Amos 8:11-13: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst."

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: "I have wondered... if someone within the sound of my voice might feel he or she or those they love are too caught up in the 'thick of these thin things,' are hungering for something more substantial and asking with the otherwise successful young man of the scriptures, 'What lack I yet?' I have wondered if someone... might be wandering 'from sea to sea,' running 'to and fro' as the prophet Amos said, wearied by the pace of life in the fast lane or in trying to keep up with the Joneses before the Joneses refinance. I have wondered if any [are] hoping to find the answer to a deeply personal problem or to have some light cast on the most serious questions of their heart...

"Wherever you live, and at whatever point in age or experience you find yourself, I declare that God has through His Only Begotten Son lifted the famine of which Amos spoke. I testify that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life and a Well of Living Water springing up unto eternal life...

"Our fundamental requirement is to have faith in Him and follow Him—always. When He bids us to walk in His way and by His light, it is because He has walked this way before us, and He has made it safe for our own travel here. He knows where the sharp stones and stumbling blocks lie hidden and where thorns and thistles are the most severe. He knows where the path is perilous, and He knows which way to go when the road forks and nightfall comes. He knows all this, as Alma says in the Book of Mormon, because He has suffered 'pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind … , that he may know … how to succor his people according to their infirmities.' To succor means to 'run to.' I testify that in my fears and in my infirmities the Savior has surely run to me. I will never be able to thank Him enough for such personal kindness and such loving care."

*Ensign, November 1997


Life Lessons Learned at Home

Some of the most important – and lasting – lessons of life are learned at home.

In this most recent General Conference, Elder Foster of the Seventy shared the following story. One night, a father was reading a book without words to his son, Eric. Eric kept correcting his father who, in frustration finally said: "How do you know that's what it is? There are no words in this book." "Mother told me," Eric responded. Then the father asked: “Eric, who do you think is the last word, the ultimate authority in this house?” This time Eric thought carefully before he answered, “You are, Dad.” The father beamed at his son. What an exceptional answer! “How did you know that?” Eric quickly responded, “Mother told me.”

My childhood – and I’m sure yours – was full of life experiences and lessons learned, big and small. Even the simplest things stick with us. One night my mother came to tuck me in. "Have you brushed your teeth?" she asked. I grumbled and mumbled and finally admitted that I hadn't. "Those sugarbugs are eating away at your teeth and they'll keep eating all night if you don't go brush your teeth right now." I was young enough to be very impressionable because I still think about the threat of sugarbugs!

In this last General Conference, Elder Perry shared a few of the lessons he learned from his mother. “While she was grateful to others who taught her children outside the home at either school or church, she recognized that parents are entrusted with the education of their children and, ultimately, parents must ensure that their children are being taught what their Heavenly Father would have them learn. My siblings and I were quizzed very carefully by our mother after we had been taught away from the home to be certain the correct lessons were reaching our ears and shaping our minds.

When we were young, we each had a desk in the kitchen where we could continue to be taught by her as she performed household duties and prepared supper. She was a natural teacher and far more demanding of us than our teachers at school and church.”

Have you noticed that people – and children – do what we expect them to do? One Sunday as my dad and three younger brothers (11, 13, 15 yrs old) were driving home from church, the boys mentioned that our family had been given the assignment to clean the building that week. "Guess it has to be to Mom's standard," they exclaimed. Whether they liked it or not – they knew there was a standard to live up to, a level of expectation, and that they would be required to meet it.

Elder Perry said: “Teaching in the home is becoming increasingly important in today’s world, where the influence of the adversary is so widespread and he is attacking, attempting to erode and destroy the very foundation of our society, even the family. Parents must resolve that teaching in the home is a most sacred and important responsibility. While other institutions, such as church and school, can assist parents to “train up a child in the way he [or she] should go” (Proverbs 22:6), ultimately this responsibility rests with parents. According to the great plan of happiness, it is parents who are entrusted with the care and development of our Heavenly Father’s children. Our families are an integral part of His work and glory—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time. They know that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily parenting is among the most powerful and sustaining forces for good in the world. The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home.”

When I was younger I had bright-eyed visions of my life as a mother. They included early-morning spelling bees while the kids ate their oatmeal and studying the scriptures at night so that the next day we could create elaborate re-enactments with bathrobe costumes and tinfoil armor and cardboard swords. As you can imagine – it’s not nearly as glamorous as I’d pictured it. Instead, it’s “one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time.”

This week at our Relief Society activity meeting, we had a excellent panel discussion about raising children in the gospel. One mother said: “Nearly all my parenting happens in 2 minute sound bites – right as the opportunity strikes.” And we never know when the opportunity will strike. How can we be prepared for these 2 minute sound bites?

In his talk, Elder Perry mentioned the careful and diligent and thorough preparation his mother put into teaching her Relief Society lessons. He remembered the dining room table covered with reference materials and notes. “There was so much material prepared that I’m sure only a small portion of it was ever used during the class, but I’m just as sure that none of her preparation was ever wasted. How can I be sure about this? As I flipped through the pages of her notebooks, it was as if I were hearing my mother teach me one more time. Again, there was too much in her notebooks on any single topic to ever share in a single class session, but what she didn’t use in her class she used to teach her children.”

He also said: “Throughout the Church there are dining room tables covered with reference materials and notebooks filled with ideas for lessons to be taught. There is no such thing as overpreparing to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, for gospel insights, whether or not they are used during class time, can always be taught in the home.” We become better parents as we strengthen our faith in and commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We prepare as we learn it and as we live it.

Sister Julie B. Beck, also in this most recent conference said: “Insight found in scripture accumulates over time, so it is important to spend some time in the scriptures every day. Daily prayer is also essential to having the Lord’s Spirit with us. Those who earnestly seek help through prayer and scripture study often have a paper and pencil nearby to write questions and record impressions and ideas.” We prepare by being ready and worthy to receive and follow divine direction - to ‘let the Lord be the boss.’ We prepare by studying the scriptures and going to the Lord early and often in prayer.

Elder Perry emphasized that “On God’s eternal stage, it is usually intended that parents act as the central cast members in their children’s lives.” But he also mentions valuable understudies who step in at crucial moments to lend a hand.

In fact, Elder Eyring – also in this most recent conference – speaks specifically about this. He says: “Our most important and powerful assignments are in the family. They are important because the family has the opportunity at the start of a child’s life to put feet firmly on the path home. Parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles are made more powerful guides and rescuers by the bonds of love that are the very nature of a family.”

He also mentions Primary teachers and leaders: “Many bishops in the Church are inspired to call the strongest people in the ward to serve individual children in the Primary. They realize that if the children are strengthened with faith and testimony, they will be less likely to need rescue as teenagers. They realize that a strong spiritual foundation can make the difference for a lifetime.”

Brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles all help to create that strong spiritual foundation. My Aunt Renetta is the hardest worker I know – she built her house from the ground up, and taught her children to do it with her. My Aunt Lily taught me to make bread – it didn’t really take, but she did try. My Uncle Gerald works long hours and long days in the bush because I know he loves his family. My Aunt Janet loves literature and has guided me to good books my whole life. My Grandma Kochel taught me to value money; she taught me the 10-10-80 principle: 10% to savings, 10% to charity, 80% to expenses. And, even though she is not a member of the church, our mission funds all started in a Mason jar in her kitchen cupboard.
Elder Eyring repeats: “We all can help. Grandmothers, grandfathers, and every member who knows a child can help.”

And then he says: “The example they most need from us is to do what they must do. We need to pray for the gifts of the Spirit. We need to ponder in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets. We need to make plans which are not only wishes but covenants. And then we need to keep our promises to the Lord. And we need to lift others by sharing with them the blessings of the Atonement which have come in our lives. And we need to exemplify in our own lives the steady and prolonged faithfulness that the Lord expects of them.

Children really do emulate their parents. Just this week I found Reagan chattering on my phone. “What are you doing, Reagan?” “I make business call,” he said. Sometimes I catch him typing on the computer. “Reagan! What are you doing?” “I send a ee-mail.”

I hope that as I’m warming up to parenthood that I’m emulating some of the most honorable traits of my parents – their commitment to the Lord, their love for the Saints and for the gospel, their desire to serve and “the steady and prolonged faithfulness that the Lord expects” of all of us. And that in so doing my children will also learn the life lessons and faith lessons that will keep them firmly and faithfully on the path.

D&C 64:33 "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."
Small things like one family prayer, one family night, one 2 minute parenting sound bite, and remembering that the Lord can’t be the boss unless we will listen – and then perhaps, as Sister Beck counseled, take notes.

Speaking tenderly and encouragingly to mothers, Elder Holland said: "Rely on Him. Rely on Him heavily. Rely on Him forever. And 'press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.' You are doing God’s work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you and He will bless you, even – no especially – when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. Like the woman who anonymously, meekly, perhaps even with some hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way through the crowd just to touch the hem of the Master’s garment, so Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and sometimes weep over their responsibility as mothers, 'Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.' And it will make your children whole as well."


Every. Day.

Insight found in scripture accumulates over time, so it is important to spend some time in the scriptures every day.

Daily prayer is also essential to having the Lord’s Spirit with us. Those who earnestly seek help through prayer and scripture study often have a paper and pencil nearby to write questions and record impressions and ideas. *

*Julie B. Beck, General Conference, April 2010