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Nov 24, 2015

9 Principles to Develop Happiness in Your Home

If our little families all over the globe really generate people, and the human capital that runs it, isn't it important to keep these units happy and functioning? Happy people, make a happy nations, make a happy world. One may take into account that social science shows the highest happiness levels exist within religious homes. Maybe those who believe in God are on to something? ;)  These practices of happy families are listed below.

1. Faith- “is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is by far the most important aspect of spiritual family life. Its like the powerhouse that keeps all the other spiritual aspects going. All the things listed below are extensions of this seed. Participate in family discussions where you all collectively look for solutions to problems that would be closest to what God would want for your family. It is a pillar of strength, and a picture of beauty to base the future of your family upon God's plan. Study and know the scriptures, attend church and act on direction given by  modern prophets to use them in all the moments you can while growing your family. That is where the plan is found... and the truth is, all of us can change and come unto Christ.  All of us have hope to move closer to a happy enterprising, loving family because of Jesus Christ.

2. Prayer- Communication with God... Pray daily with your family, with your spouse, and privately. Keep a prayer in your heart. I swear to you that there are moments where I have been at the end of my rope, and asked God what to do, and the Spirit gave me an answer. Even if family prayer is hard... (our oldest protests by climbing furniture sometimes)... your kids will remember what is important down the road. Pray in earnest for those that are struggling, especially for your spouse.

"When we kneel together and hold hands as a family it brings the Spirit and makes the children feel right ... and teaches that this is what our children should do with their families. It's special." - Mormon Mother.
3. Repentance-"The Gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to change. . . . Repenting means giving up all of our practices - personal family, ethnic, and national-- that are contrary to the commandments of God. The purpose of the Gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change." -Elaine Walton, Hillary M. Hendricks. It is the daily process of  confessing to God, and becoming like Jesus Christ through His infinite, and all encompassing Atonement.
4. Forgiveness- While repentance and forgiveness are two separate functions, they cannot exist without each other. Forgiveness of those around us is prerequisite to being forgiven by God of our own sins. I was a little skeptical before I experienced it, but God really does know what is going on when we as mortals often have no clue. Interestingly, forgiveness and repentance seem to catalyze one another. Additionally the lingering emotions kept when not forgiving oneself and others is linked to heath risks. Harboring anger frustration, friction and punishment towards each other tears families apart again and again. Having experienced this phenomenon recently, I will tell you  that to release myself from these dark long kept emotions was the most beautiful dawning of light and happiness in my life I have ever experienced. I am free. You bet I will continue to incorporate this amazing repentance forgiveness dance in my life. 

5. Respect- The Savior Taught "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This is probably the more looked over principle of happiness within a home because catching disrespect is deceptive. It is easier to find in our children, but harder to find in ourselves. We tend to deliver disrespect when we aren't thinking or are emotionally compromised. Here are some questions to consider as we search for better respect in our homes... Does the communication I am giving lift, and build that family member's self worth? When do I show disrespect, and what home environment factors trigger disrespect. Am I treating my family members more like people, or like animals or machines? Are there more important things in my life than time and energy spent with my family members? Respect can be fortified by developing the other aspects like love, compassion, and forgiveness.

6. Love- Charity is the "pure love of Christ". When love is spoken and felt in the home, the Holy Spirit can dwell there and teach our family members. When it is not present, we open ourselves and our children to be taught by other influences that will teach lies.: " Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth(boast or draw attention to) not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." Christ is the embodiment of pure love. When we follow his ways, and pray to have charity within our hearts toward each family member... the gentle warmth of this feeling will draw you together in harmony.

7. Compassion - In the scriptures, compassion means literally “to suffer with.” It also means to show sympathy, pity, and mercy for another. Some of the most fundamental and beautiful ways to follow Christ is to mourn with those that morn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. Family members all have their own short comings and difficulties that may even take a lifetime to overcome. If you are having difficulty opening your heart to compassion, pray for a specific family member. Life is hard. Compassion may be, perhaps one of the closest ways we can emulate the Savior within our family relationships, and keep families together through the hard times.   

8. Work- For most of us, work leaves a bit of a bad taste in our mouth, as we hurry through it to get on to the seemingly more important things in life. To our ancestors, work was life, and was the primary place to teach and build relationships. A good attitude from parents is important. Simple, dirty, sweaty, repetitive work is one of the best ways to create love between people. A host of other good outcomes like life lessons of self-reliance, and positive self-concept, and the habit of industry will continue to give in a child’s life. The work ethic of the American people built this country and should continue. Require chores of your family members and do them together to foster comradery as much as you can.

9. Wholesome Recreation- In our world, especially in more affluent cultures it is becoming more common to recreate in ways that do not build relationships. Recreating by yourself, or engaging in parallel recreation like TV watching, shopping, or eating out are forms that are more weak and are less likely to create strong families. Studies indicate that strong families engage in recreation that is highly interactive like outdoor activities, playing sports, outside games, cooking, and drama games. Be creative. Service ranks as the most beneficial kind of recreational activity. So, maybe next time you just reach for a movie, do something different and throw your coats on to rake leaves for an elderly neighbor or volunteer to sort cans at a the homeless shelter. You will be amazed what memories and love will grow.

These principles really aren't that strange, and it works... Millions of other faith filled families will tell you it works too. The fact is, these faith filled families with spouses united in purpose under God tend to have the highest rates of success for their children and marriages succeeding, and higher reported levels of happiness. These practices will even help single parents ride the storm with spiritual power, and pass on these building blocks for happy homes to their children. The results don't lie. "By their fruits Ye shall know them". Mathew 7:16.

  Popular culture may find these practices archaic, or strange...but I say, do what really works. I challenge you to incorporate these things into your family lives and watch your relationships improve and the happiness happen. :) 

Nov 14, 2015

4 Family Trends that Experts Say are Harming Our Future

1. The Trend to Have Less, or no Children
In 2050 fertility rate trends indicate that our nation’s population will actually be declining, as the replacement rate falls below 2.3 children per couple in developed countries. Experts predict the results of this change will precipitate a decline in economic growth, and an increase in the time and money it will take to care for the huge Geriatric population. That translates to medical expenses being 8% GDP in the year 2000 to almost 20% in 2017. Fewer workers mean increased tax strain too. Take away human capital and you decrease what drives this economy.  Experts also list a host of other projected effects, including a generally more selfish populous. What does history tell you about selfish people in a country? Some of you may have thought money, or information makes this world tick... Really, its people. Those of you who thought to save money by not having kids, may find in the future that you missed the most important stock bond... children.

2. Mothers in the Professional World
A strong country is not built on the backs of women in the workplace. Strong countries are created in loving homes, where the world is built around their wellbeing. Take women out of the home, and we will see this country eventually snap because of the generational influence of weakening development in the adults that run this country. By far, the most rewarding thing women can do for society is the quiet, oh so beautiful work of a mother. Period. Children grow to adults who run the future. If many experts are worried about increasing obesity, mental disorders, and other social concerns among kids, perhaps we should consider looking at the most important influence on children… mom. Whether it is daycare, Screen time, or Grandma, our kids are spending more time with..., nothing will replace the nurture of children’s brains like the love of a mother. Ladies, I have felt the pressures to work outside the home and self-actualize. This is not self-actualization, it is taking second fiddle. While some women need to work outside the home to put bread on the table, do all in your power to stay home. Be some little someone’s hero, stay home, and you might just save a nation. 

3. Fathers Role Distorted-
An equally important role that completes this mother, child life force is Fatherhood. This noble role, as old and reverenced as time itself has taught and fostered success of societies through protecting and providing, and presiding for the seedlings of the human race. Even as there is hot discussion about the inconsistent extremes of fatherhood, and the relation to the mother… Fatherhood is not Homer Simpson, or a dictatorship. Father and mother roles differ somewhat. Well balanced they weave in and around one another in beauty, creating synergism and harmony in the home. Equal, but different. There are families who are successfully resisting these degrading patterns, but alarming amounts of men and women are being sucked slowly into these beliefs.

4. Family Complexity-
This is a trend most of us try to avoid, but find ourselves part of often times. Family complexity is defined as deviations from the traditional family. The more remarriages, divorces, multiple partners, and juggling children occur, the more complex the family.  The studies show consistently that as complexity increases within the family child performance decreases in almost all areas of life. As complexity increases in our country, this insinuates a degradation of the human capital quality in general. The newest complexity form is Same Sex Marriage. Great strides are being made in kindness toward these people, but not all their requests should be granted. We cannot refute the pattern of life. It is the duty of responsible citizens everywhere to safeguard basic human well-being, which starts in the home. Some argue that no negative effects will come out of these changes, but I suspect, like the GMO… the effects will not be visible until further down the road. When the seedbed of the idea of what marriage is becomes inconsistent in the future generation’s minds, it will harm society.

An easy metaphor to tie these concerns together…

Professionals and religious entities fight so hard to preserve these facets of home and family because our society is like an organism, with the basic cell structure being the family. If… one by one… these cells become corrupted, and more and more fall into the distortion and corruption of selfishness, the degradation of society as a whole and associated calamities will happen. We have been so comfortable in our prosperous American Nation for so long. Lets stand on our feet, and keep the fighting uniting spirit. If it is not stopped, it will grow like a systemic disease weakening us and destroying our future. In the famous words of Pope John Paul the II “As the family goes, so goes the Nation, and so goes the world in which we live.”   

So what do we do? 

Many of you are thinking… well I come from broken, complex or incomplete homes. When facing these facts, we immediately turn off, because frankly it may mean that even, WE?... I… need to change. Don’t you dare let that belief lead you to destroy your importance. Life is designed for positive change and growth. If you believe that people can’t change… then you don’t know much about the brain. I know they can. I have seen it time and time again. The magnificent brain is designed to weave new connections of genius, and from those thoughts and actions come change, and hope… and a better us, and a better world. The fight begins within… and then spreads its tendrils of life. I believe in you. Believe in yourself. You are a child of the most magnificent being known to man. God will guide you down the path. Believe that even in a world where so much seems harsh, and hopeless, the power of one becomes the power of many. Start here, and give yourself to reestablish patterns of life... One family at a time.

*Research pulled from multiple chapters in the textbook Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives.  
*Photo Credit:

Nov 7, 2015

Patterns of Family Life

The things I have learned in the last few weeks have hit my heart with such force I can hardly hold it in. This is real, and its happening now. People need to know.

It's not just Mormons who are worried about the condition of the Family around the World. Scores of experts in the field of the social sciences are worried that the direction of modern beliefs are causing the the family to degenerate. The family is the number one basic functioning unit for human capital. Its the smallest earthly system of energy within our society. Everything comes from here. Our future is now, in our families. Lets take a look.

Study these images carefully...

Can you see the patterns?

It is the pattern of life.

If you look at the bottom image of Las Vegas from an Arial view, we begin to see that these little cities on our earth are like parts of an incredible living organism. The human race is a living organism so to speak.

If we zoomed into the tiniest unit that begins the creative force that continues our world, we would perhaps see a man providing for people he is bonded to... a woman in a little apartment raising a few young children.

From the time the first human unit of life "fell" to the earth, "Adam began to till the earth and bring food from it, and Adam and Eve began to have children."  (Moses 5:1-2) Generations later  that same unit continues today to perpetuate life. The family. Man, Woman, Child... Man Woman Child, creating billions of connections and reactions from stock exchanges, to the butterfly effect of a kind word. This live world pulsates with human capital. Thus we see millions of little families generating life.

If you take the graph from the last 7000 years or so of Earth's history and stand it on it's side. Then take into account visually what the family connections look like as time moves by. It actually looks like a tree! No wonder a generational chart is called a family tree!

Now, scroll up and look at those "system" pictures again... You may also notice something very important. Of these systems, you can only see about half of what is actually happening here with your naked eye. The unseen part of the life cycle like the protozoa, are just as essential as the seen part. Similarly, the vantage point that we see our city doesn't capture the millions of tiny humans who seem to be running the show.

The key here is in the unseen. Its the unseen in our lives that is so essential to the process. We would like to think that we are the ultimate tiny unit of the energy that runs everything, and more of society is believing it. The truth is... there is another level. The spiritual aspect. We all know that when a spirit leaves a body, it dies. Does faith seem so far out now? The definition of Faith is: Believing in things which are not seen, which are true. If we can discover microorganisms, what makes human kind think its finished with the finite discovery? Spirit is matter. Isn't religion sort of like the science of the capacity of your spirit?

So, lets build this human tree system, with all its seen and unseen parts. This diagram is created based on Elder Neilson's talk "Roots and Branches" from a 2004 Ensign.

 The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men.
 10 The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him.

Everything exists because of Christ, who acts through our Father in Heaven.

Unfortunately, there are trends that are becoming popular in the younger generations that are beginning to effect this tree in the future.

The impacts of the degeneration of the fruit part of our human tree have big consequences. Abortion, sex trafficking, and healthy adults choosing not to have children are among the common fruit discontinuation and destruction practices. Other influences that cause children to be malnourished and weak socially are the increasing usage of screen time, grandparents, and daycare's for parenting.  Meanwhile media tells us to chase after sensations and our job, while the real treasure rots on the vine. Our children are our fruit, and our future. As the branches generating our future, we need to re-evaluate where our energies are flowing.

If you are feeling left out of this picture because you cannot have children... or perhaps are a single parent... Oh, my goodness, I have cried for your pain. Lets look at your influence, especially if your spiritual tree is in place. Adoption is an option. Tree's can have branches grafted to them that will produce wonderful fruit. You can send some of your wonderful "life energy" to branches that seem laden with "children" and need help. I can't begin to describe how much people who haven't been able to have children, or didn't get the opportunity have been an integral part of my life. I love these people deeply, and draw on their nurturing frequently. Those who's apparent physical tree may be missing components are so influential when their "spiritual branches" are in place.
Marriage units would be well compared to the weight bearing branches of the tree. If these suffer the whole upper unit of the tree begins to have problems. Divorce, same sex marriage, continuing remarriage, imbalanced roles of men and women are some examples. The professionals call it family complexity. It seems that pop culture is inventing every way to pull apart, and distort this absolutely integral part of the life of our society.

Now the roots. The younger generation seem to be pulling away from both the physical and spiritual roots all at once. Without roots, simply, the tree dies. The basic principles we can pull from our progenitors like family and faith really are the basis of LIFE. The physical history of our Nation was founded by men who believed in religious freedom. I was listening to an updated Gallup poll on the radio yesterday, saying that there was a significant decrease in American's who affiliated as religious. In a 7 year time Americans went from 2/3 that were religious to less than half. The greatest change was found in the young generation. The sample taken was quite large and left little room for error. Religion is part of both our physical and spiritual roots.

As the spiritual aspects of an organism decline, so does the physical. They are connected. Some may say, "But isn't this the natural aging process of an organism?" I would usually say yes, but there is one hitch in that belief. We are children of a God, who is an immortal being. The human race isn't supposed to just come to fruition and then die on this earth. While we experience physical death, to those that seek out their true potential of life it is just a portal to another realm. These physical patterns we lay forth on the earth will eventually be reunited with the spiritual in the advent of Resurrection.  

The choice is yours. The results of avoiding and distorting the pattern of life can only lead to one eventual end. Spiritual death, and suffering. This pattern isn't just is Love, and Joy! If you feel that God is anger, you do not understand him properly. Correction from God is simply pruning. He is shaping you to your full capacity.

  "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love"
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."-Christ

Those that suffer the influences that would pull them away from this family pattern, my heart goes out to them! Mortality is not perfection. I and so many others who have brought our lives back to this pattern know what it is to be weak and broken, and to continually come unto Christ to be healed. Some have temptations that seep into the deepest parts of their lives, and cause them great pain. Many aren't even aware of the consequences of those choices that look good, but are contrary to life down the road. But all of us come to a point in our lives where we say to ourselves, why am I broken... what is wrong, there has to be more! The Savior is the bridge from death to Love.

Jesus Christ knows every deep and continuing difficulty that we could ever have in this life and can nurture and heal us as we graft our weak, natural, broken branches into His life system.

And so we are left with a Choice. We can keep trying to live, withered, thirsty, confused and broken. Or we can begin to embrace our full potential of LIFE. How does your life look? This Life will give, and continue, radiate life into others in this great human tree that we are a part of. Your choice of the plan and pattern of family helps gives life to others. 

"Greater Love hath no man than this, that he layeth his life down for his "FAMILY first" and friends." 

What pattern are you laying?

If trends persist and become more popular, the physical and spiritual nature of this human tree will degrade, and people will suffer. I pass on a warning that is very real...

"We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets."- The Family: A Proclamation to the World. 

Whether you believe in God or not, The coming of Christ is imminent. The signs given by prophets in scripture are "ripening". Embrace Jesus Christ, and help give life to the human family. His Church exists on the earth now. The world is polarizing and the path of life is becoming clearer than ever. 

"Let us stand together and “with a song in our hearts move forward, living the gospel, loving the Lord, and building His kingdom. I testify that in this glorious work, we may know the pure love of God. We may receive true joy and obtain all the glories of eternity." -Carol F. McConkie