"...Behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise" --Alma 37:6

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Financial Values

Make a list of your financial priorities. What is the most important thing on that list? How will you wisely budget your paycheck? Of course, your answers vary by lifestyle, religion, and the amount of income you have. More importantly, where the money goes and how the finances affect the family depends greatly on how well the parents, or couple, work together to decide where the money goes and what is more important, or what comes first.

Let's say for example that a husband has just purchased a new $800 outdoor grill,...and he didn't discuss it with his wife first. Was that a wise thing to do? Or what if the wife goes out with her best girlfriend to the mall and spends $200 on new clothes and accessories. Was that any wiser?

Couples, husbands and wives, need to communicate and work together to decide their financial goals, what their budget will be, and how much "fun" money they each get. This also requires a great deal of willpower to ask themselves, "Do I really need this? Do I need this right now, or can I save up and get it later?" It can be difficult, but according to Elder Robert D. Hales, we must "joyfully live within [our] means". He also told a story about shopping with his wife. They walked past a dress in the window of a shop and Elder Hales thought the dress was beautiful. They went inside and his wife tried it on. She loved it, and she looked great. After a couple of minutes the clerk came out of the dressing room and hung the dress back up. His wife came out and he asked what went wrong. His wife then said the four most caring words, "We can't afford it".

Those four words say a lot more than people realize. By saying that Elder Hales' wife was showing her love and selflessness. She thought of him, their current situation, and what their financial goals were before herself. Does this mean, we should never splurge or have fun? No, there are ways to have fun and treat ourselves, while staying within our means and what we can afford.

Taking care of one's finances is a unique process to every family, or couple. Marvin J. Ashton's article, "One For the Money" gives some great advice on how to manage your finances and to be able to live within your means.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Communication-Listening

Have you ever been in a phone conversation when the line suddenly goes dead? Do you then, immediately blame the phone company, or do you begin to wonder if the person you were talking to hung up on you/ Have you ever heard the phrase, "Lost in Translation"? When you simply, accidentally switch punctuation, or if a comment comes out wrong, what you are trying to say gets lost. When you don't express your feelings to the one you love, will they ever know how you feel?

As humans, we do not, naturally, communicate well. Some communicate better than others, but the messages still get lost, or skewed. Don't worry, don't panic. Experts have found great ways to enhance and improve our communication. One of the greatest modern technological advancements in the creation of spell-check. This simple invention, when used accurately, has had a freat impact on communication.

But, as I was saying, experts have some tips for us. I am going to focus on the tips for improving our listening skills. Expert Madelyn Burley-Allen (1995) gives four ways to improve our listening skills. She first suggests taking initiative and actively listening. Meaning, look at who's talking, concentrate on what they are saying, watch their non-verbal cues, and try to understand what they are trying to communicate to you.

The second thing Madelyn suggests is to resist distractions. I understand this is easier said than done, but we need to consciously decide to put aside distractions for a while and focus on what the other person is saying.

Some reading this post are thinking, "Yeah, yeah...". One would be surprised at how hard such simple advice can be. I admit that I, myself could use some practice in listening. Continuing, the third piece of advice Madelyn give is to control your emotions. Resist the tendency to butt in and respond to a comment before the other person is finished. We need to hear the other person out completely, and not stop listening to formulate a reply in our heads.

The final, magical piece of advice is to be proactive, ask questions, and rephrase what's been said to clarify the meaning. Clarifying helps to check accuracy, check feelings, and simply shows interest and understanding.

There are many other ways to improve communication. Improving our listening skills is only one step. Be proactive and strive to improve communication between you and others in your life.


Here is a research article for further study:

Burley-Allen, M. 1995. Listening: The Forgotten Skill. 2nd ed.
New York: John Wiley & Sons

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Family Crisis

A family goes through so much and who, or what, endures is always amazing to me. The world today questions the importance of the family. There is a great push for, what I call "severe" independence. According to the world we don't need anybody else and we can do everything on our own. With that when we have no personal ties we are "free" to see the world, spend money on anything we want, and simply, "eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die" (2 Nephi 28:7)

I hope that last phrase sounded familiar. It is the wicked way of living. Let us live the gospel way of living. In the gospel, "the family is central to the Father's plan for His children". We cannot go through life alone. Trials, tribulations, and temptations will come into our lives that we cannot handle on our own,...and we aren't meant to. The family we are given is a great gift given to us from God. Our family is meant to be with us and act as a support group, or system, when we are assailed on all sides by things we cannot handle, nor control.

When a family goes through a crisis, or trial, how they work together greatly affects the lives of every member of that family. As current, or future, parents we need to prepare for any crisis. Any emergency fund, or account, would be a wonderful idea. A child needs all the love, counsel, and comfort a parent can give.

So, you can try and live life alone, but I can say from my own experience, that trying to do things on your own,...get lonely, difficult, and extremely exhausting. When you let go of pride and ask for help, it will change your life. A family is full of people you can turn to for help. They can help you to carry your burdens, and you can help family members with their burdens. In our darkest moments, the Lord and our families provide a guiding light.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sexual Intimacy

My previous disclaimer, placed at the beginning of my post discussing homosexuality, still applies to this post and any post on my blog.

In this post I wish to discuss sexual intimacy. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and I believe that sexual intercourse is something very sacred and should be reserved for marriage.

The worldly belief is that sex is just sex and that it doesn't matter whether you are married or simply dating. Sex isn't just sex. It is the sacred power of procreation. God has given us His most sacred and important power: the power to create life.

Such power should not be taken lightly. It is the greatest power God has given us. To be given such a responsibility evokes in me such feelings of gratitude. I cannot fully express my emotions.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World speaks more eloquently than I ever could. I urge you to read it and ponder and pray about what it says.

The power to create life,...wow...I feel so blessed and loved just knowing that the Lord is trusting me with such power and trusting me to take great care of His children here on Earth.

Many use the phrase, "It's my life". That's true to an extent. It's true it's your life, but what you do with that life doesn't just affect you. It affects all those around you and the future generation. Be responsible. Live your life right and keep that which is sacred, sacred.