Tuesday, December 13, 2011

top 10 list

As I was writing up my top 10 list for the things I learned the semester I was surprised by the things that we have covered. I really have learned a lot about family systems in this class. I know that I came into the class thinking that I have already taken a few family classes and so I know what this class is going to be out. Brother Williams has a great deal of experience and knowledge on the different family dynamics. I have learned a ton from this class, and hope that I can remember and apply the lessons learned in my future family.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Family Lessons for the Future

This week the classes were once again informative but on Friday I realized that I spent a lot of class just passively listening to Brother Williams. He was sharing so many insights and writing things on the board and I just watched. The various suggestions offered by the videos we watch on how to deal with teens was the topic. I was just going through the motions when I glanced over at a sister in our class, who has children and noticed that she was taking a few notes of what Brother Williams was saying. The thought came to my mind that I need to take more careful notes of the things being taught, because I will probably want to remember a lot of these strategies when I have my own teenagers. Seeing a mother take notes reminded me that even though I don't have a family now, I need to prepare so that when I am trying to guide my kids that I can have some ideas of how to guide me. Just a small reminder to myself, don't take the lessons being taught for granted. There will be a time in the future, a lot sooner then I believe, when I will need the guidance of these parenting principles that already experienced parents are teaching.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Opportunity cost of children

Speaking of the effects of having children in class today was eye opening. The costs according to our textbook for raising a child to adulthood is over $100,000. The text also claims that getting a child through college on average cost over $1 million. For me that is a valid concern for those young couples who are thinking about having children. As members of the church we know we are commanded to multiply and replenish the earth, and not delay having children. However I am sure that once this stage of life comes up that it is truly a trial of faith for many. It would be naive and arrogant to judge those who struggle with such a decision. The best thing we can do to encourage others is teach and testify of the joys of having children. I don't have any kids but I have faith that the Lord knows whats best. He wants us to selflessly give up our own interests and goals to provide life for others. Also if we truly desire to become like our Father in Heaven how could we justify putting off having children. One of the great promises that the Lord gave to one of his most noble children, Abraham, was that his posterity would be a many as the sands of the sea. This life experience is truly based upon the family unit. To be like the Father we must become a father or mother.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Value of a Homemaker

From today's class I really liked the question Brother Williams asked about what does it mean to work? In society today many view the role of the wife being in the home as not being work. She is not receiving a paycheck and cannot receive a possible promotion to a higher position. What would you call all that she does in the home, especially with children? In my opinion the description of a homemaker would have to include the word work in it. A definition of work that I like is it is a "activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result." Homemakers meeting deadlines (getting kids to school), creating projects (cooking), have to maintain organization (cleaning) , and at times have to deal with a short tempered, impatient co worker (their husband). This sounds like a great deal of work to me. This may be one of the most noble "careers" in the world. There is very little recognition, not much chance of fame or fortune and yet it is one of the most selfless Christlike things anyone could do. Fathers and mothers that prioritize the sanctity and beauty of the home are the ones who will experience the greatest blessings of heaven. They won't ever receive the title chief executive officer of the home, but they will receive all that the Father has and enjoy peace and happiness with their posterity forever as they create an environment where the Spirit can reside. Receiving celestial glory is probably a much better promotion and causes greater self satisfaction then any career that the world could offer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Counsel with your councils

A few years ago on my mission I learned a valuable lesson from my companion regarding ward counsels, and any counsel for that matter. At the time we were serving in a ward that had an average attendance of around 20-30 members each Sunday. The total number of members was over 200 so there was definitely a lot of things to be focused on in this ward. As missionaries we were invited to attend ward council. Most of the meeting was characterized by different leaders identifying problems and concerns in the ward. This seemed normal to me, because if we didn't know what the problems were then how could we fix anything, and this is how ward council is supposed to be. However after the meeting my companion was frustrated with how the meeting went. He made the observation that a lot of talking and even complaining had been done, but that no solutions had been discussed or proposed. At that point I realized he was right. For over an hour we had gathered together as leaders of that ward and just fed off each others complaining. We had vented and consoled each other, but had done very little to make plans to fix the problem. My companion and I committed ourselves individually from that point on that when we brought up any concern, we would make it a point to open it up for specific solutions to the problem, and also have some ideas ourselves. The next ward council meeting we went to was much better. The members needed someone to show them how to be more concerned about finding solutions through council rather having a group therapy session centered on self-pity. This was a very powerful lesson my companion taught me that I hope I can incorporate in the way Elder Ballard taught in his talks, Strength in Counsel and Counseling with our Councils.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This class is a crisis

This week we were expected to make a list of 10 crises that we have witnessed or been aware of. The definition of crises for our class includes any situation that has an element of danger and opportunity. The first one I put down was specifically this class of family relations. I realize that there isn't much "danger" per say in this class, but there is ample amounts of opportunity to grow and learn. So to me the crises is this class of family relations, a class which I have been, up until this week, disengaged and "too good for". There are others in the class who rarely make comments and just hide behind their laptops the whole class. When I was doing this I had the attitude that I come from a good family, all of this information we talk about is common sense, this class in many respects is a waste of time. From my perspective that is what others in the class think as well, but again that is only how I perceive it, I may be wrong. Of course I have been more engaged in two classes and so that is not proof that I will continue to be proactive in class, but hopefully by expressing my intentions on this blog that will motivate me to stop thinking about myself and make a contribution.

The reason why I bring this up is because today we discussed in good depth about how we can take life's crises and make it a positive experience. I believe that this can be possible from being in a required class to the other extreme of being able to deal with the death of a close family member. How is this done? It is all dependent on our perspective of the challenging experience.

There are three things that make up our experiences. The actual event that takes place, the behavioral response, and the cognition or perspective portion. It is impossible to control all of the events that take place in our lives. We can control our own behavioral responses, but not those of others. So the only thing that we can completely control is our own perspective of the event. And when this is learned and controlled it will make all the difference in the world.
A powerful example of having the proper perspective through crises and affliction is the ancient prophet Job. The following are his acknowledgments of what was taking place in his life.

My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have aforgotten me.

They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight.

I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I intreated him with my mouth.

My abreath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children’s sake of mine own body.

Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me.

All my ainward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me. (Job 19:14-19)

Despite all of this going on he had the faith, perspective and courage to say this,

Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my afriends; for the bhand of God hath touched me. (Job 19:21)

For I aknow that my bredeemer liveth, and that che shall dstand at the latter day upon the earth:

And though after my skin worms destroy this abody, yet in my bflesh shall I csee God: (Job 19:25-26)

Job was denied by his closest friends and family, he was afflicted with diseases and all sorts of discouraging circumstances. Yet through all this he kept his overall view of life fixed on the teachings of the Savior Jesus Christ. His example was recognized hundreds of years later by the Apostle James saying, "Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very [compassionate], and of tender mercy." The prophet Joseph Smith was reminded of the intense trials that Job went through when the Lord reminded him that, "Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgressions, as they did Job." (Doctrine and Covenants 121:10)

The example of faith by one person can be relied upon to provide the proper perspective for others. I know this can be true through the example of my mother. My mom is the oldest of 6 siblings. Her mother, my grandmother, is a member of the Church but has not attended in many years. My mom's father is not a member of the church and worked in the mining industry his whole life. My mom attended church on occasion but didn't get really involved until she went to college. Even then it was a struggle at first for her as she didn't know specifically the proper way to dress and the strange LDS culture was foreign to her. However she didn't allow the danger of insecurity overwhelm her. She gained a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but she wasn't just satisfied with that testimony. She allowed it to change her perspective on life and the importance of growing and becoming a true saint. It is amazing to consider the background and home that my mom grew up in, and to now compare that to the home she has created with the help of my father and the Spirit. My mother did not allow her past (actual events) or even the opinion of others (behavioral responses) influence her in the way she would raise her children. She centered her perspective on the Lord, and that has become the foundation for the rest of our family. Because of her faith and willingness to change, she has blessed the lives of her husband and children. In turn that will bless the lives of future generations.

I know that having a Christlike perspective can change not only our own lives, but the lives of our family and those who aren't even born. Viewing challenges and trials as opportunities of growth and learning gives us the confidence that whatever we pass through in this life will be for our benefit. If we do find ourselves in a personal crisis that we are struggling with, I would invite us to change our perspective and ask ourselves "What can I do right now to bless others?" Even if the crisis is a supposedly "boring" class that I am taking just to fulfill a requirement. Take advantage, get outside yourself and be assertive. Don't let the apparent situation control your attitude and efforts.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fidelity in Marriage

I would like to start with a couple of thoughts from a conference I attended this past weekend, and then get to the meat of my blog.

This past weekend I went to a conference in Provo, Utah about strengthening the family. I really enjoyed listening to the presentations and being educated on such a controversial topic. I personally believe that the right of a child to be raised by a mother and a father and to be taught is a right that cannot be denied. Sexual rights, or preference does not override all other rights. There is a constant push from many in the world that this be the case.

In my family relations class we have discussed this week the topic of sexual intimacy and family life. There have been many interesting insights, from research studies to religious leaders. For me the most interesting idea came from this past Wednesday when we were talking about how careful we need to be to not create intimate relationships with others besides our partner. We were not just simply referring to sexual intimacy but that of emotional intimacy as well. Many families throughout the world have been either destroyed or damaged because either the husband or wife became socially or emotionally attached to another person. Many times this happens without one realizing it themselves. It may start with playful banter, a little flirting, or simply just a ride home from school from a member of the opposite sex. What happens is that these two new "friends" may begin to confide in each other with observations, thoughts, and feelings they have. It is completely harmless but little by little they become more and more attached. At the same time the couple begins to become more and more separated as feelings of jealousy and doubt begin to enter the spouses mind. In class we discussed how important it is for both husband and wife to be open with each other, and to demonstrate a high level of humility when ones spouse communicates a specific concern to the other.
President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) said, “What does it mean to love someone with all your heart? It means to love with all your emotional feelings and with all your devotion.” 1
In Genesis 2:24 it says, "Therefore shall a aman leave his bfather and his mother, and shall ccleave unto his dwife: and they shall be eone flesh." Being one flesh means not just physical fidelity, but also emotional and spiritual fidelity as well. A quote by Kenneth W. Matheson says, "Fidelity also means complete commitment, trust, and respect between husband and wife. Inappropriate interactions with another person can erode fidelity." (Fidelity in Marriage: It’s More Than You Think)

I am not married, but I believe this to be a very real and important issue to understand. As a couple we must be completely faithful to each other and in this way we build the foundation to have a strong marriage that will teach children in the way they must go.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Helping Others

The discussion that we had as a class on Monday was the one that caused myself the most thought and reflection. In preparation for class we watched some clips on individuals from different socioeconomic statuses. The clip that was particularly moving was Tammy's story. This is the one about the single mother who walks 10 miles each way to work at Burger King. The family lives in a trailer in very humble circumstances. As the mother was talking about her dreams of going to college and becoming a teacher I was impressed by her simple yet wonderful hope. I thought about how I enjoyed such a wonderful home and family to grow up in. I felt sympathy for this family and the difficult conditions they live in and had a desire to help. How many people struggle with these kind of living circumstances that have true and pure desires to create a better life for themselves and their families? What have I done to help others in need?

A few months ago I had a wonderful opportunity to drive 7 hours with a friend of mine to southern Utah. Obviously we had a lot of time to talk about various topics. One of the first things we talked about was her experience of going to Ethiopia for 5 months in 2010. Among the questions I asked her was if she felt bothered or annoyed by the way we as students and faculty at BYU-Idaho talk about all of these problems in the world that are in need but go home to our apartments and homes without doing anything to help. She had the opportunity to serve and bless the lives of many people on the other side of the world and then she came home and had to sit through "sincere, heartfelt" discussions about the problems in the world knowing that little is done to help.

This discussion gave me a new perspective on what it means to bless the lives of others. I don't believe that it is necessary that we go around the world to help others, but if we go to church and call ourselves good Christians but throughout the week we are so self absorbed in what our own needs are then we need to do a little self evaluation. As I write this I realize that I myself have been hypocritical in my approach in regards to my "desires" and actions. I know that true joy in living the gospel is directly related to blessing the lives of others through time spent in their service, now I need to live that testimony.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I can do hard things

As I was reading McGoldrick's write up on family genograms I was surprised by the complicated nature. My understanding is that a family consists of a married couple, man and women, and their children. I understand that divorce is something that touches many families today. I am sensitive to that, and though I cannot say that I understand what exactly it is like to have divorced parents, I want it to be understood that what I have to say is not in any way a judgement on others. These are just some observations and thoughts that I have.

I believe that this genogram, that is Henry Fonda's family, is not what our Heavenly Father intended for the family to look like at all. I don't understand the background of this man, but I think it is fair to say that the individuals that are part of this unit have experienced much uncertainty in their lives. The family is ordained of God. It is a unit that is here to teach, nurture, and prepare young people.

The government comes up with a lot of programs to help young people, when in reality I believe the focus should be on families. Education will be more valued, a stronger resolve to keep commitments in business and a deep sense of caring for others is something that is best taught in the home. It is unfortunate to see so many families struggling because there is only one parent there, or because of abuse that takes place. Observing all of this happening in our own families can cause ourselves to doubt and fear the future. I think this is what Satan wants us to do though. He wants us to question our own abilities to raise a unified righteous family. I have no experience being a parent or even being married, but I hope that when the time does come for those divine opportunities that I will do so with complete faith that I can do it.

"I can do hard things" is a quote from Susan W. Tanner that I read on my mission. I read this and remember feeling that perhaps it was a little corny, but I don't care. I have thought about it often when I have been faced with a challenge. When I start to have a family and things are getting crazy and not going according to plan I hope I remember those words. "I can do hard things." And the reason why I can is because of my divine potential, and through the aid of a loving Heavenly Father who is always watching over me, and ready to guide me when I humbly come to Him for strength, guidance, and love.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Truth is truth

"Most of the problems that are most vexingare things government can't fix. They have to be fixed at a different level. That's the urgency of our message. I'd rather have ten commandments than ten thousand federal regulations. Unless we rebuild marriages and families, then we really are just straightening deck chairs on the Titanic." Neal A. Maxwell.
This is a quote that I read a few weeks ago that really put into perspective the importance of the family. Elder Maxwell was not only a very intelligent man, but he was an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. He had witnessed for himself the deterioration of the family. The idea of families being based on the teachings of the Gospel is an eternal principle that strengthens not only the home and community but the governments of the world. With this in mind I really enjoyed the simple comment that Kay, a member of our class made on Friday about the family. She said that the more she studies research on the family and marriage the more it is confirmed to her that the gospel is true. "The family is central to the Creators plan for the eternal destiny of his children." Perhaps all of the research that is out there does not agree with the The Proclamation to the World, but I believe that as time passes that the simple truths that are revealed in that document will be supported by research. Kay made the comparison to the Word of Wisdom saying that at the time the law was given to the saints they had no idea that smoking and alcohol were so harmful to the body. There was even a time when some in the medical profession believed that smoking was good for the body. But through many years of research and study we now know the effects of these harmful substances. I believe the same will happen regarding issues of cohabitation, same sex marriage, and same sex couples adopting children. The truths on families by authorized men of God. It may take longer for the world to agree, but eventually true/pure research will coincide with eternal revealed truths.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Become what?

What do you want to become this semester? This is the question that was posed to us by Brother Williams yesterday. He asked us to write down our response/desire. I didn't write anything down. I didn't have anything to write down. I thought about it, and came up blank with what I want to become specifically this semester. Today I have been thinking about it off and on, and still have not come up with what exactly I want to change or improve about myself over the next few months. Along with this I have thought about what is most important to me in my life? A quick answer is that the gospel and my personal testimony are very important to me, but do I act and think in a way that portrays that it is the most important? I guess all of this introspection has caused me to want to come up with a pure desire, and not just a cliche goal that others want to hear or expect. Elder Dallin H. Oaks in his talk The Challenge to Become he says that "it is not enough for anyone to just go through the motions" in reference to us as individuals living the gospel of Jesus Christ. If just going through the motions of living is not enough to 'become', writing down a hollow goal because one is asked to is hardly worthwhile. Perhaps I am wrong in this assertion though. Maybe just the act of writing down a thought is action enough to start us down a path of thought, doing, and becoming. I guess my ultimate point is that for me a goal of becoming needs to be something thought out, with deep meaning laced with commitment.
In order to remain steadfast in achieving our ultimate goals we have to be able to measure our progress. The finish line of becoming like the Savior can seem so distant that the more we learn of him the farther we stand behind the starting line. This is why my favorite part of Elder Oaks' talk was that of how we can measure our progress in becoming what our Heavenly Father would have us become. The first one he mentions is that if we are losing the desire to do evil, we are progressing to this heavenly goal. How do we lose the desire to do evil. Well it says that when Christ came to the earth that he "cast out devils, or the evils spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men." There were many times Christ literally cast devils out of the bodies of individuals, but the casting devils out of the hearts of the children of men would seem to imply that evil desires are expelled through the Savior. To change our desires we must have faith in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.
The second way to measure progress in becoming is that we "have the mind of Christ." Elder Oaks expounds more on this saying that we will see the world the way our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ see it. We will hear His voice instead of the voice of the world, and we will do things His way and not in the ways of the world. It is interesting that the changes take place in both the mind and in the heart. We should be striving to have a pure and holy perspective in our minds and in our hearts, and if we do we know we are on the right track to becoming what our loving Heavenly Father wants us to become. I know He loves me, and I know His perspective is the best perspective. Far better than anything the world can conjure up.
So with all that being said the question still remains. What do I want to become this semester?