Happy Families

“Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” – The Family: A Proclamation to the World

“Since ‘no other success can compensate for failure [in the home]’ ( J. E. McCulloch, Home: The Savior of Civilization (1924), 42), we must place high priority on our families. We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner and family home evening and by just having fun together. In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time. Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home. We talk with, rather than about, each other. We learn from each other, and we appreciate our differences as well as our commonalities. We establish a divine bond with each other as we approach God together through family prayer, gospel study, and Sunday worship.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Of Things That Matter Most,” Ensign, Nov. 2010

Related Articles and Links:

The Family: A Proclamation to the World
Mormon.org – Families
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Happiness in Family Life


Mormon Mommy Blogs

I read a recent letter on salon.com last week entitled Why I can’t stop reading Mormon housewife blogs by Emily Matchar. She is a self-described atheist feminist career woman with no real interest in converting to Mormonism and no plans to settle down to start a family, but there was something in these “Mormon Mommy blogs” (a blog genre that features domestic arts, child-rearing, and stories from home life) that drew her to pore over them with great interest. The reason she gave for this reading addiction was that they are “weirdly uplifting.”

I found her article interesting for two reasons:

  1. As a Mormon with many Mormon friends, I am subscribed to a couple dozen Mormon Mommy blogs on Google Reader to keep up with the lives of my family and friends. As a consequence, under Google Reader’s “Recommended items” tab, I get referred to a handful more of these Mormon Mommy blogs every day: pictures of perfect strangers, children I have never met, stories of their MLK day outings, etc. Google thinks I’m looking for more like these, but I’m actually not interested in strangers’ personal lives, and I don’t typically see anything particularly magical in them.
  2. Ms. Matchar sees something uniquely appealing in these online scrapbooks. Something otherworldly. As she says, “Enter the Mormon bloggers, with their picture-perfect catalog lives. It is possible to be happy, they seem to whisper. We love our homes. We love our husbands.” It’s an angle on traditional womanhood that it seems was never examined in her years of modernist training.

I hadn’t considered her point of view until I read her article. You see, for me, these blogs represent reality. This is more or less home life as I lived it. I had a mom who stayed home to raise her kids. There were creative hand-sewn Halloween costumes, homemade quilts, sit-down breakfasts and dinners, and brown paper lunch sacks adorned with cleverly-coded nicknames for each of us 6 kids.

I had never really thought about a life that didn’t include some aspects of gardening, potty training, or cooking. Even as a man I have always planned on getting involved to some degree in domesticity as a husband and father. For me, the home life is the whole point!

I can certainly understand the predicament career women are in. Many of them need jobs, and they should be paid equally for equal work. A career is a laudable achievement for anyone and I’m pleased with how far our society has come in breaking such barriers. I would just caution anyone who carries the mindset that careers are the secret to ultimate joy and that men have selfishly reserved them for themselves through the centuries. I recently earned a masters degree and started my own career in earnest and…

…it’s not all that glamorous or exciting. It’s a good job; it suits me, and I’m certainly happy to have the income, the security and the professional challenge, but I don’t think I would be fulfilled if I made that the attribute that defined me. My job is really more of a means to my true end: a happy, healthy family life. And I believe it’s that attitude; that priority, so common in Mormonism, which fascinates Ms. Matchar.

Pleasure versus Happiness

In the Book of Mormon, a prophet declares, “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.” Indeed, the Plan of Salvation that our Father in Heaven has prepared for us is often referred to as the Plan of Happiness.  We also learn that Nephi and his people “lived after the manner of happiness.”  But what is happiness?  What qualities are found therein?

In recent years I have been amazed at how consumerism continues to expand indefinitely.  From iPhones to the food we eat, life is a never ending torrent of advertisements telling us that “it is okay, you deserve it.”  As if to say that we are “entitled” to let go once in a while without consequences.  Unfortunately, this has translated into us feeling that we should be able to “let go” whenever, wherever, and for how ever long we please.

Those who buy in to this subtle deceit are led to waste so much of their time,  money, and other resources that they become trapped by consequences that are now out of their control. These consequences come, among other things, in the form of broken homes and marriages, poor health, debt, and perhaps the most fearsome, they become enslaved to the ever-powerful chains of sin.  In my mind, it stems from the person not being able to forego the easy pleasures of today, for the hard-earned happiness of tomorrow.  I see so many people whose whole goal in life seems to be focused on one thing and one thing only–pleasure and the more the merrier.  They are so consumed with the newest fashions in clothing, or having that new car, or the latest technology in televisions or game stations, or what they are going to do Friday night, that when they wake up late Saturday morning, they have nothing but fading memories that only leaves them hungering for more.  It is like eating Kix; you can eat 10 bowls at eight AM and by nine you are hungry again.

This has led me time and time again to contemplate on the difference between pleasure and happiness.   What types of activities and pursuits do I have?  Do they bring only pleasure, or will they bring lasting happiness.  More often than not, happiness demands sacrifice and large amounts of it.  Nevertheless, happiness is always sweeter and more desirable than pleasure.  For me, happiness is akin to vine-ripe strawberries.  One must water and weed, fertilize and wait, but there is nothing quite like that sweet taste at the end of June after two months of hard work.  Here is a quote by James E. Talmage (a leader of our church at the turn of the 20th century)  comparing pleasure and happiness.  I hope that you will take the chance to reflect on what you spend your time pursuing and, if needed, change.  You will never be sad  you did when you eat the sweet fruit, fresh off the vine and hopefully you will never want to go back to that nasty, store-bought stuff.

“The present is an age of pleasure-seeking, and men are losing their sanity in the mad rush for sensations that do but excite and disappoint. In this day of counterfeits, adulterations, and base imitations, the devil is busier than he has ever been in the course of human history, in the manufacture of pleasures, both old and new; and these he offers for sale in most attractive fashion, falsely labeled, Happiness.

“. . . Happiness includes all that is really desirable and of true worth in pleasure, and much besides. Happiness is genuine gold, pleasure but gilded brass, which corrodes in the hand, and is soon converted into poisonous verdigris. Happiness is as the genuine diamond, which, rough or polished, shines with its own inimitable luster; pleasure is as the paste imitation that glows only when artificially embellished. Happiness is as the ruby, red as the heart’s blood, hard and enduring; pleasure, as stained glass, soft, brittle, and of but transitory beauty.

“Happiness is true food, wholesome, nutritious and sweet; it builds up the body and generates energy for action, physical, mental and spiritual; pleasure is but a deceiving stimulant which, like spiritous drink, makes one think he is strong when in reality enfeebled; makes him fancy he is well when in fact stricken with deadly malady.

“Happiness leaves no bad after-taste, it is followed by no depressing reaction; it calls for no repentance, brings no regret, entails no remorse; pleasure too often makes necessary repentance, contrition, and suffering; and, if indulged to the extreme, it brings degradation and destruction

“True happiness is lived over and over again in memory, always with a renewal of the original good; a moment of unholy pleasure may leave a barbed sting, which, like a thorn in the flesh, is an ever-present source of anguish.  (James E. Talmage, Improvement Era, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 172-73.  Quoted in: Jesus the Christ: A Study of the Messiah and His Mission According to Holy Scriptures Both Ancient and Modern [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 230.)

A Letter from a Reader

Hello my friends,

I’m sitting here at work (it’s a very slow night) and I’ve just discovered your wonderful website. My wife, son and myself were baptized on Aug. 27th and we LOVE this Church, The Gospel, our new ward family (Buckeye 2nd), our Bishop and his counselors and all things LDS! We considered ourselves “Christians” but for some reason we couldn’t find a church where we felt “the Spirit” until we were invited to attend a Sunday service at our local meeting house. Wow! The love we felt and genuine interest in us (our family) and willingness to help with anything we needed (as we had just moved to the area) was immediately recognized as something that set these “Mormon folks” apart from the other “Christians” at other churches we were checking out. We instantly felt welcomed and loved by all. My wife and I now realize that Our Heavenly Father delivered us right into the hands of these wonderful people here in Buckeye, AZ.  Being so new to the Gospel we are soaking everything up like little sponges and we feel we have our work cut out for us. Your website will definitely help us to learn as much as we can and I can’t wait to share it with my wife in the morning. Thank you for the great website!

Merry Christmas!


What Are You Thankful For?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints produced this clip.  It is short, sweet, and uplifting.  I hope that you will enjoy it.

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving

Here is what I am thankful for:

  • A church leader who challenged me to be grateful and have a positive attitude and the commandment to be be thankful for ALL things (D&C 78:19, Ephesians 5:20), the good and the seemingly bad.
  • My beautiful wife, who always answers my calls with a voice that lets me know she is happy that I called.  Did I mention that I know that I can trust her 110% and that she loves me unwaveringly?
  • My two kids who stand at the sliding door, bang on it, and shout “Daddy”, when I pull into the backyard.
  • My Dansko shoes–they are saving my knees and feet.
  • My attending physicians who, at times, seem to expect nothing less than perfection.
  • Chocolate chips in the cupboard and that I forget they are there until I need a little chocolate.
  • That I have to work hard to feel successful.
  • My motorcycle–it has the absolute best air-conditioning.
  • Horton the Elephant.
  • Doctors who show me what kind of doctor I want to be (and sometimes the kind I don’t want to be).
  • The opportunity I have to share my beliefs in God with all of you through this website.

How about you?