Burn the Boxes: Unifying The Community by Getting Rid of Assumptions and Categories

As humans, we tend to categorize people, places, and things to organize our minds and make sense of the world. Sometimes, those categories and labels can be useful. For example, in my brain, I have a whole group of people I label as “Family Members.” I interact with people in my “family members” group differently than I would interact with my “strangers” category. In the church, we use other labels to help us stay organized — for example, new members, recent converts, the youth, primary children, and so forth. However, as humans, we tend to take those labels to the extreme.

We might label people in ways that make sense to us but have a nasty tendency of excluding, silencing, and pushing away people who don’t fit the labels we place upon them. If we want to improve our ward family relationships and unify our communities, we need to start by unboxing people and getting rid of overgeneralized labels.

Nobody Fits In a Box

People fit in many categories in life, and that’s a good thing. Versatility is the spice of life. However, we want people to be in a box because that makes us feel organized and secure. The truth is that no one fits in the box.

I’m a great example of a box breaker. I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints living in Utah. My husband and I are sealed in the temple. We own a home. We have two beautiful dogs, but we do not have any children, nor do we expect children any time in the foreseeable future.

Now here’s the real clincher for people. We’re at peace with our situation.

It’s almost funny when people meet us for the first time. They don’t know our story. So, within seconds they ask if we have kids. Then, without fail, they comment about how we’ll have kids in the future. Maybe they’re right, or perhaps not. The point is that we don’t fit that “perfect family” mold and I’ve seen people get so uncomfortable with it that they almost can’t stand it.

However, nobody fits that mold. If we look closely, nobody meets all the criteria of most of the boxes we assign to people. A recent convert may have more faith than the bishop. A returned missionary may or may not have served honorably. Special needs can mean anything from severe autism to hypoglycemia. “Inactive” or “less active” members may or may not have issues with their faith, the church, or their neighbors. Maybe they have to work on Sunday to feed their families. Or, perhaps they don’t feel loved.

We all like to think we have the facts, but the truth is we don’t have a clue.

Breaking The Molds

So, how do we maintain organization at church and in our communities without forcing people into inaccurate boxes? The first step is to realize that we label people. We all do it. We don’t need to beat ourselves up about it. Labels can be tools. However, we need to remember that people don’t fit in boxes. So, always remember that our labels are likely totally inaccurate or not the whole picture.

Evaluate your categories for people with the mindset that most people fit into a lot of different roles. So, no one box can hold them. Make sure that the categories you have for people are 1) true, 2) inclusive.

Truthful Labels

Truthful labels are provable facts and titles. I fit into many groups in my ward. I am one of two Special Needs Resource Coordinators. That’s a title, and it’s true. That title signals to other people that they can come to ask me questions about church and ward resources for all kinds of special needs.

I am also a member of the Relief Society. You can tell because I’m a member of the church and I’m over the age of 18. Some other accurate labels are home-maker, writer, self-employed, Dog Mom, and wife. You can probably gather a lot of information about me just from those few labels. However, you only see the facts that I’m willing to share. Those labels might be truthful, but they aren’t the whole story. It’s important to remember that we are not made up of the categories and labels others assign us regardless of truthfulness.

Inclusive Labels 

Before you set anyone in a category, make sure you stop and think if you’re using that label to include, love and welcome, or to shun, exclude, or shame.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a gospel of love where there is room for all of Heavenly Father’s children. During October General Conference of 2018, Elder Soares gave a talk called “One In Christ.” Part of that talk compares all the individual people of the church and how we all combine like two mighty rivers of different compositions flowing together to create the Amazon River in Brazil.

He says “In a similar way that the Solimões and Negro Rivers flow together to make the great Amazon River, the children of God come together in the restored Church of Jesus Christ from different social backgrounds, traditions, and cultures, forming this wonderful community of Saints in Christ. Eventually, as we encourage, support, and love each other, we combine to form a mighty force for good in the world. As followers of Jesus Christ, flowing as one in this river of goodness, we will be able to provide the “freshwater” of the gospel to a thirsty world.”

We must remember that our differences are vital for the progression of the Gospel. We need to celebrate differences and put our judgments away. If we’re using labels to exclude, shame, or judge one another we need to stop.

In the end, there are only three labels we should care about.

  1. We are Children of God.
  2. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ.
  3. We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

If we can categorize all people as Children of God, then we must realize that we are all family. As a family, we must include one another. Welcome one another, and as Jesus taught, “Love one another.”

As Disciples of Jesus Christ, we must keep His commandments to love our neighbors as ourselves. We must strive to love, include, welcome, nurture, teach, and spread the light of Jesus Christ throughout all the world. The best place to start is in our hearts, our homes, our wards, and our neighborhoods.

Lastly, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we are part of something far more significant than any one person. We have the fullness of the gospel. We can unify with other members because we share our knowledge of Heavenly Father’s love for all of us, and the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ. We know that we all play a vital role in Heavenly Father’s plan.

The Savior taught us to preach the gospel and love one another. Our job is to “mourn with those that mourn,” “comfort those who stand in need of comfort” and to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and all places…” If we must use labels, let’s make sure that they’re for the purpose of helping, including, and loving. For everything else, please apply Elder Uchtdorf’s two-word sermon “STOP IT!” 

 

 

 

 

Supporting Kidless Loved Ones for the Holidays: The Dos and Don’ts of Holiday Interaction With People Without Kids

Infertility is a growing problem in the United States, but there are a lot of couples who prefer not to talk about it. The holidays can be a little bittersweet for couples without kids, so it’s important to know how to include, love, and support the couples who don’t have kids in our communities. Here are a few of the dos and don’ts of supporting kidless friends, neighbors, and loved ones during the holiday season.

DO Invite Them

Couples without kids aren’t grinches. They like to be invited to parties as much as large families. Show them a little love and still invite them to the party. Let them decide if it’s too painful to join in.

DON’T Force Them

Don’t drag people into parties or festivities if they don’t feel like joining in. Again, the holidays might be slightly painful for couples without kids. You never know their story. Send out a friendly invitation and let them decide whether or not they want to participate. Relax. They’ll be happy you invited them. No more encouragement is required.

DO Send Them Cards and Gifts

Everyone likes to get gifts from friends, family, and neighbors. Send them your typical treat plates, cards, and other stuff that you’re passing around to everyone else. They’ll appreciate the inclusion.

DON’T Send Them Things That Remind Them They Don’t Have Kids

Ok, this one sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised. Make sure you read the cards you send out to make sure they don’t include phrases like “to you and your little ones…” or praise them on their parenting skills. It happens.

Also, avoid sending them an “extra special” gift with your thoughts and condolences on the fact that they don’t have the joy of children in their home at Christmas. Your well-meant words of encouragement will feel more like a slap to the face. Let Christmas focus on celebrating the birth of the Savior. It’s a joyous time. Don’t remind people of darkness and pain for Christmas.

DO Lend a Listening Ear

If a close friend or family member wants to vent about their struggle with infertility, let them. They might need a few minutes to blow off steam before re-joining the festivities.

DON’T Get Nosey 

There’s only room for one nose at Christmas.  So, unless your name is Rudolph, keep your nose to yourself. There’s no good time to pry about the what’s and why’s about people’s lack of children. However, Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day are the three worst times to dig up the sorrows of not having kids.

Save your questions for a better time, like perhaps the 31st of February.

DO Light the World

Remember to be charitable in everything you do. This season is about the Light of the World. Celebrate Jesus Christ this season by spreading as much love, joy, peace, and light as you can. That includes all people. Focus on adding to the joy in other people’s lives. Be a blessing. Uplift each other’s spirits. Your kindness is not only a gift to your loved ones, but it’s also a gift to the Savior.

This Holiday season might be challenging for people without kids. Send them some love, include them in parties and gift giving, and be a radiant light that sprinkles a little Christmas magic their way. Your acts of simple kindness may be the miracle someone needs.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Shade: Responding to Uncomfortable Comments and Questions About Being Kidless Without Creating a Scene

Thanksgiving should be a holiday where families gather to remember their blessings and feast on food and love. Unfortunately, if you don’t have kids, a Thanksgiving can acquire a sour aftertaste. Well-meaning family and friends might make some uncomfortable comments or ask some inappropriate questions. Knowing how to respond makes the difference between an awkward moment and a dysfunctional Thanksgiving party. Let’s take a look.

Step 1: Be Prepared

Your family and friends probably don’t realize the extent of your pain. It’s unlikely that they’re trying to hurt you. However, when someone makes comments on your lack of children, their intentions don’t soften the blow. That’s why you need to be prepared to hear uncomfortable, awkward, and irritating comments about how you don’t have kids.

Start your preparations with prayer. Pray for strength and the wisdom to know how to handle hurtful comments. Then, listen for guidance.

Next, work on your confidence. You are a strong Child of God who has challenges but also has value and strength regardless of whether or not you’re a parent. Your situation is unique, and you have the right to your feelings and to follow Heavenly Father’s plan for you without comment from the peanut gallery.

Then take a breath. Remind yourself that your family and friends love you, and it’s unlikely that they would intentionally hurt you. If they are intentionally causing pain, that’s abuse. Distance yourselves from those people. You don’t have time or room for toxic people in your life. Most of your family and friends say things without realizing their impact. Work up some compassion for them. Remember that they’re doing the best they can with what they have, and seek out feelings of love and forgiveness for them.

Step 2: Remeber to Breathe

When your sweet Aunt Betty comes up and starts in with, “when are you going to bring us a baby?” Or, “Poor dears, are you infertile?” It’s natural and understandable for two emotions to flash through your head. First anger, second sadness. Anger will likely be the dominant emotion. When you feel that challenging emotional soup bubble up, inhale deeply and focus on your breath. Deep, controlled breathing can help you control yourself.

Take a second to think about your emotions. Recognize them, accept them and validate them. Then, proceed with caution. If you’re too angry to respond calmly, then politely excuse yourself if you can.

Step 3: The Response

Remember that your feelings are valid and understandable. You don’t have to grin and bear it. However, there’s no need to cause a scene either.

When you respond to hurtful comments or questions, remember that you have the right to express your thoughts and opinions just as much as the other person. Express yourself politely, but don’t be shy about telling the truth.

“I’d rather not talk about it” is an entirely appropriate and valid response. No rule says you have to give any more information than that.

If you do want to go into details, then, by all means, share your story. It’s your life. The decision to talk or not talk about your life is yours.

Only give people as much information as you want them to have. It’s none of their business, so your sharing shouldn’t be up to anyone but you.

If you’re getting bombarded with comments and questions, be honest about your feelings. Put it into an “I feel” statement. For example, “I feel uncomfortable with these questions and comments. Let’s talk about something else.” Or, “This topic brings up a lot of painful emotions for me. I’d rather talk about how good that pie smells.”

Step 4: The Buddy System

You and your spouse are a team in all things. Be sure to support each other in the hurtful comments and questions. Both of you can keep your eyes open for conversation changes and exit strategies to pull each other away from difficult conversations with grace and ease.

Step 5: Process

After your Thanksgiving party is over, give each other time to sit and process all of the challenging emotions you experienced. Talk about how awkward and inappropriate comments made you feel, and give each other time to work through your feelings.

Step 6: Forgive

You don’t want to hold on to all the pain and anger that your relatives inadvertently caused. Turn to the Savior, and work on forgiving your relatives for their misguided comments. Forgiveness isn’t about the other person, and it’s not about saying that the behavior is acceptable. It’s about letting go of your pain and anger and replacing it with the Savior’s love. Remember that forgiveness can take some work, and don’t shame yourself if it takes you a few days to let everything go. Work on it consistently until you achieve forgiveness.

Don’t let people’s inappropriate, misguided, awkward, hurtful comments ruin your Thanksgiving. People say things without realizing the impact of their words all the time. Unfortunately, you can’t control what people say. However, you can manage the way you respond. Prepare yourself for uncomfortable moments, respond with polite honesty, support each other, and allow yourself time to process your feelings and forgive the hurtful comments.

 

 

Fur Babies Count

When people ask me if I have any kids, I usually say “No, but I have two beautiful fur babies.” Our dogs are part of our little family and we can’t imagine life without them. Weather or not you have human kids, fur babies are family too. Here’s why.

They Unite Us

Our dogs are not easy breeds. We have an almost five-year-old mid-hair German Shepherd named Persephone (we usually call her “Sephie”), and an almost four-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Hades. 

They’re both high energy, emotional, shedding, dogs that need a lot of care and attention. On top of that, our little Hades has Addison’s Disease which means he’s on medication for life and he needs constant monitoring to keep him regulated. They’re a lot of work, and neither Brad nor I can meet all of their needs alone. It takes both of us to make sure they get enough attention, exercise, and to make sure that their health is in check. 

It’s amazing to work side by side taking care of our fur babies. They give us opportunities to play together, problem solve, tackle challenges, and take care of living things that depend on us. 

They Spread the Love

Dogs are super affectionate. Most pups know how to love better than most humans. Hades and Sephie are cuddly, lovey, sweet little things that bring more love into our home than we could ever imagine. 

Most pets give their owners a greater opportunity to love. The more love in your home the better. 

They Bring Us Joy

Hades and Sephie add so much joy in our world. We love their crazy antics, their snuggles, and their affection toward everyone. We are so happy having them around and we don’t know what we’d do without them. They add laughter, fun, and love to our home that we’d miss if we didn’t have them.

It doesn’t matter if your babies are human or furry, or scaly, or feathered, if you and your spouse have something to love together, it counts. Don’t let the question “Do you have kids?” make you mad. If you love something that depends on your for love and nurture, they’re your babies too. Hold your head high and say, “I have some beautiful fur babies,” or “Yes, my babies just have scales or feathers…” They count. Be proud of them. If you don’t have pets, get one. Even a fish can bring you more fun, love, laughter, and joy than you’ll know what to do with. 

Mourning the Dream: Allowing Yourself to Grieve The Life You Thought You’d Have

When Brad and I finally realized that kids weren’t the next step in our life, it was hard. We spent so much time and energy trying to build our family that we felt a little lost after the fight was over. We realized that we had to grieve the life we thought we’d have in order to embrace the life we’re living. Here’s what we learned. 

Grief and Relief Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

The first thing I felt when Brad and I officially decided to stop trying to have kids was a relief. After four and a half years, we could move forward and find a new adventure. Unfortunately, with that sense of relief came sorrow. We wanted to be parents. We still want to be parents at some point. But, that’s not part of the plan right now. We don’t know if we’ll ever have children in this life, and that’s hard to accept. 

Experiencing grief and relief in tandem is normal. Even after someone dies, psychologists say a sense of relief is common. Honestly, there are no rules about how you should or shouldn’t feel when you’re grieving. Accept the relief and the sorrow as they happen. 

Take Your Time

Brad and I are still grieving the future we thought we’d have. It takes time. Don’t put time constraints on mourning the thought of having kids. As long as you’re slowly making progress, you’re going to be OK. You’ll move forward and fall back, and move forward again for a while before you find your feet. 

If the grieving is so overwhelming that it stops you from living your life, consider seeking out a couple’s counselor to help you and your spouse process. Even if you think you’re fine the guidance from a counselor can’t hurt anything. 

Turn to the Lord

The Savior knows your sorrows and your trials even better than you do. Seek guidance and comfort from Heavenly Father. He has a plan for you. If you trust in Him, He will lead you to joy and happiness. Richard G. Scott said that “The Lord will give relief with divine power when you seek deliverance in humility and faith in Jesus Christ.” (Elder Richard G. Scott, April 1994 General Conference “To Be Healed.”) Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us more than we could ever understand. They want us to have happiness. If we trust Heavenly Father, seek healing, and follow his guidance, we can find joy. 

When you’re grieving, it’s really easy to feel frustrated that you don’t have the blessings you want. You might even wonder why Heavenly Father doesn’t just send you kids. You would love them, and thousands of kids go to parent’s who abuse and mistreat them. Why would Heavenly Father not send kids to you? 

The answer is simple. He loves you and has a specific plan for you. It’s your job to have faith in Heavenly Father and strive to do what He asks you to do. Heavenly Father won’t guide you into eternal misery and sorrow. He loves you and wants you to have joy. 

Hold On to Each Other

You and your spouse have been through some hard trials together. Don’t let the grieving process tear you apart. Turn to each other for support. Hang on to each other, and work on your marriage as you grieve. Be each other’s soft place to fall. 

You and your spouse can and will be happy again. Allow yourselves to grieve for the future you thought you’d have together. It’s healthy. It’s awfully hard to make new dreams when you haven’t set the old ones aside. You don’t have to throw those dreams away, but you do have to put them somewhere out of the way. Grieve the fact that kids aren’t part of your plan right now. Let yourself mourn the future you imagined. Then, start looking forward to all the amazing new possibilities for your life. You can live a spectacular life full of excitement, joy, and fulfillment with or without kids. Go find out what Heavenly Father has in store for you. 

Un-Stacking the Tragedy: Handling Life When Trials Start Compounding

Trials rarely happen one at a time because life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. When it’s a bunch of little things, most people tend to cope with them with daily self-care. However, when it’s a bunch of significant problems, it can feel like you’re drowning in it. And, just because you’re dealing with huge issues, all the petty things don’t magically go away. It all stacks up. It all culminates in one giant crapstorm, and if you’re not careful, it can overwhelm you.

You have to develop some skills to deal with all the stacking trials. Here are some options.

Ask for Help

One of the hardest, but most effective ways to handle your problems is to ask for help. Talk to your bishop, or your ministers, or your neighbors, or your family, or friends, or somebody and ask for help dealing with the smaller things so you can save your strength for the bigger things. Swallow your pride and get some much-needed assistance.

Have a Play Date

Plan a self-care day or weekend with your spouse. Get out for a day, or a weekend and play. See a movie you’ve been dying to see. Go to a concert or a museum or do something fun you both enjoy. Spend the day having fun and blowing off steam. Connect with something fun, and enjoy your time with each other.

Your marriage takes work especially in times of trials. Re-connect and help each other by taking a break from your problems. They’ll be there when you get back. So, take a day where they don’t hang over your heads. De-compress together so you can face your issues head-on.

Feel Your Feelings

You might think you’re holding it together by suppressing your emotions, but you’re not. You’re only making the problem worse. Allow yourself to feel what you need to so you can process your feelings. Yes, it hurts, but it’s how we heal.

Sleep

Challenges are always harder when you’re sleep deprived. Go to bed on time. If you’re not sleeping due to stress, talk to your doctor. Seriously, don’t walk. Run. Sleep is one of the most necessary things you must do to maintain your mental health. If you already have mental health problems like anxiety or depression, sleep deprivation aggravates those challenges. If you don’t have a mental health issue, sleep deprivation can put you at risk for developing a mental health disorder.

Practice Daily Self-Care

You must take care of yourself. Otherwise, you won’t have the strength to handle your problems, and you’ll likely create more challenges for yourself. Pray, study the scriptures, sleep, eat healthy food, shower, take breaks, and do something nice for yourself every single day. It’s not selfishness. It’s necessary.

Challenges aren’t convenient. Life isn’t fair. However, you can make it through. Rely on the arm of the Lord, and take care of yourself. Bad days end. So, keep moving forward until you make it through.

How do you handle your stacked challenges? Tell us about it in the comments below.

 

Letting Wounds Heal: Why It’s OK Not to Be Part of The Kid Stuff

When I was a kid, I went ice skating (trust me, I have a point), and I got these nasty blisters on my ankles because the skates didn’t fit properly. The blisters turned into open sores that itched like crazy. So, being a kid, I kept scratching at the scabs and reopening the wounds. It took weeks for them to heal, and I had these nasty scars that didn’t fade for a long time.

I am so blessed those wounds didn’t get infected.

If you don’t,/can’t have kids that pain can leave nasty wounds on your heart. It takes a lot of time, prayer, and effort to heal and during the healing process, it’s important not to pick at the wounds. When you’re a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, there are a lot of beautiful things that can cause some significant setbacks to your healing process. Here’s how to navigate them.

Baby Blessings

Baby blessings are a delightful and beautiful thing for families and wards to celebrate. However, unless you’re related to the child, no one is going to bat an eye if you miss it. If you see that a baby blessing is on the program, or the bishop makes a blessing announcement, it’s ok to slip out the back discretely. Slip back in during the sacrament hymn.

If you’re stuck in the pew, there’s not much more you can do than sit quietly. If it hurts too much, say a silent prayer for comfort in your heart as the blessing takes place. When the blessing is over, you don’t have to look up and ooh and ahh over the pretty little newborn. No one will notice if you’re looking at the program instead.

You’re not obligated to attend the blessing party at your neighbor’s house afterward either. The parents and family will be so busy they won’t even notice your absence.

Primary Programs

When you’re aching over your lack of children, the sweet primary program can be torturous. The day of the primary program is the perfect Sunday to visit your parents, friends, or any other ward that is not hosting a primary program that week. If you teach second or third hour, then schedule it so you can make it back for your obligations. It’s OK. Heavenly Father won’t be angry with you for trying to heal.

Baby Showers

You are not obligated to go to baby showers for your neighbors, co-workers, or friends. The only time attending a baby shower might be obligatory is if it’s for your sister. If you want to show your support, send over a gift card for Amazon or Target with a card that says congratulations. You do not have to put yourself through the pain and heartache that attending a baby shower would cause.

If someone is expecting you to help throw a baby shower, you have the right to say no. Be polite, but firm. Say you can’t. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. The expecting mother deserves support, but so do you. There are hosts of people waiting to help and celebrate the mother and her new baby. You owe it to yourself to let others support the new mother while you heal.

Gender Reveal Parties

Again, unless the child will be your niece or nephew, you don’t have to go to the gender reveal parties. Don’t put yourself through it. It’s OK to stay home and watch a movie instead. Your presence is not required.

You can’t avoid all the things that nag at the wounds on your heart, but you don’t have to rush off to the obvious events either. An aspect of letting a wound heal is leaving it alone. Stop scratching at your wounds because you feel obligated to be a support for everything. You have to support yourself and your spouse, and part of that is protecting each other from the things that hurt too much. In time, you will be able to sit through a sweet little primary performance or a baby blessing without feeling like a knife is going through your chest. Until then, do what you must to keep painful reminders at arm’s length.

Validation and Support: What We Learned About Being Kidless from October General Conference 2018

As Brad and I watched conference, we couldn’t help but feel a renewed energy and excitement for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The historic announcement about the shorter meeting block on Sunday and the new home curriculum are incredible, and we can’t wait to begin.

As thrilling as the announcements were, they couldn’t overshadow the messages of pure love, validation, and support the Prophet delivered in the General Women’s Session on Sunday evening about motherhood.

In our last post, we talked about conference messages on parenthood and how they applied to everyone,` including married couples who couldn’t have children. President Russel M. Nelson’s talk during the General Women’s Conference powerfully re-confirmed this fact to me.

He said, “Every woman is a mother by virtue of her eternal divine destiny.” (President Russel M. Nelson, 2018.) We are mothers because we are women. His talk, all the way through, made me feel the Savior’s love and comfort. I did not ache for children I do not have. Instead, I felt excited for all the work I have to do as a woman, a mother in Zion. I also felt honored and included as part of all the other sisters in The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As members of the Lord’s Church, we have divine duties and destinies. Many of the conference talks were about the Churchwide ministry efforts. What is ministry if not motherhood? We nurture, teach, support, love, care, serve, and gather our brothers and sisters. No, we don’t raise our ward families, but it is our job to uplift them however we can. In those ministry efforts, we can be a force for good. We have the opportunity to serve Heavenly Father and do His work. We can have all the blessings and joys of caring for others.

With this realization, I suddenly felt fully included in the Relief Society. Part of me has always felt like I sat on the outskirts. I don’t have kids, so how can I be part of this organization of mostly mothers? Now, I understand. Now, I know I belong. I only kick myself because I belonged this whole time.

Brethren, you’re part of all of this too. You’re ministers just like the sisters. It’s no different. You also have divine rights and attributes that make you Fathers in an eternal sense. Fathers are leaders of the family, and leaders in the church have incredibly fatherly roles as well.

I remember a bishop that touched my life just before I met Brad. He was not my biological father, but he was a father figure in my life in several ways. He was the only other man besides my Dad and my brother that I trusted completely. It was a horrible time in my life full of sorrow and trial. He always had time to sit and listen, lend his support, and comfort me. Once in a while, he’d offer gentle guidance, but mostly he let me talk it out.

There were other times he liked to get all of the ward family working together, playing, and getting along. He cared about us just like a father would. We were his kids. His influence built up my testimony and helped me be a better person. He was a spiritual giant, and he taught me so much more than I think he realized.

That bishop was a safe place, a leader, support, listener, mediator, protector, and a teacher. Is that not a father? Brothers, the Priesthood power you hold, and your positions in the Church carry many of the same responsibilities and blessings of Fatherhood.

I am so grateful for the Prophet. His guidance and his love filled me with peace and joy. We are all mothers and fathers. If we do not have the blessing of parenthood in this life, or at this time in life, Heavenly Father will bless us in the next life. However, we don’t have to be sad about our lack of children. Instead, we can be excited about the fact that we can enjoy the blessings of motherhood and fatherhood in Zion.

 

 

Kidless General Conference: How to Enjoy Talks on Parenthood When You’re Not a Parent

Brad and I love General Conference. It leaves us feeling refreshed and excited to improve our spiritual lives. However, there was a time that Conference brought up some painful feelings. Talks on being a better parent and raising a righteous family sent pangs of longing and sorrow through our hearts. Thankfully, we’ve learned a lot of lessons over the years and have found a way to enjoy conference talks about parenthood even though we don’t have kids of our own.

We All Influence the Next Generation

Brad and I may not be parents, but there are some amazing kids in our lives. From our family members to our ward and community, there are tons of kids that we get to influence frequently.

While we may not be parents to those kids, we do have parent-like roles in their lives. We can teach them, love them, encourage them, and set positive examples for them. We can help make them better and stronger people. Conference talks on parenthood are excellent resources to teach us how to teach children the joy of the gospel.

Eternal Perspective

Posterity is a blessing we’re all promised in one way or another. Keeping an eternal perspective in mind, Brad and I realize that someday, in some capacity, we will be parents. We don’t know when it’ll happen in the eternities, but we know it will. Listening intently to conference talks on parenthood gives us the opportunity to learn about how to raise righteous children before we have them.

Supporting Parents

Brad and I don’t have a full idea of what it’s like to be a parent, so we may not naturally know how we can best support the parents in our lives. Conference talks on parenthood give us more insight into what it’s like to be a parent, and we can learn lessons about what parents need from family and neighbors regarding physical and spiritual support.

Appreciating Our Parents

Luckily, Brad and I are close to our parents. Listening to Conference talks on parenthood helps us understand the efforts our parents took to raise us.  We get a better understanding of their patients, prayerfulness, and long-suffering and we love them all the more for it.

Learning the Nature of Heavenly Father

The lives we lead in this life are a type of things to come in the next life. Parenthood here is a small scale of what parenthood is like on an eternal level. Therefore, learning about righteous parenting helps us learn about the nature of Heavenly Father. He is our Father. He loves us. He guides us. We learned from HIm in the pre-existence, and we learn from Him in this life as well. He wants us to succeed, to be happy, and to return to live with HIm.

When you don’t, or can’t have kids, listening to Conference can be yet another painful reminder. However, as Brad and I turn our hearts to the new path we’re on, the ache isn’t so sharp, and we can remind ourselves of all the amazing lessons we can learn from Conference talks on parenthood. Those talks aren’t meant to exclude childless couples. They’re meant to inspire and educate all members to teach the next generation to be righteous,  gain a testimony, and have faith.

The Conference talks are inspirations that the leaders of our church receive to bless us, teach us, and instruct us. Heavenly Father sends those messages through the leaders who act as His mouthpieces to spread His words to the world. They are important. Even if we don’t have kids right now, we have the opportunity to learn from inspired men and women and feel spiritually fed.

We hope you have a happy General Conference!

Do you have a favorite Conference talk? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Dating Again: Reconnecting With Your Spouse After Infertility

When you focus on trying to have kids or any other colossal life goal, it’s easy to let your whole relationship with your spouse become focused on that one thing. Then, when you’ve either reached that goal, or you’ve decided to move on, reconnecting with your spouse can feel a little strange. You want to be the same people you were before, but you’re not. Hopefully, you’re better people. Regardless, you have to take some time to get to know each other again. You have to start dating each other. At least, that’s what Brad and I did, and are still doing. Here’s how Brad and I reconnected after we stopped trying to have kids.

Go Out

After we stopped trying to have kids, Brad and I realized that suddenly we had so much time and energy at our disposal. At first, we didn’t know what to do with it, so we fell into a rut of playing video games.

After a while, we realized that we weren’t connecting, and we were bored. So, we decided to look around at what adventures we could have with our free time. We made it a goal to go out and do things like attend community events, concerts, plays, or go out and try new restaurants or take a walk in a park. We decided to go out as often as we could and make memories, have adventures, and connect through having fun.

It worked. We started falling even more in love by having fun together.

Talk A Lot 

Remember when you were dating your spouse and you guys talked all the time? And, it was silly stuff too. You probably talked about bands you liked, food, old friends, childhood memories. Brad and I did. However, during our several years of infertility treatments, and trying, and foster care adventures, most of our conversations surrounded our one goal of trying to be parents.

Once we were done working toward parenthood, we had to reshape our conversations. We had to re-learn how to have long, connecting conversations about other things. It took time and practice, but now we talk all the time about everything.

We had to focus on talking about new goals, the weather, food, restaurants, how much we love each other, and fun things. However, those fun, happy conversations brought us closer together and helped us heal from our disappointments and the trauma of infertility treatments and foster care.

Get Romantic

I think a lot of couples forget to be as romantic as they once were when they’re caught up with trying to build their families. Then, when they stop trying, they’re out of the habit.

Get your spark back and eat your dinner by candlelight. Or, put on a love song and slow dance in the living room. Leave a love note on their pillow. Do the little romantic things you did when you were dating or first married.

Serve Together

Nothing brings two people together like service. Put forth extra effort to serve each other, but also take time to do small acts of service for other people too. Make cookies and take some to a neighbor. Visit an elderly couple in your ward or neighborhood. Go through your clothes and donate what you don’t want to a homeless shelter. Make baby blankets and give them to the hospital nursery. The opportunities for service are endless. Just look around and do what you can to help other people. Not only is it good for your community, but it does wonders for your marriage as well.

Boost Your Spirituality Together

One thing that is a massive blessing for Brad and I is our combined efforts to grow spiritually as a couple. We’re far from perfect. However, we decided to increase our couple’s scripture study and made it a goal to pray together every night. It’s been a massive blessing for our marriage.

Learn New Things

Brad and I both love learning, so we decided that a great way to reconnect is to learn new things together. We love picking up and trying new hobbies together. We also like discovering new facts about science, literature, history, art, and just about everything else.

Learning together is a lot of fun, and it boosts both of our confidence. It’s a fantastic way to connect and share something.

A journey through infertility can leave you, and your spouse changed forever. That’s why it’s so important to try to stay connected while you’re going through your infertility trials. Once they’re over, you have to date again to get to know yourself and your partner in a new way. So, go out, be romantic, learn, serve, and grow together. It takes effort, but it’s well worth it.

What are some of your favorite ways to date your spouse. Tell us about them in the comments below.