Friday, October 18, 2019

"Be not conformed to this world"

Me and my youngest "babies" being silly

When my husband and I were married as a young couple back in 1992, we were committed to each other and to the covenants we made in the temple, but we did not fully understand the Lord’s plans for our family. The Proclamation on the Family had not yet been created, but I am grateful that we began our marriage with a firm conviction that parenthood was the most important work we could do in this life. We both had strong testimonies that “Children are an heritage of the Lord”, and we knew we were on the right path.

Interestingly enough, we began to feel confusion about when we should bring our first child into the world when all of our friends-- who were active, faithful members of the Church-- greatly discouraged us from starting our family while at college. Yet the Spirit had begun prompting my husband and I to not prevent our children from coming in the first few months after our wedding. We were young, and began to wonder if those around us might know something we didn’t. Luckily, when we discussed our future family as a couple, we both knew that the promptings we were having were from the Lord. And so, we prepared to become parents and I became pregnant right away.
A few years later, after having one miscarriage, and then two small children immediately thereafter, President Gordon B. Hinckley presented “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” in General Conference, and we felt so grateful that we had followed the impressions of the Holy Ghost and had ignored our seemingly-sophisticated friends. As the early apostles told the followers of Christ in their day, we learned that we should “Be not conformed to this world” and that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God”.

The important convictions we gained from the Lord’s reminders found in The Proclamation were vital to our family right after our first son (our second child) was born. My new baby was six weeks old, and I was driving to my postpartum appointment when I reflected on my nurse-midwife’s question regarding our plans for birth control. As I prayed to the Lord on that short drive, the Spirit impressed my mind strongly with the thought that the Lord needed to send another baby to our family very soon. This surprised me-- our baby was brand new! But the prompting was unmistakable, and we decided to once again put our family size in the Lord’s hands. (We had our third child, a boy, almost exactly thirteen months after our second child.)

The passage on welcoming children into a family found in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” has resonated in our family again and again over our 27 years of marriage.
“The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”
Becoming parents is an integral part of our Father in Heaven’s eternal plan for His children. We have been given a wonderful opportunity in this life to become more like Him by having and raising children. Elder L. Tom Perry expressed the importance of marriage and family this way:
“What the restored gospel brings to the discussion on marriage and family is so large and so relevant that it cannot be overstated: we make the subject eternal! We take the commitment and the sanctity of marriage to a greater level because of our belief and understanding that families go back to before this earth was and that they can go forward into eternity.”
I believe that welcoming children into our eternal families is one of the greatest blessings that the Lord can give us in this life. Elder D. Todd Christofferson emphasized the importance of establishing families in God’s plan:
“A family built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for God’s plan to thrive—the setting for the birth of children, who come in purity and innocence from God, and the environment for the learning and preparation they will need for a successful mortal life and eternal life in the world to come.”
“For [God’s] work to succeed to ‘[exalt us] with himself,’ God ordained that men and women should marry and give birth to children, thereby creating, in partnership with God, the physical bodies that are key to the test of mortality and essential to eternal glory with Him.”
Our advice to our children as they have grown up and started families of their own, is for them to follow the principles and doctrines found in The Proclamation on the Family:
“We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.” 
“The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”
Our adult children have sometimes voiced their concerns about the difficulties of bringing children into our troubled world today. My husband and I have done our best to encourage them and remind them of the blessings we receive from following the Lord’s plans for our lives.

President Hinckley’s encouraging words are a reminder for us all:
“I see a wonderful future in a very uncertain world. If we will cling to our values, if we will build on our inheritance, if we will walk in obedience before the Lord, if we will simply live the gospel we will be blessed in a magnificent and wonderful way. We will be looked upon as a peculiar people who have found the key to a peculiar happiness.”
We are so grateful to have been blessed with thirteen children in our family. We acknowledge that not every family should be as large as ours, and we firmly believe that family size and timing is between couples and the Lord. But we have also learned firsthand that the Lord will qualify those He calls to be parents. We can trust in the promptings we receive! Our Father in Heaven will always bless us for following His plans for our lives.

With love,
Mama Rachel

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