Brother Kevin Galbraith
Home & Family Faculty Member
Kevin Galbraith grew up in Sugar City, Idaho and served a mission in England and Wales. He met his wife, Kristin Jeffries, while they were Ricks College students. They are now the parents of nine children and have five grandchildren.
After receiving his associate degree, Kevin completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling from Idaho State University. Prior to earning his doctorate in human development and family studies from Utah State University, he worked in various mental health and human service settings. He joined the faculty at BYU-Idaho in 2006 after teaching courses in family life at several state universities.
Kevin has appreciated serving in various callings within the Church and currently serves in his ward elders quorum presidency. He loves spending time with his family and being outdoors.
Please respond to the question below on the devotional discussion board:
When we come to understand the nature of God, including his characteristics and attributes, we are able to place great faith and trust in Him. What is one of your favorite verses of Scripture that helps you to know Christ in a more personal way? How does a knowledge of God’s nature, as taught in the Scripture, affect your faith?
After 31 years of marriage, Kristin and I are seeing the fruits that come from our earlier choices to be obedient and to establish a home based on love and faith in our Savior. Words can’t describe the joy that comes from going to the temple with adult children as they receive their endowments and as they go to the temple with a companion to be sealed. What a joy to see the family expanding! It is also a delight to see young, energetic grandchildren that are giving their parents a run for their money. Now it is payback time for our married children, who created so many hardships for us as parents.
Kristin and I are observing a little miracle as we seek to make Christ the center of our home: our children have the same love for the Lord that we have, and their commitment to the gospel is beginning to flow into the lives of our young grandchildren. I don’t want to minimize the challenges of raising a large family; it truly can be a test of faith. I also know that many good, conscientious parents, who love the Lord with all of their hearts, can have children that make poor choices and stray from the covenant path. Yet I also know that when we get the gospel in our hearts and make Christ the focal point of our lives, our faith and example have a powerful effect upon our children, even if they choose to stray. Living our lives with faith in Christ is so vital to happy families and to our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness that it is the focus of my message today. After many years of marriage and raising a family, I leave my witness that our Heavenly Father does indeed bless us immensely when in humility we seek to follow Him. One of the great themes of the Book of Mormon was shared on the devotional discussion board. As taught by King Benjamin:
And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you. 
I have a testimony these words are true.
Characteristics and Attributes of God
Something specific has helped me to establish faith in the Lord. While attending graduate school, Kristin and I decided we would balance our secular learning with spiritual learning by attending Institute courses, which we did every semester. Words cannot express how valuable and meaningful those Institute courses have been through the years. One of the courses I took was Lectures on Faith. As you may know, seven lectures were given in the School of the Prophets during the early days of the Church.
One of the principles taught in the lectures is that in order to have strong faith, we must understand the characteristics and attributes of God. How can we exercise deep and abiding faith if we don’t really know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ? An accurate understanding of God’s nature enables us to base our lives around Him and to move forward with raising a family.
One of the most powerful ways to come to understand the nature of God is to pay attention, while reading the scriptures, to key words, titles, phrases, teachings, and stories that help us to understand His nature. In fact, to better understand His nature, I encourage you to watch for and mark the characteristics and attributes of God in your scriptures with a certain color. Doing so will help you to be more thoughtful and observant about who He is. The Book of Mormon is especially powerful for helping us to understand the Lord’s nature. I would like to turn to 1 Nephi 21 as an example. On the screen you will see some of the attributes that I have highlighted in my scriptures. Starting with verse 6:
- 6 – a light
- 7 – Redeemer of Israel, Holy One, faithful
- 8 – heard thee; helped thee; preserve thee; give thee
- 10 – mercy, lead, guide
- 13 – comforted, mercy
- 14 – hath not forsaken Zion
- 15 – will not forget thee
- 16 – graven thee upon the palms of my hands
- 26 – Savior, Redeemer, Mighty One
As I ponder on what these attributes really mean, it affects me. It affects my understanding of who Christ really is, and it influences my ability to place faith in Him.
When you study your scriptures today, I invite you to especially look for characteristics and attributes of Christ. Then, share the attribute with someone meaningful in your life. Also, share how your understanding of that particular attribute enables you to have greater faith in Christ. If you take the time to teach what you learn, as outlined in the Learning Model, I know the Lord will further teach and inspire your mind through the Spirit.
Do you see the spiritual power that can come from seeking to more fully understand the attributes of God? Understanding His nature has enabled me to press forward with faith in Jesus Christ when the future is intimidating and full of uncertainty. Indeed, I have often felt like Peter when walking on the water. As recorded in Matthew:
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 
Christ’s searching question to Peter is one I have asked myself on many occasions: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”  There is an important message in this account about the nature of Christ: He will catch you, lift you up, and strengthen your faith when you are doing your best, even when you are weak and struggling. He is merciful, kind, and loving. He is patient and forgiving. Because of His nature, you can trust Him. You can anchor your life and the life of your family around Him and His teachings. When you do, His blessings will be poured out upon you, your family, and those you serve.
At the heart of my testimony is the simple truth that Heavenly Father is the father of our spirits. His plan is a perfect plan that enables us to return back to His presence and to become like Him. The plan is not to just live with Him, but to become like Him. I also know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and if we seek to follow Him, even though we are imperfect and make many mistakes, He will be our Redeemer and help us to become one with Heavenly Father. Because of my understanding of these truths, I, and each one of us, can continue to place deep and abiding faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Years ago I found myself diligently studying and preparing for comprehensive exams for my doctorate. I knew the exams would be intense, and I had much anxiety every time I thought about taking them. To prepare for the exams, I studied intensely for weeks with a small cohort of other doctoral students.
I must add that early in our marriage, Kristin and I decided that we would make the Sabbath a day of delight by refraining from studying on Sunday. What a blessing that decision has been through the years! Unfortunately, the written portion of comprehensive exams were held on a Monday morning, and much was at stake. I needed to pass those exams. I knew the ox was in the mire, and I supposed the Lord would understand if I took a few hours to review my notes on Sunday. So that evening I sat down at the table. After I pulled out my thick binder full of notes and papers, I felt an inner conflict. No matter how much I tried to rationalize the situation, it just didn’t feel right to study on Sunday.
I reflected on everything I had been studying that very semester in my Institute course about the characteristics and attributes of God. I thought about His nature—loving, merciful, kind, and compassionate. As I thought about His characteristics and attributes, along with the temptation to study on Sunday, this life-altering question powerfully came into my mind: “You have been studying about the characteristics and attributes of God, including maintaining faith in Him, but when it comes right down to it, you really don’t trust Him, do you?” I had a moment of deep soul-searching. Did I trust Him? Was I willing to let go of what appeared to be a safety rope, and just trust Him, without studying on Sunday? I realized the question not only pertained to my exams, but many hard choices I would need to make in the future. As I thought about this question, a feeling of confidence entered into my heart and I silently concluded, “Yes, I trust Him. I have faith that somehow, whether I pass the exams or not, He will help me and support me. I believe He will! And if I fail the exams, I’m confident that He won’t abandon me. I trust that He will be there to help me pick up the pieces and to move forward. I trust Him!” And I placed my binder back into my backpack with a resolve to take the written portion of the exam without breaking my commitment to not study on Sunday.
Come Monday morning, the best description of my experience taking the exam is found in John:
But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. 
In our personal and family lives, we will have different kinds of trials and challenges that test our faith, but one thing is for certain: we will all have many experiences that will require great faith in the Lord. I would like to share four experiences we have had to wrestle with.
Proceed with Marriage and Children
First, while dating Kristin, there was one thing that especially made me nervous. As a full-time student, I couldn’t support myself financially. How was I supposed to support myself, a new wife, and, in the near future, children? I came to realize that the critical question for me was whether or not I had sufficient faith to proceed, not only with marriage, but having children.
Second, while going to graduate school, money was tight, tight, tight. We always paid our tithing, and whenever we had income, tithing was the first payment we made. One year at Christmastime, money was especially tight. After carefully studying our financial situation, knowing that Christmas to young children is magical and exciting, we knew we had a choice: purchase a simple Christmas for our four young children, or pay tithing for the month. I came to know for myself that tithing is a principle with a promise from the Lord.
Third, Kristin had severe complications with the pregnancies and births of our fifth- and sixth-born children. After extensive hospital stays and life-threatening conditions, Megan was born 10 weeks early and Suzanne was 5 weeks early. During these difficult pregnancies, Kristin and I wondered if our family would survive. It felt like these difficult moments would last an eternity.
We wanted to have as many children as the Lord wanted us to have, but we were anxious. We knew future pregnancies meant the possibility of more serious complications, and possibly even death for Kristin or the baby. After doing our homework by consulting with doctors that were wise and seasoned specialists, we felt a quiet impression that it would be okay to have another child. We are so grateful we listened to those feelings, because we went on to have three additional healthy children.
Sacred Family Practices
Fourth, I appreciate last week’s devotional from President and Sister Eyring. They touched on various key principles associated with developing faith in the Lord. In his address, President Eyring stated: “By lovingly and optimistically teaching the joyous doctrines of the gospel, parents can foster faith and obedience in their children. The blessings that flow from obedience lead naturally to righteous confidence.”  As we work to create homes where our children learn faith and the doctrines of the gospel, there is a scripture I hope we will always remember. As stated:
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. 
There are specific blessings the Lord wants to pour out upon you and your family, but receiving these blessings is predicated upon your obedience. As a family we have received special blessings through our commitment to daily family scripture study and prayer, along with weekly family home evenings. We have also made it a practice to regularly attend the temple, knowing that there are great blessings to be poured out upon the whole family for regular temple attendance.
Maintaining these practices became more challenging once children started entering into the adolescent years, with many competing activities. However, we have been determined to not be deterred. When a particular family member could not be present, we maintained consistency by carrying on with whomever was present. Our family is far from the picture-perfect family one may envision kneeling together and then lovingly reading scriptures. We have had our perfect moments, but oftentimes family members are barking at one another because we need to pray and read and we are running late. When praying and reading early in the mornings or late at night, many of the children are half-asleep, and sometimes much more than half. On some occasions, after an exhausting, long, tiring day, we have gathered the children together for a short family prayer, and then instructed them to get into bed with their doors left open, as Kristin or I read the Book of Mormon from the hall, kind of like King Benjamin did from the tower as the Nephites were in their tents.
Brothers and sisters, you must establish patterns and habits never to be broken with your families. Daily prayer, scripture study, weekly family home evening, and regular temple attendance are not optional if we want to create strong families. Through these sacred practices, I know our children have learned that the Lord has a special place in our home—a central place. I also know that the Lord has touched our family in a special way with guidance, protection, greater love for one another, and a deeper commitment to live the gospel. When I think about these sacred practices, I think of a quote from President Howard W. Hunter: “Whatever Jesus lays his hands upon lives. If Jesus lays his hands upon a marriage, it lives. If he is allowed to lay his hands on the family, it lives.” 
Conclusions and Testimony
These are troubled times. There is only one sure way to get your children back home to our Heavenly Father, and that is to exercise faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord needs strong, covenant-keeping families that serve and honor Him with faith. Knowing His nature will enable you to exercise great faith in Him, despite all of the challenges of life that will come. I leave my testimony that the justice, mercy, wisdom, love, and the plan of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is perfect. I close my testimony with a few verses in the Doctrine and Covenants that are dear to me. Please take note of the attributes of God: “I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who served me in righteousness and in truth unto the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.”  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 Mosiah 2:22.
 Matthew 14:24–31.
 Matthew 14:31.
 John 14:26–27.
 Henry J. Eyring, “Rising Above Opposition,” BYU-Idaho devotional, Sept. 24, 2019.
 Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21.
 Howard W. Hunter, “Reading the Scriptures,” Ensign, Nov. 1979.
 Doctrine and Covenants 76:5–6; emphasis added.