Labor Day weekend 2015. Bear Lake is the place. Paddle boarding is the reason. Our kids are all grown up and it’s hard to find time to get away, but we rented some paddle boards and loaded up the Subaru. We arrived late and it was dark. We put the tent up and were soon roasting marshmallows. I settled into my chair and enjoyed the perfect, golden, sugary treat. What could be better than this? My most beautiful blessings were nestled around the fire beside me. My testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ was burning like a bonfire in my heart.
We brushed our teeth, said prayers, and went to bed. I did a lot of wondering that night. About what it will be like next summer, when our son has moved away to graduate school. Will our daughter move away too, when she starts her first teaching job? How far away will they be? How often will we get to see them? Have we taught them everything they need to know? Will they stay true to Jesus Christ? Will they raise a righteous posterity? What will be the opposition against them?
In my silent prayer, sweet peace wrapped me up and kissed me. I knew all would be well. Our children have strong testimonies, a sure foundation, not built upon us, but upon their Redeemer, Jesus Christ and they love Him. I didn’t need to worry about them, but about me. My only job is to work on myself. I have to make sure that I’m strong. I have to keep my covenants. I have to follow the prophet. I have to be worthy of the Holy Ghost.
I started repeating to myself the words of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”. It seems like yesterday when it was read in church, as we studied the significance of it. At the time, I was a young Primary president and my children were aged four and one, so my memory is a blur. John will tell you how he felt on the day it was read in priesthood meeting. He recognized the significance of it as the word of God, spoken to us by prophets and apostles. We both knew what it meant for our future and the future of our little children: the family is under attack.
Last month, John and I celebrated our 30th anniversary. We spent the morning in the Salt Lake Temple, where our little family began with very tender memories. So many struggles and so many glorious blessings. I stared at the picture of the Savior. Everything that mattered to me was because of Him and His restored gospel. Because of Him, my family is sealed together for eternity and if we all try our best to repent and be clean, we can all live together, forever! As a 20-year-old girl on that day I knew that, but not like I know it now.
In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, the very first paragraph says:
“We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”
Let’s focus on “solemnly proclaim,” “ordained of God,” and “central to the Creator’s plan.” It doesn’t say, “We’re excited to announce” or “We think it’s a good idea.” The words of prophets and apostles say, “We SOLEMNLY PROCLAIM” because this is serious business and this is not a recommendation but a declaration! Why? Because people, even in the church, don’t get it. Sadly, 20 years later, even more do not get it. Now the pressure is on from the people in the tall and spacious building and more people fall into darkness and lose their way every day. “Ordained of God,” to me means: treat it differently. It is not supposed to be of the world. Ordained of God means marriage between a man and a woman is important, sacred and necessary. How do we treat something that is ordained of God? Ponder that for a minute. How should we regard our families and our marriages if they are ordained of God? “Central to the Creator’s plan” is enormous in its scope. This is not a suggestion. It is everything!
Heavenly Father loves us because He has trusted us His children. He has trusted us to love them, take care of them, and to teach them about Him and His Son. He wants them back; they are His. He knew we would need help so he gave us the scriptures and living prophets. He gave us our Savior and we promised we would follow Him. He promised us everything He has, if we will be obedient and true. This means making our marriages and our families central in our own lives. Ordained in our own eyes. We have to treat things differently in this life. We can’t expect to share eternity with people we neglected on this earth.
General conference is coming up. The words spoken will be inspired. Jesus Christ is at the head of this Church, directing the apostles, prophets, and other leaders who speak to us in what they should teach us. It will be as if He were speaking to us Himself. Will we be present? Will we listen? Will we do? Will we take the truth to be hard? Will we be happy and humbly receive the counsel we are given? Can we receive prophetic counsel? Can we apply it to how seriously we take “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”?
Bear Lake was a happy time. Paddle boarding was fun and relatively easy. There are some secrets to it. You need to be safe and wear a life jacket. Our daughter got into trouble when the waves came up and she got separated from her board. Luckily, she was able to flag down a man on a jet-ski who came to her rescue and she had her life jacket. You need to balance your body on the board. If you know how to balance and can paddle to go the direction you intend, you’ll be fine. If you get separated from your board, you’d better have a life jacket. If you do things safely, following advice from those with more experience, you’ll be safe. Even if you fall off, you’ve got your life jacket to keep you afloat until help comes.
If we are trying our best to be obedient, if we are repenting daily and striving to have the Holy Ghost for our constant companion, we will not find the things the prophets and apostles ask of us to be hard. We will happily do them. And we will be blessed. It’s time to put on our life jackets, grab the boards, walk down to the lake, and enjoy the sunshine. Paddle up!
I’m Gina Holt. I am a wife and mother of two, a son and a daughter. I’m an artist and a writer. I think good books are a gift and I love to read. I’m intrigued with cooking, experimenting with new recipes, especially for Indian food. I’m happiest when I’m with my family and even happier if they are playing their bluegrass music together. I think I was meant to live by the ocean, but living by the Great Salt Lake is the next best thing; you should see the sunsets! I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes me happy and gives me hope. Visit my blog at http://becomingcream.blogspot.com