I recently came across the BYU Devotional Speech given by Shirley R. Klein. She was a BYU associate professor of family life when this devotional address was given on April 5, 2005.
I liked it so much I changed my tag line on my blog to the title of her speech. (The picture above is from a children’s book called Heckedy Peg by Audry and Don Wood, a family favorite of ours. That’s another post.)
Below are some of the highlights of her speech for me. She uses the literal building of protective armaments by Captain Moroni and his troops in preserving the Nephite cities as an example of how we can protect our homes from modern-day cultural attacks. (Alma 50:1-5) That’s exactly the role of a Fierce Mormon Mother. I also like how she says “Renew Our Powers”. We have to realize the power we have as Fierce Mormon Mothers. We have to understand how we can draw power from Heaven, how we can safeguard that power by not doing too much or comparing ourselves, and how we need to stand steadfast– keeping our life balanced so our power as a mother doesn’t give out.
Shirley Klein starts:
“This past year as I taught Sunday School to the 16- and 17-year-olds, we came once again to Mormon’s account of these fierce wars. This time when I studied, I came across Mormon’s Map by BYU professor emeritus John Sorenson and decided to follow Mormon’s descriptions of the geography of the wars.1 As I did so, I noticed several important patterns:
- First, the battles were between people who were either for or against the kingdom of God.
- Second, the enemy attacked the edges before the main center of Zarahemla was finally captured.
- Third, the attacks were unrelenting over a period of time.
- Fourth, dissenters from within the Nephites were most effective in helping the enemies succeed.
- Fifth, and finally, the attacks initially gave the Nephites a cause, but eventually they lost sight of their goals.
(Please read these again, every sentence carrries so much truth on what we are battling with safeguarding our homes–especially how the attacks were unrelenting over a period of time and how the Nephites lost sight of their goals.)
Shirley Klein continues to encourage:
“Know the war we are waging.”
“In general conference 25 years ago, President Spencer W. Kimball warned:
“Many of the social restraints which in the past have helped to reinforce and to shore up the family are dissolving and disappearing. The time will come when only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to preserve their families in the midst of the gathering evil around us.’
Shirley Klein continues:
“It is clear that social restraints that have helped reinforce family life are eroding and creating openings that devalue and dismiss precious time and activities in our homes. One study of 32 families in Los Angeles showed that in several of the homes the whole family was never in the same room during the entire observation period. On average the rest of the families gathered in the same room just 16 percent of the time.’
“This is your day. The battle for your homes is real. To preserve your family you will need to believe deeply and actively in family life in the home and take action.’
“When I talk about home, I am talking to every person present, because we all create a home for ourselves. Home is not only something in the far distant future or a place you are from. There are many different ideas about what home is. Family researcher Sarah Allen suggests that home is a geographic center (1) where you have feelings of comfort, familiarity, and safety; (2) where meaningful people and things meet; (3) where significant events, memories, and routines take place; (4) where you develop specific knowledge, such as where to shop and find a bank or what sounds at night are normal; and (5) home is a space that “fits” with who you think you are and meets your expectations for a home place.’
“Making Home a Sacred Place.”
“Apply this idea of sacred to everyday activities in your home such as mealtime, prayer, scripture study, music, caring for your home and yard, recreation, laundry, and everything else that takes place in and around your home. These activities have purpose and must not be disregarded or interfered with, because the home setting gives us opportunities to develop and practice character virtues and ethical behavior. Families can learn about moral truths and practice honesty, patience, brotherly kindness, and charity in their daily interactions. The settings of everyday work and recreation in the home provide rich contexts for children and adults to make choices and practice. For example, a child, spouse, or even a roommate may choose to contribute in the home by seeing what needs to be done and doing it happily. Or they may wait to be asked and then complain about the inconvenience.
“Everyday events in our home can seem so simple that we overlook the importance of them—like the children of Israel who were smitten by a plague of snakes. To be healed they just had to look at the serpent of brass on a pole (see Numbers 21:8–9), but because it was so simple, many did not do it. In 1 Nephi 17:41 we read, “Because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.” Everyday activities in our homes may be simple, but because they are simple, frequent, and repeated they offer important opportunities to build individuals and families. Begin now to form habits of recognizing the sacred nature of everyday life. You don’t need to wait until you have children or make mortgage payments.’
“I’ll illustrate with the example of mealtime. Our modern technological age has created a speeded up sense of time, and everything we do seems accelerated—what we do, good or bad, can be done faster, easier, and cheaper. For example, it is easier for us individually to graze in our kitchens, dine from our dashboards, or go to the nearest restaurant for a quick meal rather than go to the trouble of preparing a meal and sitting down together… Author Jean Zimmerman comments, “Americans [seem to have] bought the argument that we no longer have time to cook—and, even if we did have time, it was drudgery we’d rather avoid in preference of leisure activities.”’
“We learn lessons of life at home that build strong character. Family researcher Enola Aird reminds us that at home we learn how to work and how to govern ourselves; we learn manners and morals; we learn how to become self-reliant—or not.’
“Without parents’ humanizing work, children may be quite smart, well-educated, and successful but so selfish, self-centered, and uncaring as to be essentially uncivilized—not able to live in a spirit of community with others.’
“If you feel burdened or unsure about your responsibilities at home, the Lord can bless you to know what to do.’
Shirley Klein gives a particulary poignant example:
“At one particularly stressful time in my life, I felt like the daily load was more than I could bear. One night I had a dream—I saw myself placing a large bundle at the feet of each of my children. When I woke the next morning, I realized my children were responsible for their agency, not me, and that it was good for them to share in the work of our home. But I still had a very large bundle and wondered how I could manage it. Amazingly, the next night I had another dream, and this time I saw myself placing my bundle at the feet of the Savior. How I love Him. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had over the years to draw closer to the Savior as a result of working, learning, and growing in my home.’
Shirley Klein finishes:
“In conclusion, we can learn one more lesson from the Book of Mormon. In the midst of these fierce battles, preparations for wars, and unrelenting attacks, Mormon wrote, “But behold there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni” (Alma 50:23). We too can be the happiest people, even in the midst of difficult times, when we ask the Lord to bless us in protecting our homes and renewing our powers. I express my love to you great young people and bear you my fervent testimony of the important work you will do in your homes. I know that our homes are important to Heavenly Father. He chose a humble home for the organization of the Church on April 6, 1830. He invites us to His house to begin a new family unit with marriage. I know that He will pour out His blessings upon you and help you as you create and protect your homes. I pray for your success and happiness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
Reading this article reminded me that even a busy summer schedule needs to make time for our family scripture reading and mealtimes. I need to protect my home and renew my powers!