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God knows what He is doing. He provides each of us with the tools, principles, and experiences to make us like Him.

He presides patiently over the process of forming us. He provides His beloved Son to teach us and pay our tuition in the school of life. He provides the Holy Ghost, His other heavenly helper, to comfort, guide, and lift us.

He is committed.

He carefully designs our experiences to help us learn and grow. His great program of development takes into account our desires, interests, and talents so that our experiences are exactly what we need in order to become like him. 

Most of us grow up in families where we gradually learn to use our agency in both wise and unwise ways. We learn that there are things we can do and things we cannot do. We learn that we will get hurt and disappointed. We also learn to hurt and disappoint others. We fumble along doing some things well and some poorly.

In this classroom of life, there are regular invitations to live after the manner of happiness (see 2 Nephi 5:27). From June 2017 to July 2018, I wrote 60 weekly articles on family for Meridian Magazine. They divide into three categories: personal well-being, marriage, and parenting. The present article includes some afterthoughts about those earlier articles.

The articles about personal well-being provided guides to greater happiness and personal progress. The prophet Joseph taught that “happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it.” Yet we often act as if finding happiness is an accident. We have it or we don’t due to some stroke of luck. Both the distillation of scripture and the study of human happiness teach that there are important things we can do to increase our happiness. We can savor each day. We can cherish our past experiences. We can embrace our futures. We can know and use our God-given strengths. And we can serve. Those are the principles of personal well-being.

Many of us will choose to marry. God has many surprises in marriage. It provides intense experiences of joy and powerful experiences of frustration. God is serious about growth! He wants us to learn to get outside of our narrow views and preferences so we can learn from someone who is charmingly and frustratingly different from us. He wants us to be open, humble, and patient.

We may settle into bored distance and push into head-butting, or we can choose to apply the gospel of Jesus Christ and accumulated wisdom to increase the joy and reduce the headaches. There are many articles in this collection to help you do that.

Many people have children. We enter parenthood with simple optimism and find that developing humans is more demanding and confusing than we ever imagined. It requires more than our casual and occasional efforts. It requires that we be ready always to love, lift, wipe, hold, and counsel little people-in-training who seem quite determined to thwart our plans.

The twenty parenting articles in the collection may help you work wisely and kindly. They teach the qualities of Christlike leadership. I encourage you to revisit the articles in the Meridian archive to learn the principles that will increase your happiness, strengthen your marriage, and improve your parenting.

Of course, all the wisdom in the world is not enough. Life keeps reminding us that there are important things—crucially important things—that we cannot do. We cannot love perfectly. We cannot live uprightly. The ultimate lesson of life is that we simply cannot be made holy without divine intervention.

So, we learn to use the principles with power along with all the good sense and wise counsel we can collect.

We use faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to give meaning and purpose to all our efforts. We call on Him for strength and wisdom. We study His life to learn how to live with grace.

We repent regularly and gladly. We learn from our mistakes. We apologize to spouse and children. We call on the name of Jesus: “O Jesus, thou son of God, have mercy on me” (Alma 36:18).

We make sacred promises. Every Sabbath day, we approach the throne of grace: “I  messed up again this week. But I really want to be a good person and a kind family member. Please teach me. Please lift me. Please change me.”

And we endure to the end. We keep trying. We keep calling for heavenly grace. We keep learning from our mistakes. And we keep our eyes on that heavenly promise that all tears will be wiped away and all earthliness will slough off.

The good news is that God is patient and determined. He is loving and resolute. He is gracious and redemptive. He intends to patiently preside over our learning, and He is quite willing to invest all the time and resources necessary to make us like His Beloved Son—” unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”! (Ephesians 4:13).

What an amazing plan He has designed! What looks random and messy to us is actually a carefully designed process for stretching and filling our souls.

Every one of us will make many mistakes. Humiliating mistakes. Foolish mistakes. But we can keep learning, keep calling on His grace, and keep asking for forgiveness,

Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.

Who could have supposed that our God would have been so merciful as to have snatched us from our awful, sinful, and polluted state? (Alma 26:16-17)

May God bless you in this heavenly process.

You’re invited to a workshop!

Beyond Names on a Tree—Using Family Stories, Pictures and Keepsakes to Connect Us with Ancestors

Bring your family history to life with the stories behind the names. In this workshop you will learn ideas for capturing and sharing your family’s stories for yourself, your children, and future generations. Would you like your family members to feel surrounded and blessed by their ancestors? Join us for creative ideas to capture, organize, share, and display the stories of your family and your ancestors.    

The workshop will be July 19-20 in Logan, Utah. The cost is $25 per person. Limited seating. For more information and to register, go to: