A letter to my children on Father’s Day

I wrote a great blog post Saturday after coming home from the Seattle temple. It was a good one and I was very pleased with what I had written. It was a special trip with the sister missionaries here in Port Angeles, with a new convert who I was able to baptize just two weeks ago, and with my wife and two of our children.

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Me with Leisa at her baptism – June 2, 2019

There were seven of us all together who went in our van to the temple. There was myself, my wife Jen, our daughter Emma, our son Gavin, Sister Batchelor, Sister Cloward, and Leisa, as I mentioned, who recently joined the church.  (Learn more about baptisms in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here.)

We performed a lot of baptisms for the dead while at the temple. It was really a fun experience. The sister missionaries who came along got to go with someone they had taught, were able to see baptized, and then they were able to go to the temple with that person all while serving in the same area. That doesn’t happen very often. Usually with transfers every 6 weeks or so, as a missionary you get to see a part of the conversion process, not often getting to see it from start to finish.   It was a really neat experience and we were glad to be a part of it.

It is a bit of a long trip to Seattle. We left at 8 a.m. and we got back home around 5:30 p.m.  After returning home, I sat down and got into a real groove writing and had just finished what I thought was a great post. I added a photo, then I added one more photo, and POOF! everything was gone. I use WordPress, a web-based program, and the entire page was simply blank. I did CTRL Z, I tried everything. I searched and searched for ways to recover it. I hit the back button on the web browser. I started searching for ways to recover it on google, reading everything I could, watching every YouTube video, and it all ended in a dead end. Finally after a frustrating hour of trying to figure it out, I sent a desperate email to WordPress for help. After losing that blog post I was so drained and frustrated, I wanted to just give up. I had spent a lot of time on it, and I had no motivation to start all over again from scratch. How do I recreate what I had written? I couldn’t do it exactly the same.

Sunday morning I got an email back from WordPress saying they could not see anything that had been saved or archived. Somehow it was all gone. In retrospect I need to use something like Google Docs to draft the post, then paste it to WordPress. Lesson learned. What a horrible experience. I was really down after it happened. I had gone from being an a real high, spiritually and emotionally, to wanting to give up completely on the blog post and forget about it all together. 

As I’ve thought about it today, while nowhere near the same level or experience, and I hesitate even to make the comparison, but I feel like I understand a tiny fraction of what Joseph Smith must have felt after the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon were lost after he had spent all that time translating them. My blog post, while it meant a lot to me, did not mean as much as those lost pages. I was not chastised by the Lord for losing it. Sure, I was mad at myself, but I can’t imagine what Joseph Smith went through. It must have been a very dark and sad time for him. So while not the same, after this experience, I know a little more about what Joseph Smith might have felt. I’m sure he was so very downhearted and discouraged, much more than I was. I was feeling down for a few hours, and was again discouraged today when I thought about trying to write this all over. And truth be told, it isn’t the same. I’m not writing word for word the same post. It is forever lost.  

I mentioned that we did baptisms at the temple yesterday. Actually we were able to do a lot of baptisms. In the temple, we do proxy baptisms for our ancestors who did not have the opportunity to be baptized while they were living. You can find out more here about why we do baptisms for the dead. 

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Jen, Emma, me, Gavin, Sister Cloward, Sister Batchelor, and Leisa in front of the Seattle temple -June 15, 2019

This baptism metaphorically opens the door to the blessings of the gospel. The deceased ancestors can decide to walk through that door or not. It is their choice.  By doing these baptisms and confirmations of the Holy Ghost, my mind has been turned to my fathers and to my children, just as it says in Malachi 4:6.

I also mentioned the Sister Missionaries. If you are wondering what missionaries are all about, you can read more about missionaries here in this article I wrote in the local paper.

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Sister Cloward, Leisa, Sister Batchelor, Emma, me, Gavin, and Jen – June 15, 2019

So with some encouragement from my wife, I am once again writing this post titled “A letter to my children on Father’s day.” That original letter is gone, and because it was written from the heart, I was really discouraged about losing it. The words and ideas I wanted to share were flowing, and I was excited to share it. I still want to share the thoughts that I was having, albeit they will be slightly different now, and probably not as well put together, so forgive the faults of man if it isn’t very smooth. 

We live in Port Angeles, WA, and the closest temple  of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in Seattle, so we had close to 3 hours each way to drive. That gave everyone some time to nap, and it gave me, the driver, some time to think. I have pondered Lehi’s dream often in the Book of Mormon, and it has again been on my mind a lot over the past week since I am reading through that part of The Book of Mormon in my personal scripture study.  Lehi, in 1 Nephi 8 speaks of the tree of life, and the tremendous joy he felt when he ate the fruit of that tree. As any good father would, after the joy he felt, he wanted his family to feel the same. He looked and saw his wife and children in the distance. He wanted them to eat the fruit also so that they could experience the sweetness of that incredible joy that he was feeling.

“As I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.” 1 Nephi 8:12

I have tried to explain the feeling I get when I watch General Conference, when I go to the temple, or when I am at an uplifting sacrament meeting or other service, or maybe when I read the Book of Mormon.  I refer to that feeling as a sweetness. It is sweet to my soul and I desire to have that feeling with me as much as possible.

In Lehi’s dream he describes how you get to the tree of life and that desirable fruit. He tells of a strait and narrow path which led to the tree, which could be compared to keeping the commandments. Running along this path was a rod of iron, and this represented the gospel or the word of God.  

Lehi was trying to get his wife and children to come and eat the fruit from the tree which had brought him immense joy.  He said that he beckoned them. I thought, “What would I say to my children?” 

So, as Lehi did anciently in the Book of Mormon, I too fervently plea to my children, or my children’s children some day when they read this, to grasp firmly to that rod of iron. Use both hands. Hold it firmly and tightly.  Do not stray from the strait and narrow path. No matter how much people mock you, no matter how tempting other paths may seem, keep the course. The greatest joy in your life will come from your family and being fully engaged in the gospel. Partaking of the fruit will fill your soul deeply with lasting joy that cannot be found elsewhere. The world will offer false happiness which will leave you feeling empty. God’s love and joy are eternal. 

I also make a plea to those family members on the other side of the veil. My prayer for my family on the other side of the veil, for whom we did baptisms yesterday, is that they will embrace the gospel and walk through that door which was just opened for them. Great blessings are in store for them as well. 

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Sister Cloward, Leisa, and Sister Batchelor at Leisa’s baptism – June 2, 2015

Just as Lehi was desirous for his family to come and eat the fruit and feel the love of God, I want my children to fill that deep joy, that joy of the soul which comes from the Spirit of God, the Comforter, the Holy Ghost. I have studied and read Lehi’s dream over and over again. This fruit, the love of God, the gospel, it makes you happy. Not just a temporary happiness, but the joy that comes so deep that it fills your soul.

My letter to my children on Father’s day, is the same beckoning as father Lehi to his children. Come hold on to the rod of iron. Come walk the strait and narrow path. Come partake of the fruit of the gospel and fill your soul with everlasting joy, which is the love of Jesus Christ. It’s the joy and peace felt at the baptism. It’s the joy and peace felt at the temple. These feelings are a glimpse of the eternal joy and peace that await us all.

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Leisa and Jen at Leisa’s baptism – June 2, 2019

 

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