When I was a young Beehive, I spent hour after hour designing my own house plan on graph paper. I would not only sketch out room designs, bay windows, and how close the refrigerator would be to the oven, but my young, imaginative mind would live in that home. I could imagine how many children I had, how many music students I could teach, what room my family would meet in for Family Home Evening and how I was going to get the six bathrooms in my house plan cleaned on a regular basis. I imagined so thoroughly that I even had a variety of contingency plans just in case things changed.
Fast forward many years, and I have a house similar to the one I designed, (albeit a much smaller size), I have taught many music students, my bathrooms are cleaned on a semi-regular basis (just in case you were wondering), I even have five, really great children. Everything in my life has worked out pretty much like I had planned.
In all that time I spent imagining my future, I never once stopped to think that it would be the world that changed the most. How could anyone possibly prepare for the changes that have taken place since we were kids?
Don’t get me wrong. Some changes are wonderful! Cellular phones, computers, the abundance of shopping malls, heated leather seats and FamilySearch.org are all wonderful changes to my plans. My life is more rich, busy, and complex than my 13-year-old self could ever have imagined it to be.
There have been changes that I never thought were possible. I never thought I would see the persecution of Christians, the destruction of the family, and the weakening testimonies of my family and friends. I never thought I would have to teach my children such “hard” things. Who wants to warn their 8-year-old about pornography and what to do if a bad picture pops up on the screen? NEVER…..IN A MILLION YEARS…..DID I EVER THINK THAT THIS WOULD BE PART OF MY EVERYDAY LIFE!
But…..here we are…..
How do we do this? How do we raise a “sin-resistant generation” when stumbling blocks are everywhere along our path?
Elder Quentin L. Cook warned us of these stumbling blocks: They include: 1- The Philosophies of Men, 2- Refusing to See Sin In Its True Light, and 3- Looking Beyond the Mark. Elder Cook also quoted Heber C. Kimball when he warned: “The time is coming when….it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy to the people of God. Then… look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall.” Heber C. Kimball concluded that there is “a TEST coming.”
Elder Cook’s warning set me on a personal quest. I needed to carefully design my home and life just as I had done as a young girl. This time, instead of designing floor plans, I need to make a plan to help my family avoid the stumbling blocks that Elder Cook listed. In order to do this, I must learn the following:
1- What are the philosophies of men and how do they differ from the Plan of God? Elder Cook mentioned the philosophical approach of the Greeks and how Paul had to use “the doctrine of Christ crucified” to change their hearts…not just their minds. This is the same approach I must take as I teach my children. I must teach their hearts as well as their minds. The Hebrew philosophy of education was based around God, family and country. It was a scriptural based system where the knowledge that we are all children of God drove the end goal that was for each child become like God. Knowledge became a by-product of this goal. The Greek philosophy of education was based around the writings of the philosophers. The Greeks assumed that the mind of every child was empty and needed filling in order to serve the state well.
Knowing who our children are and where they are going is not just for Sunday School lessons anymore. If we want our children to avoid the stumbling block of the philosophies of men, we must teach this lesson every moment of a child’s life.
2- Seeing sin in its true light sounds like a daunting task to me. My kitchen window looks clean most of the day, but when the morning sun shines through, I can see every streak, spot and smudge. I hate that! I don’t want to be the morning sun in the life of my children…always pointing out weaknesses and condemning them for their faults. But perhaps I am interpreting this symbolism wrong… Just like the beautiful sun can help us see where we need to clean up a bit, The Beautiful Son can help us know when we need to clean our lives up through the Atonement.
Just like the beautiful sun can help us see where we need to clean up a bit, The Beautiful Son can help us know when we need to clean our lives up through the Atonement.
How can our children see sin in its true light without being surrounded by The True Light of Christ? It is my job to let that Light in throughout the day by keeping the Spirit in my home by always applying the principles of the gospel. Not just in the early morning of scripture study or the late evening of family prayer.
3- Looking beyond the mark is difficult for every mother I know. In an effort to serve the Lord and become perfect like Him, we become overwhelmed with the amount of work it takes to find perfection. When our caring friends tell us to cut back in order to maintain sanity, we sometimes end up focusing on one or two areas in our life where perfection seems possible. If we are not careful, we can put too much emphasis on things that, while good, are not going to lead to true happiness and may, inadvertently, teach our children that some of Heavenly Father’s precepts are not always important.
We would never tell our young children that they only need to learn to read the words that they feel confident with. We encourage them to read all the words and we eagerly help them when they struggle. Likewise, teaching our children the doctrine and principles behind what we are asked to do is powerful, especially when we show them that they have a loving Savior who can help us be true to these teachings even while we struggle to live them all perfectly.
This world may have shifted my well-thought-out plans for a happy home and family, but it hasn’t destroyed it. I know our Savior can make our stumbling blocks into “stepping stones” and that “being valiant in our testimony of Jesus is a stepping-stone toward qualifying for the Savior’s grace and the Celestial Kingdom.” And I will spend the rest of my life building my home on the foundation of this good news.
Author Jenny Baker lives in St. George, Utah and is proudly married to Blake Baker. They are the parents of five, wonderful daughters. Jenny has recently traded in her life of directing and teaching music for a full time position as the primary educator in the lives of her children.
Jenny is one of the founding members of Gathering Families (www.GatheringFamilies.com) where she works with other women throughout the United States to promote the family and encourage moms and dads to become INTENTIONAL PARENTS in order to help safely guide and protect the rising generation through the challenges of this ever-changing world.