Back To School Father’s Blessing

At the end of the Summer I read a talk from the 173rd Semiannual General Conference, October 2003 in the November 2003 Ensign by Elder Merrill J. Bateman, Of the Presidency of the Seventy.

Elder Bateman says:

It is expected that worthy holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood will use the power delegated to them to bless others, starting with their own families.

I remember over a year ago when my Bishop urged fathers to give back to school blessings to their children before the beginning of school.  My heart filled with joy concerning the blessings that were available to my family.  I shortly learned afterwards that it was something a Melchezidek Priestholder would have to do.

That Sunday, my home teacher was coming over to visit our family.  As he gave his lesson, it came to me that he could bless my children.  He agreed to and then each of my sons at school age were blessed.  The blessings he gave were exactly what my children needed and I was grateful for his willingness to serve.

I am also grateful that he was able to give a blessing, as he was a worthy priesthood holder.  Even though he has moved to another state, I still think of him as an example of who to be – A Worthy Priesthood holder.  You never know when you will have to exercise your priesthood and this gives a great incentive to stay pure, clean and worthy.

How do you give a Blessing?  What do you say?

As a worthy holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood, you lightly place your hands on the person receiving the blessing and do the following:

  1. Calls the person by his or her full name.
  2. States that he is giving the blessing by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
  3. Gives a blessing as the Spirit directs.
  4. Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.

During our last Summer FHE (Family Home Evenings) I gave my children blessings.  I had read an article on lds.org titled “Me? Give a Blessing?” by Brad Larsen in the January 2005 New Era issue and received from good advice from it.  Brad Larsen says:

I remembered my dad. Whenever he had to give a blessing, he went quietly into another room and prayed first.

Before I gave the blessings, I went into another room and prayed to our Heavenly Father.  It really did help.

We pulled a dining room chair into the living room and one by one I placed my hands on their head and gave them a blessing as the Spirit had directed me to.  After I did my two oldest school-aged boys, the youngest happily hopped into the chair for a blessing as well.  We all smiled at his eagerness and I gave him one as well.

After looking back at that night, I now feel stronger about utilizing the Priesthood often and making it a regular occurrence and readily available to my family.  I am grateful for the priesthood which I hold and the blessings it can bring to peoples lives.

To read Elder Merrill J. Bateman’s talk, click here.

To read “Me? Give a Blessing?” by Brad Larsen, click here.

My Son’s Baptism

Earlier this month, on a Saturday, my son was baptized.

It was great to help prepare him with FHE’s (family home evenings) by going through the “Preach My Gospel” manual and teaching him as my wife and I were taught not even a year ago by the missionaries.  We started this process a few months before he was to turn eight and be baptized.

From going to Church and Primary (Sunday School) for the past year, he knew lots of concepts already concerning the Plan of Happiness/Salvation and the things we must do to return home again, like: being baptized, following the commandments, taking sacrament every week.

I took him to his baptismal interview the Tuesday before.  (See: A Convert’s Survival Guide: What to Expect BEFORE your Baptism)  I had learned that his Sunday dress shirt was missing so on the way home I ran into Wal-Mart and was in and out of the store in a record five minutes by sneaking in and out my secret location: The garden section!

When I got home, I got him dressed and we were out the door in less than three minutes.  We arrived at the Church about fifteen minutes early and we waited patiently outside the Bishop’s office.  The Bishop finally arrived 25 minutes later and into his office they went to talk.

I patiently waited outside for what seemed like ten to fifteen minutes until he called me in as well so he could fill out the records for his Baptism and Confirmation.  I was impressed at the knowledge he divulged to the Bishop and his retention.  He made me very proud.

We happily visted McDonalds’ drive thru to pick up an ice cream cone and then we drove home.

On Friday, we visited Deseret Book Store to get him his very own scriptures and carry tote. We ended up getting him a regular-sized quad which contained: The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.  Also, we got him a CTR ring he wanted and I got a cool deal on my painting of Jesus that I talked about earlier this month.

Saturday came up very quickly.  Before we left the house, I felt my heart swell as I looked at him.  He looked like “a mormonboy.” I never would have thought my children to be mormon, but now I can’t imagine raising my children without the gospel and principles we have. 

I have to admit, I didn’t go obsessive about preparing since I’ve been involved in two baptisms already: my own and I performed my wife’s.

A few hours before hand I got our bag ready:

Extra change of underwear for my son, an extra pair of socks as well.  For myself, I brought an extra undershirt, pair of underwear and socks.

I went over with my son how our hands were to be intertwined, what I would say and how I he would plug his nose and I would put my hand behind his back to dunk him.

I also studied again what was to be said when performing his baptism, which was:

[Calling him by his full name], having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

We arrived at the stake center a few minutes earlier than requested and we got changed into our jumpsuits.  There was one more baptism taking place during the service, an eight year old girl from another ward.  I was hoping I would go after they did so I could watch and be sure I was doing this correctly.  This wasn’t the case, I was told that our family was going first.

We followed the usual program that I wrote about before hand in: A Convert’s Survival Guide: What to Expect at your Baptism.

I went first and took my son’s hand and led him into the font.  The water was nice and warm and we set up as the little children ran to sit down on the floor in front of the font and watch.  He wasn’t nervous at all, very happy.   I wasn’t nervous at all either, I was guided by the Spirit and I baptized him.  Immediately afterwards I could see a great, warm smile on his face.  I was proud of him and gave him a little hug and led him out of the water.

Now getting changed afterwards was a different story.  It was a bit could in the bathrooms and the poor boy was shivering.  I worked quick to get him dried off and dressed and sent him out.  I followed shortly after changing as well.

Then after they were done singing their interlude hymn, it was time for me to confirm him a member of the Church.  This part I studied in the past and then again a few hours before his baptism.  When I was first baptized, the man who helped us to learn the gospel and baptize me handed me a blue card with the prayers for ordinances that the priesthood can perform. 

I checked and double checked and studied this card up until right after my son’s baptism, right after getting changed.

Again, it was time to confirm him a member of the Church.  I looked at the attending Stake official and my wonderful Bishop to motion them up to help me confirm him.  This was my first time confirming and I was very nervous.  There was a lot of my non-member family members attending, some friends and the people supporting the girl that was being baptized as well.  I was nervous.

It all went away when I put my hands on my son’s head and closed my eyes.  I was again guided by the Spirit in confirming him a member of the Church and giving him a blessing.  The words coming out my mouth came out without any filter our any forethought.  I even surprised myself by what had happened.  After the confirmation, my son rubbed his eyes and got up with a smile and we all congratulated him before taking our seats again.

The prayer I said to confirm my son was:

[Calling him by his full name], in the name of Jesus Christ and by the Authority of theHoly Melchizedek Priesthood, I confirm you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and say unto you, receive the Holy Ghost.  [Then a blessing as the spirit dictates].

See: A Convert’s Survival Guide: What to Expect AFTER your Baptism, to learn more about confirmation.

I was glad to have my mother-in-law there and my brother.  Baptisms can be a great missionary tool, as the Spirit is undeniably present during such.  My friend, Mike, who I didn’t know made it until after the service showed up afterwards and surprised me.   I looked at him with a smile and told him joyfully again: “It’s all your fault!”

Also in attendance was one of the missionaries that helped teach the us our original lessons a year ago and attended my wife’s and my own baptisms.  The funny story about this was that we couldn’t get a hold of them to make it to the baptism and they were coming back from fetching lunch and decided to stop by the church since they saw some cars there and then upon closer inspection, our minivan!

I was glad he could make it, it made it much more special and his support for our family is much appreciated and needed.  Through crowd and confusion, I did miss a few minutes of watching my son.  My missionary told me that my son said:

I want to be baptized every day!

My heart swelled again and I was proud of him for the step forward he has taken.  And I am also so happy for my wonderful wife and the support and growing she has been ongoingly giving to us all.  I truly couldn’t do anything without her, she is my light in the gospel.  She is my best friend and she knows me and what I need, as well as she knows all my sons and what they need as well. 

I am happy our family can be together forever and I am happy my sons has taken his first steps to make it back to our Heavenly Father.

Faith, Home Teaching, Obedience and Meekness Really Do Work

Things seem to be very difficult in my life right now with one thing after another going wrong. I’ve been depressed and stressed out. I admit, I did not want to go to Church on Sunday. The night before, I only had two hours of sleep and it was already 8:15am when I woke up. Sacrament started at 9:00am.

I almost rolled over and went back to bed, but didn’t. I felt I had to be strong, if not for myself than for my children. After an agonizing wait to get everyone ready and loaded into the minivan, we arrived at church. It was 9:30am when we arrived.

It’s a bad feeling when I miss sacrament. Something I used to view lightly when I was growing up in Catholic Church now meant so much to me. It meant that I can start over and wash away anything less than righteous from the week before. I sat in the lobby feeling empty and didn’t even try to enter the chapel.

There I sat for about ten minutes until the thought came in my head: “You can leave church, you missed sacrament anyway.” No, I couldn’t do it – I was already there and I remembered that I DO actually get something out of the other Sunday School and Priesthood Meetings. Besides, the children would learn something new and enjoy their Sabbath day. The last twenty minutes went by easier.

The Sunday School Gospel Essentials lesson was a review on the Second Coming of Christ: The signs of the second coming, the gathering of the house of Israel (the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the Millennium. And there was one more thing – integrity. Then our teacher started touching points of his experiences at his caucus the day before.

Priesthood Meeting was good. We sang “I am a Child of God” as the opening song and then everyone shared their missionary stories and the bishop talked to us about fulfilling our home teaching. Both ways – meaning that if you had not been contacted by your home teacher, seek them out and get it rolling!

Afterwards, I spotted my home teaching companion and my assigned member and we scheduled an appointment. I had a home teaching appointment with my companion and family at 3:30pm.

After Priesthood Meeting, we went to Elders Quorum where we had an abbreviated lesson on God the Eternal Father and the true nature of the Godhead.

I left for home feeling like I didn’t really get anything out of Church and that my Sabbath day was wasting away.

I napped from 12:30pm until about 1:30pm and then I could not get back to sleep. I searched for and pulled out my unopened January issue of Ensign and began to read the First Presidency message to see what I would teach my family. I read it and thought I was ready to go.

My home teaching companion finally came and he met me at my house. We walked down the street to the family’s home and walked in. He saw that I had my Ensign and he was excited and he left his in the car. After some small talk, we began our lesson with my giving the invocation prayer. My companion offered me the lead and I refused. He kindly took the lead and delivered it like a professional.

After he had done his part and gone through the lesson about how Jesus Christ built bridges, I finally added in my two cent about how Obedience, Service and Prayer has helped me in the past year. There was some more small talk and then my companion gave the benediction prayer and we left. I felt enlightened and really took something away from my time at their home.

My companion and I was walking back to his car when he asked what seemed to be a routine question.

What can I do for you?

Usually I am prideful or embarrassed so I give the routine response back, “Oh nothing, we’re doing fine.” Not this time, something came over me and I humbled myself and told him.

I told him about my problems and he counseled me.

My first problem was about my expensive plumbing issues with my house. It turned out he has ownership in a plumbing company so he said he would help me.

“That’s nothing” he said, “piece of cake, if I can I’ll do the work for you and eat the cost.” He then asked again, “What else?” I hesitated for a second and then I humbled myself and continued.”

My second issue was about my mortgage situation. My ARM adjusting for the 3rd time and my payment going ridiculously high. How high? So high I could be living in a house three times the size of the one I have now.

He told me I should talk to the Bishop, if the plans that I have to fix things do not go through, perhaps it can be arranged that someone who is a mortgage expert in the stake can help me. He told me to make an appointment with the bishop.

“This is easy” he said.

“Everyone in our ward is here when you need us, this can be taken care of.”

He then looked at me again and asked me again, “What else?” My heart lightened and then continued again about another issue that has been weighing on me.

My third issue we discussed as well and he again gave me some advice and suggested that I talk to the bishop about it.

My meekness was now obvious and then he asked me again. “What else?” I replied “Nothing else.” He smiled and we talked for a while more. We then were going to part ways and instead of a shake he gives me a hug. It was just what I needed.

I really appreciate him and I hope I can somehow convey that fact and help him one day.

What else good can come from doing home teaching?

Having a home teacher!

At 6:00pm we had a dinner and family home evening scheduled at my new home teacher’s house. I am glad that we went and that they took time out to visit with us. It was very fun and we got along very well since were all pretty similar in age. It also helped that they have very loud boys as well and we felt right at home.

I really appreciate my home teacher as well, with everything he has done for us. We were on the subject of large families and I cannot forget what he said to me.

He said:

“Family is the only thing you can take with you.”

When dinner was over (it was a very good one) and it was time for Family Home Evening, he began and showed me how it was done. All the boys in the room lasted less than five minutes and then the lesson was done. I actually relieved to see it doesn’t last long for him either.
After about three very fun hours at their house we left and went back home.

When we got home I realized that I only had a total of three hours of sleep.

I quickly fell asleep feeling satisfied, content and at peace.

I can say that not giving up faith, being obedient, service, prayer and being meek do have its rewards.

Thank you, Heavenly Father.