Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Eternal Families

                    The family is the basic or fundamental unit of society and has been since the time of Adam and Eve.  The family is ordained of God and forms a major part of the divine plan for the exaltation of mankind.  Family relationships can extend beyond the grave through Heavenly Father's plan of happiness for his children.

                    Adam and Eve were married by God while in the Garden of Eden and commanded to have children (see Genesis 1:28).  God revealed that providing mortal bodies for His spirit children is one of the purposes for marriage.  Men and women are partners with Heavenly Father in creating families.  God sends His spirit children to earth to receive mortal bodies and to experience life on earth.  Bringing children into the world is the way that parents help Heavenly Father carry out His plan. 

                    Heavenly Father understood that each new baby would need many years of care and training in order to grow into well-developed and mature adults.  This is the reason why He wants mothers and fathers to be married and established as families when he sends babies to earth.  He wants each new child to be welcomed into a family with gladness and love.  He wants parents to remember that each child is also a child of God.  He wants parents to take time to enjoy their children, to play with them, and to teach them.  Parents and other family members are in the best position to teach children self-control, sacrifice, loyalty, and the value of work as well as to learn to love each other, to share, and to serve other people.

President David O. McKay, a modern-day prophet of God, said "With all my heart I believe that the best place to prepare for … eternal life is in the home" ("Blueprint for Family Living," Improvement Era, Apr. 1963, 252). 

President Harold B. Lee, another modern-day prophet, said, "The most important of the Lord's work you will ever do will be within the wall of your own homes" (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church:  Harold B. Lee [2001], 134).

                    Fathers and mothers are charged with the responsibility to teach their children about Heavenly Father and how to communicate with Him.  I learned great lessons about how much Heavenly Father loves His children by watching my earthly parents deal with their children.  My parents never showed favoritism of any kind towards any of their twelve children, and this was especially apparent after my mother's death.  My father expected that he would not live long after my mother died, and he wanted to divide all their belongings among their twelve children.  He indicated the items that he would keep such as his bedroom, kitchen and living room furniture, but he wanted to dispense of all the extra items that he didn't really need.  He asked his children to each make a list of the items that we would like to receive.  Of course, there were items that all of us wanted, but there were other items that only one person asked for.  After giving us several hours to make our lists, we all came together in a meeting at the family home.  All of us children respected and loved our father enough that we trusted and accepted his judgments about who would receive the favored items.  There was no bickering, fighting, or complaining because we loved and respected our parents.  None of the items were valuable in worldly ways, but there were many that had sentiments attached to them.  There were plenty of family heirlooms and other items for all of us to receive numerous items.

                    I returned to my own home a couple of weeks later.  On the very next Sunday, I was sitting in sacrament meeting singing the closing hymn when I realized that my earthly father had given me a glimpse of what my Heavenly Father is like.  The hymn was entitled "Sweet Hour of Prayer" and was written by William W. Walford.

                    "Sweet hour of prayer!  Sweet hour of prayer!
                    That calls me from a world of care
                    And bids me at my Father's throne
                    Make all my wants and wishes known."

                    That is as far as I got in the hymn because I was in tears. My memory went back to that meeting with my earthly father.  My siblings and I made our wishes known to our father, and he decided what was best for us as individuals as well as what was best for the family as a whole.  My father was a good example of a man who loves his children.  Because I knew that my father loved me, listened to my requests, and granted those items that were to be mine, I also knew that my Heavenly Father loves me, listens to my prayers, and sends appropriate blessings into my life.  This experience changed forever my feelings and thoughts about my relationship to my Heavenly Father.

                    My parents taught their children about God and gospel principles by the examples they set, and their children understood the importance of following their examples.  When we saw Mom and Dad keep God's commandments because they loved Him, we understood how we could show love to both our parents and to God. 

                    My father lived for sixteen years after my mother's death.  He continued to show us good examples about how we should live our lives.  His bishop stated at my father's funeral that he loved to hear my father pray because he knew that my father was truly speaking with Heavenly Father.  I believe with all my heart that my father and my mother are together again and are waiting for all their children to join them there in an eternal family circle.

                    My parents took the necessary steps to ensure that they could be together with their children forever.  At great expense and effort they traveled the necessary distance to Salt Lake City in order to be married in the temple by the proper authority so that their family could continue throughout all eternity.  They knew that marriages performed outside the temples will end when one of the partners dies.  They understood the importance of making covenants with God so that they could be united eternally as husband and wife with their children and other posterity.

                    My parents showed by their words and actions how much they loved each other as well as how much they loved their children.  My father was always thoughtful and kind to my mother, and she was always tender and respectful to him. There was never any doubt in their children's minds about how our parents felt about each other or us.  I believe it was this foundation in our family home that makes it possible for my siblings and I to truly love and respect each other today.  We love being together and look forward to being a family always. 

                    King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon taught his people, "Ye will not suffer your children … [to] fight and quarrel one with another….
                    "But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another" (Mosiah 4:14-15).

                    Satan understands that families are important to Heavenly Father and in bringing about His plan.  Satan wants to destroy individuals and families by keeping them away from God, and he will tempt us to say and do things that will destroy our families.

                    I know that "Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God….  The family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children" ("The Family:  A Proclamation to the World, Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).  I want my family to be together for all eternity, and I am following the example of my parents in an effort to make it so.

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