How a Child’s Seizure Tells Me God Knows Who I Am

I believe that things happen for a reason. That very often we are carefully orchestrated to be in the right place at the right time, either for our own benefit or for the benefit of others.

That’s what happened today.

My calendar told me it was my turn to volunteer in my daughter’s kindergarten class. Since it was written in ink on the slot labeled 10:00AM, I got dressed and started driving by 9:45AM. But as I got two thirds of the way there, it occurred to me that I didn’t think I was supposed be there today. I had started a class on Tuesdays (I’d cut out 15 minutes early to start driving)and was quite sure I’d emailed the teachers letting them know that Tuesdays no longer worked for me. But then why was it still on my calendar?

Rather than leave them without the help they needed, I decided to drive the rest of the way and see if they needed me or not. And that was my offer when I walked into the classroom.

“I am supposed to be here?” I asked.

One of the teachers checked and said, “No, you’re not. But if you’d like to stay, we have a center you can run.”

“I’ll stay if you need me,” I said. “Otherwise I’ll leave and go work on something.”

They asked me to stay…so I did.

I ran a center at a grey laminate table shaped like a semi-circle. I sat on the inside with students around the outside. Their task? To match pictures of things like a hat, a hen, a dog and a box to the short vowel they could hear in the word. Easy enough.

After rotating through to the third group of children, I ended up with a little girl named Kesa at my table along with four other children. I explained the task and got everyone started. After cutting out one shape, Kesa looked at me and said, “My tummy hurts.”

“Do you want to wait a few minutes and see if it goes away?” I asked.

“No,” Kesa said.

“Do you think you need to go potty?” I asked.

When Kesa nodded “yes” I turned to call one of the teaching assistants to ask if it was okay for her to leave for the bathroom. But before I had time to finish asking, Kesa arched backwards and to the side and went down on the floor.

I was out of my chair right away and went around to Kesa who was laid flat out, stomach down on the floor. I talked to her (I don’t remember what I said), but she didn’t respond.

When I tried to get my hands under her arm pits to lift her up, I felt her body was rigid. And while her eyes appeared to be at least partially open, she didn’t respond when I asked, “Can you get up? Can you stand up?”

It occurred to me that it might be a seizure, but her body wasn’t moving at all. Her arms were straight down at her sides, her legs were straight out under the table, and her head was turned to her right, facing me, though her hair mostly covered her face. As she breathed she made short snorting noises. It crossed my mind to move furniture, but her body never moved or jerked once.

I wasn’t sure what to think. This didn’t seem like ordinary fainting to me.

After about a minute, the stiffness left her. Kesa began to respond and was able to stand up. One of the teachers took her to the nurse and while I was inclined to follow (and offered to do so three times), I stayed to finish running my center.

While they said she was fine and had gone home with her mother, I just didn’t feel right. I felt a huge sense of anxiety that something just wasn’t right.

So I went to Rubio’s, bought my favorite two taco plate (chicken with bacon and Portobello and poblano) with rice and chips, and pulled out my lap top.

According to WebMD, it was a “tonic” seizure preceded by a partial autonomic seizure that would have been cued by the feeling in her stomach. The stomach cue is associated with temporal lobe epilepsy.

I felt better, but I knew the parents needed this information. So I headed back to the school to talk to the nurse. Lucky for me she was eating lunch in her office and let me in.

I showed her what I found on the WebMD site. She assured me that she would “strongly urge” the mother to take Kesa to the doctor along with this information. She also indicated that this was important because she said that even though the mother said she would take her to the doctor, it was her underlying sense that she’d really just take her home. I truly hope she takes her in.

Before I left, I asked the school nurse, “Do you believe that God puts you right in places you need to be?”

“You know, I really do,” she said.

Then I told her about how I wasn’t even supposed to be there today.

I am prone to look for information and successfully diagnose family illnesses using the Internet. I’m a keen observer of physical behavior and would notice the nuances of body position (piled in a heap vs. straight out) and tension (limp vs. rigid).

What if someone else had been there who didn’t have these tendencies, someone who would merely say, “She fainted,” and leave it at that, so that important information never got passed on about what really happened.

I believe I was there today for a reason. I believe that God knew five weeks ago that if I wrote the appointment in pen in my calendar that I would show up, even though I’d already cancelled the commitment. I believe that someone who was supposed to be running that center somehow didn’t show up so that I could be running her center at the very moment Kesa had the seizure.

People claim there are too many things that go wrong in this world for there to be a God in Heaven. I say there are too many things that go right for there not to be.

I know that God knows my name, my nature, what I will see and notice, and how my mind works. He knows that he can give me a sense that something was wrong and be able to count on me to discover what needs to be found. He knows that satisfying my own curiosity will not be enough and that I will be driven to get that information into the right hands. And I did.

But it’s not just me…

He knows you too.

And when you are in the right place at the right time, it’s no accident.

He knows the teacher who scheduled me to come. He knows the woman who didn’t show up to volunteer. He knows the teacher who assigned the woman whose place I took to the table where Kesa would be sitting. And He knows Kesa.

God is real. He knows your name, your nature, what you will see and notice, and how your mind works. And when you listen, you become a tool in His hands to do good.

It happens every day.

Doesn’t it?

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You Aren’t What You Own: Spiritual Transformation through Consecration

(How consecration is a gift designed to transform the very heart of who you are and how you view everyone around you.)

When we talk about the law of consecration, most of us automatically think about giving up all our physical possessions into a community pool and retaining only that which we “need.” While the sacrifice of personal property is a component of the law, it is not the law’s central purpose. While the actions associated with the law of consecration are primarily temporal, the ultimate purpose of the law is entirely spiritual.

It’s About Choosing Truth Over Fiction

The law of consecration is not about giving up “things.” It is not about giving up money. It is about mastering our desires in spite of ourselves. It is a process of getting over the illusion that what we can see and possess is better than unseen rewards—like choosing truth over fiction. It is a process of achieving a state of non-attachment to material things and non-attachment to what those material things represent, both what they represent to our own psyche and what we believe our possessions represent to others.

For example, our home might represent prestige or success. An accumulation of money or investments represents security, power, self-worth and personal value. An advanced college degree, while not a physical possession, might represent power, prestige and intellect. While we know that we are children of God and divine heirs to His traits and status, we still seek to build ourselves up, both in the minds of others and in our own estimation, by the titles, talents, and trinkets we acquire.

The Battle Between Heart and Mind

In essence, the intent of the law of consecration is to win the battle between heart and mind, or rather between our carnal desires and our spirits. We are asked to consecrate our time, talents, energy, all that we now possess and all that we may possess to the Lord. Possession is a form of attachment. We are attached to what we feel belongs to us. This psychological attachment is actually a form of worship.

What we perceive we get out of our possessions—respect, power, fame, perceived intelligence—is not really real for us, but only real in the context of what we want others to think of us or believe about us. We hold onto pride, power, and prestige, and by doing so give control to our neighbors and to the general populace to dictate our actions and what we may become.

We cannot become our true selves until we are free from having to “be x, y, or z” in the eyes of others. Our agency and progress is limited. Thus consecration is about spiritual freedom. Give all that mental bondage up and “come follow me” is the invitation. Until you can do that, you really have no idea what you are capable of.

The Myth Undone Concerning “Thy Will Be Done”

And though it seems like you are giving up your own will to do this—to follow Him—you are not. Our wills become so entwined with those of our parents, peers, and culture, that by the time we mature to adulthood, what we believe is our own will is often a contrived set of learned behaviors that we have been conditioned by society to pursue.

Like Pavlov’s dogs, we may even be responding with learned behaviors that lie beyond our conscious control or awareness. Thus arise inner conflicts between the buried and muffled genuine will that remains, flickering in our subconscious, and this active and lively will we’ve grown accustomed to on the surface. We believe that we are our story, that we are the labels and achievements—be they good or bad—that we have accumulated. But we are in bondage to a lie. Only by letting go of what we crave so intensely to be perceived as, can we discover who we really are and become free to pursue our genuine desires.

The Parable of the Rich Young Man

When we read Jesus’ parable of the rich young man, we like to believe that his problems stemmed from his love of his money. It makes it easier for us to rationalize that we don’t suffer from his ailment, since we either don’t love money…or we just don’t have any money.

But the rich young man’s challenge is two-fold. The first requirement Jesus makes of him is, “Go and sell all that thou hast.” Think about it. Sell all thou hast. You car, house, piano, video gaming systems, computers, ATVs, boats, books, real estate, nice clothes, power tools, bikes, fishing rods and collections. Get rid of, let go of, and give up everything that represents to the world who and what you are.

Next, don’t keep the money just in case you want to buy it all back. Burn the bridge. Make a total commitment and give it to the poor. Abandon completely, entirely and permanently this false concept of yourself that you’ve developed about who you are—He might add, “Because it’s not true; it’s not who you are.”  He also said, “Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” In short, you have to give up whatever beliefs you have about what you “need” in life and what you think you need to be.

Finally, give it all to the poor. For the rich man, it was the poor. For the wise man, it might be the uneducated. For the righteous man, it might be the sinner. The challenge here is our ability—once we are close to abandoning what we believe about ourselves—is to give up the false ways we view others. Can you consecrate everything you consider to be “yours” not just to the Lord but to the people or person you would consider the absolutely most undeserving of your possessions?

This is the material equivalent of forgiveness. In forgiveness, the goods or possessions in question are actually feelings. It’s easy to forgive one whom we respect or admire. But this spiritual challenge reaches far deeper, requiring a sacrifice from your very heart…a consecrated heart.

The question is:

 Are you able to forgive the person or people who, in your view, are the least deserving of forgiveness or perhaps even the most deserving of punishment or retribution? And, in addition, be willing to offer them everything you have? Willingly?

We Know Not What We Do

Just as the Romans were forgiven because “they know not what they do,” neither do we. None of us do. Our consciences and motives are so mired in culture and our own false conceptions—and so unconsciously so—that we truly “know not what we do.” It’s easy to admit this in a condemning way about others. But can we admit the same thing about ourselves? Can we willingly sacrifice who we think we are in order to discover who we really are? And can we do the same for others?

What a gift it would be to the world if in every conversation with a stranger we could find a safe space to be who we really are and allow them the same freedom—a world where we had the fortitude to willing blind ourselves to others possessions, jobs, connections, so that we could see only truth and abandon the fiction. What a world it would be if we would willing give up all we have and begin to say about ourselves…I AM.

Not the Great I Have, the Great I Know, the Great I Own, the Great I Wear, the Great I Live In, or the Great I Drive.

The great I AM.

Because what you are is already enough…and that’s the Truth.

Discover the Power in Being Yourself

I never knew the power of being myself until this past weekend.

Or maybe I just rediscovered it?

Here’s what happened…and you really must read to the end or you’ll miss the enlightening part. (It won’t be effective if you skip the middle.)

I attend a conference I’d attended at this same time last year. It’s called the Info Summit and is a meeting of information marketers—entrepreneurs who make a business out of selling what they know.

I wasn’t really prepared. Well, I didn’t need to be prepared for anything in particular. I’m talking about being strategically prepared in my head for acquiring new clients, making beneficial connections (for myself, of course), and finding partners who might represent new streams of income for me.

That was the mindset I took with me last year…and it got me nowhere.

No new clients.

No important connections.

No new streams of income.

Nada.

And while I should have been prepared with the same objectives this year anyway, I just didn’t feel like it.

You see, I’ve been in the middle of a business identity crisis. I’m known in that circle as a copywriter and marketing strategist. But I have too many one-on-one clients to really go looking for more of them. I have 11 years experience designing instruction and would like to do more of that.  So I’ve been lacking a concise way to say what I do and yet move my business away from one-on-one client work and toward something else.

Do you hear how UNCLEAR that message sounds? How absolutely CLUELESS my position is?

It’s pathetic, but that’s how I talked to people all weekend long.

When someone asked me, “So what do you do?” I would answer, “Well, normally I would tell you that I’m a copywriter, marketing strategist and course designer. But I’m really overloaded and trying to move away from copy and closer to the instructional design side of things. I’d like to start coaching people on developing information products…but I don’t really know if people perceive the need for that. So I don’t really know what to tell you. What do you do?”

I even confessed to one person, after giving an answer like that, “Gee, if anyone based their decision on how I’m talking, no one would ever hire me as a copywriter!”

Yes, it really was that bad.

But it was amazingly good in other ways.

Because I wasn’t focused on meeting my own business goals, I had no agenda when I was talking to people.

I wasn’t thinking about being impressive, sounding smart (obviously), or trying to persuade people to hire me. This left my mind more open to thinking about how I might be able to help the person I was talking to. In fact, I looked for a beneficial introduction I could make for nearly every person I met.

It was so much fun!

I felt good. I felt useful in a new way. And I think it made me see the people I was meeting more as people and less as sources of potential profit.

And I connected deeply with people who discussed the following possibilities without my initiating it:  writing copy for them, coaching them on developing information products, copywriting for their marketing groups, being interviewed for their monthly teleconference call, doing a joint venture by taking our marketing groups to Disneyland, helping me build a membership site, potentially participating in revamping the curriculum for Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle (the event sponsor), and more.

I discovered the power in being me.

Why do we…and why do I…spend so much time putting on a show when just being real works so much better? Why are we afraid that just being who we are isn’t good enough? Where did that joy of just being go?  (Don’t get me started on the implications for my parenting skills.)

When Christ ministered on earth, one phrase that landed him in big trouble was, “I am that I AM.” While he was declaring himself to be the Savior, that statement is a significant commentary on how we live our lives.

Too many of us, myself included, spend too much time living in a state that is more like the phrase, “I am what I’m not.”

While we try to look so good on the outside, I wonder if we do ourselves harm?

  • If no one knows your marriage is failing, how can anyone help?
  • If no one knows you have doubts about your path in life, who can guide you?
  • If no one knows your fears, who can calm them?

We all know that we feel small and intimidated around the people in our lives who seem to have everything going for them, who never have problems, or need anyone.

So why do we try so hard to be one of them?

In pretending to be problem free, we intimidate others and repel the very love and connections we so desperately long for.

There is POWER in being you…the REAL you.

And there is immense value in genuine vulnerability.

My stumbling responses and admittance to being in crisis invited people at the conference to be as open with me as I was being with them.

It gave them permission to stop pretending to be something they were not…because I had stopped pretending.

Isn’t it strange to think that maybe we really don’t know anyone at all…because we’re all pretending to be something else?

Isn’t is baffling to think that by pretending to be something I think people will think is wonderful, it puts them in the position of having to be “wonderful” themselves.

When that happens, neither one of us really ever sees the other.

A veil is drawn and we are blind to each other’s being.

Shakespeare said that “life is a stage and we are merely players.”

Stage fright is not our problem. We’re on stage all day long.

Our greatest fear is someone discovering who we really are…and being disappointed.

But truly we have no need to fear. Paul the apostle taught, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

The context of that scripture?

A discourse on the power of charity, the pure love of Christ.

The moral?

When we connect with others on a deep level, where we “know even as we are known,” the result is charity. The result is LOVE.

So here’s the question for any “actors” who may be reading…

What would happen if you gave someone a backstage pass?

 Who will it be?

On Being True to Myself

I’m preparing my Relief Society lesson on the Second Coming on a day when I’m not feeling so great about myself. A client is not happy with my performance. I stayed up late and got up early (6:30AM on a Saturday) for a community garage sale I didn’t discover wasn’t happening until after I’d set up and waited for about an hour. The neighbors drove by and noticed. And I forgot about a load of laundry in the washer two days ago that is now mildewed with all the kids’ school clothes in it.

I’m feeling pretty dumb today.

So when my husband left and I was supposed to be working on client work and taxes, I put Scooby Doo on for the kids and went into my closet to pray. And I cried.
I cried over how misaligned I feel with what I AM doing compared to what I feel in my heart I should be doing. I can blame it on the need to pay off some debts. I can blame it on fear. Heck, I could make up things to blame it on. We’re all good at that, right?
I wrote down on my note pad, “There’s nothing more important than being you.” It’s not all the things that make me look important in the world in the world. What’s really important is all the things that are really me that I push aside. And then I thought about the Second Coming.
Even when Jehovah came to earth, he was born as Jesus. He had to figure out who he really was…and then act in integrity with that knowledge. While I always think of the sympathy he has for our sins, our physical and emotional pains, it never occurred to me that He understands this problem. While I struggle with living in integrity with what I feel inside, He gets that. While I struggle with choosing something that might make me feel or look important to others, rather than being really true to my heart, He gets that too.
And when He comes again, He will come in His true role, as Savior and Redeemer of the world. So I wondered…Do we have a sort of Second Coming of our own? If I break through this self-doubt and addiction to approval and just be ME…and just write the things that ARE me…will I come again to the self that I was before I came here? Will I come to a point where I can align myself with my inner truth…and then stay there? That’s the trick.
But then, isn’t “trick” really the wrong word? I have access to a Savior who understands how to achieve and maintain the kind of integrity to self I’m talking about. A Savior who discovered and maintained His true identity, who didn’t trade it in for the perceived accolades of others that would have been worth so much less than the truth. Not only that, He has the power to not only cleanse me from sin—and I believe denial of my true self is just that—He has the power to change who I am, through grace.
The trick isn’t in doing it myself. The trick is believing…having enough faith in Him…that He can do it for me. But that only happens if I’m brave enough to start taking actions in alignment with my inner truth.
Am I?

Are you?

Sex and Salvation (Part 2): The Garden of Eden and Agency

The Essential Fall of Adam and Eve

As the first parents in this world which God created, Adam and Eve were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. In short, they were commanded to exercise their powers of procreation to produce offspring and populate their new world. However, in their state of innocence they would not have had the understanding—nor the desire—to do so. The divine desire to procreate was a necessary product of the Fall.

Consider conversations you may have had with your young children when attempting to answer the very important question, “Where to babies come from?” I imagine their response may have been much like our son’s reaction when he learned about the birds and bees at about age 10. At the conclusion of my husband’s explanation, our son looked at him wide-eyed and said, “That’s gross!” I imagine Adam and Eve, in absence of any carnal desires, might have come to the same conclusion. In that condition, also known as a “state of innocence,” they never would have exercised those powers. They never would have had the desire to do so! And that is one reason the Fall was so important to the implementation of Heavenly Father’s Plan.

The fact is, the sensual desires we have—which are mistakenly categorized as carnal, sensual and devilish (terms that apply only when those powers are abused)—are at the very heart of the Plan of Salvation. Without the divine desire that leads a man and woman to unite, there would be no “tabernacles of clay” for our Father’s spirit children to inhabit.

The prophet Lehi confirms this in the Book of Mormon:

“And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin….Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (

Were it not for the Fall, Adam and Eve would have remained in a state of innocence—a state absent sexual desire. But “Adam fell that men might be,” and men “are” a direct result of the power of procreation.

Without this divine sensual desire and the ability to act upon it, it would be wholly impossible for God’s Plan of Salvation to move forward.

How Procreation Achieves Life’s Two Great Purposes

Most of you who have taught the Plan of Salvation in church or as missionaries will clearly recall that after you draw the circle representing Earth, you place a #1 and #2 underneath it and ask: “What are the two reasons we came to Earth?”

The first reason is: “To gain a body.” Why? So we can become like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The role of procreation in achieving this objective is obvious.

The second reason we came to Earth is: “To exercise our Agency” meaning our right to choose.

So what about the second objective? Does procreation really have anything to do with our agency? I believe it does.

In talking about Adam and Eve, we know that as long as they were in a “state of innocence,” they never would have exercised the power of procreation. Why not? They never would have had the desire to do so. And without the desire…they lacked the power to choose.

As Lehi taught, “…there must be an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass [i.e., creation of bodies], neither wickedness [i.e., abuse of the procreative power], neither holiness [i.e., exaltation and continuation of “lives”] nor misery [i.e., loss of exaltation], neither good nor bad….Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself [i.e., gave unto man specific desires that would entice him]. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other” (2 Nephi 2: 11 and 16, italics added).

While many might interpret the scriptures to mean that we are carnal, sensual and devilish because of the flesh, I would argue differently. We come to dwell in the flesh, but whether or not we are “carnally minded” is a choice we make. According to Elder D. Chad Richardson:

“We, like the Savior, are precious spirit sons and daughters of God. Our spirits have been clothed in mortal tabernacles. If we let desires of the flesh dominate our spirit, we become carnally minded. Jacob stated, “To be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal” (2 Ne. 9:39). Abinadi taught that people who persist in their carnal nature rebel against God and give the devil power over them (see Mosiah 16:5).” (From “Book of Mormon Principles: Earthly Choices, Eternal Consequences.” Ensign, 2004.)

While the procreative power is one of the greatest gifts God has entrusted to His children, it is also one of life’s greatest enticements or sources of temptation. Its rightful treatment makes salvation and exaltation possible. Its abuse puts us under Satan’s power. Satan seeks innumerable and endless opportunities to persuade us to misuse this sacred power. How we respond to temptation takes the test of agency one step further. When we give in to temptation, we decrease our agency. When we obey the Law of Chastity, our agency increases, as does the array of choices possible for us.

The world would have us view the Law of Chastity as a deprivation, yet it is one of the greatest protections and blessings we have. Keeping the law protects and expands our God-given agency. It gives us the power to pursue exaltation with our families. The law itself–just like the enticement itself–is a divine gift attended by great promises and blessings. That’s why it is worth keeping.

The procreative power is a delicate and powerful tool. While it is the unifying power that moves the Plan of Salvation forward, when misused it is also our greatest downfall. And yet, procreation is at the heart of our purposes in this life. It provides bodies for us to inhabit. And it is one of the greatest tests of our exercise of Agency.

Procreation is essential to God’s Plan of Happiness for His Children…both now and in the eternities.

Up Next:  Sex and Salvation (Part 3)–Exaltation

Sex and Salvation: The Central Role of Procreation in the Plan of Salvation (Part 1: Premortal Life)

I recently taught the Relief Society lesson on Chastity. I’ve had so many comments over the past two weeks about the lesson that I believe it must be worth sharing. (I’ll do this in several parts, so keep an eye out for more to come.)

As I prepared the lesson from Gospel Principles, I understood that chastity is something we too often think of as a prohibitive law–almost like a test to see how willing we are to be obedient. But that is not the case at all. The procreative power is at the heart of the Plan of Salvation from beginning to end.

When we violate the law of chastity, the effects of our actions impact ourselves, our immediate family, our predecessors and our posterity. An action that violates the law of chastity through misuse of the procreative power is an act in direct opposition to the Plan of Salvation and its Creator.

While we so often focus on the consequences of sexual sin and how it is an “abomination,” we should also consider how this divine power makes the entire Plan–and our very salvation–possible.

Procreation in Pre-Mortal Life
We are told in scriptures both ancient and modern that God is our Father. “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews, 12:9).

God is the father of our spirits not merely in the sense of a father-creator (like the father of the light bulb) but in a true parental relationship. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being…For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:28).

This truth is confirmed in modern revelation, “That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:24).

We are spirit children of our Father in Heaven in a most literal sense. And we are so through the power of procreation. We learn from Eliza R. Snow’s hymn O My Father:

O my Father, Thou that dwellest in the high and glorious place
When shall I regain thy presence and again behold thy face?
In the heavens are parents single? No the thought makes reason stare.
Truth is reason. Truth eternal tells me I’ve a mother there.

And our prophets have declared in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents….”

The Church Handbook further confirms:

“The family is ordained of God. It is the most important unit in time and in eternity. Even before we were born on the earth, we were part of a family. Each of us “is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents” with “a divine nature and destiny” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). God is our Heavenly Father, and we lived in His presence as part of His family in the premortal life.”

Procreation was the organizing power and act which brought our spirits into being. Our individuality, our divine descent, result from the eternal and vital power of procreation itself.

In order for Heavenly Father’s children to experience mortality, procreation became a necessary part of life on earth.

(Next: Part 2 “The Garden of Eden”)

What It Means to Forsake Father and Mother to Follow the Savior

I’ve often been bothered by points in the scriptures that mention forsaking parents or siblings for the sake of the gospel. While sometimes it happens necessarily, especially in circumstances where family members boldly oppose one who chooses to follow Christ, it could also be interpreted as a prerequisite to truly living the gospel.

In some churches, such separation is often condoned and the church organization promoted as the new member’s “true family.” But in a church where the family is considered central to Heavenly Father’s plan for His children, this interpretation has never seemed right to me.

In Matthew 19:29, Jesus tells his apostles, in answer to Peter’s query about what the apostles’ reward shall be because they had forsaken everything to follow Him:

“And every one that hath aforsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my bname’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit ceverlasting life.”

On the surface, it would seem that forsaking almost anything to follow the Savior would merit a reward. And, on the surface, it might also seem that to forsake your family members would have to mean complete abandonment and separation.

This past Sunday, however, I realized that there is something besides a physical person that we must forsake…something purely associated with our agency that we must choose to forsake…regardless of whether physical separation is a part of the process or not.

As I sat listening to the lesson #36 from Gospel Principles, “The Family Can Be Eternal,” I realized that sometimes one of the most important things to forsake is the expectations and values our parents or siblings have that may hinder us in achieving our own personal missions in this life. As parents, we strive to instill the best values in our children. Yet sometimes, we try to instill values that have more to do with personality than with personal righteousness. A classic Hollywood example of this is the teenaged son whose father drives him to excel at football when the son hates the sport…but plays because of his insatiable desire to please and gain the approval of his father.

This doesn’t just happen with sports. We might adopt and try to acquire our parents’ approval in a number of ways:

  • Excelling at playing an instrument we don’t really enjoy
  • Baking, cooking, homemaking or other matronly activities
  • Making a substantial income so we can be labeled “good providers”
  • Getting involved in politics so we can follow in a parent’s footsteps
  • Taking over the family business

None of these activities is “bad” or even unrighteous. Most of them are very good! And that’s what makes forsaking such things so difficult.

The most difficult thing to forsake is a pursuit that is in itself good, that will garner us parental approval, but which we know is not in synch with what the Spirit would have us do. And while I say “which we know is not in synch,” that may not be the case at all. Often we feel just a tiny inkling that we should do something else. But parental approval is so vitally important to our feeling of success that we can become blind to what we really should be doing.

For example, my father was an entrepreneur. He quit his engineering job at Hughes Aircraft when I was about 11 years old to go into the motel business. He owned the 36-unit Manchester House Motel near the LAX airport. I grew up checking in guests and running the phone switch board. He went on to purchase two other motels, commercial and residential lots, apartment buildings, and other real estate. He made it very clear that the ability to make money was of primal importance. And I followed in his footsteps. The freedom of setting your own hours was appealing…as was the creativity of real estate deals…and the money. I could clearly see how to make him proud of me.

After completing my MBA in real estate and entrepreneurship, I worked as a freelance instructional designer, creating executive seminars for the American Management Association. Once we settled down in Arizona, I jumped back into the real estate game, adding a number of investment strategies to my other streams of income. I gained my father’s respect. And even with my marketing consulting business that I run now, I often think how proud he would be if he could see me now.

Though my father passed away three years ago, I still have great difficulty in forsaking his focus on money and success. While I believe that what I am doing in my business now does play a part in the grand scheme of things, I also know that I too often forsake the things that I do know I should be doing–like writing this blog, writing more music, and teaching the gospel in a bigger way–instead of it being the other way around. My failure to significantly forsake my father’s value system leaves me spiritually out of balance with too much focus on the things of the world and too little focus on the things of the Spirit.

While I don’t think I need to forsake my parents by abandoning them in a physical sense or even with regard to communication, I believe with certainty that I must forsake some of the priorities I’ve inherited…and openly adopted…in order to achieve what I came here to do. To quote the notes I made during the lesson last Sunday:

“In a family, you feel pressure to do things in line with your parents’ values so they will be proud of you. Then the challenge is to forsake their priorities for you and find out what your priorities should be when aligned with Heavenly Father’s will and your personal mission.”

If you click the link on the word “forsake” in the quote at the beginning of this post, one of the references will be “Sacrifice” in the Topical Guide. To me, this indicates that my goal should be to sacrifice the approval I seek from my earthly parents in exchange for something better…the approval I may gain from Heavenly Father and my Savior by choosing more of what the Spirit tells me is right…for me…right now.

I pray that we may all be blessed in forsaking what we must to follow Him.