Do you have a favorite line in the The Family:  A Proclamation to the World?  I do.  I am not sure that I’m supposed to have a favorite line since all of it is inspired, but well, I just do.  It is the last line.  It is a call to action.  It reads:

      We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

Twenty-seven words.  Can twenty-seven words change your life?  They have changed mine in many ways.  I will venture to say that it is likely this call, if heeded, will change the world and bless countless lives.

As Latter-day Saints, we are certainly first and foremost among the “responsible citizens” that the prophets and apostles of God have called upon to step forward and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.  We cannot shirk the obligation.  But, blessedly, neither must we carry it alone.  In fact, the very language of those lines suggests that we ought to consciously work with other “responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere” to bless and strengthen families.  

I want to share three short stories in this column about persons I know who have answered this call in their own way.  To me, their stories are inspiring.  But first, I want to focus on how the Lord tends to work with us in such endeavors.  

God’s Quiet Whisperings

Since I struggle ceaselessly with the challenge of procrastination, this column came in a little late this month.  Maybe there was a reason.  I was moved tremendously today by Maurine Proctor’s story on the reconstruction of Kirtland and the pattern of personal guidance that she described in God’s care for this project.  Perhaps I will be edited, but I think all of us ought to think deeply about her words as follows:

       Elder Neal A. Maxwell has often said, “God is in the details.”  He is not just the shaping force of history in its broadest sweep, but through his Spirit, moves and urges his children with a fine-tuning hand on their lives and in his kingdom.  We are not just interested in the facts, but the spiritual fastenings behind them. 
       We wonder, what is the invisible spiritual reality behind any Church story?  How did events and people converge to move the kingdom forward, and how does God silently work among us?
       After interviewing more people than we can count on topics that range from the Church’s growth in Russia to the inspiration for a stake preparedness program, we have seen that certain patterns emerge as the Lord does his work.  All callings from him are not official, marked down in a book or sustained in a meeting. Some may be, but through the whisperings of the Spirit, he also quietly calls people to missions or assignments that are personal, unofficial, but nonetheless important to the unfolding of his kingdom.  These may be small or large tasks-to be a good neighbor to a particular person or to share your talent in a special way.  We’ve heard from many that when he’s in their lives, he leaves a signature upon his work, elegant, profound, and usually subtle.

I want you to know that these statements are true.  I have seen personally such examples of God’s quiet whisperings that move His children, both Latter-day Saints and those of other backgrounds, to take up His call to bless and strengthen the families of the earth.  In all that we do, it is perhaps this sensitivity to the Spirit of the Lord and a willingness to follow its gentle guidance that is the most critical factor in answering the call.

A Trio of Sisters – The Family Life Education Institute

Several years ago three seemingly ordinary, but truly extraordinary, young women graduated from Brigham Young University.  They had each majored in the field of child development and family science and had become friends in that process.  And they had a vision.  They wanted to provide outreach into communities with programs and efforts that would bless and change the lives of families.  At the time I first met them, Tamara Talbot, Natalie Goddard, and Misty Wise were full of enthusiasm and brimming with ideas.  Little did I know how far their vision would take them.

As students, these three young women had felt a tremendous desire to show that education and outreach could be used in practical and meaningful ways to bless families.  So, they joined together and formed their own entrepreneurial foundation to provide such efforts and teach others to do the same.  Thus, the Family Life Education Institute was born.  

Among their many activities and achievements, in the spring of 2002 they worked closely with the School of Family Life at Brigham Young  University to sponsor a major conference, the Family Outreach Conference, to help students, graduates, and community members catch the vision of how they could be involved in their communities and beyond to bless and strengthen families.  What was the motivation for this tremendous conference?  Twenty-seven words.  

Two weeks ago, I opened my mailbox and found a large manila envelope.  Uncertain of what was inside, I opened it and found a new publication:  “Answering the Call:  What Can I Do Now to Strengthen Marriages and Families?”  It is a beautiful, 52-page softcover publication that outlines the vision of the Proclamation’s call to bless families in our communities, and provides dozens of practical, meaningful ideas and examples of the possibilities.  It suggests ideas for getting involved in such efforts in business and corporate settings, educational and health care systems, military or government sectors, religious or social service contexts, and at home and in the community.  Where did it come from?  Can you guess?  

The Family Life Education Institute (with sponsorship from the School of Family Life at BYU).  Three young women.  Twenty-seven words.  Amazing.

To get a copy and learn more about the work of the Family Life Education Institute, call 1-800-452-5662, visit, or send an email to in**@fa*****************.org.

One Woman’s Vision – Blue Springs Family Week  

Diane Mack didn’t know that I was going to mention her in this column.  I hope she forgives me. But Diane is one of those truly remarkable people that you never quite forget once you have talked with them.  

A mother of seven children, Diane is a Latter-day Saint who lives in Blue Springs, Missouri.  She keeps busy managing her family life, serving in the Church, and advocating for children who have special needs.  And, one more thing, she serves as the coordinator for 125 community volunteers who collaborate to put on Blue Springs Family Week each year for a community of over 80,000 people.  Diane led the creation of Blue Springs Family Week to renew the importance of family, reinstate families’ inherent responsibilities, and pay tribute to families.

 This project has grown significantly and so Diane has traveled and presented regionally and nationally to conferences and communities to help them catch the vision of this tremendous program to bless families and communities.

The concept of a family week celebration to unite the community and focus on strengthening and appreciating family ties is a wonderful idea.  Diane has commented, “There are so many individuals in the community who have a belief in family.  We bring a blend of many members of different faiths, representatives of schools, and the police to make this happen.”  How many children’s faces have been lit with laughter due to these efforts?  How many families have been prompted to focus more on their family relationships by participating in family week activities?  Think of it.

A woman’s vision.  Twenty-seven words.  Remarkable.

From Natural Resource Law to International Family Diplomat?

How do you go from being an attorney who works on natural resource and land management issues to an advocate for family values with international diplomats?  Ask Scott Loveless. Actually, Dr. Loveless himself may still be wondering how it happened, but if you listen to his story you will find a familiar refrain – the whisperings of the Spirit.  

Scott and I met in graduate school.  He was an unusually thoughtful and intense student among many good students, and I could tell from our conversations that Scott was unique.  One of the unique things I learned quickly was that he already had a solid and successful career as an attorney in Salt Lake City, working especially on issues of natural resource law and land management with federal agencies.  So, I asked him one day, why are you in graduate school doing a PhD in family science?  Good question, Scott answered.  He himself was not certain of all the reasons, but knew that he had been prompted in this direction by a loving Father.

Fast forward several years.  Brigham Young University had developed a pioneering and challenging program, the World Family Policy Center, to work on addressing family issues of substance at the United Nations and in the international community.  It needed someone to help guide the program who understood law and its intricacies, the scholarship of family life and human relations, and the moral and philosophical trends shaping culture and modern life today. Throw in the patience of Job and the skills and sensitivities needed for international diplomacy.  Where might you find such a person?  

Today Dr. Scott Loveless serves as executive director of the World Family Policy Center at Brigham Young University.  He skillfully navigates the halls of the United Nations and builds relationships with international government officials and policymakers from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.  He is humble.  He is hard-working.  He is effective.  And he, too, responds to the call of twenty-seven words.

Called Upon

I love stories of inspiration.  My favorite reading is biographies.  This is because they are full of stories, life stories and small vignettes, stories that capture the profound realities of the human spirit and the mortal journey.  

These stories have been short but they provide a glimpse into how God touches His children and blesses them as they seek to bless others.  The Family:  A Proclamation to the World warns that “the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”  Yet that prophetic warning is followed by an even more fervent prophetic call.

      We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

Each of us is called upon.  Let us proceed in faith.  Listen to the counsel of an apostle, Elder Henry B. Eyring:

       As we read what the proclamation tells us about the family, we can expect–in fact, we must expect–impressions to come to our minds as to what we are to do.  And we can be confident it is possible for us to do according to those impressions. . . . We can start now to “promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family.”  I pray that we will.  I pray that you will ask, “Father, how can I prepare?”  Tell him how much you want what he desires to give you.  You will receive impressions, and if you act on them, I promise you the help of the powers of heaven. (Elder Henry B. Eyring, “The Family,” Ensign, February 1998, p. 10)

Each of us may be called upon to do different things in the cause of strengthening marriages and families.  Yet each of us is called upon.  When you think that there is little you can do, stop and think.  Think of three young women.  Think of a Midwestern homemaker and mother.  Think of a humble attorney.  

I would encourage you to do two things.

First, seek to answer the call.  You will be blessed and you will bless others.

Second, write in and share your own story of answering the call of the Proclamation on the Family to strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.  Your stories will inspire others – I promise to share.