(My dear friends who just got sealed in the temple on Saturday to four of their adopted children. I hope they don't mind me using this picture I snapped. What a beautiful family.)
In the book, Daughters in my Kingdom, we read about Nehemiah. When his enemies tried to tempt him away from his duty to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, he replied,
"I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?" (Nehemiah 6:3)
Today I'm on a quest for more kindness at home. I recognize contention and I want a home that is full of peace and love- not bickering and frustration.
I believe this kind of home is absolutely possible only through the grace and protection of God. I believe we all have access to divine help as we seek towards goodness. As we try to live right, keep God's commandments, and make and keep sacred covenants, we will have access to the power of a God that will be a shield and a protection in our home. I want to feel this power.
There is much I can do to make my home more like Heaven.
Here is what I'm working on...
-Limit distractions! It's me and them. Oh, social media is our current drug of choice. We are very limited and still struggle. I honestly don't know how you survive with televisions in each room?
"It requires a conscious effort to diminish distractions, but having the spirit of revelation makes it possible to prevail over opposition and persist in faith through difficult days and essential routine tasks." Julie Beck, April 2010
-Connect! Take moments to stop what I'm doing, look them in the eyes and just SEE and HEAR them. (Love the book, Hand's Free Mama.)
"A child needs a mother more than all things money can buy. Spending time with your children is the greatest gift of all." Ezra Taft Benson (1988)
-Ask for their help. I've been reading them quotes and talks during dinner. I will not allow them to sit at the table to eat the nice meal I have prepared for them if they are fighting or teasing. I loved the talk Glimpses of Heaven, by President Spencer W Kimball, Dec 1971. We read this last night over dinner.
-When my kids are being unkind to each other it spirals quickly, because there are so many. I try to say "Please stop!" or "Be Kind." This seems to escalate things. I like the sorry seat, where I send both offenders. They sit until they apologize, admit what they did that was wrong, and hug. I need to use this more with my older kids because they love to argue with me that "It's not me- It's them."
-We started a grateful wall last night... With markers and post-it notes how could we go wrong? We need to show more love!
-It's me!! I realized a few things I do to create a climate of contention.
First, I procrastinate.
I think I can do one more thing before I start getting the kids ready for church on Sunday. Then, we're in a hurry and I'm upset. Even though my kids are helping and working together, I'm stressed because we're late so instead of them feeling appreciated, they feel my frustration. I need to realize that when I'm choosing to procrastinate, I'm setting them up for failure.
Don't procrastinate! Get it done early and then enjoy your restful wait.
Second, I zone out.
Yes- when I'm stressed out, I zone out. I hate loosing my temper or feeling anxious so I start thinking or reading or talking on the phone. My kids know that I'm not connected so they entertain themselves. The good thing about this is- I don't beat them or freak out on them because I'm overwhelmed. The bad thing is, they feel the disconnect. They also disengage. Later, I get upset because they are ignoring me or not listening quickly to what I ask then to do. The problem is, that they are disconnected not disobedient.
Stay connected! Just do one thing at a time. Plan in rest. Assign activities for your kids when you need a break-- have them color or play outside or read. Don't ignore them-- gently assign them.
Third, I coast.
This sort of goes along with procrastinating and zoning. When my life is fairly good, I coast. I take a break and just let things roll. I especially do this when I'm tired or after a big activity.
What happens when mom coasts? Everyone coasts. When you have 8 children and you coast, your garage becomes a mountainous ruin of coats, lost lunch bags, millions of shoes, outdoor toys, etc.. It is insane! Your kitchen counter collects misc. junk, the dog chews your favorite high heels that somehow ended up under the swing set and you find library books in the garden. And, your van may or may not adopt a particular smell from moldy sandwiches, cow urine, unwashed but waiting to be washed sleeping bags, or a combination of things.
Climbing back from a time of coasting is exhausting. By the time your house is back in order, you might be tempted to coast again. You might be tempted to read the next young adult series your kids are starting on which might tempt you to coast through some transition times. DON'T DO IT!!
Slow and steady wins the race!! Be a tortoise, not a hare! Let your family feel the gentle journey of a tortoise. Teach them to feel comfort in self discipline and order! Don't fall into the deceptive trap of under-doing followed by over-doing. This will rob your whole home of the peace and joy that comes from a gentle, disciplined, well-ordered life.
Sister Beck said, "Families mean work, but they are our great work—and we are not afraid of work. This is what we do best; no one does families better than the sisters of this Relief Society. We uphold, nourish, and protect them."
I know that self-discipline is the key for my contribution in my home. I know that as I continually hold tight to the principles I believe to be true, as I ignore distraction, as I pray for strength, as I loose myself-- I will find a house of peace, joy, order, and love.
A family that is reared in such a home will have the strength and power to serve as a light to others. This type of home provides the best environment to nurture children and support learning and growth. My marriage is happier when my home is calm. When my home is in order, I am fulfilled and happy. I can love more and do good when our foundation is secure. This is the measure of my creation. What an awesome job I have!
"You are now placed in a situation where you can act according to those sympathies which God has planted in your bosoms. If you live up to these principles how great and how great glorious!-- if you live up to your privilege, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates. . . . If you will be pure, nothing can hinder."
"Mothers who know are nurturers. This is their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness.5 To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes. Another word for is 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 mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth. Growth happens best in a “house of order,” and women should pattern their homes after the Lord’s house (see D&C 109). Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work. Helping growth occur through nurturing is truly a powerful and influential role bestowed on women."
Julie Beck, Mothers Who Know
Today I am going to walk towards a happy home. I'm going to pray, I'm going to try, and I'm going to SEE the beauty of my life.
In this selfless journey I am molding eternal beings and becoming all that I was created to be.
Home is an incredible school-- I love to feel His power as I lead in my home.
Life is beautiful.
I love this work.