings are absolutely not personal, not meant just for us.

What good does it do me to be blessed as a teacher, if there are no students, no classes to teach? How are promises of being an inspired mother fulfilled without children to parent?

As my children have received their Patriarchal blessings, I have found myself reading them very closely. Why? Because I’ve realized that their blessings are my blessings. One daughter has been given the gift of healing hands. I’m counting on those hands when I’m in my dotage! My son was told that he is presided over by a ‘council of grandfathers.’ One of those grandfathers is my own father, and I take great comfort in the idea that he sits in council with the great men of my ancestry—endowed with priesthood authority—to have very real influence over the course of my life and the lives of my family. Another daughter has been blessed with the gift of discernment. I’m sticking close to her when the zombie apocalypse comes; she’ll have the inside edge on who’s alive and who’s merely undead!

The Proclamation on the Family states that each son and daughter of God has a divine nature and destiny. Knowing that my children, their spouses, and their children—along with our extended families—all have gifts and callings specially selected by their Heavenly Father with which to bless those around them, gives me courage when facing experiences that might otherwise overwhelm me. Possessed of this confidence, I can better serve others and embrace new opportunities, growing and adding to my quiver of desirable ‘best gifts.’ And I learn firsthand how the greatest gift really is Charity, because it’s that power that enables one to do for others what they cannot do for themselves.

The lessons Paul taught to the Church, to the entire world, I’ve seen bear fruit in our little family. I don’t need to possess every gift; I just need to be a mom. The help I require is just a phone call, a prayer, a fast away, as my children call upon their gifts to bring wholeness to my life.

DeNae Handy is a humorist, blogger, musician, writer, editor, and bi-weekly columnist with Meridian Magazine. With twenty years’ experience teaching Gospel Doctrine, Institute, and Seminary, DeNae enjoys invitations to speak at LDS-sponsored conferences and other events throughout the United States. Her most recent publication,Tell Me Who I Am, is a collaborative work which includes essays and poetry depicting daily life for sixteen Latter-day Saint writers. More of DeNae’s writing can be found on her blog, My Real Life Was Backordered. 

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Today there is a “Blog Hop” about Family Home Evening lesson ideas or a craft, either one related to the Family Proclamation. Due to technical difficulties (code for: I am an idiot), I couldn’t get the linking tool to work on my blog.  Please go to any of the other hosting blogs (who apparently are not idiots) and leave a link to your own glorious blog post. I can’t wait to look at your ideas.

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Click here to read a complete version of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The celebration will continue from Sept 17-30.

Remember that during the world-wide-web Family Proclamation Celebration, you can read more posts every day at We Talk of Christ, at Chocolate on My Cranium, and at Middle-Aged Mormon Man.

Every time you leave a comment on any of the Proclamation posts or participate in any of the Blog Hops, you are entered in a drawing to win a giveaway prize.

The giveaway this week is a Dream Big Family Rules Subway Art sign from Landee on Etsy. “One of the reasons we love to create things for our homes is because our favorite people live there! We love our families and want them to be in a happy & healthy environment. We always try to create products that are positive, motivating and uplifting. Stop by our shop and find that special detail for your home that you’ve been looking for!

In the Image of God, by Shantel Gardner


I had an experience with my daughter several years ago. When I was thinking about what I wanted to write about the Family Proclamation, this experience came to me. I pushed it aside, but the impression kept coming back. The Family Proclamation does not tell us what to do— it tells us who we are and what our relationship is to God and Jesus Christ. It also gives us incredible insight into the character of our Heavenly Parents. We are meant to learn how to be like our Savior in family units, and this is how it happens for me. God is good. So Good.

This is my daughter Ella. Isn’t she just cute?? And so big, making her own PB & Chocolate (Nutella. She calls it chocolate–I guess she thinks she is getting away with something.) sandwich for lunch. I took this picture to remember. Here is the story:

On this particular day, Ella was having a bad day. She has Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of Autism. Most people in her world are not even aware that she has this. I don’t notice it most days, but this day I did. On her bad days she gets stuck in a rut, with a need for structure and for things to be and look a certain way. These days normally end up with her alone in her room, organizing her toys, until she feels better. My mood on this day was of no help to her. She had come home from school, and wanted to make her own lunch. I usually have her lunch pre-made, so it is waiting when she walks through the door. I had a crazy morning, so this did not happen. When Ella is having a bad day, she will not compromise or rationalize, or she is not even able to have a two-sided discussion. She will even lose her language if it gets really bad. I have found the best thing to do is give her what she wants as reasonably as possible and try to curb bad behavior with distraction. Anyway, here was our dialogue:

Me: Ella – Do you want peanut butter or circle sandwich for lunch? (Circle is Bologna – long story)

Ella: Peanut Butter Chocolate – I want to do it!!!!!! (High-pitched scream)

Me: o.k. Ella – let me help you.

Ella: No! I do it!!!!!!! (Scream)

Me: o.k.

So I watched her proceed. She got a stool, climbed up to the counter. Couldn’t reach the bread. She started screaming.

Me: Ella – do you need help?

Ella: Bread!!!! (Language now down to one word – this was not headed in a good direction)

So I got up to help her. I reached for the bread.

Ella: NO!!!!!!!!

Me: DO you want the bread?

Ella: Ella Do! (Scream)

Me: o.k.

She struggled a few seconds.

Ella: Please help.

So I helped her get the bread out and laid out the slices for her. I magically and very sneakily managed to get out the jars she needed and unscrew the tops without her protesting. I handed her the butter knife.

She proceeded to dig into the peanut butter and the Nutella. She was making a huge mess. I was having a very hard time not intervening. Not only was she making a complete mess of everything, but she was getting upset. She was piling way too much on the bread, she was taking way too long, and I had a long list of other things I did not like about this situation. Finally, after about 10 minutes, she was done with one piece. It was literally a mountain of Peanut Butter. She and the counter were covered. I was not happy. I was dwelling on how my day had been so far. How she was likely going to need a bath after this and a bath would lead into the afternoon, and then the kids would be home from school –I was getting overwhelmed quickly. She started screaming again. I started to cry; I felt done. The sound hurt my ears, and my heart. I didn’t know what to do. What did she want now???

Me, through tears:  What Ella?

Ella: Fix it!

I didn’t know what she meant, so I got up and looked at the disaster on the counter. Ella very quietly (and completely unlike how she had been over the last 30 minutes) said, “Make it smoooooth,” and she handed me the knife. My despair at the situation was immediately transformed to deep peace and understanding at what I was being taught. As I followed Ella’s instructions to smooth out the Peanut Butter perfectly and make it go “all the way to the edges” of the bread, I realized that we makes messes sometimes. We take situations in life, and insist (sometimes screaming) on doing it all ourselves. We make mistakes, we misjudge, mistrust, and misuse sometimes. We cause a lot of grief to the people around us as we learn, and we judge others harshly as they learn. Then we give our slice of peanut butter bread to the Savior, and he makes it all smooth. He makes it perfect. He spreads it to the edges of the bread, and makes our work look like it was done by a professional chef. Then he lets us keep it. To savor and find joy in. As we become confident in the Savior’s ability to perfect our efforts, we become stronger– and our capacities increase.

I grabbed the camera and took the picture, and really enjoyed letting Ella make the rest of the sandwich. I enjoyed the process of watching her learn, and I was ready to step in when she needed me. Happily and patiently this time, I felt so grateful to my Heavenly Father for taking what was a mess, and making it a moment of learning never to be forgotten.

Shantel Bancroft Gardner lives in Minnesota with her husband Joel and their five children. She is a student in the honors program at the University of Minnesota, majoring in US History and Religious Studies with a minor in Jewish Studies. She is a research historian for the university and also for the Minnesota Historical Society. Shantel has published several articles and essays in both academic and LDS literature.  She serves on the Board for the Joseph Smith Jr. and Emma Hale Smith Historical Society, and travels to universities and historical sites to speak about the lives and legacies of Joseph and Emma. Her favorite place is Winter Quarters. Shantel also considers chocolate necessary to her salvation, and partakes as often as she can.

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Click here to read a complete version of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The celebration will continue from Sept 17-30.

Remember that during the world-wide-web Family Proclamation Celebration, you can read more posts every day at We Talk of Christ, at Chocolate on My Cranium, and at Middle-Aged Mormon Man.

Every time you leave a comment on any of the Proclamation posts or participate in any of the Blog Hops, you are entered in a drawing to win a giveaway prize.

The giveaway this week is a Dream Big Family Rules Subway Art sign from Landee on Etsy. “One of the reasons we love to create things for our homes is because our favorite people live there! We love our families and want them to be in a happy & healthy environment. We always try to create products that are positive, motivating and uplifting. Stop by our shop and find that special detail for your home that you’ve been looking for!

Family Proclamation Celebration, Day 1: Family Is Central


Here is a video (in which I talk fast and breathlessly and say the wrong day of the week) about 1) what to expect and look forward to in the Family Proclamation Celebration, and 2) how you can get more involved.  Also, grab and share the button over there on the sidebar (—>) to help more people find what we’re doing.

Over the next two weeks, this blog will be graced with guest posts from some really remarkable people who will share their thoughts about family and faith. I wanted to kick things off with my own testimony and gratitude for the role of family. In the first sentence of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, this thesis statement is literally proclaimed:

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

Prophets and apostles receive inspired revelation and speak for the Lord. The following description of their role gives a clear picture of why this Family Proclamation was given:

Like the prophets of old, prophets today testify of Jesus Christ and teach His gospel. They make known God’s will and true character. They speak boldly and clearly, denouncing sin and warning of its consequences. At times, they may be inspired to prophesy of future events for our benefit.

So before we even begin to study the contents of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, I want you to know that I believe God speaks to us today through living prophets and apostles. I know that when I have heard and obeyed their counsel, the promised blessings have come. The world we live in is increasingly dark, angry, and confusing, but our Heavenly Father sends us guidance and direction through His servants, and He sends confirmation of those teachings through personal revelation.

The family is central to God’s plan. Central. Of primary importance. Sister Julie Beck taught that the theology of the family is based on the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement:

The Creation of the earth was the creation of an earth where a family could live. It was a creation of a man and a woman who were the two essential halves of a family. It was not about a creation of a man and a woman who happened to have a family. It was intentional all along that Adam and Eve form an eternal family. It was part of the plan that these two be sealed and form an eternal family unit. That was the plan of happiness.

The Fall provided a way for the family to grow.Through the leadership of Eve and Adam, they chose to have a mortal experience. The Fall made it possible for Adam and Eve to have a family, to have sons and daughters. They needed to grow in numbers and grow in experience. The Fall provided that for the family.

The Atonement allows for the family to be sealed together eternally. It allows for families to have eternal growth and perfection. The plan of happiness and the plan of salvation was a plan created for families. I don’t think very many of the rising generation understand that the main pillars of our theology are centered in the family. When we speak of qualifying for the blessings of eternal life, we mean qualifying for the blessings of eternal families. This was Christ’s doctrine.

What does this theology teach us about ourselves? What does it point us toward and what does it turn us away from? Sister Beck later taught that anything that is anti-family is anti-Christ. We must hold family in highest regard, not just in our faith structure, but in our hearts, in our calendars, in our covenants, and in our choices.

Another thought that has occurred to me often is this: If family really is central to God’s plan, it makes sense that the knowledge, gifts, and talents he gives us individually are intended, first and foremost, to bless our families. I have certain skills that I sometimes think would be better used in other ways, but maybe God knows me and my husband and children and extended family well enough to know that my skills are exactly what is needed to help all of them become who He wants them to be. And of course, it follows that their skills and talents have been given to them to bless me as well. The first and greatest recipients of our talents and blessings should be our families. (They also happen to be the first and greatest recipients of our weaknesses, but isn’t it nice that God set it up so that the people who love us the most are the ones who help us work through them? That points us to the business of growth and perfection, and therefore, toward the Atonement.)

I used to look at other moms with their glaring talents and abilities so different from my own and wonder if I was somehow an underachiever. On other occasions, someone would come up to me and compliment me on something they thought I did well and they wished they could do better. I have learned to recognize that perhaps if I had someone else’s talents instead of my own, I wouldn’t be the mother that my children need. Heavenly Father knew my children (and me) before they were born, and He knows exactly what their little spirits need to learn and progress.  And he gave them me. Me. There’s something about all of us being together in a family and navigating this life with each other’s help that polishes us and grows us. The closer we come to each other by applying the principles in the Proclamation, the closer we come to Jesus Christ.

Families are central in Heavenly Father’s plan, indeed, but my family is central in my plan too, and I’m so glad I can count on His help.

How is your family “central” to you?

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Click here to read a complete version of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The celebration will continue from Sept 17-30.

Remember that during the world-wide-web Family Proclamation Celebration, you can read more posts every day at We Talk of Christ, at Chocolate on My Cranium, and at Middle-Aged Mormon Man.

Every time you leave a comment on any of the Proclamation posts or participate in any of the Blog Hops, you are entered in a drawing to win a giveaway prize.

The giveaway this week is a Dream Big Family Rules Subway Art sign from Landee on Etsy. “One of the reasons we love to create things for our homes is because our favorite people live there! We love our families and want them to be in a happy & healthy environment. We always try to create products that are positive, motivating and uplifting. Stop by our shop and find that special detail for your home that you’ve been looking for!