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My Family, Then and Now. By Melanie Day

By Mormon.org
my family, then and now. Melanie day and her family smiling in a family portrait

As a young girl, I would often dream about what my future held. Where would I live? Who would I marry? What would my children be like? What would their names be? Although I had several questions, I was pretty sure of how it would all work out.

Fast forward several years and who could have envisioned the red finger nail polish my little girl would use to doodle all over the couch? Or the blue food coloring my child would use, drop-by-drop in the new carpet? Or the cuter moments of mischief when my daughter decided to put mascara all over her face? Nor did I see the times of anguish I would experience as my son was wheeled into surgery at the hospital.

my family, then and now. by melanie day. melanie's daughter with mascara on her face.

Like most of us, I only focused on the wonderful possibilities that lay in store... the cookies I would make, the birthdays I would make special, teaching my children how to ride a bike, getting ice cream from an ice cream truck and the books we would read together and wouldn’t put down. Everything would be perfect! My husband and I are now parents to four talented, active and fun loving children. As a mom, I still reflect back on what I dreamed about as a child but my life now varies from that dream.

Don’t get me wrong, I do make cookies and read with my children, among other things, but life is more than the good times. Throughout the day I hear phrases such as, “I get to choose first!”, “that’s mine!”, “It’s my turn to decide…you got to choose last time” or the classic one, “it’s not fair!” Sound familiar? These occasions can drive away harmony, peace and with it, the dream I once held as a child.

my family, then and now. by melanie day. melanie's daughter making cookies.

While I might not have envisioned the stressful or hard times, I also didn’t foresee the immense happiness and love each of my children would bring. Families are a blessing from our Heavenly Father. He wants us to learn together, to work together, to pray together but most of all to love and serve each other.

father and son shoveling snow together.

There is a wonderful video clip that helps explain that the greatest joys and the greatest sorrows we can experience are in family relationships.

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My favorite part of the video is when President Eyring says, “The joys come from putting the welfare of others above our own. That is what love is.” Love really is that important!

President Uchtdorf also explained that “We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner and family home evening and by just having fun together. In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time. Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home.”

Doing simple things together, like President Uchtdorf recommended, is part of the glue that holds our family together. For us, the glue represents two things – the first being family traditions. Here are four of our favorites….

1. Think of reading and memorizing the scriptures as a family tradition

We have found that consistently reading and studying the scriptures has brought greater peace in our home. That’s not to say our experiences have been ideal each day. Sometimes getting our children up in the early morning hours yields these results….

my family, then and now. by melanie day. melanie's son falling asleep while reading his scriptures.

On the other hand, reading the scriptures together builds our testimonies, increases our love for each other and strengthens our desires to do good. (However, you should see our children’s eyes light up when they hear a scripture quoted at church or conference that we have memorized together.) Beyond all that, it is something that brings us all together. Much of family life is running to and fro, taking this child to piano and making sure the other is headed to Scouts. There aren’t many moments in the day when our family is all together, unified and on the same page, scripture time creates that for us. We are creating a legacy and a tradition.

2. Make time for date nights.

My husband and I routinely go out together on date nights but we also take turns spending time individually with our children. (They are very good to remind us if we ever forget!) We didn’t initially know how we could afford to do this but I can honestly say, money has nothing to do with it. Date nights are not about money or spending a whole evening together. Some of most our memorable date nights were thirty minutes long and practically free. The most important thing about a date night is emotionally connecting with each other by giving attention, appreciation, admiration and your affection.

3. Make holidays and birthdays a big deal.

Our family loves decorating the house together, baking/cooking, planning and preparing for each holiday. For example:

- Our children look forward to their (General) Conference baskets each year instead of the more traditional Easter basket.

- The family member who is celebrating birthday gets to choose the menu for the day.

- We love putting together puzzles on New Year’s Eve.

- On Halloween, we always make dinner in a pumpkin and do crafts together.

- They particularly love countdown charts to holidays, vacations and/or family events.

The key to making these occasions special is to create anticipation… getting them excited!

my family, then and now. by melanie day. halloween and valentines day crafts by melanie and her family.

4. Take dinner outside.

A tradition we started this summer is to eat dinner at a different park once a week. We pack up our food, board game, soccer ball, Frisbee, etc. and we’re on our way. It has been fun to get out of the house, enjoy different parks/scenery and spend time together. We all look forward to dinner at the park. Our family traditions are important, because they help our children see the value and priority we place on family, particularly our family.

my family, then and now. by melanie day. melanie's family playing a game and eating dinner outside.

As mentioned earlier, there is a glue that holds our family together. Over and above our traditions, there is something else that draws us even closer – God. Our faith in Him continues to be strengthened and He blesses our family. This knowledge has impacted everything….the way we live our lives, the way we parent our children as well as our priorities.

I had an experience that helped teach me just how much our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to look to Him for help with our families.

It was late in the evening and my husband and I were both in bed, trying to go to sleep, tossing and turning. The wind was strong and howling – it was bringing in a big storm. Bolts of lightning made me jump out of bed more than once to peek through the blinds, just to see if everything was okay. I am typically not frightened by lightning but this time was different and I was honestly scared.

A few minutes later, my youngest daughter came running in our bedroom, crying. She came over to my husband’s side of the bed and begged to sleep with us. He pulled her up and into our bed. After several more bolts of lightning, in came another child wanting to sleep with us. I wondered how the four of us would get any sleep cramped together. However, once we got settled, within minutes both of the girls fell fast asleep. They felt loved, protected and no longer felt fear from the storm that continued to rage outside.

This is like our Heavenly Father. In the storms of our lives, we can find protection through our Heavenly Father. Just as my girls felt peace and protection from me, we can feel the same as we turn to our Father in Heaven. He provides us with a peace that is lasting. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said it well when he said, “He is your beloved Heavenly Father, who seeks your good, your happiness. He desires with all the love of a perfect and pure Father that you reach your supernal destination. . . . All you have to do is trust your Heavenly Father.” (Your Happily Ever After)

I still have dreams for my future as I did when I was a little girl. However, I have since learned that while I don’t know what is ahead, I don’t need to worry about it. I can trust that God will always be there for my family, the most important thing in my life.

My name is Melanie Day and I started SugarDoodle.net in 2005. Aside from my family, which I adore, some things you might not know about me is that I really despise mating socks. I love working in my garden/yard. I served a mission in Barcelona, Spain. I enjoy changing my furniture around (a lot). Last but not least, I’m hopelessly addicted to candles and yummy smelling things. :)

WEBSITE: www.sugardoodle.net

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/sugardoodle.net

PINTEREST: http://www.pinterest.com/sugardoodle

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