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Talk: The Family Guidebook-Families

Talk written and given for church...

Family Guidebook: Building An Eternal Family

By April Mitchell August 2010

Levi and I were asked to talk about this little booklet, Family

Guidebook. It’s pretty handy; I wished I’d had a copy when I first

joined the church 11 years ago. The Family Guidebook provides easy to

read and straight forward information on the family, Heavenly Fathers

purpose for the family, and concrete ways we can strengthen our

families. It could be a great tool for educating those investigating

the church, giving them specific ways in which the gospel can help

bring their families closer together. The booklet could also help

new members, who are learning so many new things about the

church, transition into their new roles within the gospel. It

functions as a great reminder to members as well, of the purpose of

the family and the things we can do to make our families eternal. It

is short and straightforward. In the first half of the booklet it

talks about the importance of family, how families are organized, and

it provides information about teaching the gospel in the home.

Importance of Family in Heavenly Fathers Plan

As an investigator one of the first things that attracted me to the

church was its focus on family. My first real up close encounter with

a Mormon family was my husband’s family, although Levi was inactive at

the time and remained so until about 5 years ago, his parents were

very devoted and faithful members of the Church. I was very surprised

at how their family interacted with one another. They actually liked

each other. They talked and no one shouted. There was no fighting or

bickering or mean spiritedness. They spend large amounts of time with

each other, playing games and just enjoying each others company. They

choose to spend time together and it wasn’t even a holiday. These were

almost alien things to me, although I came from an average family, we

did not have what this family had. I wanted that for the family I was

creating with Levi.

A long time ago in a heavenly plain, we all accepted the Plan of

Salvation. We all wanted to come to this earth and be born into a

family. Heavenly Father organized us into this basic unit of families

as a way to provide the ideal place for us to learn the gospel and to

grow in faith and understandings, so just as we arrived here born to a

family we would return to him with our family joined together. In the

Doctrine and Covenants it describes how families are essential. He

created the earth that we could gain physical bodies and form families

(see D&C 2:1–3). He established His Church to exalt families. He

provides temples so that families can be together forever (see D&C


The church places great importance on the sacredness of family. In

this past April’s General Conference 11 talks out of 16 had to do with

the family.

In his Conference talk Elder Russell M. Nelson tells us… "while the

family is under attack throughout the world, The Church of Jesus

Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims, promotes, and protects the

truth that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal

destiny of His children. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and

our vast family history efforts are but two evidences of how this

Church brings hope and help to the sacred institution of the family.

We teach that God’s love for His children is infinite. Regardless of

race, nationality, or gender, He loves all of them.1 He has done so

from the beginning and will continue to do so. He invites all to gain

eternal exaltation for their family.”


Heavenly Father wants us to strive for an ideal family and an eternal

family here on earth. But our families are not perfect…not yet.

I saw this cute plaque once that said:

This is the future site of a perfect family.

Currently, however, it is under, mental, physical, and spiritual construction.

Inquires concerning inconveniences or apparent faults are to be directed to :


Thank you for your patience

Families are divinely designed as the basic social unit of life here

on earth. Families are complicated. Each family is unique, having it’s

own traditions and culture. Families provide a sort of ideal Perti

Dish in which we can grow and learn. Within a family you mix in a

myriad of personalities, preferences, and opinions, to which we add

extremes in experience, emotion, and situations-where we are tried and

tested and prepared to endure life in this world so we can enjoy

eternal and celestial life in the next.

When we accepted Heavenly Father’s plan, we knew it would not be easy

here. Just as when we become mothers and fathers, we know it will not

be a piece of cake. We are often overwhelmed by our family

responsibilities. However, we are not alone, and we do not have to do

it all alone.

Sister Tanner a former Young Women General President has said “I think

on the subject of rearing children that we will probably have people

in our audience who are going to start feeling bad about themselves. I

think the discrepancy between the ideal and the reality of everyday

life sometimes seems very large to us as mothers and fathers. But I

believe that being a mother and father is an eternal role, an eternal

calling, if you will, and that with that calling, as with any calling,

we are blessed with a mantel. We need that mantel, and we need that

spirit with us as we rear our children. In fact, I think like Elisha,

we need a double portion of that spirit as we rear our children. I

believe that we’re blessed with that. These are Heavenly Father’s

children, not just ours. They are His spirit children, and He will

bless us with a double portion of that spirit.”

Following President McKay’s well-known statement “No other success can

compensate for failure in the home,” he went on to say: “The poorest

shack in which love prevails over a united family is of greater value

to God and future humanity than any other riches. In such a home God

can work miracles and will work miracles.” (In Conference Report, Apr.

1964, p. 5.)Rex D. Pinegar, “‘Home First’,” Ensign, May 1990, 9)

It is vitally important that we allow God to work within our homes.

That we invite him there regularly and that we call upon him to help

us in our weakness. Just as it says in Philipians 1:6 …it is important

that we be confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a

good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. I

would like to add that the work God has begun in your families he will

continue to do, you are not alone in your efforts and you can be

confident he will bless you as you strive to create an eternal family.


There is one single very specific way that we can create the ideal and

eternal family Heavenly Father has intended us all to have and will

help us to achieve.

….We must teach the gospel within the walls of our own homes…

One of my favorite scriptures about teaching the gospel to my own

family is Deuteronomy 4:9- were it says Only take aheed to thyself,

and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou bforget the things which thine

eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of

thy life: but cteach them thy dsons, and thy sons’ sons;

Part of the reason I like it is it says sons and I have four boys, so

I feel like God is talking just to me. And I know how true it can be

that if we do not share the gospel with others, especially those

closest to us, we will lose our own testimonies bit by bit.

The Family Guidebook provides a large section on how to go about

teaching the Gospel in the home. There are specific activities that

have been inspired and proven. We can strengthen our families through

Family Home Evening, Family Prayers, and Scripture Study. We can use

our time with our families to teach and guide them…though the paying

of tithing, during mealtimes, bedtime stories, while working together,

holding family council, interviews, and other wholesome family


“We must take up our God given responsibility of teaching our own

children the gospel we believe in says Elder Neil L. Anderson in his

Conference address.

Elder Anderson goes on to say that…"if a child is not listening, don’t

despair. Time and truth are on your side. At the right moment, your

words will return as if from heaven itself. Your testimony will never

leave your children.

As you reverently speak about the Savior—in the car, on the bus, at

the dinner table, as you kneel in prayer, during scripture study, or

in late-night conversations—the Spirit of the Lord will accompany your


As you do your best, the testimony of Jesus will gently distill upon

your children’s hearts. They will go to their Heavenly Father in

humble prayer and feel His influence through the power of the Holy

Ghost. A stronger personal faith in Jesus Christ will prepare them for

the challenges they will most surely face."

Family scripture time, Family prayers, and FHE are the most tried and

tested tools we can use to teach our families the gospel in our homes.

Family Scripture

Family Scripture time can be such a sacred time devoted to feeding his

sheep, with his word. There is no substitute for reading straight from

the actual scriptures. There is power there within those pages. If

your child can read, they should be reading the scriptures aloud with

the family. Sometimes our scripture reading is just so-so and just

part of the routine, and other times it is profound and inspiring.

In our own family every able reader takes turns reading 2 scriptures

till we are done with our passage for the day. Scripture reading does

not have to be dry and boring. Instead of reading through the so and

so, begat so and so, who begat… and so on for most of the chapter we

try to pick out specific stories in the scriptures to tell, just as

Christ taught in parables and tales it is often easiest to remember a

certain story then a specific verse. Sometimes we like to use

different voices for the characters if they speak. I often stop the

reading when an important principle is being learned by a character in

the scripture and we talk about it. We also rephrase the scriptures to

make them personal by adding in our own names in place of pronouns .

It is important for us to find ways to make to the scriptures

applicable and relatable in our families life during family scripture



One of the sweetest parenting moments is teaching a small 2-3 year old

child to pray to our Heavenly father. Showing your small child how to

fold their arms, be very still, and talk to Heanvenly Father…as they

speak to him in their simple language. They thank him for their family

and for special blessings on their toys.

When Ian was 6 he shared with me one morning his simple testimony of

prayer. He had had a bad dream and was scared instead of waking us up,

he said a small prayer asking for comfort. Through his simple faith he

received the comfort he needed and was able to get back to sleep on

his own.

Family Home Evening

FHE was introduced to the church in 1915 by a statement from the First

Presidency. In it they gave this specific promise if we would hold FHE

within our homes.

“If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will

result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith

will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will

gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset


FHE is a great way to start traditions and create memories that last a

lifetime. You are setting aside just a few hours once a week just for

your family-to learn the gospel, to have fun and laugh and play, and

just be together building memories. As fun as it can be, sometimes it

can be a challenge to hold FHE, with busy schedules, bad attitudes,

and perhaps tired parents and whiny children.

In a recent church Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Building up

a Righteous Posterity

Sister Beck, Elder Oaks, Elder Holland, and Sister Lant had the

following banter:

I was raised in a big family. My parents had a lot of children. And

that means there were a lot of opinions and a lot of work to care for

this family. But they used the tool of family home evening to really

teach us. Every week we sang “Love at Home.” That was the opening

hymn. And I remember as a teenager thinking it was really tiresome to

sing that hymn every week.

Elder Oaks

Sometimes that hymn is sung through clenched teeth.

Elder Holland

And by assignment.

Sister Lant

Sometimes it’s the mother’s clenched teeth.

Sister Beck

It was more a belief than a practice. But every week, Dad would say,

“Now we’ll sing our opening hymn, ‘Love at Home.’ ” And when I was

about 14 or 15, in that age when you question everything, I asked my

father, “Why do we have to sing this hymn every week? There are a lot

of good hymns in the hymnbook we could sing.”

And he looked at me very sternly, and he said, “When you have learned

lesson 1, I will teach you lesson 2.” And I don’t know what lesson 2

was; we didn’t ever get there, but I have to say that after the

passage of many years, I look at my family, and we do love one

another. We did, somehow, over the years, learn to love each other

because that was lesson 1 my parents wanted to teach. They didn’t try

to cover everything. They knew if they started with that, it would


I know that family home evening is an inspired program. At times we

may doubt it’s effectiveness as we do not see immediate changes in

attitudes. Satan does not want us holding FHE, he will try all in his

power to prevent you from holding regular FHE. That is why a dear

friend of mine uses an old Nike Motto to motivate her to keep plugging

along with the things of life in spite of all the challenges. I think it applies to the attitude we need to have with FHE as well.

“Just Do It”

In closing I would like to share a thought from an Ensign Article by

Barbara Thompson

“It is the responsibility and blessing of each of us to strengthen our

families and homes. Each of us is in a different family situation.

Some families have a mother and father with children at home. Some

couples no longer have children at home. Many members of the Church

are single, and some are single parents. Others are widows or widowers

living alone.

“No matter what our family looks like, each of us can work to

strengthen our own families or help in strengthening others.”

I bear my testimony that our Heavenly Father has organized us into

families so we can work together to meet the trials and challenges of

this life. Our families provide a safe haven and a support group. They

are our sanctuary and they are vital necessary to our salvation. If

we take the opportunity to do the small, and simple things outlined in

this booklet we will gain the reward of a righteous posterity, a

happier home life, and family we can and want to spend forever with. I

say these these things in the Name of Jesus Christ Amen

3 COMMENTS (click here!):

Corine said...

OK That made me cry. Some of those things were written here just for me; thanks! :D

PS You're going to do great on Sunday!


April Mitchell said...

Hi Corine~ I'm glad you liked it. I loved writing it.

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

An in-depth critique with an invaluable insight from its reviewer! You yourself are a testomony to sound parenting with 'love' at the forefront with great Christian morals.

You have done a wonderful service to your church, and I'm sure yourself and your review will both be received with an acknowledgment of appraisal.

Family life needs to be taught to lots of people these days, as many are so preoccupied with an unproductive lifestyle!

Thank you. love love. Bye.

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