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© December 1995, by The Family, Zurich, Switzerland

What God Hath Joined Together! (Mark 10:9)

       After 24 Years of Marriage!       3
       Dear Married Couples!       5
       How Jesus Keeps Our Marriage!       7
       His Love Makes All Things New!       7
       Prophecy on Mama and Peter's Wedding Night       8
       A Question about Marriage       10
       Excerpts from the Love Charter on Marriage       10
       Lessons about Sharing and Relationships       12
       Including the Lord in Our Lovemaking       13
       Hearing from Heaven Together!       15
       Points to Ponder on Marriage and Relationships       16
       Dinnertime with Baby!       18
       Big People Are So Funny!       18
       The Making of a Revolutionary Parent!       20

From Stephen (24) and Joan (23):
       Both born in the Family, we first met and fell in love as young teens. We kept in touch by mail for a few years, after which time our families moved to the same Home. Our relationship became more serious and we decided to get married. Our parents and shepherds gave us the go-ahead.
       "Make It Work" (ML #2433) had just come out and there weren't so many guidelines about teen marriages then. We had a short waiting period, and it wasn't long after our betrothal that we realized we didn't know each other very deeply, couldn't communicate honestly, and were at a loss, not knowing how to live together.
       A big mistake we made was having unrealistically high ideals and expectations of each other and our marriage. As the MOP says, "Success in marriage is much more than finding the right person; it is a matter of being the right person" (MOP 81:35). Instead of trying to be the right person ourselves, we tried to change one another. This only hindered our relationship and made us more frustrated.
       (Joan:) I wanted Stephen to be more affectionate and romantic, and when he wasn't, I would get very negative about him. This in turn didn't inspire him to be any sweeter to me, and it became a vicious cycle.
       (Stephen:) I wanted Joan to let me go out for get-out, and play guitar, so whenever she suggested we spend more time together in the Word or talking, I felt stifled and wouldn't put my heart into it. That left Joan feeling all the more frustrated. We started to wonder if our marriage was really the Lord's will, and if it was really worth it, as things didn't seem to be working out. Neither of us were very happy.
       Thank the Lord, rescue came in the form of us moving to another field and getting closer shepherding. At first it was hard for us, as we weren't used to the "meddling." Our shepherds were really sweet, showed a lot of faith in us, and had a lot of patience. They took time with us to talk and counsel, giving us Word and practical advice.
       Some of the tips they shared with us were: to be more positive; have more faith in each other; communicate and share our hearts; as well as little practical things like to have fun times together, find activities we both enjoyed, and give each other the opportunity to have fellowship with others too. All of these things didn't happen overnight, but we soon found ourselves investing time in our marriage, and working together to make it work.
       "And Stephen knew his wife and she bare him a son. And it came to pass, that she conceived again and bare a second son." Having kids brought about big changes in our lives and in our marriage too. Our shepherds were faithful to help us, giving us the vision and Word on raising a family. We found that having kids brought such excitement and fun into our lives, as well as new lessons in training and caring for them.
       (Stephen:) A breakthrough for me was seeing Joan accept the challenge of motherhood and develop into a real Godly mother. This totally changed my attitude towards her and made me love her all the more.
       Since being married we had never worked in the same ministry, so being asked to teamwork together in shepherding teens was a real surprise. Through this we started learning valuable lessons on seeing the Lord in each other, praying, counseling and making decisions. Being opposites in personality, we needed to learn to complement and balance out each other, instead of rubbing each other the wrong way.
       Another thing that has come up over the years is that there are times when you feel romantically in love and other times you feel more "normal"! What Mama says about not going by feelings in our relationship with Jesus holds true for marriage too. But actually, with time your love can deepen so much that it is more than the infatuated, in-love feeling that can come and go.
       So to realize the Lord has put us together and made us a team for Him, even entrusting us with children, is something to hold on to during these times. All this to say that just because a marriage is having trouble, it doesn't have to be the end--as long as both people have the determination and will to keep trying! And like our shepherds used to say, "Rome wasn't built in a day, so don't get discouraged if things don't work out all at once. Just keep trying and be thankful. Look on the positive, and at your progress."
       (Joan:) In looking back, I can definitely say that Stephen is just what I needed in my life to help me overcome different NWOs, to help safeguard me, and he's a real good sample to me.
       (Stephen:) I too can say that Joan is just what I need. Living with her has taught me to open up more and share my heart, has helped me break down walls of pride and independence, and instead be more unselfish and reach out in love. The valuable lessons learned from the shepherding we received in our marriage have helped me to be more open to instruction and correction, and to realize how much I need it.
       We'd also like to say that our marriage is by no means perfect, and we have our ups and downs. All we can say is that it's only the Lord's grace that has helped us come this far. God bless you! We love you.

       Stephen and Joan

       P.S. The Lord has now blessed us with our third child! Hallelujah!

After 24 Years of Marriage!
By Kanah (of Ado), USA:
       Ado and I have been married 24 years now. We've certainly had a lot of experiences being married in the Family, with our exciting lives and all of the changes that came about during these years!
       We met in Texas, at TSC, when I was 18 and Ado 19. At the time I was in childcare full-time with a group of 17 children, aged from two to eight. At the time, I was not thinking very seriously about getting married and I kept very busy with the children. I lived with them and their care was my main job.
       Ado and I met when he volunteered to drive the children into the city to witness on Sundays, which was his day off from driving into town on business. We would read the Word together in the car on the long drive with the children, and on the way home at night we would sing some of the early Family songs and hymns and tell testimonies. So we started our friendship around the Word, and I believe that is one of the main things that has kept us together all these years. We respected in each other the love we had for the Word.
       We didn't have dates in those days, or talk about having a relationship, but the Lord blessed our witnessing trips. We had fun taking the kids out and going on excursions too. (Note from Ado: We didn't even kiss each other until just before we were betrothed!)
       As soon as I got to know Ado, I knew he was the man I wanted to marry! I was attracted to him because of his enthusiasm and how friendly he was and all of the attention he showed to the children. He was very giving and seemed to always be pouring out to others.

The Lord Was Working It All Out
       In those days, we didn't write OHRs, and I didn't know how to share my heart with my shepherds about my feelings. So I just told the Lord that Ado was the one I wanted to marry. We didn't talk about it together during the three or four months we went witnessing on the weekends. I can see how helpful it is now in the Family for the teens and YAs to have communication with their shepherds and be able to express things that are on their hearts about their relationships, questions, desires to get married, and the many situations that come up.
       When TSC closed, I was on the first team to leave with the children. I traveled with a few other adults on a Family bus that was fitted with bunkbeds, on a faith trip to the northwest U.S. (Washington State). It was a time of forsaking, as I didn't know if I would see Ado again, because he stayed back in Texas.
       One thing that surprised me was that several of my shepherds asked me if I ever considered getting married to Ado. The Lord must have showed them the situation, as I had not told anyone, not even Ado! Some time later one of them told me that Ado asked to come to Washington so we could get married. I was surprised to see how the Lord was working it all out, even though I hadn't told anyone how I felt yet.
       On Christmas Day, three months after I arrived, Ado came. We began working together with the children, helped set up the school, and finally we talked about getting married! When we told our overseer, she said with a sigh of relief, "Finally! We were waiting for you to ask!"
       In February we had a fun gypsy-style Family betrothal! The night before, we had stayed up all night working on the classrooms in the new schoolhouse. While we took a nap the next day, the little children made cards to surprise us! There was a lot of music and dancing after the beautiful ceremony given by one of our shepherds.
       One of the most outstanding things in our betrothal was a prophecy a brother received for us. It was written down, and over the years we have referred to it, and it has helped us when things got rough and we had trials and difficulties. The prophecy was about how God had called us to take care of the children He had raised up, and how He had called us in these Last Days and ordained us for this service!
       ({\ul \i Editor's note}: What a privilege we have in being able to come before the Lord and ask Him to speak regarding marriage or any other major decision or move. It gives peace for the present, as well as stability and faith for the future. To get God's direct Word on what we are praying about is so powerful and so wonderful, and gives something that we can always hang on to, in a marriage or as a missionary! Mama suggests in ML #2931:111,112, that prospective couples ask Him for His leading well in advance of a betrothal, and then ask for His blessing and confirmation during the ceremony.)
       We had a honeymoon in a cabin on the property that had been set up simply but nicely for us. After a 30-hour honeymoon, we moved into the school building on the property and lived full-time with the 12 children who had their rooms there. We didn't have a bed or a bedroom for the first year, and endured hardness in the winter with our sleeping bags on the floor, ending up squeezed into the furnace room. But we didn't mind not having luxuries, and we kept very busy in our work with the children.

Learning to Be a Team
       We became very close to the children and continued to have a full-time ministry in teaching and childcare. When some of the parents traveled, we were foster parents for their children. We learned lessons during our time with these first children, and having this responsibility and experience greatly helped us later when we had our own children. We learned the value and importance of training small children in the Word.
       There weren't many Letters about children at that time, so we would study the ones we did have, and that is where we found the answers to many things that came up in our discipline and training of the children. I refer a lot to our work with the children here in this story of our marriage, because that was our calling, and the Lord used it to unite us and help us learn to work together. Our goal was to be a good sample for the children in our care.
       We had some problems learning to communicate during the first year, since we were used to being single and it was new to have someone to stay in communication with day and night! We had a lot to learn about married life and were quite young and inexperienced; we had worked a lot together but weren't used to communicating much with each other about our feelings and the deeper things in our lives. It was new for us, and at first it was hard to express our feelings to each other. We also didn't really understand all of the changes that come with marriage. There weren't many other married couples around to learn from, or many Letters on marriage yet. The Letters that were available at that time were a big help, though.
       It was really neat to be "in love" and have all of the exciting feelings that come with it! Through our many years together, I have learned to have a deeper kind of love, and although I am still very much in love with my husband, our relationship has grown and matured and gotten deeper through the years. We can appreciate each other and know that we need each other, yet we still do our best to put the Lord and His work first. The many trials and hardships we have experienced over the years have borne good fruit in our lives.

Each Child Is a Miracle!
       I went through some very hard times in my first pregnancies, as I didn't know how to take care of myself and just about stopped eating when I had morning sickness. I also overworked and ended up having my first baby too early, so it went to be with the Lord in the sixth month of pregnancy. This was when I was 21, and it was a very big thing in my life. I went through some heavy trials, but through this I learned very precious lessons of drawing closer to the Lord. All the Word I read about trials and tribulations became more real to me. Due to this breaking, the Word took on a deeper meaning.
       After this experience, I had some forsake-all lessons when the children we loved so much moved on to another field. We had to pray about our plans and where the Lord wanted us, and this taught us as a couple to learn more about hearing from the Lord for His will in our lives. We moved to Latin America, worked with children there, and helped set up small Family schools. We took the children out witnessing a lot and continued to learn responsibility.
       I had another big breaking when I had twins who were also born early, and also went to be with the Lord. Although these trials were very hard, the Lord kept our marriage together. It was only the Lord that kept us during these difficult times. I learned that I couldn't give up during hard times, but I had to keep on going, even when the going was rough.
       I also learned to not take children for granted, and that each one is such a miracle. I felt a lot closer to Heaven with three babies there! I also gained more fear of the Lord. Having difficult times made our marriage stronger, and pulled us together more.
       The Lord then blessed us with a baby who stayed here on Earth with us! That pregnancy was quite a miracle! I had to go to the Word for my strength and faith, as I was hit with discouragement and fear of failure. The Word became my greatest source of strength and encouragement, and the Lord saw me through.

New Interests, Experiences and Lessons!
       The next year we had another miracle baby! We also had some changes in our lives, with Ado traveling for three months. At the time of our baby's birth, he was gone; we were even in different countries. This was in '77, and while apart for these months, we both fell in love with other people whom we worked closely with. When we finally got back together, we did have some problems with communication, because it was new for us to have other interests. Since we had been apart for a while, things had changed both in the Family and with us personally.
       Family sharing was just beginning and it was a new experience for us to share with others. We hadn't learned how to handle some of these new emotions, so this affected our relationship. Having the children gave us a fear of the Lord in our decisions, and He worked out our communication problems after a short time. During all of this, we still loved each other, but we were quite immature, which is what caused us some of our problems.
       During all of those years, the Letters were a real help in making decisions. Staying close to the Word helped us not to just go by feelings or desires, as we got close to others a few other times in later years, as well as during this first time of being apart. Thank the Lord, He helped us get through these times and learn valuable lessons, so that now we can help others and get close to them without it having a negative effect on our marriage relationship.
       At the time of the RNR in 1978, we lived by faith on the road for a few months, because we had to leave the foreign field we were in, due to persecution. Since I was pregnant during this time, I was desperate for the Lord's help and blessing as well as His supply. The Lord took good care of us, and we had a variety of experiences, including living with relatives for several months. There were many tests of faith, until from there, the Lord did some big miracles to get us back to Latin America.
       Through all of these years and all these experiences, we enjoyed working together and being together, although we did have tests and trials and differences, as most marriages have. We had some rough times pioneering when we were the only family on different pioneer fields for a couple of years and we were very poor. The Lord was working on us to teach us how to be better missionaries and to have more faith. All of these experiences drew us closer to the Lord and to each other.

How to Invest in a Marriage
       One lesson I have learned is how important it is to put a lot into the marriage, and to be willing to give and to try to make your mate happy. I believe it has been worth the work and effort to make our marriage work, and to not give up when difficulties came our way. I am sure glad that the Lord helped me to hang on through all of the changes we went through over the years. The Lord gave us more children, and that helped keep us together because of our love for them and for each other, and our desire to be good parents.
       The times when we had problems communicating often happened when the pressures and responsibilities took so much time that we didn't make opportunities to keep up our communication or spend much time together. The work seemed to take up all of our time and strength because we didn't organize our days well enough to include doing fun things and spending special times together. Through the years, we have learned some lessons on the importance of never getting too busy to show each other that we care and that we appreciate one another.
       One thing that helped was to go out for an evening and do something together-- taking quiet time to talk and fellowship, going for a nice walk or enjoying a special meal together. I learned that even during a regular day at home, kind words of appreciation go a long way in a marriage.
       Another tip I learned was to find out little things my mate likes and special things that help him feel loved and appreciated. We also learned to avoid talking about the business of the day while in bed at night, as that would often squelch the more personal and intimate conversations.
       In recent years, the Lord has had us working and traveling together in our ministry. We've spent a lot of time on the road and enjoyed the time to work together. Besides being married and working together, we are very good friends. We try to cut down on familiarity by agreeing to correct each other and to keep a respect of the Lord in each other and a fear of the Lord in our conversation. This has helped a lot in our marriage.
       After some health problems, and nearly going to be with the Lord about five years ago due to a fallopian tube pregnancy, the Lord raised me up to full health and strength. He even gave us another baby--our seventh full-term baby. This was after being on the road for the whole pregnancy due to our work.
       After working in a teamwork together for several years, we recently spent one year apart, working for the Lord in different areas. We learned a lot during this time, and when we got back together we saw how the Lord had used it to strengthen our marriage and help us to appreciate each other even more.
       We know it is a miracle that the Lord has kept us together and given us such a special and loving relationship, and the blessing of being married in the Family.

       Much love,
       Kanah (and Ado)


Dear Married Couples!
       God bless you! The Lord has blessed many of you with good marriages for His glory and as an example of His Love. Although we can't print them all, we would like to share as many of your marriage testimonies and/or lessons as we can, as an encouragement to others.
       Whether you've been together for awhile, or are just newly married, if you want to, please write how the Lord brought you together and is using you as a team for His service!

       We love you!
       Your WS Staff


How Jesus Keeps Our Marriage!
From Consuelo (of Jeho), South America:
       I'd like to share a bit about our 24 years of marriage, to encourage our YAs and teens that if a rose didn't have thorns, it would not be a rose!
       One thing you need to know about your marriage is that it is God's will, just like you know that it is God's will for you to be in the Family, even though you may get tempted with thoughts of leaving. I guess the major lesson I learned in our marriage was making up my mind I was never going to quit! There were times when I was ready to throw in the towel, but the Lord was faithful to remind me not to throw away my crown.
       A Letter that helped us during a very difficult time was "Married to Jesus" (ML #1953). Who are you going to find to be married to who will not have NWOs? When will any relationship not be attacked by the Enemy? Being married teaches you to walk in the Spirit, because when we get out of the Spirit, there is friction. We then see each other as the human nothings that we all are without Jesus, whereas before you got married maybe you saw the anointing of the Lord more. Everybody wants to be married to the anointing; everybody wants to be around Jesus! But that is where true love comes in--it means to love someone even though they are just plain human!
       When I would get my eyes off Jesus and start looking only to my husband for love and all my needs, everything would short circuit. I would get very discouraged and think he was not paying enough attention to me. As soon as I woke up and got back on track with the Lord (knowing He is where true love comes from and that He is the One Who supplies my needs), my husband would show up with a bouquet of flowers and shower me with attention.--Ha! I then knew deep in my heart my dear husband was being used of the Lord to love me. But if I started sliding into depending too much on him again, the process would start all over.
       We have had a very good prayer life together in our relationship, getting down on our faces periodically and crying out to the Lord in tongues, pouring our hearts out to the Lord about everything we can think of. After we do that, watching the Lord work in our lives is just so fascinating! I think this has been one of the main reasons the Lord has kept us together and we have been able to stay together. I hope these lessons will encourage and help others through their battles. We love you!

       Consuelo (and Jeho)

His Love Makes All Things New!
REACTIONS TO "MAMA'S LOVE STORY" (GNs 635-639, 641, 642)
From a mother of eight children, India:
       These Letters are very inspiring and convicting for me personally. Having been married for quite a few years now, my mate and I have been through lots of ups and downs. I was very convicted by Mama's and Peter's sample of putting the Lord first in their marriage. I also found the practical tips very helpful, such as those about praising the Lord together, reading the praise verses, as well as asking the Lord why things happen. We haven't done this a lot in our marriage and although I don't know that we'll ever attain, we have started to memorize a little before bed and read together. I know this will strengthen our relationship in the way it needs to be strengthened, rather than just working on being "in love" or the physical aspects of being together.
       For years I found it a bit difficult to yield in my marriage, and I desired more happiness and fulfillment in being mated. It's not that I didn't love my sweet mate, and I knew that the Lord had showed me clearly that our marriage was His will when we originally got together, but I would still battle about it at times. My prayer was that the Lord would take this struggle away.
       Recently though, the Lord has given me much more love for my mate. It's something miraculous, and I know it's a work of His hand. It confirmed the prophecies about how the Lord will renew a lot of the stale marriages in the Family (ML #3001:42-49, GN 641). I'm so happy for this, as I really do want my children in our large family to see us happy and in love and affectionate with each other, having a positive relationship. I can remember how my own parents were quite happily married and it made me feel secure and loved as a child, but the times when they argued made me so insecure and unsure of what was happening in my life.
       I was very encouraged by these Letters and I can already see them being fulfilled right in front of my eyes! Thank You Jesus!

* * * * * * *

From a wife and mother, Hungary:
       Being married is one of the most important experiences in my life. Although I am 100% sure of my union with my mate and that marrying him was definitely the will of the Lord, frequently I have run into what seem like insurmountable mountains, such as differences in thinking, working, living habits, and seemingly almost everything.
       My mate is really such a wonderful and warm person, and there is so much I should appreciate him for! I know how much he needs my love too--but that was just the problem: at times I simply didn't seem to have that love, that affection, that feeling for him. And where love "ends," there starts criticism, nagging, arguing, etc.
       Just when I was at the very depths of despair and discouragement came these wonderful GNs, like a fresh breeze. I broke down crying at the Lord's wonderful, yet simple answers, and clung to them as to my only hope. Even just to get together with my mate to read the Lord's timely message to us was such a fight in the spirit, a real battle! The Devil knew what victories this Word promises!
       We asked the Lord's forgiveness and we prayed for a new start in our spiritual lives and walk with Him--both as individuals and as a couple. I cannot say all of our problems have vanished, but I know we did conquer all in spirit and by faith! We started to experience again that "love covereth a multitude of sins" (1Pet.4:8). The Lord has planted little seeds of love in our garden that have begun to sprout everywhere, and we cannot help but cry tears of joy.

* * * * * * *


Prophecy on Mama and Peter's Wedding Night

       For behold a three-fold cord is not easily broken. And I have made thee a three-fold cord with Me this night. For thou hast sung thy praises unto Me and I am well pleased that thou hast loved Me, that thou hast kissed Me, that thou hast worshipped Me. I seek the love of My children, and yea, for this thou shalt be greatly blessed. For I seek those that will love Me above all things, that will have praise upon their lips, praise of Me and honor of Me and glory of Me, and that will have praise in their hearts and praise on their tongues and praise in their spirit and praise in their mind and praise in their actions. For I seek those that love Me and that hold Me in high esteem, that choose to love Me above all things.
       For these are the children of David, these are they which I will exalt and strengthen in the days to come: Those that look unto Me for their strength, that look unto Me for their wisdom, that look unto Me for My power, that look unto Me for guidance and direction and counsel, who seek Me daily to find that which I would have for them.
       Lo, I am well pleased with thy praises and with thy love, and I will honor thee for this, and I will love thee for this. For thou hast praised Me and worshipped Me, and thou hast set aside time on this night for Me. This is symbolic of how all love should be and how all of those who love one another should be, that they would make Me the focal point of their love and that they would love Me together. Those that do this shall have great love one for another, and their love shall be enveloped in My Love. For they will be looking unto Me and loving Me, and thus I can bless them and I can honor them and I can give them great love.
       For only in loving Me and in seeking Me and in fellowshipping with Me together can those who love one another truly find the love that I have for them, the love that I wish to bestow upon them, that they may revel in My Love. For as they spend time with Me, loving Me, I will empower their love one for another and their touches and their kisses and their caresses, and these shall become new. They shall be refreshed and renewed and strengthened, and their love shall grow. But they must keep their eyes fixed upon Me and seek Me in spirit and love Me together, that we may all be one. For two are good, but three are better (ML #3001:74-77).


* * * * * * *

From a wife and mother, Austria:
       I've read in many Letters how the Lord should be in first place in marriage, but it's been a struggle to maintain that, or more specifically, to put it into practice. Mama's "Love Story" series is a big help to me in the practical side of getting close to Jesus together with my mate. It's been a real help and blessing in our relationship to communicate more, pray much more together, read and praise more together. Getting closer to Jesus together is helping us to get closer to each other. I have more respect for my husband, understand him more, and am more willing to receive correction from him. I have to admit that when first reading Mama's "Love Story" Letters, I thought they were too spiritual for me, that I would never be able to attain. But then I just tried to do it, even if it was difficult, and it worked! I am so very thankful for these Letters!

* * * * * * *

From a wife and mother, India:
       Married or Single?" (ML #3001, GN 641) was a very timely Letter for me, as though I love my husband, our relationship had become what you might call "stale," with us sticking together for the kids' sake. It had become more like a friendship over the years. The spark was missing, and the love we used to share had gone. This Letter helped me to get my perspectives right. When we were first mated, we used to pray desperately together each morning, and enjoy the Lord together, knowing He had put us together. It made me realize that this is what had gone missing in our relationship--that time with the Lord. Not only had we become familiar with each other, but with the Lord in each other too! This GN kindled a fire within me to renew that love for the Lord in each other.

* * * * * * *

From a wife, Slovakia:
       I can't really express what a secret heartcry it's been for me--to have some counsel from the Lord on relationships. The things that the Lord says in these new GNs, and the lessons that Mama brings out, were such direct and specific answers to many questions I've had in my personal life and relationship with the Lord and in my relationship with my dear mate. I couldn't help but feel the Lord's Love and comfort and voice in a very direct, personal, and intimate way. My heart rejoiced for these beautiful answers and counsel on the subject! It broadened my whole outlook on how knowledgeable the Lord is of His children's needs--our real personal ones--and deepened my appreciation for the yielded channels that Mama and Peter are. I want to say a personal thank-you to dear Mama for being so willing to dive in and be open and just give what the Lord gives. It's been beautiful to read and partake of all the lessons she's learned along the way. I feel that it is fulfilling all that the Lord promised to do if she would step out by faith and tell us about herself!


Excerpts from the Love Charter on Marriage
       Marriage, according to the Scripture, is the union of a man and a woman, as husband and wife. Members may freely marry within the Family providing they do so in accordance with the rules listed below. Those who marry enter into a covenant together between themselves and the Lord, committing themselves to love, care, and be responsible for one another and their children, in a Christ-centered union that glorifies God. Those who enter into such a covenant or contract should do so with the commitment that they will remain married and continue to function together as a married couple permanently. Nevertheless, there may be times when it becomes evident that a marital union is no longer glorifying God and is proving detrimental to children of the marriage, or in extraordinary circumstances one of the partners is called by God to a new direction in their work for Him. In such a case, the partners may wish to dissolve the marriage in accordance with the Permanent Marital Separation Rules (pg.159).
       Besides accepting Jesus as their Savior, getting married is probably one of the most important decisions a person will make. Before a couple marries, they should determine in their hearts before the Lord and express one to another that they are committed to one another permanently, unless or until the Lord shall call them to be apart.
       The commitment of marriage is a commitment to love and a commitment to the responsibilities of love.--That responsibility to love and care for your partner in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, even if your emotional attachment lessens over the years. Marriage requires God's Love, that ever-enduring Love that forgives, that overcomes bitterness, familiarity and failure, Love that carries us through life's difficulties and keeps on loving.
       I still believe in real old-fashioned love and falling in love and wanting to take care of somebody and help somebody and be their mate, be half of them, and have their children! I'm that old-fashioned! (ML #2433:64).
       Marriage is supposed to be for life, except for the most unusual circumstances, truly desperate and/or Scriptural exceptions! Everything humanly possible should be done to keep couples together, both for their sake as well as for the sake of the children and the work of God! (ML #154:78).
       Of course, there are relationship arrangements other than marriage. A man and woman may love one another and decide to room together, with the understanding that it is not a marriage but instead is a temporary union, which is their prerogative.
       [EDITED: "17."] A. Two voting members wishing to marry must declare their intention to do so, first to the Home Officers, and then to the voting members of the Home. Once such a public declaration is made, the couple is engaged to be married and the period of engagement begins. The period of engagement is to be not less than 90 days before the marriage.
       1. Prior to their engagement, couples should get to know each other well in order to ascertain their compatibility.
       2. During their engagement, it is advisable for the couple to live in the same Home, to regularly spend time together in prayer, spiritual fellowship and interaction. The couple may room together, if they choose, for all or part of their engagement period, if permitted according to their age.
       3. It is recommended that at some time before the marriage the Home prays and hears from the Lord for the engaged couple, and a transcript of the prophecies be given to the couple.
       4. If the couple decides at any time to end the engagement, they may do so. The Home must be informed that the engagement has ended.
       5. Once the period of engagement is completed and the couple decides they want to marry, the Home should hold a simple ceremony to acknowledge that the couple is now married. Couples are of course free to legalise their marriage.

(Following are further excerpts from this section:)
       Prior to the actual engagement, couples should get to know each other well, and only make their engagement declaration when they are quite serious about the matter and are pretty sure they want to marry. Engagement is an actual commitment to marry, but it allows a contemplative period of at least three months for the couple to seriously seek the Lord and to determine that it is definitely the Lord's will for them to marry. Of course, at any time after the engagement period begins, if either member concludes that it is not God's will, then they can call off the engagement.
       During the engagement period, the couple should regularly seek the Lord and read His Word together in order to build a spiritual foundation on which to base their marriage. They should read Letters on the subject of marriage and appropriate portions of other publications such as "Marvelous Marriage" and "How to Love." They should also seek counsel from their Home Teamwork as to whether they feel that the potential marriage is of the Lord. They should also ask the Home to pray and hear from the Lord regarding the marriage. Having direct words from the Lord in prophecy is a great blessing, especially to refer to later when the marriage encounters difficult days. At such a time, having prophecies, visions or verses to look back on can provide a spiritual anchor for the marriage.
       During the period of engagement it would be advisable for the couple to live in the same Home, though we cannot say they definitely must do so, as there may be some situations where this might not be possible. But regardless of where they live, they should try to regularly spend time together for prayer, reading of the Word, and spiritual interaction. The degree of interaction is up to the couple. Some couples, age permitting, may prefer to room together for their period of engagement, others may choose not to.
       We used to have a rule: you couldn't be betrothed until you had lived and worked together, or even slept together if you wanted to, in the same Home ... until you knew each other real well (ML #792:39).
       I think it would be wonderful if all of our folks who are seriously considering getting together would seek the Lord for His confirmation and stamp of approval by having some or all of the members of their Home unite in a time of prayer and hearing from the Lord together. Certainly in such a serious decision it seems like both parties would welcome all the counsel they can get (ML #2931:111,112).
       (Please see the Love Charter, pages 154-158 for more on marriage.)


A Question about Marriage
From Lisa (16), Norway:
       Mama's Love Story" really made an impression on me--to see how open and honest Mama is. I really look up to her and admire her for how she can be so loving and affectionate with anybody, which I still have not made a habit of yet.
       One thing I was wondering about, though, is why it has to be so spiritual and confirmed by the Lord for Mama and Peter to have this relationship and marriage, when it just seems natural and logical to me. I don't want to sound critical or anything, and it's their choice if they want to do it that way. Maybe I'm just not spiritually minded, but I just don't see why it's necessary. If you fall in love, I think it must be the Lord's engineering and His will, or else He wouldn't give you those feelings for each other.
       ({\ul \i Editor's note}: This is a very good question, Lisa. Mama and Peter's prayer to ask the Lord to confirm their marriage in prophecy shows that they don't expect anything more of the Family than what they expect of themselves. Recently the Charter outlined the need for couples to seek confirmation from the Lord before getting together. [EDITED: "See Charter exerpts on pages 10 and 11."] In their case, because of their big responsibility in leading the Family, Mama and Peter both wanted to be very sure of the Lord's will.
       (If you remember, Mama has taught us that there are times when our feelings can lead us astray. There are other times when the Lord may give us strong feelings for someone, but this may not necessarily mean that He is putting a team together for life. In "The 7 Ways to Know God's Will" [EDITED: "ML #829"], we see that a {\ul \i burden} [EDITED: "such as being in love with someone"] is just {\ul \i one} way to tell God's will. It's wonderful to have Him speak and give His direct leading and confirmation on a proposed marriage, not only as guidance for the present, but as a strength and rock to stand on in the future.
       So in this case, even though it is perfectly natural and normal for Mama and Peter to be married, they have shown us that even when a marriage seems completely okay to us, it's still wise to ask the Lord to speak concerning it and confirm His will. And look what beautiful promises were given as a result!--A present and future encouragement to us all!)
       Anyway, I know Mama and Peter will make a wonderful couple and teamwork. I've always assumed that the one to take Grandpa's place would be Peter, and I think he deserves it after so many years of faithful service.
       I'm looking forward with challenge, excitement, anticipation and eagerness to what the Lord's doing and the wonderful things we're going to be able to participate in as we surrender ourselves to the Lord. Praise the Lord!

Lessons about Sharing and Relationships
From a YA girl, Slovakia:
       I am involved with someone and am about to become engaged. I've often wondered how I would be able to share him. Being a YA, I can tend to be very idealistic, but honestly, I never had much practice with this kind of sharing according to the Law of Love. But seeing both Mama and Peter's beautiful sample really spoke to me and showed me how to give that kind of love to others. It so inspired me that I wanted to try it too.
       We prayed together and decided that it would be fine for him to spend time with one of the senior teens in our Home who really needed companionship. It was all very new and different for us, especially since I tend to be very possessive at times, but the Lord really did it and I can honestly say that I'm turned on to our doctrines of love now, not just in principle, but also in practice. It wasn't easy, of course, but we knew that the Lord expected it of us, and we're both very thankful for the valuable learning experience.
       Thank you, Mama and Peter, for setting such a good sample for us! I love you!

* * * * * * *

From a husband, USA:
       The latest mailings have been like a light for us at this time in our lives. My wife and I have not had to share like this for quite some time, and these Letters have been a challenge to help us to check our hearts and really give the love that the Lord is asking of us. We have been able to relate to all that Peter shared about his battles with jealousy. We know that this deeper love is the direction in which the Lord is moving now, and we want to do our best to love one another in deed and in truth. We have also been seeing that we need each other more than ever with the many changes coming as a result of the Charter. It has been so inspiring to see Mama and Peter's example of praying and taking everything to Jesus in prayer. It has inspired us to be more prayerful and loving in seeking the answers to the problems that we encounter.

* * * * * * *

From a single woman, USA:
       I think that "Mama's Love Story" is very timely. I do believe that sharing more will help us all be closer, and that it will give us a love "that passeth all understanding" (Phi.4:7). Thank the Lord, those I live with have been very loving and sacrificial in this area, which touches my heart and makes me admire them. I am sure it is not so easy, because I have had major battles with jealousy in the past, but knowing that makes me love the one who shares her mate with me. Her sacrifices for me make me want to do all I can for her.

Including the Lord in Our Lovemaking
From a shepherd:
       I think the "Love Story" GNs are perfectly made by the Lord to help us understand more fully the beauty and depth of what the Law of Love is all about. Your lessons, Mama and Peter, as well as how you share with us the intimacy of what goes on in your bedroom and how beautiful the Lord can make sex if He is put in the center and He is our main Partner has been a great, great tool to help our teens and YAs (adults too) to view their relationships properly.
       It is so beautiful to see and read how the Lord led you, sweet Mama and Peter, to just have an intimate dance while listening to the "Fear Not" tape, and how you praised the Lord, and from there you went on to having loving sex. From what many of our older teens and YAs have said, and for that matter many of our adults that we talk to, they seem to completely separate Jesus from their lovemaking, rather than having praise and prayer and thanking the Lord and even receiving things from the Lord while enjoying sex together. I thank the Lord for how these new lessons of love are helping our young people to more fully understand the beauties of the Law of Love.

A Young Person's Point of View
From a 22-year-old single girl:
       The "Love Story" GNs have given me much to reflect on, causing me to search my heart diligently, and highlighting areas of my life that require major change. I'd like to share about one big change that is taking place in my life now, regarding Godly sex and putting Jesus first in our relationships.
       Having not shared very much in my life, I've usually been a little apprehensive about it.--I get nervous and have a strong case of the "butterflies," also because I felt I didn't know all that much about sex, etc. However, not long ago the Lord engineered a situation where I was able to share with a person who is very dear to me, and this began to change my views. It has helped me to see things more the way the Lord sees them.
       I've felt very close to this person for a long time, and I didn't want to share with him if in any way it would cause me to become familiar or lose the respect I've had for him. But the main thing I considered beforehand was knowing that after sharing with him I could never be the same again in my sharing with others. I knew it would be very different from the hanky-panky that many of us young people were used to having.
       Well, we shared and it was very different. It was like nothing I'd ever experienced, but it was the way I knew from the Word it should be. It was beautiful, feeding and at the same time very enjoyable and fun. I was able to learn many lessons through this experience. I realized that in my sharing before, my partners and I were excluding the Lord and His Spirit from our sexual interactions. There was a lack of acknowledging Him or thanking Him, and a total unawareness of His presence. There wasn't real communion between the Lord and me and the other person. It was a tacit understanding that if either partner mentioned the Lord or prayed, they were just trying to be "spiritual," and that sex and the Spirit didn't go together. There were a few little prayers here and there, but not a total yielding to the Lord and desire for His presence and blessing.
       After I told my shepherd about these views, he began to have informal talk times with some of us along these lines, sharing with us the Word about the true and Godly way to have sex. It was nothing new, but he was pointing us to the Letters and showing us that we have a sample of what sex is all about. He asked us what we were basing our sexual experiences on, as it was obviously not on the Word. As we continued talking about it, it became clear we've been affected by movies and some bad samples we've seen in the past.
       In my opinion, another negative factor in our past sharing was the lack of shepherding we received because of our own lack of seeking help and counsel. I think a lot of our sharing was done behind the shepherds' backs, and it was difficult to be at total peace and have the faith to ask for the Lord's blessing when you know you're in the wrong, due to not having been open with your shepherds. Because this happened a lot, we let ourselves form our sex and sharing habits under these conditions, and we did not freely include the Lord, the Word, and prayer in this area of our lives.
       This may not be the case everywhere or with everyone, but I feel I've been very lacking in following the Word in this area and letting the Word form my habits and standards. It's ironic, though, because somewhere inside I knew what was right.--And I knew I was wrong in how I had gone about sharing up to then.
       As I draw these conclusions in retrospect, I wonder why I didn't do something about it and change what I knew should be changed. Among other things, I guess I didn't realize that though sex isn't all that important, still it is very important! I can see how having priorities wrong and not obeying by including the Lord in sharing could seriously affect our marriages by causing us to become bored with each other. After the strong physical attraction wears off, we could go out seeking "new flesh," which would cause untold problems with jealousy and insecurity, lack of communication, etc. Also when we aren't bringing the Lord into our lovemaking, we aren't loving the Lord in our partner and so we could take them for granted and easily slip into familiarity. I saw that if I leave the Lord out of this important aspect of my life, it just won't bear good fruit.
       All that to say, when Peter shared in detail about his dates with Mama and what they did, I was really inspired! That's what I desire when I think of spending time with someone--that it'll be a time of loving the Lord together and praying for each other and then, of course, the fun of sex and sharing intimate things. I thought the whole thing was beautiful! Though I know it must not be so easy for them to publish personal things in such detail, I'm very thankful, as it's been such a help to have a fresh, current example of how our dates can and should be.--Not that now we'll all sing "I want to be more like Jesus" every time we share, or follow every little detail, but I do pray that we'll follow closely in spirit. I feel very convicted to base things on the spirit of the Word and loving the Lord and seeking His presence and blessing.
       This is an area of my life I'm learning a lot about and the latest GNs on the subject have helped clarify a lot of things for me and show me where I need to change. They are helping me want to grow closer to Jesus in this area, as well as in every other area. My main desire and prayer is to love Jesus more in every way. I've now discovered that sharing is an important part of my life to yield to Him, just like in everything else, in order to totally surrender all!

Hearing from Heaven Together!
From Shawn Harvest (21), USA:

Dear Mama,
       I love you! I wanted to share a very inspiring experience that I had a few days ago. I was spending some time with Beth, who I am close to, in the evening, and we took some time to pray for the different members of our Home and for our Home in general, for the Lord to help us improve in our weak areas and have more unity and love, etc. (We are both on the Home teamwork.)
       Afterwards we were taking some time to hear from the Lord and were getting some verses, when I thought of Grandpa and asked him what he had to say to us. Thank the Lord, I started to get something, but it was actually very hard for me to give it because I was worried that Beth would think I was just making it up, to say that I got something from Grandpa. I asked the Lord to please help me to have the faith to give what He was giving me and He did, praise God!
       We didn't have a tape recorder, but some of it went something like this: "I was a good shepherd when I was on the Earth and took good care of my sheep, those of my own little flock, my own little Home. I watched over each one and made sure that their needs were taken care of to the best of my ability. When I saw a need, I didn't wait, but did something to help right away, putting others' needs above my own, and they knew that I loved them. This is why Jesus was able to trust me with caring for all of you, because I took care of those few I had with me.
       "Love is caring for others' needs, lifting others when they fall, showing others the right way when they stray and need help. Love is action, looking for the need and doing something to remedy it right away. Be ye followers of me even as I am also of Christ. As I was a good shepherd and loved and cared for my sheep, those in my own Home, I expect you to do likewise so that you can have a happy Home and those you care for can know they are loved and being cared for both physically and spiritually."
       That was the basic message of the prophecy. I was very thankful to get something straight from Grandpa. It also seemed to be a key answer to our situation here and how to improve, and make our Home a Home of Hearts.
       Two days later I read your Letter "Lessons of Love" (ML #2975, GN 622), and it was beautiful. In it you talked about Grandpa some and said, "Even though my ministry to you, the worldwide Family, was extremely important, it was not so important that I could not stop and care for the individual. Dad never failed to do this. No matter how much paperwork he may have had, he was never too busy for us, his little family, his little Home, right where he was. ... Through the many years that Dad was with us he would always put the individual first. If someone had problems in our Home he would get involved, and from that involvement usually came a wonderful lesson that could be passed on to everyone" (par.26,28).
       It was wonderful to hear that from you right at this time because it confirmed that what I had gotten really was from Grandpa, like he said that he would be whispering in our ears if we would listen. This is such an important lesson that the Lord and Grandpa want the whole Family to learn. Thank you for that Letter, Mama! Thank you for being so candid, and for your humility to share with us what you are learning so that we can learn it too. I can see so clearly Grandpa's spirit in what you write and it shows that the Lord is the One leading this work. Just like He led Grandpa, He's leading you. I love you, Mama! Your mistakes make me love you more because I make a lot of them too. You're very special to me!

       Shawn Harvest

The Encouragement of His Words!
From Marianne, Pacific:
       It's very exciting to partake of all the new things the Lord is doing in our lives and in the whole Family, especially by our giving the Lord more chance to speak to us directly in prophecy. I was recently talking with one of our YA couples who had asked us to hear from the Lord for them regarding a possible trip to visit their folks in another country in a couple of months. They were considering even moving on to that country permanently, but they wanted to have a confirmation from the Lord on their plans.
       The Lord spoke beautifully, not only giving them direction about what He wanted them to do, but about areas of their lives that He wanted them to work on. They got very inspired by these prophecies and then decided to hear from the Lord themselves about more specifics regarding their trip, and the Lord blessed them with very beautiful and instructional prophecies.
       This YA boy tends to be a bit quiet, but he was so inspired and renewed and excited to see the Lord was actually speaking so directly to them through others and even through their own reaching out to hear from Him. He explained how it has made him feel so much closer to the Lord, so much more loved by the Lord and aware of the Lord's presence and the Lord's blessings throughout the day.
       He commented on how the new GNs have really spoken to him and encouraged him to stir up that gift that he had, but hadn't used for quite a long time. Seeing the Lord being able to guide him so directly and personally was a real inspiration to him, praise the Lord!

Points to Ponder on Marriage and Relationships
By WS Staff:
For your convenience, below are a few of the major points from these testimonies and from the Word.
       * It's wonderful in marriage, as in all things in life, to have a positive, full-of-faith attitude, and to trust the Lord that He is having His way, no matter what unexpected developments may come up! Although there may be surprises in store, to be able to see events as coming from His hand really helps both partners to have a peace that everything will work out well.
       * Referring to the prophecies received for your marriage can be a real encouragement and strength.
       * It is important to keep on praying and asking the Lord for His guidance all through the marriage. Basing decisions on His leading, and taking problems to Him gives stability and opens up the channel for His help and Love to flow in. In fact, praying, seeking the Lord, and loving Him together is one of the most unifying and beautiful things to do as a couple. Sharing discoveries and insights from the Word also keeps you excited about serving Him together, as you unite to put His Words into practice.
       * It helps to know from the beginning that "the path of true love never runs smooth," and difficulties and trials are bound to come. It's perfectly normal for there to be problems, but this doesn't mean that it's time to split up or end the marriage. It's just an opportunity to learn new lessons, strengthen the union, and (if newly married) grow in the new responsibility He's given you. Take it as a challenge! When you know you are in God's will and that He has put you together, you have faith and assurance from Him that He can work out any difficulties, and use the rough spots to bring you closer to Him and each other.
       * One way to approach problems in marriage is to be thankful that you're in a situation where there's lots to learn and plenty of room to grow! If the Lord didn't want you to learn more about Him and others, He wouldn't have put you in a situation where you needed to call on Him for His help, desperately seek the Word for solutions, and ask your shepherds for their counsel, tips, and instruction. So it's exciting to think of all the new things to learn and new depth to be gained as a result of approaching marriage with faith that the Lord will show the way.
       * Humility and yieldedness are some of the main things the Lord wants from us in our relationship to Him, and they are some of the main things learned in marriage! As we learn to humbly yield to another person, because we prefer their happiness to our own, we also learn how the Lord wants us to be towards Him.
       * Setting aside time to do fun things together, like a walk, a special meal or fun activity can make a big difference. In our busy lives it's sometimes hard to find time to relax, but all work and no play makes a dull marriage!
       * It's also very sweet to be aware of and participate in the little things your partner likes to do. If you have an eye out for what your partner likes, and do things to make him or her happy, they will feel your love.
       * Open, honest heart-sharing is difficult at first, but brings big rewards. Each partner may have a mental image of what they expect from the marriage or from the other person, but the other partner may be unaware of those desires. If husband and wife don't talk about their expectations, one or both can develop an "ideal" that is unrealistic, or that the other cannot live up to. But honestly sharing feelings, leadings, hopes and desires can bring two people closer in a special way. Even talking about little irritations (gently and with love), or things that rub you the wrong way, can prevent them becoming big problems later on that are hard to talk about because they begin to look like insurmountable mountains.
       * Some wives like to talk and discuss marriage and other topics of the heart, while some husbands would rather use free time to go outside and play sports or do some vigorous activity! Or sometimes the man would like to talk, but the woman is busy with a project or other concerns. She may want to discuss the children, while the man is burdened about his ministry or something else. Remember "Male or Female," and that both have different needs. One way to work out different interests is for each one to yield to the other a little bit, so that everyone gets what they want, by making time for both.
       * As Dad has said, "Like the old joke, `People are more interesting than anybody!'" (ML #1555:10). It is lots of fun, very interesting, and quite exciting to learn about the opposite sex, what makes them tick, what they like and don't like, and what makes them happy in the Lord. Dad gave some beautiful advice when he said, "If you want to be happy and to make a mate happy, seek the satisfaction of both of you in God" (ML #250:45).
       * When a woman becomes pregnant, her body and spirit go through many changes, which can be a shock to a new husband. It may be a surprise to her, too, and she may feel unattractive--or very sick!--Or both! These are times when both need to be even more loving than usual, and when the husband needs to give lots of care and attention to his wife, who is undergoing a tremendous adjustment in her life. Together the Lord is using you to work a miracle--to make a new life for Him!
       * Bring the Lord into your lovemaking by thanking Him and praising Him together. Tell Him how much you love and appreciate Him, as you tell your mate the same!
       * Mama and Peter are a beautiful example of a couple who love the Lord first and foremost and who also love each other very much. From reading "Mama's Love Story" (see GNs 635-639, 641-642), we're all learning much more about loving the Lord and serving Him together with someone we love. This is all possible because we are in love with Jesus first of all! With Him as the focus and center of our lives together, He'll bless us with more happiness than we can contain, and keep us through the future, too. He's the Love-giver!--And His Love never runs out!

Dinnertime with Baby!
By Esther David (mother of 6, and grandmother of 11):
       Occasionally at dinnertime and in the evening it seems young babies can have intense crying spells from tension and frustration. These can tend to begin before dinnertime and last throughout the evening. Sometimes they begin occurring on a daily basis, and can build into a real emotional problem for both mommy and baby. However, just a little ounce of prevention, loving support, and sometimes a slight schedule adjustment can provide solutions!
       The problem sometimes arises when a few factors converge at the same time:
              (1) the rush and pressure for the mommy to finish up her work at the end of the day;
              (2) she may be preparing to see her mate for the first extended period all day and perhaps also her other children;
              (3) she knows they also are coming to the end of their day and may have emotional needs and demands to be met;
              (4) she may be rushing to prepare for Parent Time activities as well.
       Then to top it off, baby, who may have been fine all day, senses the tension and rush in mommy, and he wants or needs to nurse out of hunger, insecurity, or both! He can be getting pretty tired and cranky himself at this time of day, which seems normal for many babies. Mommy's attention is not focused on baby at that time, as she probably feels she can't stop right then, or she tries to nurse in a hurried or impatient way, but her milk may not come in right away, because she is not relaxed.
       Baby simply may not particularly like what he feels is happening, and he may be tense himself. So when he nurses, he may get just a little milk, or none at all, and next he gets an upset tummy on top of hunger. Thus he can end up feeling cranky, insecure, frustrated, hungry, or angry.
       Unfortunately, dinnertime itself may be a very confusing time for a young baby, as the atmosphere can be high-pitched. At the very least, it's a very active time, with lots of movement and voices and children around, and some babies are more sensitive to this than others. It may be mommy's first chance to enjoy some relaxing fellowship all day, and it can be very frustrating and discouraging when this time becomes a burden instead of a blessing! God bless our dear mommies!
       If baby becomes upset at this time, mommy probably feels pulled in several directions, and not able to comfort her baby as well as she'd like. It's very, very easy for these events to become repeated, setting up an unhappy routine. Feeling tension and tiredness and getting cranky or crying easily at dinnertime is not limited to babies either, of course. Little kids, big kids, and big people--even mommies--do it sometimes! Ha!
       The most obvious help (if it's possible) is for the mommy's schedule to be arranged so that she can nurse and/or minister to her baby for awhile before dinner, so that both feel more rested up, loved up, even played up before the dinner hour rush. Mommies don't always remember that they need to be relaxed in order for their baby to not become tense and get an upset tummy while nursing, and also so that their breasts will "let down" their milk.
       Her milk will usually come in more easily when she can sit down, relax, put her feet up if possible, and perhaps sip a tall drink of water while nursing. A drink helps trigger the "let-down" response, and may also be a real need for mommy's own liquid intake. It relaxes the body, and refreshes and renews the body's oxygen intake as well.
       Relaxing and breathing deeply is also important for these reasons. Most of all, mommy herself probably would appreciate loving reassurance and prayer that the Lord will give all the nourishment and love that her baby needs from her! Encouragement at this time is much appreciated!
       If there has been a problem like the one mentioned above, mommy may need to make a conscious effort to smooth the way for a better feeding time, and plan to take time to tune into her baby before this busy rush occurs. Because babies also generally tend to have their tired and cranky part of the day towards the evening, comforting fellowship with a relaxed and reassuring mommy is an important need, not just a luxury. Baby will probably respond more happily to dinnertime excitement if his needs have been met first. There are many different factors in every individual situation, but these simple steps may go quite a long way toward correcting dinnertime difficulties.
       Home discussions can also bring to light other helpful ideas for making dinnertime more pleasant and peaceful. At least it may help for everyone to be aware of the needs of those involved, and know how they might possibly help with their prayers and their sympathetic and active support. (This could also be a nice time for younger brothers and sisters to give our Family babies comforting attention, whether they need excitement and attention, or a more calming and soothing atmosphere.) It is also comforting for new parents to find out, through testimonies and discussion, that other parents have the same problems from time to time, and that solutions are possible with understanding, love and prayer!


"Big People Are So Funny!"
More Kute Kidz
Compiled by Maria (Blessing)
       * J. (6) asked, "I don't understand how any country could start a war over a game of golf."
       "Which war was that?"
       "You know, the Golf War."
       * After Aunty M. had a baby, her little boy came to see me excitedly, saying, "Mommy's tummy came off!"
       * One of the teachers said to the children that she had an announcement to make. She then paused and said, "Now can you guess what I'm going to say?"
       A. (3) said, "Why do teachers always say that?"
       His older brother J. (4) said, "That's what they say when they are trying to think of what to say next."
       * We were having a big discussion about nuts and the younger kids were trying to figure out how come there are different kinds of nuts, yet we still call them all "nuts."
       A. (3) said, "I know, first it's a nut, then it turns into a peanut."
       (J., 4:) "But we eat wallets."
       (Teacher:) "No, we put money in wallets and we eat walnuts."
       (J.:) "But Aunty Esther said fear nuts."
       (Teacher:) "Where did you hear that?"
       (J:) "On the tape, she sings 'Fear nuts for I have redeemed thee, fear nuts.'"
       * Our 3 year olds asked, "How could anything so yummy be called 'awfuls'?" (Waffles.)
       * Doing the Placement Test with some of our 4 and 5 year olds was very interesting. They scored very well. Some of the answers they gave, especially to General Knowledge, were very smart, yet very funny, such as: We asked them who fixes their teeth, and they logically replied, "God does!"
       I asked, "What country do we live in?" and the reply was, "This one!"
       When I asked, "What do you call a man who goes out into space?" the answer was, "Jesus!"


The Making of a Revolutionary Parent!
       Recently Mama was praying for some of our YAs who were struggling to adjust to their roles as new parents. Remembering the similar difficulties of one of our {\ul \i first} Family mothers, Esther David, Mama sent Esther a message asking if she would write a letter of encouragement to a YA mom facing similar challenges today. Other YA parents may also find this letter interesting and helpful!

From Esther David:
Dear sweet girl!
       I really love you and am so thankful for you and what a beautiful young woman the Lord has made you! As with all our young Family women, it's wonderful to see what a beautiful, spiritual, healthy, fruitful tree for the Lord you are becoming! Your maturity, your proven sacrificial love for the Lord and your brethren, and your wisdom in the Word shines so brightly, even in the midst of your trials and battles--and perhaps even especially so then! I look at you and our other young women and just marvel at how beautifully the Word has been fulfilled in you and become alive in you--beautiful, living, walking vessels of the Lord's Love and wisdom! You're our precious treasures, and we greatly joy and rejoice over you!

Feel like the Emperor Moth?
       Going through the challenging times that you're experiencing now as a new mother, you may shake your head and wonder how I could say that, because you may feel very un-wonderful, frustrated, confused, and even resentful or rebellious. You're probably feeling a bit like the emperor moth, trying with all its might to just get through this life-changing situation! (See Good Thots 1580:22.) You may feel like you've been a lowly worm all your life, and now everything's closing in on you and walling you up into a cocoon of inescapable duty and never-ending demands upon the freedom of lifestyle you've had up to now.
       Maybe you see all your hopes of a life of exhilarating liberty, as a thing of beauty and usefulness to others, being dashed and smothered with every new addition to the threads of responsibility. Maybe you're beginning to chafe at the restrictions which motherhood brings, and seeing for the first time that death to yourself comes first, before the beautiful resurrection! It can be very frightening, as I know from my own experience.

What Happened to My Dreams?
       When I was a teen, I loved and did well with children, but as I grew, I filled my heart with very independent dreams and plans. I felt the whole world was just waiting for me, and that it was my right, as a new adult, to see and hear and experience everything in life to the full! I felt driven and compelled to develop to the fullest all my personal dreams and ideals, so when I began to see that the Lord had a plan for me that was different, it was the beginning of "The Making of a Man"--or woman--as the song portrays so well!
       The words of this song are so true, "Oh, what God can do, if you're willing to go through the making of a woman!" Now I know that the Enemy was actually bluffing and trying to make my future look much blacker than it actually was! The Lord was just trying to teach me to yield to His higher plans and break my stubborn and independent will. As it turned out, not only did I end up living out the Lord's plan as a mother, but He also blessed me with the fulfillment of many other wants and desires as well, things I didn't even have to seek out for myself. His plans were far, far better than my limited dreams had been! I ended up a winner all around!
       It's thrilling to me now to have experienced the full cycle of life like this, and to now be able to look back from experience and tell you that the Lord's plan fulfilled all my needs, and much more!--And it was possible to not only be a full-time mother in the Family, but along with the so-called "burdens," the Lord faithfully added the blessings as well!--As any experienced mother in the Family can probably tell you! She's lived a thousand different lifetimes and experiences, dramas and blessings, in many countries all over the world--in addition to the tremendously rewarding fulfillment of being a Family mom! When I first looked at it, my future appeared very black, but it didn't turn out to be black in the slightest!

Being Alone with Baby
       You can probably tell my early years as a mother weren't very smooth, ha! It was hard to be one of the first in the Family to have children, especially when everyone else was single, and the work was moving at such a fast pioneering pace. In the first couple of years of the Family, it was also our policy for a new mommy to go into isolation with her baby for the first six weeks after birth. This was for the protection of the baby against diseases, since we had such huge Homes and constant contact with outsiders. It also gave the mommy time to recuperate and adjust to breast-feeding and establish her milk flow without the continual excitement and stresses of schedule changes, late nights, etc.
       Isolating a mother and new child may not be practical or even possible today in our smaller Homes, but back then it did allow mommy and baby time to bond together without all the outside distractions of big colony life; however, this isolation was a super trial for me at the time! Later I learned to appreciate and look forward to it, though, as I began learning better how to relate personally to and enjoy fellowshipping with my babies.
       Having a time for mommy to rest is very important for mommy's recovery and baby's health. However, complete isolation is not always necessary, and we learned that if we were prayerful and obedient to good health standards, the Lord would protect our babies as we joined in some Home activities. We had to learn we couldn't legalistically do things the same way with every person, but we needed to pray to find situations in which both a mom and baby would be as content and well-cared for as possible.

Tools for Future Fruitfulness!
       I'm very thankful for the help the Family tried to give me in my trials, especially during my first year of motherhood, which was the hardest. The Lord's plan for each of us as His kings and queens in training gave me the most hope. It was wisely impressed upon me that the Lord needed for me to go through all the experiences of motherhood, so that I would be able to one day be a help to others, and every battle or experience was giving me a new tool that would be very useful and needed one day.
       Of course I didn't see the need at the time, since hardly anyone else was even married then, but now, of course, I'm very grateful, and it proved to be not only very encouraging, but very true throughout the years.
       One of the most outstanding changes I experienced through having babies was to actually learn to work through prayer. I soon found out that being a mommy didn't mean retiring from Family life or responsibilities in any way! In addition to having more babies, I continued to have responsibilities to cope with as well. Since I obviously didn't have any additional time to work with, I had to find other means of accomplishing things, and that turned out to be through prayer.
       I found I had to take my moments sitting and nursing my babies to pray through everything that I needed to do, and specifically ask for the Lord to do most of it Himself. I saw that He did, too! I was at first amazed by it, then became totally dependent on it. I became so, so thankful that I could have that precious time nursing the baby, so that I could spend time just stopping and looking to the Lord for direction as to what to do next. I'd feel like I was actually accomplishing a lot while just sitting in my chair with baby, because the Lord would cause things to happen and change specifically in answer to my prayers. I got hooked on it, because I was learning to experience working with the Lord!

In the Temple Together
       The babies loved it too, because it was such a precious atmosphere to share together. It would be so sweet just to come into the temple and be together, singing and praising and praying in tongues, and enjoying the fellowship of the Lord and baby. There was now not just one of me, nor even two, but three of us there in a little teamwork: baby and Jesus and me.--And it gave me a special feeling of being in the middle of a blessing!
       The babies partook of that peaceful atmosphere and did so much better in it. When I'd get real busy, frazzled or rushed, they'd get uneasy and start to be fussy or cry, giving me a good nudge to get back into the temple again, to get my own heart and head back on straight and in tune with the Lord again. Of course, I'd sometimes nurse in Home meetings, during meals, or with others present, but I had formed a habit of feeling like it was a sweet time to touch base with the Lord, so it was a peaceful haven in the Spirit, even when it wasn't completely quiet.
       I began to feel that my babies were the biggest factor actually helping me to accomplish God's will, because they forced me to retreat to the Lord many, many times a day, and therefore more got accomplished because I was working in closer connection with Him.

Doing His Best
       Another major change I experienced was learning to appreciate and see the wisdom of what I came to call "being confined to God's will"! With so little time, so little strength of my own, I knew I couldn't just zip around doing whatever popped into my head at any time. I had to stop and think about what I wanted to accomplish, plan how to do it, and cut out anything else. I just honestly couldn't get anything done that the Lord wasn't in!
       It was hard for me to adjust to that at first, and I'd often envy others who seemed to have more freedom to use their time and energy in whatever way they wanted. But I came to appreciate the fact that I'd probably often be spinning my wheels and doing unnecessary things--if the Lord hadn't made me have to operate differently to conserve my time and strength.
       This is not to say, though, that I didn't have fun any more! The Lord was still good to me in that way! But I began to take pleasure in seeing the Lord use my days to help me specifically accomplish things I had prayed to do and knew He wanted done. I also enjoyed the reward of a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. I felt fulfilled knowing I'd let the Lord use me.
       Of all the lessons I've had to learn in the Family, it seems to me that these two lessons, which were both directly a result of my "cocoon" years of being confined to the care of my babies, have made the most drastic, needed and lasting change in me.--And they have had the most continual and enduring good fruit, because they changed how I learned to value things, do things, and operate on a daily basis.

The Importance of Bonding!
       Although I liked children, I knew nothing about babies at first. Everything I was told to do with them seemed so foreign to me, especially things I didn't see the reason for doing at first, but which I later understood better. It also took me a while to learn to see my baby as a person, rather than just a puzzling object. It didn't help matters that back then the System taught that babies couldn't see you or recognize you for several months. We now know that's ridiculous! That's probably why System babies sometimes might seem so dull and unresponsive--because their parents don't know how to communicate with them!
       I first learned about bonding when someone tried to help me to understand why it was important for me to love my baby and communicate with him. (This beautiful principle is explained very well in the article "The Secret Life of the Unborn Child" on page 21 in HH2. It's a thrill!--Don't miss it!) It was explained to me that whether or not a mommy and baby bond together, in loving receptivity and responsiveness to each other, has a big impact on that child's emotional health and feeling of acceptance and security.
       Therefore, taking the time to form a relationship with them in their earliest weeks was very important to their future. I was taught that they could sense feelings of rejection or impatient resentment by the mommy. Babies who felt those negative responses were more insecure, more inclined to be clingy and whiney whenever the mommy left them with others, and had more problems as children later on.
       I saw this to be true, as my first children had some pretty rough first years, just because I didn't know how to develop a relationship with them. It was only as I began to sincerely pray and ask the Lord to help me learn to change in this that I began to spend much more time learning how to communicate with each of my children, and with my babies from their earliest days.

Learning to Communicate with My Baby
       It became a real thrill to discover how responsive the youngest babies actually were, and how much they'd try to imitate my sounds and the way I formed my mouth, even in those first weeks after birth! By taking their cue, and making sounds and forming my mouth in ways that they could duplicate, I could see them perk up and come to life, and be so eager to try it and talk back! I tried to learn sounds and little games with them that didn't scare them, but that they could follow. I even did little routines or games the same way each time, so they knew what to expect next, making it fun!
       I found my babies especially liked the "H" sound best, so "Hallelujah!" was a real winner, ha! It was just lots of fun to study their responses to different sounds and movements. An important key was to be soft and gentle enough, especially in the beginning. I had to respect their feelings and not take it personally when I'd go too fast and scare them, or do something that they wouldn't like, or when they'd get tired and want to quit.
       I also learned to tune in more to how they were feeling about things happening around them--whether or not they liked something, or if they were feeling overwhelmed, tensed up, or tired and cranky, and I'd try to comfort them sooner. I tried to be more aware of their upcoming needs, anticipating and meeting them before they'd get all frustrated and upset, and that made our days much happier and smoother. Gentleness and respect were important keys and bore good fruit in our getting along together.
       Learning more about the astrological signs, and the marvelous wonders of the unique individuality of each child, was also lots of fun. I even discovered some babies got fussy when I wore certain clothes, because the colors were too loud--but others liked those same colors! For example, my Taurus baby would act up when I wore red, and calm down when I wore blue, ha! As a rule, they were more mellow when they were around softer colors in my clothing and in their blankets, although they enjoyed colorful pictures and toys when they were interested in entertainment or play. It was very interesting! There was so much to discover about each one!

"As a Mom Thinketh in Her Heart...!"
       During my earlier years of motherhood, my fears seemed strongest that the Revolution was going to pass me by, and I'd be left behind "taking care of babies." Then I heard a news report of a mother in the System who had the same number of children as I had. However, she had no husband, no family to help her, and she was very lonely and struggling physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. The Lord showed me that I should be a prayer warrior for her. Having an example like that to compare myself with gave me a lot to be thankful for, and helped me through my trials.
       I think the main lesson I learned through all those experiences was that my attitude towards circumstances was what made me feel happy and victorious, or miserable and murmuring, and the physical circumstances didn't really matter that much at all! At first I was in the dreariest doldrums, but then I began to feel interested and challenged with all there was to learn, and wanting to do better with each child. I seemed to become happier with my blessings the more children I had, and truly looked forward to having more of them, especially to those first precious months of bonding together.
       Those times became the dearest moments of my life, and those precious relationships, begun in those early morning hours together with Jesus and baby, continued to grow and bloom and blossom through the years. I finally learned how to fall in love with them and became hooked on being a mom and loved it. I let the Lord give me a mother's heart and character, and that was a miracle!

Each Generation Must Pioneer
       As a young mother of your new generation, you probably can relate to the same pioneering battles I experienced. But I sincerely pray you can also partake of the same tremendously interesting and rewarding challenge as well! You have behind you a virtual army of young mothers-to-be, and all that you are experiencing and learning will be a blessing to them. They'll be just as hungry as you are for encouragement and positive role models. They need to have hope that they can adjust to their new responsibilities and keep on being a blessing to the work and others.
       The Lord's given you a precious challenge--to be a winner for their sake!--And your experiences can encourage others; even your weaknesses and lessons will be an open book for them to learn from, just as mine have been. Aren't all our mommies wonderful examples of mighty women of the Lord? God bless them all! They're powerful in faith and love, and a constant testimony to the overcoming power of the Lord!
       I will pray for your continued encouragement, and that you will find true joy in all the magnificent challenges awaiting you! "But the God of all grace, Who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have `suffered' a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you" (1Pet.5:10).
       The following verse has been a continual help to me through the years; because there are so many "all's" and "every's" in it, there can be no doubt that the Lord has made every possible provision for us! Thank the Lord! "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, so that ye, always having all sufficiency, may abound to every good work!" (2Co.9:8).
       And if you feel that you're in that little cocoon, remember it is woven with the tiny fingers of the purest love you'll ever know, straight from Heaven!--A rare and priceless treasure, shot through with Heavenly beauty in His Spirit, but only destined to last for a few fleeting moments of your life! So love it!--And treasure it!--For one day you will miss it, and count these as some of the most precious moments of your life!
       God bless and keep you and continue to make you a blessing to many!

       Much love and prayers,

[EDITED: "end"]

Copyright 1996 The Family