Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Strengthening the Family

In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities. We need to make our homes a place of refuge from the storm, which is increasing in intensity all about us. Even if the smallest openings are left unattended, negative influences can penetrate the very walls of our 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 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.

We can start strengthening our families by bridging the distance.  I grew up in a home that was filled with love, laughter and lots noise.  Family dinners last for hours as we discussed our days, listened to jokes or whatever was bothering each other.  As each of us went our separate ways, we have been able to maintain close ties with each other.   We sent cards for no reason, other than to say, "I thought about you today".  We meet at least once a month, usually at mom and dad's house, to enjoy each others company.  We make sure that everyone in family knows that they are important and loved.  We let each other know that they are appreciated.

Are you proud of your family? Another indicator of a strong family is that members are proud to belong to the family. They are committed to each other and the family as a unit. Family members think of each other as friends with whom they can talk and have fun. They enjoy each other as individuals and like being together. They recognize that functioning together as a family is not always easy — there is conflict, things are not perfect — but they work at making family life more enjoyable and satisfying.

Strong families do not just happen. They are built over time from many little parts. Most of these are simple everyday occurrences, things we share with one another within our families.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dancing in the Rain

Adversity will be a constant or occasional companion for each of us throughout our lives.  We cannot avoid it.  The only question is how we will react to it.  Will our adversities be stumbling blocks or stepping-stones?

When some people face adversity, they complain and become bitter. They ask questions like “Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this now? What have I done to deserve this?” But these questions have the power to dominate their thoughts. Such questions can overtake their vision, absorb their energy, and deprive them of the experiences. Rather than responding in this way, people should consider asking questions such as, “What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I learn to dance in the rain?

As I thought about this and have reflected on my past, there has always been something to take my mind off of the blessings I have. Satan is good at that. We each have received blessings. We receive blessings of life everyday that we are alive. Yet too many times we look at the trouble that surrounds us, we look at our pains, we look at the clouds; and often say, “Here comes another storm.” We often want to run inside when the storm hits and bury ourselves. But, as I am reminded, we miss out on dancing in the rain. I can remember walking in a warm rain shower a few years ago.  It was fun and refreshing. The raindrops felt good. So what has changed from walking in that warm rain to the adversity that I am facing now? Why can’t I learn to dance in the rain?

Satan wants us to take our minds off the blessings and he wants to remind us of our circumstances. He enjoys us being miserable and wallowing in the troubles we have. Remember the Grouch on Sesame Street? He isn’t happy and he doesn’t want those around him to be happy. When others are happy around him, he is miserable. Satan is the same way. As long as I am focusing on my troubles, I am not praying, reading the scriptures or doing what God has called me to do.  As long as I am in this state, I can’t see the blessings God has given me or is giving me. I am so blessed. I have family and friends that are there to help me to move on. It’s time to dance in the rain.

There will always be something to take our focus off our blessings. There will be pains we didn’t expect , illnesses we weren’t counting on, bills that need to be paid, or a number of other things that weren’t planned. Today we sang a song in church that reminded me to count my many blessings, naming them one by one. Maybe we need to start naming our blessings.

I realized I can wallow in self pity or I can dance in the rain and enjoy each drop that falls around me. The storms will not pass, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy dancing in the rain. If there were no storms, I couldn’t dance in the rain.

Are you experiencing trouble? Is there illness you didn’t plan on or a bill you can’t pay or something keeping your focus from your blessings? Life is not about waiting for the sun to come out; it is about learning to dance in the rain! Let us all learn today to dance in the rain, and let’s enjoy those drops of blessings together.

I borrowed this prayer from another article.  There was not author so I cannot give them the credit.


"Thank you for the rain. Thank you for the raindrops that fall on me and refresh me. I love the sweet smell of rain after it has fallen. I love friends who often remind me it is time to move on. I love those people who care enough about me to share your word with me; those who take time from their busy lives to step into mine and let me know they care. You are an awesome God that brings people and simple things like rain and raindrops into our lives. Help me to always remember to dance in the rain and to watch for those raindrops called blessings. Amen"

Similarly, if we face up to our individual adversities or hardships, they can become a source of blessing. God will not give us adversities we cannot handle, and he will bless us richly for patiently doing the best we can in the circumstances.  “Whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 36:3).