Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stake Conference talk

I wanted to post my talk that I gave in Stake Conference. It was a really cool experience for me. I was terrified at first but as I wrote my talk my fears subsided. This was definitely the largest audience I have ever talked to and I have never felt more calm during a talk. I learned a lot just from writing it and it reminded me of many important truths. While this is not exactly what I said and its not prefect from typos, it is close.

Good morning brothers and sisters. I was asked to speak today on one of my favorite subjects: Motherhood. I am the proud Mom of 3 boys. Caleb is 9, Davis is 6, and Beckham is celebrating his 4th birthday today.

When I found out I was pregnant with our first son I thought I had prepared thoroughly for motherhood. I had my bachelors degree in Human Development, I had 15 years childcare experience including working in a Romanian orphanage and managing a preschool and childcare center. I was so excited to bring our first little son home and give him the benefit of all of my knowledge and experience. It didn't take me very long to realize the only thing I really wanted to give our son was his pacifier!

Since then I have endured many more humbling experiences on the rollercoaster of motherhood. It has been a thrilling, fun, exciting and at times scary ride!

In the Family: A proclamation to the world we are taught: Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord”. Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The proclamation also states: Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. Sister Julie B Beck described nurturing by saying:

Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence; therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world. Working beside children in homemaking tasks creates opportunities to teach and model qualities children should emulate. Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work. Helping growth occur through nurturing is truly a powerful and influential role bestowed on women.

Mother hood is the most amazing gift that often feels wrapped in plain packaging. Cooking, cleaning, and sorting laundry all day while trying to get a shower in can seem a little plain and redundant at times. But the work of keeping an orderly and nice home lays the ground work for love and learning to take place.

I have always felt passionate about making our home beautiful no matter what our budget has been. But in the days of Pinterest we must be careful to not allow our "house" to become the object of our homemaking. Sister Beck wrote of mothers who know:

They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all.

We live in a world that expects us to do it all. We have phones that beep reminders and updates beckoning us constantly back to them. One of my New Years resolutions is to unplug from 4-8 each day. I would like to not use any electronic media during this time. Its taking practice but I am getting better. I want to be completely present for my family during those hours when my loved ones are coming home from their days.

There are so many good things that we can fill our time with but Sister Beck said: Mothers who know are selective about their own activities and involvement to conserve their limited strength in order to maximize their influence where it matters most.

I was blessed with a wise mother who used her influence where it mattered most. As I look back now to my own growing up I can honestly only remember a handful of times my Mom was not home and waiting for me when I got home from school. I don't remember ever consciously wanting my Mom to be there, but I do remember being disappointed and it feeling empty when she wasn't there to greet me.

Many times Motherhood feels like that, a thankless and invisible job. No one quite notices what we do until we don't do it. Often I know I feel like I am going in circles. I clean my home all day only to mess it up cooking dinner, only to have to clean up a mess up again. Einstein said that Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Which completely explains why we as Mothers often feel like we are going crazy!

But a spotless kitchen is not our ultimate goal. It is the moments along the way that make it worth it. Chores set the stage for teaching opportunities.

And our children have never needed teaching like they do now. Elder L Tom Perry taught:

Teaching in the home is becoming increasingly important in today’s world, where the influence of the adversary is so widespread and he is attacking, attempting to erode and destroy the very foundation of our society, even the family.

Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time.

I was uplifted to hear Elder Bednar's description in General conference in October 2009 when he admitted that many of their family home evenings had interruptions and outbursts, just like ours. But he said it was the consistency and intentions of their work that perhaps was the greatest lesson.

No matter our best attempt children are not going to be perfectly behaved. It can be incredibly discouraging to teach and feel like we are just not getting through to our kids. But they do hear us.

John and I were blessed beyond measure with our son Davis. He has the sweetest spirit and embodies the meaning of without guile. Over New Years we were in CA and he did something kind to one of his cousins. I told him that was so nice and that his kind heart was a gift from our heavenly father. He kind of looked at me like I was crazy and I thought that moment had really flopped. But later John related a story to me a few days later. All of the kids were outside throwing pop hits on New Year's eve and everyone had run out but Davis who then proceeded to share his with 10 other cousins and brothers. John comment to Davis that is was so nice of his to share and Davis replied back. Ya, I know. it's a gift from my heavenly father. Despite the fact that it didn't look to me that my message had got though, it had!

I was privileged to have an amazing Mother who gave of herself unselfishly at home to myself and my brothers.

Two years ago my Mom was diagnosed with ALS commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease at the age of 58. From the time of diagnosis the life expectancy for someone with ALS is 2-5 years. My mother lived 4 short months after her diagnosis. With the support of my husband and friends I was able to move my two youngest boys down with me and live with and be her caretaker for the last 2 1/2 months of her life. It was a very sacred and cherished time of my life when I was able to care for my mother in all of the ways she had cared for me as a child.

When she passed away the world literally went dark for me. How could I possibly live in a world without the unwavering and constant love of my Mom. In her young death she gave me the greatest gift I could have ever been given as a Mom. She gave me glimpse of just how powerful the love of a mother can be. No matter what Satan plots and rages against my children I know that his power does cannot compare to the unselfish love I can bestow upon my children. It is powerful. It is holy. My mother's love continues to be one of the most influential example in my life.

Elder Perry said:

We see so many challenges today from distracting and destructive influences intended to mislead God’s children. We are seeing many young people who lack the deep spiritual roots necessary to remain standing in faith as storms of unbelief and despair swirl around them. Too many of our Father in Heaven’s children are being overcome by worldly desires. The onslaught of wickedness against our children is more subtle and more brazen than it has ever been. Teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in the home adds another layer of insulation to protect our children from worldly influences.

As women we have a unique gift to nurture and protect our children. My husband is an amazing father, but when it comes down to being hurt or disappointed our children always want my comfort. Joseph F Smith said that:

The love of a true Mother comes nearer to being like the love of God than any other kind of love.

It is incredibly humbling to be an imperfect person ourselves feeling like we are stumbling on the path back to our Heavenly Father and then add trying to lead others along the way with us. We don't have to be perfect though, we just have to keep trying. May we as Mothers remember to focus our energies on where it matters most.

And it does matter most. I know this because I have seen it. In July of 2010 my Mom was healthier than she had ever been and was surrounded by all her children and grandchildren. 2 days later on August 2nd she slurred her speech for the first time and on September 14th she was told she was dying. In the 4 months between that time and when she passed away everything we thought mattered became nothing. The only things that mattered were her relationships. Her relationship with her Heavenly Father and her relationship with her family.

I would like to close by bearing my testimony that no matter how simple, redundant, or even boring it might seem to be a homemaker it is a sacred calling. I feel so privileged to be a woman and to have the gift of nurturing and love.

In the Name of Jesus Christ Amen.


Adrian and Danell said...

Beautiful talk Lisa. I wish I could have been there in person to hear it.

Rachelle said...

Thank you got posting this. I was a slacker and missed it. I have had many friends post on FB today that the too will unplug from 4-8. all because of your message today. They felt your warmth and tenderness. But most of all they felt your dedication to being the best mother possible.

Larry said...

Great talk honey. I know your mother is so proud of your example and family.

jakenapril said...

inspiring to say the least. what a wonderful talk. you are so amazing, lis.

Abbie said...

I absolutely LOVED your talk! You did awesome!