Wayward Children - Eternity Is A Long Time

The other day, I woke up early and found myself thinking about my oldest son, Ryan. Ryan is a very good looking 27-year-old, single guy who serves in the USCG. However, Ryan has not been active in the LDS Church, physically, since he graduated from high school. Although emotionally his activity began to waver in his early teens. As we were in the middle of raising our busy family that was easy to ignore. We were already dealing with one outwardly "rebellious" child. Our oldest.

Ryan was a fairly quiet young man, who rarely spoke out, about anything. He had developed early on the art of saying what a parent wanted to hear and yet doing subtlety what HE wanted to do. He kept himself under the radar, so to speak.

On the other hand, my oldest daughter always let us know how strict we were as parents and the difficulties she had in living the gospel.

After my husband was released as our ward Bishop, she completely rebelled and went inactive for the next five years. She was 16.

My husband and I have raised five children. Each one of our children, at one time or another, have given us serious cause for concern. Two of my children went completely inactive.

As I think back on those tumultuous years of raising four teenagers simultaneously, I find myself actually questioning: was that really me? Our first four children came pretty fast. Our oldest was 5-1/2 when the fourth child was born. Things seemed to be going along really well. I can't say for sure the exact turning point, but I do know that when my daughter took that bold step to become officially inactive from Church my world, as I had created it in my mind, EXPLODED!

I was now an LDS parent of a wayward child.

How could this have happened? What did we do wrong? Where did we go wrong? And a multitude of other very introspective questions that any LDS parent in the same situation torments themselves with. But the most important question that I needed to have an answer for, and immediately, was HOW to bring her back and as soon as possible!

As heartbroken as I was, as her mother, for this to have occurred I also understand now how shameful such a situation felt for both my husband and I. LDS parents of wayward children, unfortunately, suffer from a deep sense of failure. What I didn't realize at the time, was that these feelings of failure also came from a sense of lost pride. And that's never good.

Looking back, those parenting experiences seem like another lifetime. However, the reality is, and continues to be, that my son, Ryan, remains "less" active. I'm not nearly as stressed about his inactivity as I was when my daughter went inactive. Perhaps it's because she has come full circle, and I have seen that our children will return, in time. I have a strong testimony of eternal covenants, and I have learned SO much! I remember when I first read this quote...

“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God” (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110).

I learned that ETERNITY IS A LONG TIME and that through faith and diligence to my temple covenants the promised blessings of an ETERNAL FAMILY will be realized.

I'm not one who believes that the keeping of my personal covenants will necessarily assure Exaltation for children who choose to live contrary to God's commandments in this life -- but I can HOPE. Our Father in Heaven lost a third of His children because of rebellion; our brothers and sisters. However, I do not believe that because someone does not make it into the Celestial Kingdom that they are "lost", either.

What I do feel an assurance of, is that each one of us, our children included, will have the opportunity to exercise our individual agency to the extent that we will have joy. Adam taught, "that men are, that they might have joy". Because each one of us kept our first estate, I have a strong testimony that our ultimate destination from this point on is JOY.

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." John 14:1-2

Is this not JOYFUL! Certainly, if each one of us has as our Eternal Destiny to be a part of His Kingdom and dwell in a mansion prepared for us then not one us of will EVER be lost!

Kathryn Skaggs

Highly recommended reading, if you or someone you know, has an inactive member of the family.

"When A Child Wanders" by Robert L. Millet

Marriage Was NEVER Meant To Be Easy

After experiencing my own parent's divorce, and being married now almost 31 years, - I can attest to the fact, that MARRIAGE was never meant to be easy! For members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who make eternal covenants in Holy Temples, the pressure to succeed in marriage is even greater. But, as many of you know, regardless of the desire to have a successful marriage -- DIVORCE happens.

As a child of divorce, myself - I know all too well, the pain and fallout of such a history; from a child's perspective. Not good. I've had to make a very conscience choice in my own adult life, to work through the many challenges and difficulties that marriage inevitably presents. Through the years, I have learned that there are some very important elements that every successful marriage must include -- and LOVE is NOT one of them.

Loving someone, is a product of committing ourselves to a common goal. In LDS MARRIAGE, that "goal" is to create and maintain our earthly family unit. In order to have that ultimate eternal family in the future, it requires work here, and now. And, a lot of it! Oh sure, there are the few marriages out there, where never a voice is ever raised, nor an argument had -- but mine, is not one of them.

Let me just say, that I am married to a nearly perfect man. There have been times, that I have tried to convince myself otherwise, when circumstances in our marriage were particularly challenging. It is always so much easier, when we can point the finger toward our spouse, for the problems we are having as a partnership.

Time and experience have taught me, that as individuals, we can be pretty great people -- even "nearly" perfect. However, throw the two of them into a marriage, and boy do the weaknesses expose themselves! And you know what? That's exactly one of the very important PURPOSES OF MARRIAGE!

is meant to help us as individuals become something better. Marriage is intended to stretch us, beyond our comfort zone. Marriage, when committed to - can become a revelation of who we are, and what we are destined to BECOME!

“Faithfulness to the marriage covenant brings the fullest joy here and glorious rewards hereafter” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 533–34)

COMMITMENT IS LOVE, of the very deepest kind. If you have ever taken a FALL, it was most likely not intended. We don't go out and mean to "fall" in love. We just DO. Because this kind of love, just happens. It's a natural part of life. So, we fall in love, and decide then to get married. Sigh.

That which is of great worth, NEVER comes easy. It is not possible for us to feel deeply committed to something, IF it does not require a challenge. Marriage is meant to challenge us as individuals.

In order for a marriage to be successful, the atonement of Jesus Christ, must be a central part of that relationship. It is only through the process of personal repentance and forgiveness, that two people can truly BECOME ONE.

"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." John 17:21-26


In our marriages, as challenging as they may be -- as we apply the principles of the ATONEMENT, we literally witness the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and Glorify God!

When all is said and done, that's a pretty good way to live our lives...

Kathryn Skaggs


The Three Pillars For A Successful Marriage - And Love, Is Not One Of Them!