Called To Be A Father – What is a father?

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Dad Relaxing At Home

I would like to take just a few minutes to address the sacred topic of fatherhood and the divine role of fathers in the Plan of Salvation. By virtue of the Priesthood of God and by the power of the Holy Ghost, fathers can and should be the greatest influence for good in the lives of their wives and children. Every father should rise to new levels of leadership and service in his home. Every young man that is not yet a father should prepare himself for this calling in this life and in the eternities.

President Ezra Taft Benson once said, “A father’s duty is to make his home a place of happiness and joy. He cannot do this when there is bickering, quarreling, contention, or unrighteous behavior. The powerful effect of righteous fathers in setting an example, disciplining and training, nurturing and loving is vital to the spiritual welfare of his children. . .Remember your sacred calling as a father in Israel—your most important calling in time and eternity—a calling from which you will never be released. (“To the Fathers in Israel,” Ensign, November 1987, pp. 50-51.)

Concerning this matter of fatherhood, President Howard W. Hunter once stated, “We encourage you brethren, to remember that priesthood is a righteous authority only. Earn the respect and confidence of your children through your loving relationship with them. A righteous father protects his children with his time and presence in their social, educational, and spiritual activities and responsibilities. Tender expressions of love and affection toward children are as much the responsibility of the father as the mother. Tell your children that you love them.”  (Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” General Conference, October 1994; see Ensign, November 1994, p.51.)

In latter-day revelation, when the Lord spoke of the great doctrine pertaining to the redemption of little children through the atonement, He declared: “But behold, I say unto you that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten; Wherefore they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me; For it is given unto them even as I will, according to mine own pleasure, that great things may be required at the hand of their fathers. (Doctrine and Covenants 29:46-48). From this we can clearly see that fatherhood carries with it the responsibility of ensuring that their posterity—the future generation, is prepared for the age of accountability.

The most important way that fathers can ensure that their children are prepared for the age of accountability is by bringing “them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Fathers, working with their wives as equal partners, are to train up their children in the way that they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from those things that they have been taught (see Proverbs 22:6). This very valuable lesson was taught to the children of Israel as found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Deuteronomy 6:20-23. Here in these verses the Lord tells the parents that they could not safely presume that the instructions that He had given them as well as all of the stories of the amazing miracles that He did for them were going to make it from one generation to another. He tells them that they must be very deliberate. He instructs them to tell their children the stories of how He moved among them. They were to talk with their children about the instructions and commands that the Lord had given them and why He gave them to them. This was not to be a one-time event or a ‘whenever you get around to it’ thing. This was to be a daily part of their responsibilities as parents.

In the same manner, fathers have the responsibility to daily shepherd their families through the principles and ordinances of the gospel, qualifying them for the salvation that is in Christ. Salvation is a family affair and fathers are called to lead the way by: (1) teaching the doctrines of salvation in their homes (Doctrine and Covenants 68:25-28), (2) providing for the temporal and spiritual needs of their families (Mosiah 4:14-15) and (3) lovingly presiding in righteousness in their homes consistent with the principles of righteous priesthood service. President Ezra Taft Benson once said, “God established that fathers are to preside in the home. Fathers are to provide, love, teach, and direct.” (“Counsel to the Saints,” Ensign, May 1984, p.6.) President Benson also stated, “Fatherhood is not a matter of station or wealth; it is a matter of desire, diligence, and determination to see one’s family exalted in the celestial kingdom. If that prize is lost, nothing else really matters.” (“Great Things Required of Their Fathers,” Ensign, May 1981, p.36.) President Lorenzo Snow taught that “If you ever secure a union in any family in Zion, . . . you have got to bind that family together in one, and there has got to be the Spirit of the Lord in the head of that family, and he should possess that light and that intelligence which , if carried out in daily life and conduct of these individuals, will prove the salvation of that family, for he holds their salvation in his hands.” (HC, 4:309.)

In teaching the principles and ordinances of the gospel in the home, a father must be careful not to create any misconceptions about Heavenly Father. He must always teach by the Spirit. “For when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.” (2 Nephi 33:1.)

The following parable of three fathers illustrates how a father could create such misconceptions and how he can easily avoid them.

A parable is told about 3 fathers who each felt the soft hand of his child in his own and realized the responsibility of teaching his child about God.

One felt the awesome responsibility that was his, so he taught the child about the power and might of God. As they walked down the pathway of life and came to the tall trees in the forest, he pointed up to them and said, “God made them and God can cause them to come crashing down anytime He wants to.” As they walked in the hot sun he said, “This is God’s sun. He made it and He can cause it to be so hot and so intense that the plants in the field will wither and die.” Again and again he hammered home the power of God and how the child must be obedient to God. Then one day they came face to face with God, and the child hid behind his father, afraid even to look, refusing to put his hand into the hand of God.

The second father also realized his responsibility to teach his child about God. Hurriedly, he tried to teach all the important lessons that he knew. As they looked at the trees they only stopped for a moment to gaze at them. As they looked at the flowers of the field they hurried on by. He told stories, but they were hurried and crammed together. He filled the child full of facts, but he never taught him how to live or love God. Finally, one day, at twilight they came face to face with God, but the child only gave God a casual glance and turned away.

The third father felt the touch of a tender hand in his and adjusted his steps to the tiny steps of the child. They walked along, stopping to look at all of God’s beauty and grandeur. They walked in the fields and picked the flowers. They felt the delicate petals and smelled their fragrance. They watched a bird in flight, and another building her nest and laying her eggs and sitting on them until they hatched. They watched all of the beauties of nature while the father told the child stories about God over and over again. Finally, one day in the twilight they saw the face of God, and without hesitation, the child placed his hand trustingly into the hand of his Heavenly Father.

One of the best examples of fatherhood, of course is our Father in Heaven. One of the best illustrations of this is found in the story of the Prodigal Son. I want us to notice a few characteristics about the father of this Prodigal Son. First, he was the provider of his family and stood answerable to God for the well being of his family. In the same way, fathers need to realize that they are to be the providers of their family and they stand accountable before God. In 1Timothy 5:8 we read these words, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

Second, he provided an inheritance for his children.  In Proverbs 13:22 we read, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children. . .” A good father wants to leave an inheritance for his children – both physically and spiritually.

Third, he recognized his son’s right to choose his own path. Perhaps one of the hardest things for a parent to do is to let their children make their own decisions. Our Heavenly Father allows us to choose our own path and if we choose the wrong path we must pay the price. The prodigal son went as far into sin as a person can go. He had wasted his inheritance and now found himself sitting in a pigpen eating the scraps. He finally realizes that there is a way out of the mess that he had gotten himself into. He arose and started for home. There he found his father waiting for him with open arms. Wayward children always need to know they can come home.

Fourth, this father was the priest of the family. He pointed the family in the right direction. He led the family in worship. When the prodigal son came to himself he remembered his father and most of all knew that his father still loved him. Today fathers need to be the priest of the home, giving spiritual guidance and love.

Fifth, he prayed for his family. Fathers need to pray for their family. When the prodigal son came home his father was watching for him. He had been interceding in prayer for his son to return home.

Sixth, he did not condemn or judge his son. He had compassion on his son. He was thankful that his son had come home and honored his return with a celebration. He restored him back to the family as a son rather than as one of the hired servants.

And seventh, this father loved his children equally. He did not show favoritism between his two sons. He loved his older son who had chosen to stay with him. Even though the younger son had wasted his life, his father still loved him and did not hesitate to welcome him home. Regardless of whether a child chooses right or wrong, he or she still needs to know that dad loves them. Our Heavenly Father loves us even when we do wrong and when we repent His arms are open wide to receive us and to restore us without grudge or hesitation.

I would like to close my comments with the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley on the subject of Fatherhood:

I repeat that plea to all fathers. Yours is the basic and inescapable responsibility to stand as head of the family. That does not carry with it any implication of dictatorship or unrighteous dominion. It carries with it a mandate that fathers provide for the needs of their families. Those needs are more than food, clothing, and shelter. Those needs include righteous direction and the teaching, by example as well as precept, of basic principles of honesty, integrity, service, respect for the rights of others, and an understanding that we are accountable for that which we do in this life, not only to one another but also to God in heaven, who is our Eternal Father. . . .

. . . .With the obligation to beget goes the responsibility to nurture, to protect, to teach, to guide in righteousness and truth. Yours is the power and responsibility to reside in a home where there is peace and security, love and harmony.

(“Bring Up a Child in the Way He Should Go,” Ensign, November 1993, p.60.)

I am truly grateful for my earthly father and for all of the time, love and patience that he gave me through the years to help mold me into the person that I am today. I was blessed to have a dad who prayed for me. I am thankful that even in times when I may have totally blown it, my dad was always there for me. I knew that I always had a home to go home to. I guess that you could say that in some ways my dad was my hero. I am also eternally grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that guides my footsteps along life’s pathways. He is the very reason for my existence and I love Him dearly. That I may one day through the righteous example of my earthly father and with the help and guidance of my Heavenly Father become a righteous husband and father is my humble prayer in the Sacred name of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Sharing a Part of My Heritage – Lest We Forget

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San Diego School

The San Domingo School is historically significant for its association with the education of African-American youths in rural Wicomico County Maryland during the early-to-mid 20th century. The San Domingo school, also known as the Sharptown Colored School, was built in 1919 and was one of seven facilities in Wicomico County financed in part by the fund established by Sears, Roebuck & Co. president, Julius Rosenwald.The building remained in educational use until 1961.

How many people have ever heard of San Domingo, Maryland? Or, if they have heard of it, how many people know where it is located. Part of my rich heritage rests in the small community of San Domingo and so I would like to share some parts of that heritage with you.

According to the oral history that is recited annually at the Zion United Methodist Church Founders Day, San Domingo was founded in the early 1800s by James Brown, my paternal great-great-great grandfather, who was born about 1792. James Brown was a native of Jamaica and a free Black (I have a copy of his freedom papers in my file). Upon arriving to the Delmarva Peninsula he went to Cambridge Maryland to find a free woman to marry. Her name was Elizabeth Leatherbury. She was born in Delaware about 1794. James and Elizabeth had eight children: Harriet, Byard B. (through whom my direct paternal family line is traced), Leonard, Isabella, Ardilla, Eliza A., Emmeline, and Mary.

San Domingo soon became a destination for other free Blacks from the Carribean trading along the Atlantic Coast. In 1859 my great-great-great grandfather James Brown and his family established the local Church known as Zion United Methodist Church (many of my ancestors were laid to rest in the family cemetery there). The original church was lost to a fire and a new church was built and stands on the site of the original building. The church served as the center of the community, housing many cultural, civic, historical, and educational activities.

At the end of the Civil War, John Quinton, a Carribean seaman, is reported to have settled in San Domingo and married a granddaughter of James Brown. Her name was Sarah E. Brown. She was the daughter of my great-great-grandfather Byard B. Brown (22 October 1819 – 19 November 1906), James’ son, thus making her my great-grand aunt. John and Sarah had eight children: Danvis A., Bayard H., Leah J.P., Noah F., William H., Ernest U., Festus N., and George O. Quinton. John Quinton was literate and so consequently he preached and taught school in the community. John Quinton and his family were the anchor of education in San Domingo until state supported education came to San Domingo in 1919 when the Sharptown Colored Elementary School (a Rosenwald school) was built. Children were educated through grade 7. Full access to high school education for San Domingo residents did not occur until 1930.

As a historical side note, the grave sites of my paternal great-great-great grandparents, James Brown and Elizabeth Leatherbury, have been registered with the Eastern Shore Historical Society as being the oldest known marked free Negro graves in Wicomico County Maryland.

James Brown Freedom Papers

The Freedom Papers of my great-great-great grandfather, James Brown, dated 1832.


Dear Mother of Mine

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Mom in the Early Years

We may never know how many lives we touch for good. Some evidence of our humble efforts may be manifested immediately, some may not be recognized until years later, and we may not live to see how some lives were touched by something we might have said or by an act of kindness that we rendered.

I believe that statement could be made of all of us, but this morning, I want to focus on that statement as it applies to mothers, in particular, my own dear mother. Although my thoughts may seem a bit scattered this morning, I pray that you will be able to follow me and get something out of my brief remarks.

Love For Her Family – “I never cared for pie”

My mother and I were blessed to spend 38 and a half years together on this earth before she lost her battle with breast cancer at 59 years of age. During those precious years we laughed together, we played together, we shared our hopes and dreams for better tomorrows, and there were even times when we cried together. I can honestly say that she was not only my mother but a true and faithful confidant and an endearing friend.

She played many significant roles in my life. She was my doctor and nurse when I was ill. She was my lawyer when I found myself in difficult situations, always defending me to the end. She was my counselor, always offering words of advice and comfort. She was also my first Sunday school teacher. At an early age she taught me to have a deep and sincere love, appreciation, and respect for the Word of God. And so, she was the first to teach me of the love that my Savior has for me and that I should show my love for Him by being obedient to His commandments.

She was a very humble person. She never owned a lot of worldly possessions. She did not own or drive an expensive car, have a large bank account, or even own an expensive wardrobe or expensive jewelry.

Our family never lived in a big fancy house, but what made the houses that we lived in so special is that my mother knew how to make a house a home. She spent many hours in the home taking care of her family and no sacrifice seemed too great to her as far as the family that she loved was concerned. There were many nights that she would be the last to lay down and rest, only after she was sure that her family were all in, at rest, and the home was secure.

Many were the times growing up, when I saw her go without some of the things that she wanted or needed to make sure that her family was provided for, or she would take a smaller portion of food to make sure that her four children had enough to eat. My mother was that mother who Tenneva Jordan, a mother and author was describing when she said, “A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” The writer of Proverbs adequately paints a picture of her with his words, “She [looked] well to the ways of her household, and [ate] not the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27).

I can honestly say that my mother set the tone and atmosphere in our home. Everyone who entered our home was a welcomed guest, whether they were a family member, a long-time friend, or a complete stranger. Without fail she would always make sure that every guest was comfortable, and would always offer them something to drink or a bite of food to satisfy their hunger.

Even after her four children had left home and were on their own, she maintained constant contact with each one, and at times offered wise counsel and direction when and where needed. However, she always allowed each of us to have our free agency, all the while praying that we would always make the right decisions. And even when we messed up and made some bad decisions in our life, quoting again from Proverbs, “She [opened] her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue [was] the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26). It is indeed true as someone has said, “Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” Someone else has wisely said, “If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been.”

Not only did my mother offer her counsel, but she always made sure that her children would always have a home to come home to, and she delighted in each visit.

Love and Compassion for Others – A Walk around the Neighborhood

One of the last acts of love and compassion by my dear mother was when she decided one evening to take a walk around the neighborhood where our family lived at the time. By this time she was dependent upon oxygen 24 hours a day. So, with my younger sister, and her little portable oxygen bottle in tow, she walked around the entire neighborhood stopping to greet friends and neighbors and spending a little time with each one of them, thanking them personally for their kindness and their friendship through the years. I believe that she knew within her heart that her remaining days upon this earth were few and she wanted to make sure that everyone knew how much she appreciated having them in her life. That small act of love and compassion put the period in place on my mother’s life. She had spent her entire life, though brief as it was, doing whatever she could to make someone’s day just a little brighter.

She had a giving heart, and many were the times that I saw her give her last to someone in need without expecting anything in return. As a boy I would often ask her why she would give away what she had, when it was clear at least to me that she needed those things herself. She would always smile and say, “Don’t worry about me. I will be alright.” She exemplified through her righteous examples that it is more blessed to give then to receive, as time and time again she was blessed and had all of her own needs met.

Whether it was a kind word, a friendly smile, the giving of money to help someone in need, or sharing food from her table to feed a hungry soul, she gave of what she had – willingly and gladly.

When I think of my mother, I think of the words to the song that we sing “Because I Have Been Given Much” (Hymn # 219). The words adequately describe how my mother strove to live her life:

Because I have been given much, I too must give;
Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live
I shall divide my gifts from thee
With ev’ry brother that I see,
Who has the need of help from me.

Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care,
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,
My roof’s safe shelter over head,
That he too may be comforted.

Because I have been blessed by thy great love, dear Lord,
I’ll share thy love again, according to thy word.
I shall give love to those in need;
I’ll show that love by word and deed:
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.

*The lyrics of the hymn “Because I Have Been Given Much” were written by Grace Noll Crowell (1877-1969) © 1936, 1964 Harper San Francisco. The tune was written by Phillip Landgrave © 1975 Broadman Press.

A Song in Her Heart – “I’ll fly away”

I loved to hear my mother sing. She always seemed to have a song in her heart. She would often sing as she was working around the house. She would sing when she was happy, and especially when she was feeling down. Music brought joy to her soul, and whether she ever realized it or not, it brought joy to my soul just to listen to her.

Sometimes she would sing a Capella, but often she would put one of her favorite albums on the record player and sing along, or especially on Sunday mornings, she would turn on the radio to her favorite gospel station and sing along.

As a side note, for all the young people who are reading this, in my day, we did not have CD players, an IPod, or an MP3 player to listen to our music, not to mention that there were no computers, so we also had no concept of ITunes, Rhapsody, or the like.

My mother also sang in one of the church choirs in the old Baptist church where we attended. One of her favorite songs was “I’ll fly away.” The lyrics to the first stanza of that hymn are as follows:

Some bright morning when this life is over, I’ll fly away
To a land on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away
When the shadows of this life have gone, I’ll fly away
Like a bird from these prison walls I’ll fly, I’ll fly away
I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away
When I die, hallelujah by and by, I’ll fly away

At the sunset of her life, the words to the third stanza became ever more meaningful:

Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away
To a land where joy will never end, I’ll fly away
I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away
When I die, hallelujah by and by, I’ll fly away

Although she loved her family and longed to stay just a little while longer with them, the battle that she was fighting against breast cancer began to take its toll, and she wanted to go home and be with the Savior whom she loved. On the morning of 12 June 1997, just before the noon day hour, at the young age of 59 years, she did “fly away” and bid farewell to the family she loved for a season. And, at the close of her funeral services, the choir sang “I’ll fly away.”

Her Parting Counsel to Family and Friends

The words recorded in my mother’s favorite scripture verses found in Psalm 37:1-9 are fitting as her last counsel especially to her family, as well as, to all those whom she was blessed to meet in life:

1 FRET not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

To the Brothers – Words of Counsel

It has been said that behind every good man there is a good woman. My dear brothers, let us never become so macho and chaotic in our way of thinking to ever accept the world’s idea that men are superior to women. As one of your brothers, and as a Priesthood holder, I testify to you that simply is not true.

It doesn’t matter if you are single, married, widowed, or divorced, I am certain that each of us can look back on our lives and find that there has been some special woman who has played a significant role in our life. The fact of the matter is that we owe a great debt of gratitude to at least one woman in our life, that person being the very one who gave us life – our mother. If it were not for her giving us life, we would not be here.

May I also add, to all of you who are husbands and will one day be husbands and have families of your own, I say to you, the greatest gift that you will ever give to your children is to show them that you love their mother.

There is an Irish proverb which states, “A man loves his sweetheart the most, and his wife the best, but his mother the longest. And so I say to each of us this morning dear brothers, regardless of our current status, regarding your wife if you are married, and especially regarding our mothers – Honor her, Cherish her, Respect her, and most of all, LOVE her.

To the Youth – Words of Counsel

Young people, do not take your mothers for granted. Your mother is a choice daughter of our Heavenly Father and as such, she deserves all the love, honor, and respect that is due her. Do not be ashamed or embarrassed to be seen with her. When asked by anyone who she is, she is your mother, the very one who gave life to you. Do not use your mother as the subject of your cruel and unkind jokes or remarks. Do not allow your friends or associates to speak disparagingly about her either. If you have friends that come to your home that refuse to give your mother the respect that is due her, then perhaps it is time for you to consider choosing better friends. Never allow a friendship to take the place of your mother’s love.

Always remember that mothers are an eternal blessing from our Heavenly Father. Don’t ever forget that important truth. I can boldly testify to you that there is not one single person in the entire world exactly like a dear mother. Therefore, I say to you as well, Honor her, Cherish her, Respect her, and most of all, LOVE her.

To the Sisters – Words of Counsel

I close with just a few words addressed solely to all the mothers and all who will someday be mothers:

Please know and understand that you are special daughters of our Heavenly Father. He loves you and cares for you with an immense love. Never let anyone tell you that you are anything less than the beautiful daughters of God that you are. And never let anyone treat you like you are anything less than who you truly are.

It is my sincere humble prayer that every day of your lives will be a day to celebrate the joys of motherhood, as well as, the sacredness and blessedness of womanhood. And may your husband and children, now and forever, arise to praise you and call you blessed. This is my humble prayer. In the sacred name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

What others have said about this talk:

Carol Drummond – What a wonderful talk – I loved reading about your precious mother. I think she raised a great son!

Sheralyn Jensen Holgate – Thank you for sharing! The very best talk I have ever read. What a blessing you were to your dear Mother!! Thanks again!

Louise White Pledge – Beautiful talk, thanks for sharing it.

Brenda Wrye – This should be saved. Wonderful mothers day talk.

Todd A. Jensen – Wonderful

LeAnn Gledhill Williams – A very lovely talk on your mother and great counsel to others. Love it~

Mother of Mine. . . .

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Mom in the Early Years

She was my doctor and nurse when I was sick, attending my bedside and caring for my needs. She was my lawyer when I got into trouble, defending me to the bitter end. She was my counselor, teaching me right from wrong. She was a strong, but loving, disciplinarian when warranted to keep me on the right path in life. She was my first school teacher in the school of life. She was my first Sunday school teacher, teaching me to love my Savior. She was a friend and a true confidant. Who was this special person? She was my mother, and I miss her dearly.

I have always been under the strong opinion that if you want to know how a young man will treat his wife someday, you need only to see how he treats his dear mother. If he has no respect for his mother – the one who gave him life – he will not have respect for his future wife either. Learning to respect the sacredness of womanhood begins in the home.

Someone has wisely stated that behind every good man, there is a good woman. I know of a surety that is true. Whether that woman is a dear mother, a dear grandmother, a loving sister, an endearing wife, or some other special person, each one has played and/or continues to play a vital role in some man’s life. I will forever be eternally grateful for all the women in my life, especially that sweet mother of mine. God bless them all.

In my humble estimation I am neither rich nor wealthy because I have a large bank account, have amassed great worldly possessions, or have jewels of great worth. I am rich because of a loving mother who was a rare and polished jewel. There are no jewels in the entire world that are worth more than the unfaltering love that she gave me. I may not have wealth in riches, but I do attest that my life is richly blessed largely due to that sweet mother of mine who gave me more than this world could ever afford me.

~ Keith Lionel Brown

Families Are Forever

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6 Ways to Strengthen Family Love

“Feeling the security and constancy of love from a spouse, a parent, or a child is a rich blessing. Such love nurtures and sustains faith in God. Such love is a source of strength and casts out fear (see 1 John 4:18). Such love is the desire of every human soul.” – Elder David A. Bednar – More Diligent and Concerned at Home

“Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk.” – President Dieter F. Uchtdorf – The Love of God

Happy Families: Meet the Kennys

A Recipe For a Happy Family – Happy Families

A Family Culture of Love – Happy Families

I Just Can’t Stop Thanking Him

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Family Praying Before Dinner

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy, safe, and blessed Thanksgiving. Please take careful note that I did not say Thanksgiving Day, and the reason for that is because I believe that every day ought to be a day for giving thanks. We so often race to give thanks for the grandiose blessings in our life, while all the while we overlook even the smallest of blessings.

My dear mother taught her four children to give thanks for all things – both great and small. Even during her battle with breast cancer which eventually took her life in June 1997, she refused to complain about anything, but rather chose to daily thank God from whom all blessings flow. She echoed the words of the Apostle Paul who admonished the Thessalonians, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

This Thanksgiving Day finds me at home not feeling my best, but I am still thankful for so very much. I am thankful that the Lord woke me up this morning. I am thankful that I am still in my right mind and that I am able to press on despite the fact that my physical body feels tired and worn out today.

I am thankful for a loving sister who took the time to travel from Salisbury, Maryland to Annapolis, Maryland to spend Thanksgiving with her brother. It is not that she traveled any great distance to spend time with me, but it is that she wanted us to give thanks together.

I am thankful for all of my family and friends, both near and far. Their unfailing love and support is the proverbial “wind beneath my wings.” I am thankful that they are always there. I am thankful that they believe in me and bolster me especially at times when I feel weary and sometimes distraught.

I am also thankful for all the naysayers out there – those who doubt the genuineness of the work that I attempt to do and who believe that I should just give up and quit. I thank you because it is your negativity that is the proverbial coal needed to keep the fire burning inside of me, which in turn creates the steam to keep this little engine that could and would, roaring down the tracks of life with the goal of sharing a few “morsels of bread” with those whom appear at each station.

I am also thankful for a dear sister who remains in a skilled nursing home after almost 5 years. Although I miss spending time with her especially during the holiday seasons, I am thankful to a loving Heavenly Father who has permitted her to stay here on earth just a little while longer. I may not understand all the reasons for her medical situation, but one thing that I do know is that God is still able, and I will praise Him with my whole being all the days of my life.

With all of that being said, I am thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is my All. He is my Everything. Without Him, I could do nothing. I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, and I will enter His courts with praise.

What are some of the things that you are most thankful for?

~ Keith Lionel Brown
Thanksgiving Day 2014