“The poorest shack in which love prevails over a united family is of far greater value to God and future humanity than any other riches. In such a home God can work miracles, and will work miracles. Pure hearts in a pure home are always in whispering distance of Heaven.”
David O. McKay Church News, Sept.7, 1968
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Monday, March 29, 2010

And Lamen and Lemuel Partook Not of the Fruit...

Scott and Angelle Anderson
BYU Women’s Conference 2003

SCOTT: Although we don’t remember, we can picture ourselves in that great pre-mortal family council—which could also have been called a great single adult conference in heaven! We had been single for a long time. Our Father in Heaven explained his great plan of happiness. It would include going away to earth where there would be opposition in all things, and where we would have the chance to become parents.   When we heard the plan—we shouted for joy!! Now that we are here, we just shout!

ANGELLE:  Shouting is often connected to dealing with children. You know the moments: getting out the door to church, gathering for family prayer, organizing Saturday housework, breaking up fighting siblings, calling everyone to dinner for the tenth time, trying to find the car keys …our daughter (mother of four sons) says that they are into temper tantrums at their house, but that the boys are pretty patient with her until she gets over them! There is no question that the issues become more complicated, and the challenges greater as children become teenagers. Being parents teaches us first-hand what the prophet Lehi meant when he explained that if Adam and Eve had remained in the garden, “they would have had no children; they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy for they knew no misery.” (1) No children – no misery, but also no joy. And Lehi knew of what he spoke.

SCOTT:  As did Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Alma the Younger, Mosiah, King Benjamin, to mention a few. The prophet Lehi’s tree of life dream paints a picture of the joys and sorrows of family life. In his dream, he saw himself in a dark and dreary waste where he traveled for the space of many hours. His diligent, personal prayer lead him to the tree where he partook of the fruit which was sweet above all other fruit.  He desired that his family should partake. As he beckoned Nephi, Sam and Sariah, they came and partook. (2) Laman and Lemuel would not partake. Why not? Was it something Lehi and Sariah did when the boys were babies? What now?  Did they have another chance? What was it that kept Lehi and Sariah going all those years? Why didn’t they say they’d just had it, kick them out of the tent, and throw the raw meat out after them? How did they hold their marriage together?  How did they keep pleading, and exhorting and praying for their sons?  Why didn’t they just sew up the tent and hibernate—let someone else parent for a while? 

ANGELLE: One woman remembers that when her children were younger, people used to look at her and say, “Oh, what a perfect family,’ and she thought so too.  But when their oldest son became a teenager…he developed some bad habits and undesirable friends, and stopped going to church. “Life has been a nightmare since then,” she says. “We’ve wept bitterly.” (3) 
Scott and I know of the heartache and fear that sometimes accompany children’s choices.  We are familiar with late nights, long searches, and lost dreams.
We know what its like to plan around one person’s needs while other things are put on hold. We’ve cancelled trips we were hoping to have as a couple, worried ourselves sick, and poured out our souls in prayer. Like Lehi we have plead and trembled and feared. Sometimes for some parents, children's choices are heart wrenching and the  pain seems impossible to bear. One mother shares this: “When I was thirty, I went through a windshield, had 250 stitched in my face, broke my ribs, my shoulders, and burned my hair off.  It was a painful, horrendous two years, but I would go back and do that again before I would live through the kind of pain I went through as I watched my children, by their own choices, leave.” (4) When a loved one wanders, and rebels against the laws of God, how do we cope with the loss, sorrow, awkward situations, and effects on the family unit?    How do we keep the stew hot, and the doors to our home and to our heart open?  How do we get up in the morning? 

SCOTT:  Lets look at a scriptural example that teaches us how to cope - the stripling warriors. Never before had Helaman seen such great courage. In chapter fifty-six, verse forty seven, we read, “…they had been taught by their mothers that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” Could I just mention that the beginning of this verse we learn that these young men thought more upon the liberty of their fathers (who had covenanted not to fight) than they did upon their own lives. Going back twenty-nine chapters (Alma 24), we find that many of the fathers had already been killed in battle. I would like to give praise to all mothers who are left to do it alone— day after day, and night by night. You who the prophets have said have a higher spiritual gift than men. You, who, more than you know, help each of us feel divine Christ-like love.  How many of these mother’s had born the burdens of their families with the Lord as their only companion? And as the prophets testify of you single mothers, you will be given an extra measure of strength. Thank you so much for all you do! These stripling sons had an experience after their first victory that introduces us to the scriptural pattern we would like to share with you. In
Alma chapter 58 , the first nine verses explain that Helaman and his warriors were confined within their own fortifications. However, they were surrounded by an innumerable host of the enemy—trapped, and waiting for help to come. The defense of their loved ones hung in the balance. The moment was critical. They were tired, embarrassed because they were not receiving help, and filled with fear.

ANGELLE:  And the next verse begins, “Therefore…” Therefore, what? Do they retreat?  Run? Surrender? Fight? What do we do when we find ourselves surrounded by an innumerable host, trying to pull our families apart and tempt our children? At times the very survival of our loved ones hangs in the balance. Especially when one of our own struggles, it can be a time of embarrassment and fear. As Joseph F. Smith plead, we also supplicate our God to not let us lose one of our own! I think we can all relate to that agonizing knot in the stomach that won’t leave. So, under these circumstances, what did Helaman and his warriors do? “Therefore, we did pour out our whole souls in prayer to God that he would strengthen us and deliver us…”
And what Helaman writes about next, is a scriptural pattern of how the Lord blessed them to gain the strength, courage, and determination they needed to go forth.

SCOTT: This pattern, when applied, can help us overcome the discouragement that ‘comes with the territory’ of our personal struggles—especially with our wayward children. Verse 11 reads, “Yea, and it came to pass that our Lord our God did visit us with assurances that we he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.”  Verse twelve: “And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies.”

ANGELLE: The first step in this pattern is prayer—always our first line of defense, the only true source for comfort and direction from him who knows the end from the beginning, whose work and glory it is to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) 
Pouring out our whole souls in prayer opens the door for  personal inspiration. Oh, how I need to be inspired as a mother! There are moments and even seasons that I find myself in my closet many times a day pleading to tap into the Lord’s perspective regarding my children.  I find that it doesn’t take long to see them as He sees them, and to feel his love for all of us.  I can then step out into the midst of the affliction once again, renewed and more charitable. President Hinckley states: “Never forget that these little ones are the sons and daughters of God and that yours is a custodial relationship to them, that He was a parent before you were parents and that He has not relinquished His parental rights or interest in [them]…”(5)

SCOTT: I remember so well being sent to the run-down apartment complex in downtown Salt Lake City. It was late at night, and I felt uncomfortable as I approached the doorway. As I knocked and asked for my brother – they said, “Please get him out of here quickly” I picked him up. He had lost a great deal of weight from the devastating effects of the drugs that were destroying his life. He was very, very sick from an overdose. I took him to the hospital where I called my parents (who had just separated). I will never forget seeing my father walk down the hospital hallway with the weight of the world on his shoulders. After finding out how serious the situation was, he sat down quietly and wept.  My mother arrived shortly after and sat quietly in the room weeping, too. Prayer at that time was our only recourse.  It was all we could do. 

Over the years of his rebellion, there were times when we had no idea if he was even alive. He would be gone for months at a time. Other times we knew where he was and what he was doing and  the sorrow was heavy.

I do know that our prayers were answered in his behalf over and over again.  I know the Lord arranged my schedule to be with him on many occasions wherever he was—to keep our lines of communication and love open for all the years he struggled The Lord never relinquished his parental rights or interest in my brother.  

ANGELLE:  When the warrior’s had poured out their whole souls to him in prayer, they were blessed with assurances that they would be delivered.

Now, I would imagine that you, like I do, search the scriptures, and listen for every promise, every assurance, every truth from the prophets that tells me that things will work out-that I can cope with challenges, that the covenants I make and keep really will be fulfilled, that my offering as a mother is enough—that he will be with me. I have felt the need for these assurances when I feel I have let my children down, or been impatient with them.  So I feel this way at least once a day! I feel like lamenting like Nephi, “O, wretched Mom that I am!” (see 2 Nephi 4:17) For these times I find comfort in Pres. Hunter’s address from October Conference, l983 entitled, “Parent’s Concern for Children.” I’ve had it that long, and I still read and re-read it to know that all parents make mistakes, and that the Lord knows my heart. This is a “hang on your mirror” quote.

He said, “A successful parent is one who has loved, one who has sacrificed, and one who has cared for, taught, and ministered to the needs of a child.  If you have done all of these and your child is still wayward or troublesome or worldly, it could well be that you are, nevertheless, a successful parent. Perhaps there are children who have come into the -world that would challenge any set of parents under any set of circumstances.  Likewise, perhaps there are others who would bless the lives of, and be a joy to, almost any father or mother. My concern today is that there are parents who may be pronouncing harsh judgments upon themselves and may be allowing these feelings to destroy their lives, when, in fact they have done their best and should continue in faith.” (6) This statement by Pres. Hunter is also our guideline for understanding and being nonjudgmental toward others who are struggling with wayward children.

SCOTT: President Snow gives us one of the most straight-forward comforting statements I have read. “You that are mourning about your children straying will have your sons and your daughters. If you succeed in passing through these trials and afflictions and receive a resurrection, you will by the power of the priesthood, work and labor as the Son of God has, until you get your sons and your daughters in the path of exaltation and glory.” (7)
President Packer shared  this concerning parents with wayward children:
“They are puzzled over why they are so helpless when they have tried so hard to do what they should…when parents keep the covenants they have made at the alter of the temple, their children will be forever bound to them.”  (8)

ANGELLE: In April conference 2003 Pres Faust left no question in my mind concerning those who stray.  He stated, “I believe and accept the comforting statement of Orson F. Whitney, “The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepard is upon them and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back into the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last like the penitent prodigal, to a loving and forgiving Father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not be in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children, hold onto them with your faith.  Hope on, trust on, til you see the salvation of God.” 

SCOTT: President Faust goes on to say, “Perhaps in this life we are not given to fully understand how enduring the sealing cords of righteous parents are to their children. It may very well be that there are more helpful sources at work than we know. I believe there is a strong familial pull as the influence of beloved ancestors continues with us from the other side of the veil.” (9)
 As a bishopric, we were setting apart Nancy (name changed) as the president for the 14 and 15 year old girls. As I was assisting the bishop in the setting apart, he had begun the blessing then took a long pause. As he continued the blessing, it became much more detailed and personal and quite lengthy. At the conclusion of the blessing he reverently explained to the young women in the room that as he started the setting apart he felt someone next to him. He paused to understand what he was feeling, and it was made known to him that it was Nancy's father. He had died 4 years earlier and had been inactive in the church at the time of his death. The bishop then continued, “Nancy, I want you to know that he is active now and that he has desired to give you a father’s blessing.  Just know that the blessing today came from him through me.”

ANGELLE: Elder Bruce Hafen shares a story about one of his children who was a good boy, but not easy to raise.  This son was on the debate team in high school, and Elder Hafen showed him an entry in his grandfather’s journal, describing a his big debate for BYU against Princeton in the l920’s.  He then left the journal volume with [his son], hoping he would want to read it…A few weeks later, our son worked his way through a particularly trying experience and came to us late one night to tell us what had happened.   He said, “Dad, I never knew Grandpa Hafen, but I felt he was there, helping me.”  (10)  
We have had many similar experiences in our family. I am convinced that the ancestral pull of which President Faust spoke is real. As Elisha said, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”  (11)

SCOTT:  After we have received assurances, we can experience the peace that oft times “surpasseth all understanding.” This kind of peace is not what the world would call peace, for many times the trial are still there—still with us. In Mosiah chapter 24, we learn that Alma and his people who were in bondage in the City of Helam.  Like them, we can be blessed by the Lord to endure until the situation changes. As they pled for the Lord’s help he instructed, “Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me, and I will covenant with my people that I will deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs even while you are in bondage and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter that I the Lord do visit my people in their afflictions. … And the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. …  (12) There are times when we need to pray for a stronger back to  bear the burdens. I testify that they can and will be lightened.

ANGELLE:  Some of our burdens and afflictions center on how we feel about ourselves when one of our children strays. Robert Millet explains: “It is inevitable that righteous parents, those who have really tried to lead and guide  and walk beside their little ones, will first point the finger of blame at themselves when their hopes for their children do not materialize. “What happened?  What did we do wrong? What could we have done differently?  Perhaps if our family home evenings had been a little more effective, our prayers a little more regular, our family activities more fun, this would not have happened.” And so on and so on.  Whenever things do not turn out as we planned, we automatically scramble about, frantically searching for answers to hard questions.  We know the promises of the prophets.  We know the counsel of the scriptures. “Train up a child in the way he should go,” the Bible teaches, “and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).  Thus if one of ours departs from the way of the Lord, the only answer seems to be that we did not train him or her in the proper way.  What other option is there?”  (13)
Lets think about this. Of course there are other influences affecting our children. Of course we are imperfect, and can find evidence that we don’t measure up. When children stray, it’s not always that parents are doing something so obviously wrong. Pres. Packer tells us, “the measure of our success as parents will not rest solely on how our children will turn out. That  judgment would only be just if  we could raise our families in a perfectly moral environment, and that now is not possible.  It is not uncommon for responsible parents to lose one of their children, for a time, to influences over which they have no control.” (14)

SCOTT: What are those influences? Agency, personality, and environment all play a role in what a child chooses to do.  For example, before we leave the first page of the Book of Mormon we learn that Jerusalem is an extremely wicked place.  Laman and Lemuel were born into this environment.  We know that, because Nephi records that his father had dwelt there all of his days.  How old do you suppose those boys were when their father took his family and left? 

ANGELLE:  Jeremiah, a prophet of their day, reminds us how immoral their society was, grossly immoral. Before Lehi’s conversion he had been a very wealthy man. He had so much wealth, Laban, who could command 50 servants, coveted In his riches. What could the life style of rich, young adults have been in this challenging environment where all the people were rejecting the prophets?  The city finally had to be destroyed. The beliefs internalized in such an environment could have been debilitating. Does it make you wonder just how much these influences affected the behavior of Laman and Lemuel?  Does would they not seek to understand the dealings of God?

SCOTT: Not that their behavior is excused, or justified, but perhaps we have some additional insight. Could we understand Alma the Younger’s behavior a little better if we remember that he had been abused as a child by Amulon and his followers, and threatened with death if he were to pray in public? (15)   Could these experiences have contributed to his rebellion? Regardless of the cause, Alma the Younger is going about with the sons of Mosiah trying to destroy the church. We can summarize their rebellion as follows: they “did not believe”, therefore they “could not understand” and their “hearts were hardened”, and so they “would not behave.”

                                      Did not Believe
                   Could not understand—Hearts were hardened
                                    Would not Behave
                                                                                      Mosiah 26:2-4

Sometimes when focusing our efforts on trying to change our loved ones, we concentrate on the ‘would not behave” part of this pattern, trying desperately to change what they are doing. For example, the way they dress, the way the are breaking rules, their behavior toward you and the church. However, what we learn from this scripture is that harping, and yelling and demanding answers about behavior does not solve the problem. This verse tells us that they “cannot understand” and feel differently unless  they change their beliefs. We have seen parents that  are very good at helping children feel that they were of infinite worth, while still not supporting their inappropriate behavior. Alma the younger gave us an excellent prototype when he counseled his wayward son Corianton—focusing on his perceptions and beliefs, explaining, and teaching about the power of the atonement. (see Alma chapter 39)  Ten verses later, we learn that Corianton is back on his mission. President Packer has explained this concept as follows:
“I have long believed that the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than talking about behavior will improve behavior.” (16)

ANGELLE: When Alma the Younger shares his conversion with his son Helaman, he explains that even though an Angel had come, and he had experienced a spiritual comma for three days, the healing came as his beliefs were changed. He was racked and harrowed up by the memory of his sins until he wanted to cease to be. Then his mind caught hold on his father’s teaching that the Savior would atone for sin. Alma prayed deeply about this teaching and the healing came. He could remember his pain no more as the sweet power of the atonement first healed his beliefs – then his behavior followed. (see Alma 36 verses 3-20).
So, it ultimately was Alma the Elder’s teachings supported by the spirit that were used to change his son. It gives us a good idea that all those Family Home Evenings were worth it, even if it didn’t seem like he was listening at all!

SCOTT:  Before his son’s conversion, Alma the Elder struggled deeply with the rebellion of his son and his friends.  Alma the Elder had been a priest to King Noah.  How many times did he blame himself for some of his son’s problems— asking himself if he should be the prophet under these circumstances? As he poured out his whole soul in prayer to know what to do for his son., Heavenly Father begins his answer to Alma’s prayer by reminding him of all the wonderful things that he has done and expressing love and confidence in him. Then the Lord says, “Thou art my servant and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life.” (17) Is there anyone who could read these words and not understand Heavenly Father’s great love for Alma the Elder, even though he had a very wayward son?  And he loves us in the same way—even though we may also have children who are making wrong choices right now.

Elder Holland ‘s words give us insight to how the Savior desires us to feel…“as He moved toward the pain of Gethsemane…on that very night, on that night of the greatest suffering the world has ever known has or ever will know, he said, ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you… let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ I submit to you that this may be one of the Savior’s commandments that is, even in the hearts of otherwise faithful Latter-day Saints almost universally disobeyed.” (18) Even if you have wayward children, our Savior wants us to feel safe in his arms.  I testify that as we turn to Him, we can receive assurances about the future.  We can receive assurances about the present.  We can be filled with peace that our diligent offering is enough and he will make up the difference. This gives us the foundation to focus on what we can do now – the ability to move forward with faith.

ANGELLE: One woman whose husband had left her and then left the church, and then, one by one, three of her four children followed his path, shares this: “I used to think that my faith would be sufficient to bring my children back.  I could be like Alma, who through his prayers caused an angel to appear to his son, Alma the Younger, and in a miraculous, dramatic way convert him.  I thought if I could just exercise enough faith, I could call down a miracle from heaven on behalf of my husband and then later my children.  But, I wasn’t successful.  My heart was broken because of my children and my husband.  And in a very real sense, my life fell apart.
But I learned lessons from that falling apart. Perhaps the best way to explain these lessons is to use the fourth article of Faith, which identifies the first principle of the gospel as faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  I discovered that faith and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are two different principles.  I used to think of faith as the power to accomplish anything: to move mountains, to walk on water, and certainly to bring my children back.  But, I learned that faith, no matter how powerful, will not take away agency. In contrast, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ allows me to acknowledge his mercy and long-suffering as those gifts relate to me and my children.”  (19)

SCOTT:  Elder Scott talks of a time in his life when he was overwhelmed, uncertain in how to proceed. He states: “Some divert their best efforts by investing them in mental anguish and continual worry. The Lord has taught me a great lesson about worry that I now share with you.

All I wanted to do was to be a worthy husband and father and honorably carry out my Church and professional assignments. Yet my best efforts produced frustration, worry and illness. In time, the Lord led me to a solution. I was prompted to divide mentally, and physically where possible, all of the challenges, tasks, and assignments given to me into two categories. All of the things for which I felt responsibility but for which I could do nothing to resolve, I put in a basket called "worry."
Then, all of those things for which I had some ability to resolve or control, I put into a basket called "concern." For those things in the worry basket, I realized I could not resolve them so I tried hard to forget them. Later in the process I learned that putting them into the worry basket didn't mean that they wouldn't be taken care of. They were resolved by those who could best handle them and most often that was the Lord Himself.
The items in the concern basket were ordered in priority. I conscientiously tried to resolve them to the best of my ability. While I could not always fulfill all of them on schedule or to the degree of competence I desired, I did my conscientious best.” (20)

ANGELLE: All the “if onlys” and the “I should haves” go in the worry basket, because we can’t change the past.  In the concern basket are  those things for which we have some ability to resolve or control. Don’t let the word “best”  be a stumbling block. I looked up that word in the topical guide for the scriptures.  It is there, but only as an adjective (best gifts, best books).  But the word “diligent” is replete in the scriptures.  “Be diligent, and my grace shall attend you…” “teach them the word of God with all diligence,”  “love endureth by diligence unto prayer.”  By replacing the words, “do your best,” with the scriptural words. “be diligent,” we can relieve a lot of guilt and worry in our lives and allow ourselves to continue in faith, doing those things that are in our power.

SCOTT:  Elder Eyring said, “We cannot control what others choose to do, and so we cannot force our children to heaven, but we can decide what we will do.  And we will do all we can to bring down the powers of heaven into that family we want so much to have forever.”  (21)

ANGELLE: Shauna U. Frandsen tells this story:  quote  “I know a sister whose thirteen year old son in junior high school, without obvious cause, suddenly became defiant, belligerent, and negative.  He was caught in a darkening world.  He started hanging out with a tough crowd at school, swearing, drinking, and using drugs.  The parents found they had no relationship with this son who had changed so dramatically from his preteen years… The mother quit her job so that each day she could pick up her son after school and take him directly home, protecting him from outside influences.  Her son resented that.
One night while praying to her Heavenly ‘Father asking what she should do, the mother felt impressed that she should love her son and tell him so.  But she knew he would not listen to her, because they had no communication.  When they did talk, it was in anger.  Frustration and fear flooded the mother with anger whenever she looked at her son and saw what he had become.  She simply did not have a relationship in which she could say to him those words, “I love you.”

Each time she prayed, the feeling persisted: “Tell your son you love him.”  But she just couldn’t find the right moment.
One night she went downstairs to get the laundry.  Her son’s bedroom was next to the laundry room, and the door was open.  The mother went in, looked at her sleeping son, and said quietly, but out loud, “I love you even if you don’t know it.  Regardless of what happens, I will always love you.”

There, she thought, I finally did it.  I’ve said, “I love you.”  She felt good.  Even if her son was sleeping and could not hear her, she felt good just to say those words.

Everything changed for her because every night thereafter, when she was sure her son was asleep, she would tiptoe into his room and tell him that she loved him, sometimes lightly stroking his hair, sometimes kneeling be the bed to gently hold hi, taking care not to wake him.
Often, he stayed out late with his awful friends. She would wait until she heard him come home and then wait until he was asleep.  She would then sneak into his room to tell her sleeping son that she loved him. Those moments became the high points of her days.

The son turned fifteen, moved from junior high to high school, and in the transition, made some new and better friends.  His attitudes slowly changed, his grades improved, and he even chose to enroll in seminary.  Each high school year got better and better; his disposition became more positive.  He graduated from high school and seminary and was called to serve a mission.
One day shortly after he returned from a successful mission, some neighbors visited their home for advice.  They had a wayward daughter and did not know what to do.  They remembered the difficult times their family had with their son during junior high and wanted to know how to handle the situation.
The mother told them, “You just have to weather it.  Somehow, they outgrow it. It just passes.”  But as she continued in this vein, her returned missionary son interrupted, “Mom, that’s not it!  Don’t you remember?  Every night you would come into my room and say, ‘I love you.’ I waited for you every night.  I waited until you came down to say ‘I love you’ before I went to sleep.” (22)

SCOTT:  President Gordon B. Hinckley declared, quote … when there has been rebellion, the strong cords of family life have reached out to encircle the rebellious one.” (23)
I believe that more than we realize, the “strong cords of family life” can overpower the flaxen cords of Satan. Remember what Pres. Hinckley said keeps a person active in the church—a friend, a responsibility, and to be nourished by the good word of God?  These three things can also keep our children active in the family. First, lets look at what having friends as family can do. One of our sons struggled with feeling good about himself in Jr. High. When he looks back to those difficult years, he says that one of things that kept him going was his sisters saying “I love you”—coming or going, at morning and at night.  He remembers being to “tough” to say those words back to them then, but not now.  When his big brother went away to college, he put his picture on the wall with the following sign underneath – My brother, My Hero!  His Grandma would feed him as soon as he walked in her door – anything that he wanted, and they would talk. To express his love and gratitude for her, when he went away to school he left his football jersey on her wall, because she was his favorite “girl friend.”

ANGELLE: Family trips and one-on-one traveling also strengthened friendships, as did supporting each other’s performances, games, and programs. Letters in each other’s journals, secret pals, and dinner times where the family would stay and laugh together all contributed to love and unity. At birthdays we all give compliments to the person whose birthday are celebrating and give reason why we care about and love him or her.  Spencer’s standard comment was, “I love her because I am genetically obligated to!” Now this has become one of our favorite family quotes.

How grateful we are for the efforts of brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents—all working together to strengthen each other because they are “genetically obligated to.”

SCOTT: The second area Pres. Hinckley spoke of is responsibility. We received a letter from a mother whose son was pulling away from the family. The situation was affecting the whole family.  She tearfully recounted the bad friends, the late nights, and the emotional distancing. But the reason she was writing the letter was to share with us a miracle. She had heard us talk of how our family members were each assigned chairmanship over a committee.  These were in such areas as: service, activities, heritage, education, and sunshine. They decided to give family committees a try.
One Sunday afternoon, his parents assigned him to chair the new family activities committee. He laughed, but decided he would plan some family activities.  He then planned an activity that he was sure the family would never do (probably to a skate park or to the mall to hang out).  To his surprise they all went along, and had fun. The activities continued and even became more acceptable to everyone. This mother wrote reported that it wasn’t long before he was back in the mainstream of the home where he could again be nourished by the good word of God.

ANGELLE: When one of our children chaired the Education committee, he was personally responsible for the Family Home Evening Chart, all the assignments, and conducting. When the lesson would get too long (my husband says that it was most likely when he was teaching), the chairman would stand up and announce that it was enough, and we were going to have refreshments now!  And the whole family would follow him to the kitchen—he was in charge! The youngest child in our family always chairs the family sunshine committee.  Jenali knows that it is her job to try to cheer up the sad and make someone feel glad.  She takes her stewardship seriously, and has encircled family members in the arms of her love as Jesus would.  I like the idea of creating opportunities for struggling youth to be influenced by babies and little ones.  It is hard to resist the pull of those who are so close to heaven.

SCOTTResponsibility in leadership, work, and service at home gives family members a chance to love and serve together. When a child feels he has power to make a difference, he is drawn into the family circle to do it.
Not every family can afford to travel to a third world country to work in the orphanages, but every family will at sometime have someone who is sick, someone who is sad, someone with a homework assignment due or an animal that needs feeding—all providing opportunities to serve. There is always family history work to be done, educational opportunities to take advantage of, activities to plan, and food storage to buy, grow, and preserve. When we organize our families to work together, each taking care to fulfill a stewardship, we are teaching and living laws that will help us prepare for eternal life. We know we are all needed in the family God has given us.

 ANGELLE: Lastly, to stay active in the family, children need to be nourished by the good word of God.  When Jacob’s son Enos went to the forest, it was to hunt wild beasts, not to pray.  What brought him to his knees? It was the words that he had “often heard his father speak concerning eternal life and the joy of the Saints.” (24) That is why Nephi counseled: “…we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”  I have found as a mother, that there is peace in knowing that my children know that I love the gospel and that I am trying to teach it to them.  They have not always done what I would have liked them to do, but they do have some great memories of our family’s attempts to make the gospel come alive for them.  There were times in our early marriage that I felt overwhelmed with the task I had to teach in our home.  After I organized our gospel study into a topic or gospel principle every month, it made all the difference for me.  It relieved me of the constant pressure of wondering what to teach or how to teach it. Family Home Evening, scripture study, and wholesome recreational activities all work together to help internalize that principle.  The constant effort has been met with blessings from the Lord beyond what we could have imagined.  We are not into having this system work perfectly, because it doesn't, but the benefits of our diligence have reaped rewards we never imagined (but did hope for).  We can look back over the years of child-rearing, and despite the challenges, know that we gave and will continue to give our best efforts.  I like to think of this kind of diligent effort as our gift to our children.  Whether or not they accept it now or later cannot change the fact that the gift is freely given to them. To sum it up, to help our children stay active in the family, just keep being diligent in doing the small and simple things that will strengthen the cords of family life. Pres. Kimball put it this way: “I have sometimes seen children of good families rebel, resist, stray, sin and even actually fight God. In this thing they bring sorrow to their parents, who have done their best to set in movement a current and to teach and live as examples. But I have repeatedly seen many of these same children, after years of wandering, mellow, realize what they have been missing, repent and make great contribution to the spiritual life of their community, The reason I believe this can take place is that, despite all the adverse winds to which these people have been subjected, they have been influenced still more, and much more than they realize, by the “current of life” in the homes in which they were reared, When, in later years, they feel a longing to create in their own families the same atmosphere they enjoyed as children, they are likely to turn to the faith that gave meaning to their parents’ lives.” (25)  Moroni tells us, “Wherefore, there must be faith; and if their must be faith, there must also be hope.” (see  Moroni 10:20).

And that is what we hang on to---the hope that if we faithfully keep trying to live righteously and create a gospel-centered home, our efforts will reap the harvest we desire for our families.

SCOTT:  Helaman tells us that hope does come .  In the face of the almost impossible situation he and the stripling warriors found themselves in, he prayed and was blessed with assurances, peace, faith, and then hope. 

President Packer has promised us –   

“If you are helpless, he is not.
“If you are lost, he is not.
“If you don’t know what to do next, he knows.

“It would take a miracle, you say?

“Well, if it takes a miracle, why not?”  (26)

My sweet mother has been a great example of this principle. As my brother struggled through incarceration, drugs, and many painful experiences she always seemed to have a brightness of hope. She consistently remembered him in her prayers and did what she could do. I had the opportunity to be a first hand witness to the Lord’s orchestration of his personal healing power in my brother’s life. A few years into the ongoing ordeal, I remember being in California, and taking my brother from a half way house setting to the temple for a stroll around the temple grounds. The third time around the temple grounds he looked up at Angel Moroni and said I haven’t felt love for so long but I feel it here right now. He looked at me with those penetrating blue eyes and asked do you think that the Lord could still love me? I knew that I had to respond in a way that would help him feel the answer and firmly shared my knowledge that I knew that Heavenly Father loved him and that he had eternal worth. I knew it then, and I know it now. Some time later we attended his rebaptism into the Church. I will never forget the day he was sealed to his wife in the temple. My parents were seated in the sealing room and their eyes were filled with tears. It took me back to a night in the hospital when we all sat in a room with eyes filled with tears, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the power of the Atonement in our lives. My brother became a veil worker, and later an ordinance worker in the temple.

ANGELLE: When we renew our covenants as we take the sacrament, attend the temple, and diligently try to live righteously, hope literally brightens our faces.  Our children cannot help by notice and be affected by that light we radiate.  We pray that all of us will remember the pattern found in the fifty-eighth chapter of Helaman. We know that He will be with us, and “his angels round about us to bear us up.” (27) That is his promise, and he is always true to his word.

SCOTT: In those difficult or wearing times, could we remind ourselves that our offering is enough and that he will make up the difference? He is the prince of Peace, and is anxious to help us receive it in our hour of need.
Can we review daily or weekly what really goes in our basket of concern, and focus our emotional and physical strength on doing things within our power? I was driving home from the Bishop’s office late one night, and was feeling so much pain for the couple that had just left my office. Their marriage and home were coming apart because of major sin, and the pain was overwhelming. As I wept late that night, and said I don’t think that I can do this for 5 more years. I clearly received an answer – you do the work, I will take the pain. I know that He will faithfully carry the worry baskets of our lives. We testify that there is hope!  As we have studied and prayed over this message, we have been repeatedly lifted and strengthened by the power of the Gospel to fill our lives with hope. Courage is all about having the strength and determination to do what is required—“to run with patience the road that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” (28) He is the finisher of our all.  Isn’t our imperfect parenting a central part of the plan? We show our imperfections to our children. They see us not be overwhelmed by them because we turn to the Lord and He makes our weaknesses strengths – line upon line. And by our example, our children know to what source they may look for remission of their sins.

ANGELLE: When we feel the Savior’s healing power in our own lives, our children can see that the atonement is something we rely on, then they can take courage from our example. Shall we not “go on” and help our children learn to overcome their own discouragement? As Joseph Smith beautifully recorded in the Doctrine & Covenants 128:22, “Shall we not go in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage…and on, on to the victory.” Lehi chooses to never give up, to keep trying – he names rivers and valleys after his wayward sons, he continues to pray for and work with them, he pleads with them, blesses their children (his grandchildren). He was truly a goodly parent! Sariah stood by his side—never giving up on their wayward sons. Paraphrasing Winston Churchill: “Never give up, Never give up, Never, never, never!”  
The Lord has said, “Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still with the utmost assurance to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” (30)

SCOTT: Just over a year ago, my brother passed away. At my brother’s funeral, I was preparing to speak. As I greeted people in the viewing, I would ask what brings you to my brother’s funeral. The local librarian said, “Oh, he and his wife were not only daily patrons, they were our friends.” One day he found that my father had been ill. The next day I was absent from work and he and his wife walked to my home to see if I were alright and to find if there was anything they could do to help me. A man who had struggled greatly in his life with substance abuse tearfully explained you brother called me every night between 6 and 7 just to check in and see if I was o.k. He even continued to call me from the hospital when he was so ill just to check in with me. A little family came because he was their home teacher, and not only did he never miss, he always had a special message for the children. The children had checked out of school so they could pay him tribute. The details of his Christ-like examples of service were a confirmation of something that I had experienced only days before. Just before his passing, my mother asked if I would give him a blessing, knowing it would probably be the last one in this life. For years he had asked me for blessings on a regular basis. Though it was something that I had done many times before, this time was different. I spent some time as he was in a coma reading his favorite scriptures to him. His very favorite was 3 Nephi  5:13, “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” As I laid my hands on his head, it was clearly manifest to me the peaceful scene of my grandparents coming to take him home and loved ones waiting to celebrate his victory, and I was filled with the most joyous hopeful calm. I know that there is hope, that the atonement of the Savior has perfect redeeming power, and that the prayers and righteousness of parents have eternal consequences.

ANGELLE: Pres. Hinckley, with ever-present, loving concern stated, “May you be blessed, each of you. May there be love and peace and gladness in your homes.  I leave my blessing upon you.  May there be food on your table, clothing on your back, shelter over your heads and a sense of security and peace and love among your children, precious children every one of them, even those who may have strayed.  I hope you don’t lose patience with them; I hope you go on praying for them, and I don’t hesitate to promise that if you do so, the Lord will touch their hearts and bring them back to you with love and respect and appreciation.” (31)

SCOTT:   “They are in the hands of the Lord of the Harvest, and they are His; and He will raise them up at the last day.” (32)
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1.      2 Nephi 2:23
2.      1 Nephi 8:4
3.      Marvin K. Gardner, Ensign, 1982
4.   Clothed With Charity   edited by Dawn Hall Anderson Susette       
              Fletcher Green Dalora Hall Dalton Deseret Book l997 p. 168
5.      Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, Salt Lake University Third Stake Conf. Nov. 3, l996
6.      Howard W. Hunter, Ensign, Nov, 83
7.      Lost and Found, Robert L. Millet, Lorenzo Snow, Deseret Book, 2001, p. 82-83)
8.   President Packer Ensign May, 1992
9.      Pres. Faust Ensign, May 1992 (Orson F. Whitney, Conf Report Apr. 1929 p. 110)
10.   A Broken Heart, Bruce and Marie Hafen, Deseret Book,1994, 188-189
11.   2 Kings 6:16
12.   Mosiah 24: 13-15
13.   When a Child Wanders, Robert Millet, Deseret Book, 1996, 36-37
14.    Pres, Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, May 1992, p 68
15.   Alma 24
16.  Pres. Packer Ensign May 1997
17.  Mosiah 26:20
18.  Elder Holland, CES Fireside March 2, 1997

19.  I Know My Sheep And They Are Numbered,  Elaine Walton, Rock of Our 
Redeemer, Deseret Book, 2002, p. 232
20.  Richard G. Scott, January 13, 2002, CES, Fireside
21.  Elder Eyring  (Ensign, Feb. l998. p. 18)
22.  Refuge, Shauna U. Frandsen, May Christ Lift Thee Up,
Deseret  Book, 1999, p. 261-262
23.   Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May, 1991
24.   Enos 1-3
25.   Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, 1974.
26.   Pres. Packer Conf Report Oct. l970 p. 119-120
27.   Doctrine and Covenants 84:88
28.   Hebrews 12:1-2
29.   Doctrine and Covenants 123:17
30.   President Hinckley Church News, 2 Sept. l995
31.   Alma 26:7

To listen to this talk click here.

additional resources for finding hope for loved ones who may be straying:
Elder Scott General Conference April 2013 "For Peace at Home"

Elder Eyring General Conference April 2013 "Come unto Me"



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