Wednesday, July 24, 2013
I also wonder about this father and son relationship between Lehi and Nephi. Why did Nephi believe his father? Why did Laman and Lemuel not believe. I assume they all heard the same things from Lehi, what was the difference? I think the difference was the desire of the children. Just as Nephi wanted to see the vision his father saw, Laman and Lamuel, we learn later, did not even bother to ask what anything meant. I want my kids to ask questions and seek out answers on their own, but we first have to give them something to think about. I am going to share more of my experiences with my children. I can recall many experiences from my mother, including her conversion story. I heard my father speak in church probably close to 100 times. Without even thinking about it, these stories and experiences were probably what caused me to ask in prayer like Nephi and "desire to behold the things which my father (and mother) saw".
Monday, July 15, 2013
Although Lehi's dream is probably Lehi's better known prophecies, he also prophesied about the life and ministry of Christ including when he would be born (verse 4), where he would be baptized (verse 9) and whom should baptizie him (verse 10), his mission as a savior of the world (verse 4, and 10).
The most important thing we can teach our children is that they have a savior that can help them repent and be clean, and is our ultimate exemplar. To do this we can use analogies, stories, life experiences, the scriptures, etc. but it all boils down to we being imperfect sons and daughters of God, need help to return to him. We all make mistakes so this is an easy lesson to repeat, and our children will see us when we use the atonement, and when we don't.
I have always wanted kids. Being a father has fulfilled that desire for me. I have looked forward to the days when I can play catch and teach my kids how to ride a bike, and those have been very fulfilling experiences, but I couldn't ask for a better feeling than when I see my children learn and apply gospel principles.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Nephi made two sets of plates. One for the spiritual ministry of his people, and one for the historical record. He also included many of the things that were already in his Father's plates (the plates of Lehi). To Nephi, this seemed redundant, and he was not given an explanation as to why. But he obeyed the promptings he received and followed them.
Nephi had complete trust in his Heavenly Father. It is a blessing that our Heavenly Father is consistent and reliable and will never ask us to do something that is not good for us. Nephi fulfilled the commandments he had been given even when he didn't understand why he was doing it. This is a perfect example of trust.
I would love to have the same relationship with my children that Nephi has with God. And I think my kids do trust me quite a bit, but they often do not want to do something unless they know the reason behind it. Sometimes this leads to a lot of perusading them to just do what I ask already. But I find instructions are most effective when I also explain why I need them fulfilled. Maybe this is why Nephi trusted both Lehi and God so much. He had done this so many times before and they had always done what is best for him. More explaining to my kids why I ask them to do certain things will do 3 things: expose my true motives to myself, allow them to understand why they are doing what they are doing, and gain trust that whatever I ask them to do it will be in their interest to be happy and safe.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
What I was impressed with beyond the analogies was the language and manner in which the dream was related to Lehi and then to the children of Lehi. The message given from God, our Heavenly Father, to Lehi was done through a dream. The symbolism in the dream was not complex or hidden, but yet wasn't spelled out in complete detail either. It was the perfect guidance that both tested the willingness and humility of Lehi, and yet provided instruction and encouragement for the benefit of those who made an effort to understand.
As a father my instructions to my children sometimes lack the perfect balance that Lehi's dream illustrates. With small children it is sometimes hard to give any instruction except for direct commands, yet there comes a point where those commands become demeaning and patronizing. Metaphors, like the ones used in Lehi's dream are tools that can provide the balance needed to provide complete instructions. They will also stick better in the minds of children, and test their ability to figure it out on their own. I am going to try and attach a story or metaphor to the instructions given to my children more often.
One are of instruction I think this would be particularly helpful with is in chores. Right now, my children are only motivated to do their chores if there is some reward involved. But I think a better and more consistent motivation would be to instill a sense of duty and hope they understand their ability to help the whole family through their chores. What are some good metaphors I could use for that?
Thursday, June 6, 2013
So how do you think they took it? Well, they decided to bind him up and leave him for dead in the wilderness, and only stopped when others begged for them to stop.
Ok, so that was a little bit of a long summary, but I wanted to point out that Laman, Lemuel, and Nephi for that matter were all motivated in different ways. I feel like I am constantly trying to motivate my children to choose the right. I have heard countless strategies for teaching children to behave, including both positive and negative rewards or punishments. I have tried many different strategies as well, and some of them work, some of them don't. But I think we need to realize that our children are still children and we can expect them to know what to do and how to react to every situation, and they are not going to make the right decision all the time. They are going to need constant reminding of positive experiences and both positive and negative consequences, and sometimes they are going to need a bit of pleading. The hardest part is not getting frustrated and angry and maintaining a patient attitude.
I think it also helps to be reminded that the simple indiscretions of my children are not much different from my own mistakes. I am constantly making the same mistakes despite the positive and negative associations with my opportunities to do better or worse. I know those around me have had to exercise their share of patience as I have struggled through making the right choices. And I know that my Heavenly Father has given me a continual stream of second chances as I have made mistakes despite constant reminders of the blessings of choosing the right.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
I have often wondered about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Is it real or is it a made up book? I can see how many people would not believe the story of Joseph Smith, and how many people also might look for more, perhaps in the form of archeological evidence of the Book of Mormon in Central or South America. Nephi does not give his ancestry at this time because it is written in the Book of Lehi (which was lost with the 116 pages by Martin Harris; see D&C 3), but in his defense he reveals a powerful phrase that governs all of our choices: "for it sufficeth me".
I am satisfied with Nephi's explanation of why he didn't include the genealogy of his Father. His genealogy is really not important to me or any of the writings of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets to "persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved". It is a book for the spirituality of man and not an archeological record.
One thing my parents taught me about the Book of Mormon is that all the material proof in the world ("the things which are pleasing unto the world") will not make a difference in how you live your life. Spiritual impressions ("the things which are pleasing unto God") are the substance of a spiritual life. I am satisfied with the spiritual manifestations which I have received of the existence of God, of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
I want to pass this bit of wisdom to my children as my parents have passed it to me. The Book of Mormon (and any spiritual document) is for our spiritual progression, and does not need to be proven from every angle to be effective in its purpose. Time spent trying to prove this or that may be fine, but time is better spent finding out how this book can help you spiritually progress.
Monday, May 27, 2013
I think we have all wondered at one time or another how our life would be different without an influence in our life. Growing up I often wondered what it would be like to not be mormon. I think Lehi and Nephi saw the difference in what their posterity would look like with and without the Brass plates. Lehi also prophesied about the power and influence of the brass plates and how they would be used all over the world. Without the scriptures/brass plates, the history of the Nephites woud have been reduced to an oral history and perpetuated with errors like a game of telephone.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
In a moment of weakness we are able to see the recorded disagreement between a prophet and his wife. The squabble was over the children, of course. Their struggles, specifically Sariah were not how to raise them, but if they were still alive. She showed a lack of faith in God and a lack of faith in Lehi as a prophet calling him a "visionary man". I don't blame her, I am sure she was worried sick when her children did not come back, and Lehi was receiving the brunt of it.
So how did Lehi react to these accusations? With faith. He reiterated that because he was a "visionary man" they were able to escape Jerusalem before its destruction and they were to be blessed with "a land of promise" and finally that he knew that their sons would be all right. I suppose that he knew that she just needed to talk through it and that this experience would help increase her faith after it was over...And that is what happened. After their sons returned she recounted that now she knew "with a surety" that Lehi received a vision and they were being led by God.
Talking through my problems with my wife always makes me feel better. I do not know how many times I have come to my wife with my grumblings of doubt and depression and she just listens, and then talks me through it and we move on. I know there are times when she is feeling stressed and knows what to do, but also just needs to talk through some things. Listening and encouragement are the key. Did you notice that Lehi didn't offer any advice to Sariah? Do you notice how he didn't nitpick and talk down to her? He simply restated why they were there and let the events unfold with faith. I am so thankful for my wife for allowing me to talk through my periods of self doubt and discouragement.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Integrity is an important principle that is being lost in our selfish society. The current mentality that if nobody sees you or you don't get caught, then it is fine, is too prevalent. To the point where we cannot trust other people based on their word alone. Dishonesty, cheating, and inconsistency deplete the honor, trust, and respect that could make for much healthier communities.
Nephi met Zoram, and did not personally know him, yet once Nephi made an oath "that he need not fear" and Zoram made an oath that he wanted to stay their "fears did cease concerning him". How great would this be if we could trust people by their word. Inclusive in that trust is our children and spouse being able to trust us in our words. Our children are watching and have an innate sense of justice. They are aware when we say things we do not mean, or when we act different than our words. They need to see integrity in the home so they can then use integrity wherever they go. I think this is a vital part of the necessity of families. Children need to see parents that are honest with each other, and honest with them. If our families were built on honesty and integrity, our communities and society would be more dependable and we could trust each other.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Nephi recognized the importance of the law, he endured difficult circumstances to ensure they had the plates of brass which contained the law of Moses which they lived by. He stated that "they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law." Without laws and boundaries, there are still "unspoken rules", but even they will get fuzzy without a standard. Our families are filled with laws, boundaries, and "unspoken rules", but sometimes they need to be made into laws to clearly define the lines. Sometimes it feels like children are constantly testing the waters with us as parents to see what they can get away with, and to feel out whether are rules have become laws or have slid into obscurity. Our children benefit when we make clear boundaries for them and enforce them, but it is easy to get lazy because a new rule takes time and effort to become a law. In addition, there are some grey areas with our spouse that could be better defined with frank discussion (Ex: don't buy anything without talking about it first).
It is one thing to lay down and enforce the law (the letter of the law), but it is another thing when children understand why. My wife is excellent at explaining why we have certain rules, while I am not as inclusive. However, when they can see that a rule is designed for their long term benefit, they are more likely to obey and participate in the law. For example, we have restrictions on video games, and have recently cut it down to once a week. My wife has been very thorough on explaining that too many video games are not good for your brain. This was not hard for them to understand because they know the feeling when they have vegged out too long or become monsters because they have been playing too much. In response to the decrease in screen usage our children have started reading a lot more for pleasure. My wife takes them to the library and they love getting a stack full of books each. Because they could see the reasons it has not been a struggle for them and they have replaced the brain destroying activity with brain building activities.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Nephi and his brothers kept turning back and trying different ways to get the brass plates from Laban and fulfill the commandment they had been given. Laman and Lemuel eventually decided it was too hard and decided to beat Nephi and Samuel, luckily an angel stopped them. And afterward Nephi was undeterred by his brother's continued resistance. He kept moving forward, even though he was not certain that he knew what he was going to do he was "led by the spirit not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do". I love that scripture.
Have you stressed out because of a grim or uncertain looking future? Have you ever been faced with a challenge in your relationship with your spouse? Have your kids ever become such a challenge that you are at a loss as of what to do? Well, Nephi didn't know what to do, but he had faith that God was more powerful than armies and would show him what to do because he was commanded to.
Uncertainity is simply an opportunity to show faith, an opportunity to rely on God for guidance and help. I know it is hard to remember to have faith in the moment, and many times a step back, a deep breath, and a prayer are needed, but if you are led by the spirit you will make the right decision.
Monday, April 29, 2013
But it isn't always hard to turn back, here are some things it is easy, although sometimes inconvenient, to turn back for
something you lost
something essential for your day
to brush your teeth
Yet other things it is sometimes hard to turn back for like...
helping someone on the side of the road when you are in a hurry
reading your scriptures every day
saying your family and personal prayers
returning things you have borrowed
saying "I am sorry"
So what makes the top list different from the bottom list. It depends on what we think is essential. My father always stated that we rarely if ever forget to brush our teeth in the morning. If we treated saying our prayers as essential to our health as brushing our teeth then we wouldn't forget.
As a father and husband I need to "turn back" and do what will make my family happy.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Lehi used metaphors to try and relate the gospel to Laman and Lemuel. I don't think they quite grasped the concepts he was trying to teach them, but at least they made it to the promised land (barely). Metaphors and analogies are a powerful way to teach the gospel, and a powerful way to learn the gospel. Being able to see God in things is a gift that I wish I had. I know people that are really good at relating every day things to their eternal perspective. This is a good skill to teach our children and to remember in our family relationships.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Nephi abridged the record of his father. He knew his father on many levels. First, he saw him as family. Second, he saw him as a prophet. And lastly, he saw him as a historian. I think we all know about the importance of being a good parent. Our children look to us for spiritual guidance, but they also see what we do for others. Lehi "went forth among the people, and began to prophesy" after he had received a vision of Christ, and yet the people did not accept or appreciate his words, and they rejected and "were angry with him". That must have been a powerful example for Nephi. Nephi saw firsthand how to stand up for what is right despite what opposition he faced. Our children need to see that. They need to have a father of principle and integrity. They need to see beyond themselves.
I recently had an incident in a class I taught where I caught someone who was cheating. After the student admitted to cheating, the student said something that really exposed his/her true motives. The student said "at the end of the day, I have to look out for myself". I sure hope that my kids don't think like that, and I hope they don't see me like that. At the end of the day I want my children and others to say "that man/my father cared about other people more than himself". Nephi saw his father looking out for others and I think that made a permanent impression on him and shaped him into a powerful leader.
My last point that Nephi saw his father as a historian is something that I don't necessarily feel is a responsibility of fatherhood. However, I do feel that my children, and my continuing prosperity, will benefit from knowing my history. The best way to provide that is to keep a journal. I have been hot and cold at journal writing, but I think what will help me be more consistent is to think that I am not only writing for personal reasons but also for my family.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Why does Nephi start his record stating that he has been born of "goodly parents". What does this statement say about Nephi and his parents? Because I have read the Book of Mormon many times I would agree that his parents were good. But what if I knew nothing of his parents? What if this was my first time reading this? What would be my reaction to the opening line of someone who says I was born of goodly parents?
1. This man (Nephi) is a respectful and grateful person filled with hope. I do not think that Nephi thought his parents were perfect, and I am sure if he wanted to he could list a long number of things that they did wrong, but he didn't. This statement says that Nephi is a man that honors the good that he has been taught over the bad. He had a positive attitude that permeated his associations with his family. He also must have appreciated all that his parents did for him. Our children could benefit from his example. Optimists are filled with the hope that produces progress and do not dwell in the negative parts of their past. I want my kids to be optimistic and encouraging to others, like Nephi was.
2. Nephi had some good parents. I feel similarly to Nephi, I have some great parents who raised me with the knowledge and confidence I need to develop and succeed in the world today. I can attribute much in my life to how my parents raised me. I want to do the same for my kids. Let them know that I have full confidence in their abilities, and teach the basics they need for living in this world.
3. Nephi was taught "somewhat in all the learning of [his] father". It sounds like Lehi (Nephi's father) taught Nephi many things, but let him have choices in many things as well. Having sons I sometimes think that they should be just like me and learn the same exact lessons that I learned. I want them to have my same interests and be my little "buddies", and for now I think that is fine (my oldest is 8 years old), but I know as they get older they are not going to want to be biologists when they grow up, or will have other hobbies. I will strive to teach them "somewhat" of what I know and then let them choose from there.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
The small and large plates of Nephi were spiritual and historical accounts of the Nephites respectively. But the prophets and historians had a hard time keeping the two accounts separate. "From the time of Mosiah, however, the large plates also included items of major spiritual importance."
Similarly, teaching our kids boils down to the practical and spiritual. More often than not, the two blend together. I want to teach my kids to work hard, that has broad application in both areas. I want to teach my kids the power of prayer, that also can permeate every aspect of their lives. Still I think sometimes it is good to break down what you are teaching your child into both practical and spiritual aspects. I could be great at teaching my kid how to do well in school and take responsibility for their actions and still not be teaching them how to feel the spirit or share their testimony. However we break it down life skills are spiritual skills as Alma said
"being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive." - Alma 7:23-
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Joesph Smith's account is miraculous and hard to believe. Joseph Smith said that he does not blame anyone for not believing his story and he would have had a hard time believing it if it hadn't happened to him (paraphrase). Which makes me wonder why when he told his father, Joseph Smith Sr., his father didn't question him, but replied that his vision was "of God" and he should go and do as instructed. They must have had a close relationship to have that kind of trust.
I want to have that kind of closeness with my children. I want them to be able to tell me anything. So what was it about Joseph Smith and his father that allowed this kind of relationship of trust to develop. One thing that I can think of was that it was a simpler time where families did everything together. They were farmers which required intense and consistent work to not only provide but survive. They could not afford to be lazy. They had to be able to trust each other and I am sure Joseph learned how to be responsible at a young age. I worked for my dad for a summer and I cherish that time because it was the only time in my life that I spent hours every day with him. I got to know him a lot better, and was able to see his example. My mom also taught us how to work in the home. These opportunities to work together formed a relationship of trust that allowed for loving communication to take place.
In short, to develop a trusting relationship with our kids we need to teach our kids how to work and get down and work with them. Working together also gives us an opportunity to talk to each other, and instills a sense of accomplishment. Trust takes work.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
I felt impressed that in my marriage and in raising children that we stand together. I think it would be hard to be a single parent and my heart goes out to the many single parents who are trying their best to both provide for their children and teach them what is right. I feel encouraged and supported by my wife to pursue a career that I can be passionate about. We have been fortunate enough to have my wife stay at home with the children, but that in no way excuses me from also taking part in the care of our children whenever I can. All marriages are slightly different in their family roles, but I think whatever those roles shake out to be, we need to be "witnesses" of each other. Whether it be in our roles, parenting, or just being involved in the community, we need to be together in our decisions and support. This often first takes honest and open discussion to determine what is best for both of us, and a desire to understand each other. When our children see our cooperative efforts I hope it motivates them to find a spouse that they can share life with. That includes parenting, careers, little league baseball, theater, yard work, finances, everything. We can do it together! I am reminded of a talk from this past general conference by Elder L. Whitney Clayton entitled "Marriage: Watch and Learn". One paragraph in particular puts it better than I can articulate
"Husbands and wives in great marriages make decisions unanimously, with each of them acting as a full participant and entitled to an equal voice and vote.5 They focus first on the home and on helping each other with their shared responsibilities.6 Their marriages are based on cooperation, not negotiation. Their dinner hour and the family time that follows become the center of their day and the object of their best efforts. They turn off electronics and forgo personal entertainment in order to help with household duties. To the extent possible, they read with their children every night and both participate in putting the little ones to bed. They retire to their bed together. As their duties and circumstances permit, husbands and wives work side by side in doing the most important work there is—the work we do in our own homes."
I hope to be a better "witness" to my spouse.
Monday, April 8, 2013
Three men besides Joseph Smith were able to see the golden plates and add their witness to his of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I had a couple of thoughts about parenting when I read this testimony
First: do my children know what my convictions are? I was fortunate to have parents that in both public and private told me how they came to know the gospel of Jesus Christ was true. Their conversion had a powerful influence in my life, and yet my conversion was something unique and different. I feel that my children don't hear it from me enough. I am really not sure if I have told them directly how I came to know what I know, and I think there have been plenty of opportunities. Testimony meetings, family home evenings, during family scripture, when they ask me questions, while giving them correction, just to name a few. They need to hear what I think is important, and then need to be able to find out on their own what is true. I am so thankful for testimony-bearing parents that gave me the opportunity to find out for myself and I want to pass that on to my own children.
Second: All three of these witnesses fell away from the church at some point and only Martin Harris returned later in his life. As a parent and husband what message does it send to our children when we are hypocritical. If we yell at them to stop yelling, if we tell them to be polite and are rude ourselves. I think sometimes we think they aren't listening, or are too young to tell the difference, but I don't think that is the case. I never thought the word "crap" was a particularly bad word until I heard my kids say it. They obviously learned it from me. The power of example and practicing what we preach teaches them integrity, honesty, and models good behavior. I am going to resolve to do better at this.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
The Book of Mormon: Title page
There isn't much on the title page. Moroni wrote the title page which is mostly a simple description of the peoples of this record. I was impressed by the line at the end which reads "And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men", referring to the book as a whole. It just got me thinking about the many mistakes I make and have made. I don't mean to dwell on the negative, but as a husband and father I seem to make the same mistakes over and over. When I realize what I am doing I resolve to do better, but I don't always go through the proper steps of making it better. I need to be more humble in my repentance and talk to my wife and children about my mistakes just like Moroni does here.
In my opinion Moroni is saying that there are no mistakes in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but men are required to carry it out, men make mistakes, and this book is subject to the same mistakes that men always make. Perhaps a similar discussion could be had with my children.
Would it be appropriate to have this conversation with my kids? Should I sit them down every once in a while and tell them I love them, but I know that I am making mistakes, and I need their love, patience, and support to be a better father. Should I go as far as asking them what I do that they don't like? I know that I could apologize more. I don't think it is healthy to try and give them the perception that I think I am perfect. I also don't think it is healthy to maintain unquestionable infallibility in parenting. I daresay that yes, this conversation needs to happen more. I need to not only admit to them when I am making mistakes but also apologize and ask for their help.
What might this do for my children? I think this will show them how to repent, how to face their mistakes, and how to make changes. Now I am not saying that the kids are going to run the show, and I am not going to apologize for things that I do that they don't like that are really for their benefit. Kids obviously don't like to clean their room but that is not something to apologize for. Kids do need to understand how to appropriately deal with their mistakes, and I think for our next family home evening, this will be our topic of conversation.
As a husband, my wife knows more intimately than anyone what my mistakes are. I think the same kind of conversation that I can have with my kids will be healthy for our marriage. Similar to what Moroni said about the Book of Mormon our marriage is a place for inspiration. My wife should know that first and foremost I love her, and that any mistakes I make are "of men". She is my greatest ally in helping me be a better person, but if I don't apologize and actively try and rid my bad habits then she can only do so much. My wife needs to hear this more.
All this from one statement in the title page. I am already feeling more inspired and reflective on my scripture study, and who knows how long this will take if I write 5 paragraphs for every thought. But it isn't about how long it is. It is about being a better husband, father, and person, and that is something I will be working on forever.
I was then reminded of a lesson I had been taught many times but never actually applied. Why do we continue to study the same scriptures over and over throughout out lives? Why are we encouraged to read the Book of Mormon again regardless of if we have read it 50 times before? Many of the reasons are not complex, but one is that we change. We are never the same person from day to day. And so even though we are reading the same words they can take on different meaning for us as we change.
I realized I have been trying to read from the same perspective for too long, so I thought of who I am, who do I want to become, and how I can do better. My favorite and most important role I play is as of a husband and father. I have been a husband for 9 years and a father for 8, but I have not considered this enough when I am studying the scriptures. So I have decided to read and blog as I study the Book of Mormon again, but this time I am going to look for insight an inspiration from my perspective as a husband and father.
This blog will be my notes, thoughts, and perspective as a husband and father as I read the Book of Mormon. This is more for me than anyone, and I do not profess to be a great writer or have any expectations that this will cause significant ripples the blogosphere. But if you have anything to add please do so and I know at least I will feel enlightened through this commentary.