Strategies for strengthening families from SVU education conference

By Bryce Pendleton

For Mormon Times

Published: Tuesday, June 7 2011 4:30 a.m. MDT

“Marriage is the very definition of our theology,” he said. “If you and I are to become as God is, live with God and be like God, we are to learn to live a married life."

Scott and Angelle Anderson: Loving those around us

The Andersons discussed the challenges and joys associated with marriage, family and parenthood, teaching that we should love those who are most important to us with Christlike love.

A faculty member at the Sandy and Jordan, Utah, Institutes of Religions with a doctorate from BYU in marriage and family therapy, Scott Anderson likened Lehi’s dream in the Book of Mormon to our journey through mortality.

“Sometimes (life) can feel like a dark and dreary waste,” Scott Anderson said. “Promises that aren’t being fulfilled; relationships that might be struggling; children that might be having a difficult time; people you love dealing with illness; unemployment or whatever.”

Nephi had been to the Tree of Life and felt the power of the Atonement.

“The foundation in Nephi’s life that made the difference was his capacity to love, to see things from an eternal perspective and to see things as a wilderness not a waste,” he said. “I testify it's because he’s been to the tree.”

By outlining the pattern for loving God in Doctrine and Covenants 59:5-6, the Andersons taught that we must seek to love with all our heart, might, mind and strength in all of our relationships. This is Christlike love, they said.

Angelle Anderson explained how applying this pattern of love for several years to a son struggling with his testimony eventually bore fruit when it seemed that there was no hope. Through her faithful efforts to display Christlike love, her son would go on to serve a mission and bear testimony that his mother’s love changed his life.

Barbara Heise: Faithfully endure the end

Barbara Heise, who received a doctorate in nursing from the University of Virginia and specializes is gerontology and end-of-life care, focused her remarks on the importance of faithfully enduring to the end of our lives in order to reap the blessings of eternal families.

She described some of the many hardships she has faced and the faith required to endure them as she cared for and nursed several family members through illness and eventually death since converting to the church 36 years ago.

Quoting President Brigham Young, Heise reminded participants, “Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation.”

While struggling financially on a small Missouri farm and caring for four children, including one with Down’s syndrome, and a chronically ill husband, Heise sacrificed and worked her way through nursing school by trusting in the Lord, studying in an unheated outbuilding from 2 a.m. until 6 or 7 a.m.

“Please don’t think that all was hard on our Missouri farm,” she said. “We had many, many happy and joyful memories there of laughing, of riding horses, of becoming closer as a family and of many spiritual experiences.”

Over time, Heise lost a son to leukemia, as well as a younger sister, her husband and both her parents to death. Despite the pain of these tragedies, she said she has learned to look for lessons to be learned and to glory in her trials.

“When challenges come — and come they must because that is why we are here to learn — we choose how we will respond to those challenges,” she said.

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