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
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 :
HEAVEN DEPARTMENT OF FINISHED WORKS
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.
TEACHING THE GOSPEL IN OUR HOMES
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
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 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
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
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.
Sometimes that hymn is sung through clenched teeth.
And by assignment.
Sometimes it’s the mother’s clenched teeth.
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
“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
“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
fiance, student, homeschool retiree, preschool teacher wannabe, Senior Living Coordinator, writer of many things unsaid, blogger, lover of the creative, most cheerful depressed person, devourer of books, crafty wanna be, amateur tech support, internet junkie, facebook stalker, tweeter of tweets, Pagan, friend, sister, daughter, aunt, karaoke super-star