A multi-part series by Linda and Richard Eyre with Saydi Eyre Shumway.
Editor’s Note: New York Times #1 Bestselling Authors Richard and Linda Eyre join forces with their daughter Saydi (an “in the trenches” mother of four young children) to produce this series on the why-tos and the how-tos of receiving the Direct-Stewardship inspiration, guidance, and revelation we need to create strong and righteous families in this difficult world. This is a multi-part weekly series which will run here in Meridian every Tuesday.
In today’s turbulent world, and with the challenge of home centered Gospel teaching, parents and grandparents need personal family revelation more than ever before. And since every home situation is unique, this is not a series on what to do generally—it is on how to get divine answers for your family specifically. The series begins in the middle of the current Pandemic, with the thought that we may all have more need (and maybe more focus) for Family Revelation now than ever before.
He, the Savior of the world knocks,
And even gently presses on your door,
Ready to help you with your children, your marriage,
Ready to listen, ready to answer,
Ready to help you return.
But He will not enter until you unlock,
Pull open from the inside.
It is a heavy door,
Not always easy to open.
Article 1. An Introduction to the Series
Much has been written in the Church on Personal Revelation. In fact, of the first 100 links that come up in a Google search of “Personal Revelation” 90% are from Church sources. Far less has been written on “Family Revelation” where a Google search brings up nothing from a Church source. An alternative search for “Parents and Personal Revelation” brings up only a single post on an LDS forum from a 24-year-old single woman whose mom is telling her that she has received revelation on who she should marry. Not exactly the kind of Family Revelation we are looking for!
Within the Church then, we have abundant council on how to seek and receive Individual Revelation, but not nearly enough on what to seek that revelation for.
The biggest “what” of course, is our families. Our roles as parents, and as husbands or wives are the most important and lasting relationships of this life and the most integral to God’s eternal plan of happiness and salvation. It is these family callings, from which we will never be released, that are the most critical stewardships on which to seek and receive revelation.
This is the Time
There has never been a more challenging time in which to raise righteous and responsible children
and to form and maintain lasting marriages and strong families.
The Church supports us and is our scaffolding, but the real stewardship falls to us as parents, and to meet the challenge we need…Personal Family Revelation…which is available to all who truly seek it; and comes in a wide variety of ways that always involve agency and asking.
Let us use this opening article to center ourselves, to make clear the purpose and intent of this series,and to ponder some brief case studiesand think about some questions(and even a beautiful piece of art)which can set the stageand get us mentally and spiritually ready to ponder the questions of Family Revelation.
As we begin to think about and center ourselves on this topic, it is well to remember the warnings and pleas of President Nelson:
In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost . . . If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation. . . My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.
Revelation is closer to us than we know, Perhaps right at our door.
21 Case Studies on Family Revelation
A mother, deep in prayer about a rebellious teen, receives the distinct impression to take her along on an upcoming business trip where there will be ample timefor one-on-one talks and for trust to build.
A wife, at the temple to ponder what to do about a deteriorating marriage and an unfaithful husband, feels prompted to call an old friend who she has not seen in years, and finds that the friend had a similar situation and can shed light on her options.
Another wife and mother, long ago, deeply worried about two of her sons who are missing, blames her preoccupied husband. He has a prayerful impression that the boys are all right and is able to comfort and reassure her.
A grandfather, walking in the hills and seeking guidance about how to draw closer to a grandson, suddenly remembers distinctly something that his own grandfather once said to him, and realizes it changed their relationship forever.
An anxious child, worried about the beginning of a new school year, is calmed by a Priesthood blessing from her father; and during the blessing both parents receive insights into their child’s nature and needs.
A dad. deeply troubled by learning that his young son is being bullied at school, has gone to speak with the school counselor; and though it is not mentioned in their conversation, he feels direct revelation telling him to go and meet privately with the father of the boy doing the bullying.
Another father, long ago, concerned for the safety of his wife and their Son, prays and receives personal revelation to relocate to Egypt for a season.
While meditating, the single mother of an entitled, unmotivated, video-game-addicted 19-year-old son, who she has been pushing to go on a mission, has the distinct impression that sending him on the study abroad program that he is arguing for will give him the independence and new environment to develop his own testimony.
A mom who works full time by choice is fasting for an answer, and instead receives a clear question.
The question, fully formed and instantly in her mind, is “Is the extra money I am bringing into the family right now worth as much as additional time spent with my two young preschoolers?”
A dad pleads with the Lord for insight about the screen time and social media addiction of his two adolescent daughters. He feels prompted to click his scripture app, which opens to D&C 9, and there finds the profound personal revelation that he needs to research and study the problem more specifically before he can expect an answer.
A young married couple, praying together about their inability to conceive the child they desperately want, feels (each of them feels) a powerful answer that they should apply to adopt.
Another couple, long ago, tragically mourns the childbirth death of their twins, prays for comfort, but is led to another family whose mother died in delivering her twins, and is able to adopt and raise those two orphaned babies.
A father, burdened by worries about a son who lacks confidence and gives up easily is sitting humbly in Sacrament Meeting when he suddenly knows that he has to tell his son more stories about his grandparents and ancestors and their resilience; and as he does so, he begins to see a new light and determination in his son’s eyes.
Recently having remarried and blended their families, a couple goes to their Bishop for help and for ideas on joining two families into one. The Bishop gives no advice but does give them a Priesthood blessing, and on the way home a plan, involving relocating to a new home, opens up in their minds.
A full-time mom feels “sandwiched” between her five small children and her ageing mother who, recently widowed, has just moved in with them. She goes prayerfully to the temple and while sitting in the waiting room, suddenly sees a vision of how her mother can feel worth by helping with the kids in a way that benefits both generations and lightens her own parenting burden at the same time.
Another mom, long ago, troubled by the intense sibling rivalry among her children, prayerfully attends a sermon by her religious leader, and is promised that if she will become deeply and truly humble—understanding her own nothingness—she will be able to curtail her children’s fighting and arguing.
A couple, on a date together and reviewing the progress of four young kids one at a time, feels impressed that they all have too many lessons and games and activities on their schedule and that they need to cut back and have more unscheduled family time.
A single dad, out on a run with classical, baroque music in his earbuds, and thinking about his daughter and her fickle friends, forms a clear mental picture of her spending time with a one-year-older cousin and he knows instantly that getting them together will lift his daughter’s confidence.
A mom and dad feel impressed to call their three adolescent children together in a family council to ask them what they think about the need for more communication and less screen time in their home. During the council, the eldest son, to the parents’ surprise, suggests a new router that will turn off the wifi for an hour to allow a nightly dinner discussion
A young Mission President and his wife pray about whether they should try to conceive another child even though their own sense is that they are too overwhelmed by their mission responsibilities. They receive a clear, calm feeling that it is time for another child, and with it a promise that he will be an easy baby that will not impede the work.
A young couple, both working from home during the pandemic and trying to homeschool and manage their four children at the same time, has a special fast to seek divine help and is inspired to do a daily schedule that will give them and their children a sense of routine and purpose.
The Beginning Point
You are a spiritual being here on a physical earth, veiled from prior memory so that you can learn this new dimension and obtain, as God has, the joyful merger of spirit and matter, even becoming, like They, parents of other eternal beings who are your greatest stewardship.
The spiritual realm is your natural, eternal habitat, and you can, despite the veil, return to it at any time through prayer, through Priesthood, and by going to both inner and outer spiritual places. And you can take the asking initiative that opens the door to all that God wants to give.
Personal revelation, particularly for your family stewardship, is your entitlement—it is attainable and is always available. But this physical place, and the adversary’s opposition, not only undermines family, but distracts and deceives and disconnects us from our divine tether, making it necessary and essential to deliberately and devotedly seek family revelation.
How to do so is the subject matter of this series.
Finding the Joy
The goal here is not to give you prescriptive child rearing or family building advice but to strongly suggest that the best help (by far) that you can get for your family is not from a parenting book or from the advice of experts or even the examples of other families. The best help you can get for your family is from God through personal Family Revelation.
No other family is just like yours. No other child is just like your child. No one knows enough about your unique situation and your particular family to be more of an expert on your children than you are.
No one, that is, except your Heavenly Parents. They are the true and eternal parents of the child or children you are raising or will raise, and They know those children better (and know you better) than you do. Your parental stewardship entitles you to direct Family Revelation from Them and from Their Spirit concerning your children, your home, and your marriage.
We are so happy to be assisted in writing this series by our daughter Saydi who will lend her vibrant voice as the 24/7 real world, in-the-trenches mother of four wonderfully rambunctious children ranging from the age of accountability to the age of adolescence.
Family Revelation is a specialized and acutely important form of personal revelation. It is the direct guidance that we need as we seek to do our Heavenly Parents’ will in raising Their children—our spiritual brothers and sisters—who have been entrusted to us as our greatest earthly stewardship.
Family Revelation is also about the inspiration we need in our marriages—to make them strong enough to last for eternity and to develop them into partnerships which become the perfectible entities that can inherit Celestial glory and Eternal Lives.
Family Revelation also encompasses spiritual help on all of the other familial relationships we have on this earth, as siblings, as aunts and uncles, as grandparents, as cousins, and as children of our parents. Each of these relationships can also be eternal, and the love and effort and spiritual work we put into them measures into our own Exaltation.
RECEIVING: Spiritually, this is not a passive noun, but an active verb that suggests effort—grasping, grappling, drawing down, wresting and wrestling for. Receiving the Holy Ghost does not just happen, and Receiving revelation for your family implies deep asking and hard work.
FAMILY: The basic unit of society and of eternity is not the individual, it is the family, and we all have families. Individual inspiration and improvement is important of course, but chiefly because it will help us build toward the only perfectible entity in the universe—the family, sealed within the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.
REVELATION: Nudges, prompts, hunches and all kinds of inspiration are beautiful gifts from the spirit, but it is revelation that makes things clear, that opens up and reveals to us what we need to see about the why and the how as well as the what of our lives.
JOY: Nephi tells us that Adam fell that man (and woman) might be (mortal), and men are (mortal) that they might have joy. Joy is what God wants for all of His children, and it is not only the purpose of this earth, but the reason for it. Joy includes sorrow as well as happiness—and it emanates largely from the familial relationships we form here on this earth.
FOREORDINATION: Our unique belief that we lived before this life as literal spirit children of Heavenly Parents who sent us here to become more like Them, even assuming their divine role of parent; and who foreordained each of us to do certain things here, commensurate with the gifts and capacities we had developed as spirits and Their desires for what we should become.
MORTALITY: This pivotal present, where we all now exist (balanced between the forever back of our pre mortal life and the forever forward of our eternal destiny) is where we make the shift from being children in God’s family to having families of our own that are part of His family.
STEWARDSHIP: Since we own nothing but our agency, and God owns everything, it follows that our bodies, our minds, and all that we have are stewardships, and the greatest stewardship is the entrustment of our spirit brothers and sisters into our family care.
ETERNAL: Our Restoration-revealed, two-way eternity gives us long-term perspective and faith in God’s fairness; and assures us that the sequence of each necessary step along the covenant path is not as important as taking all those steps during the course of our “eternal progression.”
EXALTATON: “Salvation is an Individual matter,” said President Nelson, “but Exaltation is a Family Matter.” Individual salvation is one of the means to the ultimate end of Exaltation with our families in the Highest Heaven of our Heavenly Parents family.
These nine words represent the deepest doctrine of the Restoration, but they also form the parameters for the true family priorities that will give our lives purpose and meaning. We hope that this series makes all of them more personal even as it makes us all more grateful.
(Saydi adds) As a mom in the thick of parenting right now, I’d like to propose that we commit to making this book a “Guilt Free Zone.”
As parents it’s easy to feel guilty for what we haven’t done, guilty that we didn’t always get it right, guilty that we didn’t notice problems sooner, guilty that we aren’t measuring up to our expectations or to those of the people around us, guilty that we have not sought or received the family revelation that we needed.
As we will talk about later, guilt is one of the main obstacles that gets in the way of our receiving Family Revelation, so let’s just get it off the table!
Guilt and shame can make you feel unworthy and discouraged—which keeps you from even asking for the revelation that you need. Instead, be assured that you have always basically done the best you could, given what you knew and who you were at the time. We are here to work and fail and try again—this is where and how we progress. God knows we won’t always get it right. Christ made up for our shortcomings. He will fill in the gap.
We have told the following story in other places, but it is particularly relevant here, at the beginning of a book written to parents of our Faith (who seem to feel more guilt than any other parents in the world) because it reflects a pre-mortal and post-mortal eternity that all of us should be aware of and take into account as we parent our children.
We slipped in anonymously at a small rural ward in Idaho one Sunday while we were traveling and found ourselves in a Sunday School class where the lesson was on parenting. There was another visitor there, a city guy who seemed to have all the answers. Every time the teacher asked a question, this guy raised his hand and told his ideas and how well they had worked. “My son the valedictorian…” Or “my daughter the student body secretary…” Or “my other daughter the seminary president and captain of the team.…” And “how perfectly they all support each other and bear their testimonies each month…”
After about the tenth time that he had all the answers and that all his kids were perfect, it just got to be a little too much, and a quiet farmer near the front of the class raised his hand and stood up and turned to face the big bragger and said “Excuse me sir, but God must not have thought very much of you as a parent—sending you all them easy kids.”
I squeezed Linda’s hand and whispered “Amen.”
We’ve never forgotten that little experience, because not only did the farmer capture perfectly what a lot of us were thinking, he hinted at some very special doctrine—namely that we believe our children are already who they are when they come to us, that they are not sent to us randomly but for a reason, and that each of our stewardships are unique.
And if what that farmer said was true, then its flip side would also be true in other situations, “God must have thought quite a lot of you as a parent, sending you that very difficult child.” President Howard W. Hunter reminded us that “each child is blessed with his own special set of circumstances. We must not assume that the Lord will judge the success of one (or of one parent) precisely the same way as another. As parents we often assume that, if our child doesn’t become an overachiever in every way, we have failed. We should be careful in our judgements.”
Hunter, Parents’ Concerns for their Children, Ensign, November 1983.
One great gift of the Restoration is our knowledge that we have both a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. For as long as the Gospel has been restored we have been referring to our Heavenly Mother in sermon and in song. One of our most famous hymns about God and Heaven says “Truth eternal tells me I’ve a Mother there.” And recent conference talks reference our Heavenly Parents and Heavenly Mother ever more frequently.
In this series, when we say “God,” or when we say “Heavenly Father”, or “His” or “He” we are referring to our Heavenly Parents. And often we will say “Them” instead of “Him” and “Their” instead of “His.” The capitalized first letter will always refer to God.
Because this is a series about finding answers—your own answers, each of the articles that will follow is titled with a question. They are family questions that we should all ask ourselves. Because questions are the first step toward answers, and questions can be the keys that open the door to Family Revelation. The first question, and the second article in this series, gets right to the heart of the matter: HOW do we receive Family Revelation. Join us here next Tuesday.
And lest there be any doubt about our personal conviction on the subject of this series, let us add one last introductory sentence:
“If someone were to ask us if we have a testimony of Family Revelation, we would answer that we have a testimony because of Family Revelation.”