Category Archives: Premortal Existence

How Do I Teach A Child To Step Out In Faith? Our Family’s Answer.

Reader Question:
How do I teach a child around five years old to step out in faith?

Family Answer:
This truly is a good question. In our family, and as Mormons, we believe strongly that sincere, honest questions are always a good thing. To gather answers to this question, we talked to our adult kids and their spouses, and here are the answers we gathered:

The famous British Astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington said,

The more we learn about the universe, the less it looks like a great machine, and the more it looks like a great thought.

As Mormons, we believe that we lived with God before we were born. One of the main reasons we emerged from the premortal existence into this life is to learn to walk by faith, to show Heavenly Father that we would continue to do things His way even when we were no longer around Him.

Sea stacks, Crescent Beach, coast of OregonWe live in the Last Days, and par for the course, it’s getting more and more difficult to keep the faith, to stay strong in our commitment to follow God, and to teach others to stay strong. As our kids and grandkids grow, they must negotiate new temptations, new philosophies and new freedoms to choose. Actually, anything that leads us away from God is very old, but it may seem new to us as we grow.

What are some ways that we may teach our kids or grandkids not only to walk by faith but to step out in faith? Not just to mosey along the strait and narrow but rather to hasten down the path. Not just to act in faith but to act in faith with a bit of spunk!

Here are some ways that worked that we have found to teach 5-yr-old-ish loved ones about faith:

  • Show them; set an example.
  • Read to kids; share stories of faith.
  • Familiarity and repetition are so important for kids. Stress the right habits over and over. Kids will say, “Oh, I have that picture of the temple in my house, that picture of Jesus in my house.”
  • Be like Atticus Finch (of To Kill a Mockingbird fame). He was the same in his home as he was out in the street. Talk inside the home and outside the home with kids or grandkids about spiritual things, talk to them in age-appropriate ways about sacred things, about things of God.
  • Sunday afternoons got long and produced squabbles. We reduced fights with regular scripture chase and seminary bowl (like College Bowl), offering Skittles for each right scripture or answer. Kyle was in a class for 10- and 11-yr-olds, when the teacher asked, “When was the Aaronic Priesthood restored?” Kyle’s hand shot into the air, and he quickly called out “May 15th, 1829!” The instructor was amazed, but I knew that Kyle was simply used to having to beat out his siblings to get a skittle, and Kyle LOVES Skittles.
  • All the things that we’ve listed apply not only to small children but also to people of any age, even to adults.

And let us know how we may help you further! If you find that you have any questions about religious issues that you’ve been wondering about or that you haven’t been able to get good answers to, feel free to continue on discussion with us. It turns out that there are a lot of people with questions, and most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. In our family, it is our experience that answers are out there, that God wants us to have them, and that they tend to be answers we like and have learned to appreciate. Working together with Heavenly Father allows anyone to find certainty in uncertain times.

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

Aerial view of Hawaii coast

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Bonus Materials:

1. Watch: Science and Religion—Opposing perspectives or complementary witnesses?

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, sea-stacks,-Crescent-Beach,-coast-of-Oregon—www. org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng
  • Photo, aerial-view-of-Hawaii-coast—www.

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Am I of Worth?

Max Lucado wrote a children’s story about a wooden people.  The Wemmicks, as they are called, live in a small wooden village where they spend each day giving each other marks.  Stars are awarded for successes, accomplishments, and well-developed talents and dots are dispensed for failures, mistakes, and shortcomings.

Punchinello is a very dotted little Wemmick.  Punchinello tries so hard to be what the other Wemmicks see as valuable and when he isn’t able to he is given poor dots so everyone else can see his failures too.  Punchinello receives so many bad marks that he comes to believe it when the other Wemmicks say that “he is not a good wooden person” and that “he deserves lots of dots.”   Of himself, Punchinello says, “I’m not a good Wemmick.”

As humans, there are many things to which we tie our value.   Our sense of self-worth is correlated with our ability to be successful or sociable.  The value we see in our own self is associated with the cleanliness of our home, the décor of our home, and/or the landscaping of our home.  We feel of value with the purchase of a new electronic device or a new car.  We feel a sense of self-worth with a smokin’ pair of shoes that lavishly complement our favorite pair of jeans, chic blouse, and accessories.

We often tie our self-worth to how enviable we believe we are to the world.  We, I think unwittingly, associate our self-worth with our vanity.   Our sense of personal value seems too often to be generated by what other people think of us.  Or by what we think other people think of us.

I can’t help but feel that when I place my own personal value in my material objects,  my ability to knock out a checklist, or in my physical appearance that I’ve somehow misplaced my worth!  These things are so fleeting!  And my feelings of worth fluctuate more than a Himalayan skyline when up against such facades!

So what makes me of worth?  What makes you of worth?

In Lucado’s story Punchinello comes to meet a Wemmick unlike any wooden person he has ever met.  Her name is Lucia and Lucia had no dots and no stars!  Not only had she no Wemmick marks but the stars and dots Wemmicks tried to place upon her would not stick!  Stars and dots would fall right off as if they had never been given.  “That is the way I want to be, thought Punchinello.  I don’t want anyone’s marks.”  Having asked Lucia why she was stickerless.  Lucia explained that every day she went to visit the woodcarver, Eli.  Punchinello works up his courage and goes to visit Eli.  The Woodcarver knows him by name and is thrilled to have Punchinello visit!  Punchinello is surprised that the Woodcarver knows his name!  “Of course I [know you]. I made you,” explains Eli.  Eli picks up Punchinello and sets him down on the workbench.   Eli mentions the dots and Punchinello swiftly exclaims,

             “I didn’t mean to, Eli.  I really tried hard.”

            “Oh, you don’t have to defend yourself to me, child.  I don’t care what                       the other Wemmicks think.”

              “You don’t?”

              “No, and you shouldn’t either.  Who are they to give stars or                                    dots?  They’re Wemmicks just like you.  What they think doesn’t                               matter, Punchinello.  All that matters is what I think. And I think you                      are pretty special.”

Punchinello and Eli

Punchinello laughs and swiftly explains all his shortcomings and reasons for not being anything, “Why do I matter to you?”  he asks.

“Because you’re mine.  That’s why you matter to me.”

Punchinello asks Eli why Lucia has no marks and Eli offers this simple, yet profound answer,

            The maker spoke softly.  “Because she has decided that what I think                      is more important that what they think.  The stickers only stick if you                   let  them…the stickers only stick if they matter to you.  The more you trust             my love, the less you care about their stickers.”

Punchinello doesn’t really understand.  Eli explains that he will, but it will take time, “You’ve got a lot of marks.  For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care.”

As Punchinello left he thought to himself, “I think he really means it.” And a dot fell to the ground.

You and I are of worth because we were created by Divine Hands.  Our physical bodies were developed through the physiological methods our Heavenly Father set forth for our earthly life, and our Spirits! Our spirits were created by The Father before we were born (according to scripture, before the earth was even created!).  So our very nature is divine and our worth eternal.  If that doesn’t make us of very great value, nothing we can come to in this mortal existence will.

From now on, as I observe people throughout my day, I’m going to make a conscious effort not to compare myself to them, them to me, or them to others.  When I look at someone I’m passing I will think, Isn’t God an incredible Creator!   And then I’ll marvel at the phenomenal design of our physical bodies that vary in shape, size, and color but the physiological design is the same and equally as amazing in each version.  From there, my mind will wander to the personality and real life that our spirits put into our bodies.  Our spirits make our phenomenal bodies vibrant!

As I consider these thoughts regarding the people around me, I hope the Lord will fill my heart with the compassion.  I hope that I will begin to see strangers, friends, and family not as competition to be sized up and ranked, but rather as Creations of Worth, People of Value, and Children of a Heavenly Father, a Divine Creator and therefore worthy of my respect, my patience, and my kindness.

” In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”   Psalm 5: 4, 11

“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” Doctrine and Covenants 18:10

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, To All A Good Season!

Merry Christmas

Being Brave: Pre-mortality, Priesthood Power, and the Family Proclamation

A friend just shared this Vocal Point video with me, and an entire post popped in my head. The song is “(I Want To See You Be) Brave,” by Sara Bareilles. I thought of my wife, Kim, of our six adult kids and their families. I especially liked the sign that reads, “When I talk to new people.”

As a Mormon, as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I  believe that we lived with God before we were born. True of anyone. And by celestial design, none of us remember — It was all veiled at birth. For eons before we came here, we studied hard, acquired knowledge, and learned skills, all with the goal of trying our guts out to live as God had taught and to do whatever we could to keep ourselves and others on the narrow path back to him. As we prepared with him for the moment of our birth, we knew that we would learn more from life on earth, because here we would be able to learn to walk not by memory, not by sight, but by faith, for the first time making decisions on our own in an environment where Heavenly Father was no longer around. As he sent us off, I wonder if he was singing to us a similar pre-lullaby message of “I want to see you be brave!”

This idea of a pre-existence changes many a perspective. I see my body not as mine, not to do with as I please, but as a temple of God, a gift from him, a house for my spirit now that I’m no longer with him. Such a view demands that I treat my body with respect and not with selfishness. The idea of a pre-mortal life and the idea of your body being a temple and not your own are ideas that permeate the popular post of Mormon blogger Seth Adam Smith, “Marriage Isn’t For You” (at his blog or at Huffington Post). His earthly father taught him, “Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.” While I heartily agree, I also counsel our kids as they head to the altar that marriage is so dang fun (for themselves as well as for their spouse).

These ideas and others are discussed concisely in the LDS Family Proclamation. These ideas help protect me, keep me be safe and secure. These perspectives, these teachings, are why families are so important. Families help us get ourselves back to God.

And in addition to giving us a family to help, God went further to give us another gift, both urgent and important. He allowed us to have a portion of his power. He gave us his priesthood, the authority to act for him, to do what he would do, if he were here with his ample arm around us, whispering what he would like us to know, to do, to be, to become. The priesthood of God isn’t for some and not for others — It’s for any of us, for all of us. It applies equally to people of any gender, in any country, of any position in life. For example, watch how Sheri Dew answers the great question: “In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what do women get?”

I can see how God sent ALL of us here well prepared, not just to thrive, but to fight to find our way back. When we’re unsure of the path, he continues to guide us. We call that prayer, and it works like a phone. With a bit of effort, it’s a two-way communication device. Beats a cell phone or Star Trek communicator with a stick.

Dieter Uchtdorf taught us to be brave against doubt when he said, referring to another’s phrase which was first penned in 1924: “It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” (See F.F. Bosworth, Christ the Healer (1924), Page 23, as quoted in “Come, Join With Us”.)

Most importantly, these perspectives shift my thinking, so that I tend to view life through a lens of patience and peace. These ideas give me hope and humility. Seth’s dad is spot on — It isn’t all about me. Sometimes, I don’t want my stinkin’ thinkin’ shifted, but if I learn to adjust my vision to a more godly perspective, I realize that it was short-sighted to fight the shift in thought. I hope it makes me a better husband, a better father, a better man, a better person. It helps me be brave.

From the lyrics of Brave: “Show me how big your brave is.”

Seeing Ourselves As Brave -- Being Brave For Others

Seeing Ourselves As Brave — Being Brave For Others

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Video, “Brave by Sara Bareilles—BYU Vocal Point (a cappella tribute)”—www.
  • Blog Post, “Marriage Isn’t For You”, Seth Adam Smith—
  • Blog Re-post, “Marriage Isn’t For You”, Seth Adam Smith—
  • Document, The Family: A Proclamation to the World
  • Video, “Lean on My Ample Arm”—www.
  • Hymn, “Lean on My Ample Arm”, music, recordings, lyrics—www.
  • Video, “What Do LDS Women Get?”—www.
  • Address, “Come, Join With Us,” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, LDS General Conference Oct 2013—www.
  • Illustration, Seeing Ourselves As Brave — Being Brave For Others—https://www.

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