Who likes to WAIT? “Waiting” recalls exasperating images of standing in a long queue at the post office or returning an item at Walmart. But I’ve been thinking about a different kind—a good kind of waiting spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “I will wait upon the Lord” (Isaiah 8:17). Making this verse personally relevant, I ask—What does it mean to WAIT upon the Lord? (1) I will wait upon the Lord like a server “waits” on a table in a restaurant. The server vigilantly watches the needs of his guests. When water glasses need refilling, he quickly steps up with a pitcher. He delivers piping hot food and clears away empty dishes afterward. He watches and attends his guests’ every need. I can WAIT upon the Lord by vigilantly observing and attending the needs of those around me. Waiting upon the Lord is to serve His children. (2) Waiting can also mean patience. The Lord’s answers come in His perfect timing, not always immediately. But I know that God loves me. He knows what is best for my growth and development better than I do. He is shaping me to become like Him. I am learning to trust His curriculum and His perfect love. I will WAIT upon the Lord in quiet service to others, and I will WAIT in patience for answers to my prayers.
Life is all about families! As I have been writing histories of parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, I’m drawn to them with increased tenderness and honor, even greater than when they were alive. Some of them I never knew. I am also thinking about precious one-on-one moments with my children and grandchildren in soul-connecting activities and discussions. I am happiest in the presence of my family. My thoughts wrap around them; every prayer centers on them; my heart is linked inseparably by eternal bonds. Family is everything to me—husband, children, grandchildren, siblings, parents, grandparents—backwards and forwards up and down the generations. It’s like an intricate web that cannot be touched without setting the whole matrix in motion. I think of my posterity yet to be born, and already love them with inexpressible intensity. I yearn to leave behind a legacy of faith to help them remain constant as they traverse their mortal journey. I hope to assist them—by example and precept—to have a strong personal faith in Jesus Christ which will prepare them for the challenges they will most surely face. I know this love and concern will increase, in this lifetime and beyond the veil, as I continue to labor and pray in their behalf. Family is my work, my joy, my life—now and forever. Family gives me abundant Reasons to Rejoice!
“Own the morning; own the day.” To me this means personal prayer and scripture study before anything else happens. If I discipline myself to carve out time from sleep to do these two things first thing in the morning, the rest of the day goes much better. Interactions with family members are improved. My attitude is brighter. I have more energy, more smiles. In fact, I discovered that prayer and scripture study refresh my body and soul far beyond the equivalent minutes of sleep that I missed. During a particularly busy time in my life when hours of sleep were already insufficient, I decided to try an experiment. My alarm was set 30 minutes earlier than usual. On that first morning I groaned with fatigue and padded softly to a favorite chair in the living room. The house was dark and quiet. No one else was awake. I knelt to pray, pouring out my heart’s desires, yearnings and goals. Words of gratitude tumbled out. I felt wrapped in God’s love and approval. Something unique was happening in these quiet moments spent alone with God. Opening my scriptures, I began to study. Surprisingly, the verses applied directly to my present need. I had read those verses previously, but now I saw new truths—relevant and timely. God was speaking to me intimately through these verses. Before long, the 30 minutes stretched to 45. I looked forward to this early morning feast. It filled my soul. My mind was sharper, my heart softer, my step lighter. I was more focused and efficient during the day. What a miracle—on less sleep! Try this experiment and see for yourself. Even 15 minutes carved out of sleep will make a difference. Own the morning; own the day!—a great Reason to Rejoice!
A friend told me that before her family kneels for prayer each evening, they take a moment to reflect and share a particular experience that day which manifests Heavenly Father’s love. The person offering the prayer then includes expressions of gratitude for those specific things. In this way, family members are being made aware of one another’s kindnesses from God. This exercise also helps avoid vain repetitions and keeps expressions fresh. Though our children are now grown with families of their own, we continue the tradition of kneeling for family prayer whenever we gather together in our home. It is a sweet finish to every family activity before we hug goodbye. There is truth to the adage that “families who pray together—stay together.”
- Prayer is an acknowledgment that God is our Father and Jesus Christ is our Savior.
- Prayer is a sincere confession of mistakes, and a request for forgiveness.
- Prayer is recognition that we need help beyond our ability.
- Prayer is an opportunity to express gratitude to our Creator.
- Prayer is a privilege to ask God for specific blessings.
When families kneel together in humble supplication both morning and night, they enjoy a bonding spirit of love and unity.
As a child, sitting still in church was difficult for me. Talks at the pulpit seemed long. But when time came for congregational singing, my wiggles stopped and I sat upright. Even before learning to read, I felt something joyous in singing hymns of praise to God. Later, while driving as a family on road trips, my sister taught me to harmonize. I clearly recall peering out the window at rolling countryside scenes while singing, “Ere you left your room this morning; Did you think to pray?” Throughout my life, singing and accompanying church hymns have burrowed gospel messages into my heart. This is good counsel for all: “Let us use the hymns to invite the Spirit of the Lord…in our homes, and our personal lives. Teach your children to love the hymns. Sing them on the Sabbath, in home evening, during scripture study, at prayer time. Sing as you work, as you play, and as you travel together. Sing hymns as lullabies to build faith and testimony in your young ones…Let us memorize and ponder them, recite and sing them, and partake of their spiritual nourishment” (First Presidency preface in our hymn book). I wish I had sung hymns as lullabies to my young children. Quality of voice doesn’t matter. There is a feeling that comes through music that is more powerful than words.
Home is a sacred place. It is where families are nourished physically and spiritually. “He’s looking for a home, ‘cause everyone needs a place; and home is the most excellent place of all” (Neil Diamond). Why?—because “It is in the home that we form our attitudes, our deeply held beliefs…Our homes are more than sanctuaries; they should also be places where God’s Spirit can dwell, where the storm stops at the door, where love reigns and peace dwells” (Thomas S. Monson). Happy homes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. But the happiest of homes share these characteristics in common: “(1) a pattern of prayer; (2) a library of learning; (3) a legacy of love” (Thomas S. Monson). Parents and grandparents have the responsibility to prepare children for trials and challenges they will encounter in life. “We must teach them truth and encourage them to live it, and they will be all right no matter how severely the world is shaken” (Richard G. Scott). My wife and I work hard to make our home such a nurturing place. We aren’t perfect, but we continually strive to improve. We want all who enter our home to be welcomed by a happy glow of the Lord’s Spirit present here.
At the close of our yearly Christmas Eve festivities, we PASS THE CANDLE. This activity can work with large family groups or small gatherings of friends. The tradition is to darken the room (except the Christmas tree) and light a candle set in a brass holder with sturdy handle. As each person holds the candle, he/she shares something meaningful—something personal from the heart. A 3-year old might simply say, “I love Jesus.” An adult might share a new truth learned and applied during the year. Someone else might express gratitude for someone dearly loved. Another might describe a kindly service rendered. Someone might express personal feelings about the Savior or a tender mercy recently experienced. Another might share a trial and what was learned from it. A wide variety of expressions unfold in this setting with ages ranging from the very young to the very old. A sweet, sacred spirit surrounds us and unites us. The last person blows out the candle and we kneel in family prayer. “Happy homes come in a variety of appearances. There are, however, identifying features: a pattern of prayer; a library of learning; a legacy of love” (Thomas S. Monson).