“Let not your heart be troubled!” (John 14:1)
In the Holy Scriptures, we are warned concerning perils and tribulations that will occur in “the last days.” Even the Savior Himself has warned us that in the last days there will be “wars, and rumors of wars.” And, He has added that “peace shall be taken from the earth.” (D&C 1:35) Today, we are approaching and may well be in those very days.
However, despite these warnings, and the declaration that “peace shall be taken from the earth,” the prophets also teach that peace will not be taken away “universally.” Peace will only be taken away “generally.” The peaceable and faithful followers of Christ may continue to enjoy the love and peace that come through fellowship with the Savior and the Holy Spirit. (See “Blessed Are the Peacemakers,” Russell M. Nelson, Ensign Magazine, Nov. 2002, 39–41).
On four additional occasions, the Lord has said with great encouragement:
- “…let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.” (D&C 101:16)
- “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1)
- “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18) And,
- “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
“Stand in Holy Places!” (D&C 87:8)
Concerning the impact of these “perils and tribulations,” the Lord counsels us to: “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved.” (D&C 87:8) This past weekend, in a priesthood meeting, we discussed the subject of “Holy Places.” What are they? Where are they? And how do we come to be there …and to “Stand” there?
By definition, “a Holy Place” is a hallowed and sacred place or sanctuary. Holy places are often consecrated, dedicated, and set apart as sacred places of worship. We go to these places to separate ourselves from “the World.” As we discussed this in our priesthood class, group members identified several examples of Holy Places, including: the Lord’s Holy Temples and our Church Meetinghouses. In addition, some individuals correctly suggested mountain tops and nature in general as Holy Places. One member of our group (Brother Gray) suggested we as individuals can create a “Holy Place” within ourselves. Thus, we would be “a Holy Place.” He said, we can embrace holiness in our personal lives and stand firm (“…be not moved”). This was an insightful thought. It suggests we can personally nurture and increase our Christ-Like behaviors and attributes of holiness in ourselves and thus always “stand in a Holy Place” in whatsoever circumstances we may find ourselves. Essentially, we would align ourselves with the Lord and the Holy Spirit, put on the figurative “armor of God” (protecting ourselves), and enjoy the peace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we may stand.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we can and should strive to be more like Him, more Christ-Like (more Holy). Aligning ourselves with Christ (in our behaviors, attitudes, and actions) will invite a greater influence of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives and in our homes. It will increase our personal levels of holiness and will be visible in our countenance. This in turn will allow us to reflect and share the Light of Christ with others.
However, and this is important, if for whatever reason there is anything in our behavior (or environment) that offends the Holy Spirit, He will out of necessity withdraw from us, His influence will be gone, and our sense of holiness will vanish. (D&C 121:36-37) Thus, if we desire to follow Christ (to be Disciples of Christ) we should always strive to be worthy, and to stand “…in Holy Places, and be not moved.”
During this past year of social distancing and restrictions, I believe we have learned that one of the holiest of places on earth can and should be “Our Homes.” This is where we raise, teach, nourish, and protect our families from “the World.” For that reason, we need our homes to be peaceful and secure places of refuge. And, it would be well to dedicate our homes for that sacred purpose. We need our homes to be “Holy Places.”
President Russell M. Nelson has emphasized this point. He said, “There are few pursuits more important than this. Between now and the time the Lord comes again, we all need our homes to be places of serenity and security. …your commitment to make your home your primary sanctuary of faith should never end. As faith and holiness decrease in this fallen world, your need for holy places will increase. I urge you to continue to make your home a truly holy place ‘and be not moved’ from that essential goal.”
Making our Home a “Holy Place”
I have often heard it suggested that if we want our homes to be more “Holy,” we should pattern them after the peaceful and holy atmosphere found in the Holy Temples. While this is not entirely a bad idea, it is not very practical. After all, we must live, love, laugh, play, sing and grow in our homes. But, what can we do to pattern our homes after the Lord’s Holy Temples? Among other things, we can:
- Work as a family to instill an atmosphere of Christ-Like love, holiness, devolution, and respect for one another.
- Work together to keep our homes clean, organized, and orderly.
- Eat family meals together and always share clean-up duties.
- Participate in uplifting personal and family activities …together.
- Respect and follow family norms and standards.
Also, I believe we should have a certain amount of reverence in the home, although it should not preclude joy, as well as some fun and laughter. However, loud boisterous noises in the home are often contrary to the peace and quiet we seek in our homes. When our children were still at home with us, we had a few very strict rules. One of them was: “No yelling in the home …unless there is a fire or some other emergency.”
Please keep in mind, making our homes “Holy Places” is NOT a one-time event. More likely, it will be a long-term family effort that will continue to improve over time. Meanwhile, in that noble process, we should remain alert and sensitive to ideas we may have/receive along ways, ideas that may improve the holiness in our homes. And if possible, we should diligently make those adjustments where necessary.
At times, we may struggle in our homes as we strive to meet expectations. But, DO NOT give up! Making our homes “Holy Places” is an enormously important duty, to ourselves, our families, and our God. But, it is well worth the effort required. By itself, Home Management is a science (colleges and universities actual offer degrees in Home Management). But, from an Eternal perspective, parenting and home management is “a Holy Mission” and, “a Sacred Duty.” It requires vision, diligence, physical strength, love, kindness, and spiritually. And, it needs to be maintained with faith, love for one another, and divine guidance. To be sure, building and maintaining homes that are “Holy Places,” come with great blessings and rewards. So, continue to do what you can and must do. If you struggle with what needs to be done, and you need help, counsel together as a family, and ask the Lord for guidance. Parenting is a sacred partnership with God. If you ask with sincerity, the Lord will answer/inspire you.
Preparation for Success!
Do you remember the wise example of Captain Moroni (the Chief Captain of all the Nephite Armies) when he “…did not stop making preparations …to defend his people”? (See Book of Mormon, Alma 50:1-4) His diligent preparations to ready his people for battle against the Lamanites proved remarkably effective and successful. On many levels, his example of diligent preparation can serve as a “type” pointing to the struggles (battles) we are facing today, and will continue to face in the future. Moroni knew the Lamanite enemies were a threat to the Nephite people, so he diligently prepared defenses to protect them.
Like Captain Moroni, we too have an enemy at our door. Will preparing our homes to be “Holy Places” help us? Will preparing ourselves by faithfully keeping the commandments of God and remaining on “the Covenant Path” help us? Will sacred ordinance work in the Holy Temples help us? Will attending sacred worship services in our dedicated meetinghouses help us? And, will making our homes “Holy Places” (where we can stand) protect us from the evil threats and enemies of our day? Yes, they will!
(NOTE: Have you ever wondered why the Book of Mormon contains so much information concerning wars, rumors of wars, battles, unimaginable death counts, and destruction of whole cities (as recorded in “the so called Wars Chapters”)? Could it be they are provided to us in these last days as a “type” pointing to our times and providing examples for us to follow. Consider Moroni’s faith in God, his love for his people, and his inspired preparations for battle: their fortifications, their armor and weapons, their strength, their bravery, and their banners. Moroni was fighting against genuine evil, and the defeat of the evil enemies. We can learn and gain wisdom by reading about Captain Moroni’s preparations. As I said, we too have enemies at our door.)
Some Personal Background
My personal home management and parenting experiences are probably quite different than most (six years of hands-on experience at single father parenting of seven children). Shortly after the birth of our seventh child, my dear wife (Jenny) became seriously ill and passed away suddenly in my arms. At that moment, parenting and homemaking took on a new dimension for me. Our children (ages five months through 13 years) became my sole responsibility. This was for me a near overwhelming responsibility. Regrettably, at the time of Jenny’s death, I was ill-prepared for the sheer volume of responsibilities and duties that came with being a single parent and homemaker (…the list is long!). I had to somehow get my arms around the enormity of my new responsibilities. I knew I lacked many of the skills of a homemaker, and I needed to learn those skills quickly.
At the time, I was an active-duty military man (US Air Force, 1968-1994) and for me the initial steps were obvious: I had to “organize my unit.” (I am not recommending my actions as the perfect solution, but for me, they worked. So, we got organized.) I began by writing Our Family Vision and Mission Statement. I also established Edgar Family Rules (what to do, what not to do, and in rare cases: consequences for misbehavior)! And I created “operating procedures, instructions, and checklists” for completing each household task. I acknowledge “operating procedures, instructions, and checklists” are probably a bit over the top for the genuine homemaker, but I needed to be specific about each household task and what exactly would constitute “task completion.” I will not include my full instructions here for fear of being ridiculed by “real homemakers,” …and possibly frightening others. But I will share below some of the practices, policies, philosophies, and simple guidelines I followed.
Basic Housekeeping Practices/Policies:
- Have a trash can in every room:
Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Kitchen, Office, and Garage. Put all trash in those cans! Do not fill the cans to overflowing. Gather the trash before the cans are full: bag and place trash in the dumpster.
- Have a Personal Bathing schedule (Baths):
With seven children of various ages, this was complicated. But I did have a plan. I won’t try to explain it here, but it included:
- Have a trash can in every room:
1) a schedule (very important);
2) a reasonable amount of time (also very important);
3) a limit to the number of towels allowed for one bath event; and,
4) a requirement to clean up the bathroom after bathing.
- Have an individual dirty clothes basket in every bedroom:
Only put “soiled clothing” in the baskets. (Always return clean clothing to the closet/drawers …neatly.)
- Have a “dirty clothes” laundry basket in the Laundry Room:
Never leave clothing lying on the floor (anytime, anywhere)!
- Have an individual dirty clothes basket in every bedroom:
Important Point: Clothing items are to be kept in one of three places ONLY: 1) On our bodies; 2) In the laundry basket/laundry room; or 3) Put away neatly in drawers or closets. Never leave clothing on the floor!
- Have a spray bottle of Windex or disinfectant spray, and a roll of Paper Towels, under each sink in the house. Clean surfaces as needed!
- Kitchen Policy: Clean the kitchen immediately after each meal. This includes clearing the trash, washing all dishes/utensils/etc., putting them away, and wiping down all surfaces with disinfectants spray.
- General Policy: When you take something out, return it (or dispose of it if trash) when you are finished!
- General Policy: Routinely pick up things that are out of place and return them to “their place(s).”
- General Policy: Remove clutter when you see it!
- Finally: Have a Chores Chart! Yes, we had a well organized chores/assignment chart (very important). However, I won’t include a copy here.
General Housekeeping Philosophy (and Tools)
- Learn basic “Housekeeping Skills” and teach them to each child.
- Think about and try to understand the truth of the old saying: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” What does it mean? How is it applied?
- Accept ownership of your life. Be aware of your surroundings and your situation. Clear and clean deliberately, diligently, and dependably. Discipline yourself!
- Include all family members in the housekeeping effort. Be a team. Work together for the common good. (Even small children can learn skills.)
- Plan regular and thorough house cleaning days.
- Always be alert! Pickup and/or straighten little things as you see them.
- Understand your tools and equipment: i.e., Washing Machine, Clothes Dryer, Dishwasher, Kitchen Sink, In-sink Garbage Disposal, Vacuum Cleaner, mops, brooms, brushes, toilet/sink plunger, rags, cleaning chemicals, and the lawnmower, etc.
“Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.” (D&C 132:8)
In this post, I began by considering the counsel of the Lord to “Stand ye in Holy places, and be not moved.” (D&C 87:8) I asked and identified several places that we could consider “Holy Places:” i.e., Sacred Holy Temples, Dedicated Meetinghouses, Mountain Tops, and Nature. We also considered the value of creating a “Holy Place” in our homes, and within ourselves. I believe all these “places” can be “holy places” for us. However, looking back on this post, I see I focused mostly on our home as a “Holy Place.” I believe it was for a very significant reason. As President Nelson said: “There are few pursuits more important than this. … we all need our homes to be places of serenity and security.” And, “I urge you to continue to make your home a truly holy place ‘and be not moved’ from that essential goal.”
Going forward, I feel it would be good to periodically and prayerfully ask ourselves two question: 1) “How am I (and my family) doing in making our home a “Holy Place?” And then consider this question: 2) “What can I, or should I, be doing to retain that sacred feeling in my home and with my family?”
When you receive answers to those two questions, make a note to yourself to help you remember, and then obey the promptings.
Click HERE to Read “Overcoming ‘Roadblocks’ to Reading the Book of Mormon” where I discuss the War Chapter in the Book of Mormon (among other things).