Sunday, August 9, 2009

i spoke in church

husband and i were asked to speak in church today. our topic was love at home. and this is what i said:

In a world that is constantly trying to pull the family apart, it is important to do all we can to keep our families strong. It often feels like we have little control over the things that happen in our lives and the influences that take hold of our loved ones. One thing that we must remember is that we control the atmosphere of our homes. We decided by our actions if our homes are a place of peace and love or a place of chaos and frustration. It may just be me, but I want my home to be a place of peace and love. A home of peace and love is a happy home. In 1988, President Thomas S Monson gave an address titled “Hallmarks of a Happy Home.” I would like to share with you some of what he said.

In his talk, he spoke about four identifying features found in happy homes. He referred to these as hallmarks. The four hallmarks are:

  1. A pattern of prayer

  2. A library of learning

  3. A legacy of love

  4. A treasury of testimony

There is nothing so sincere and personal as prayer. When we engage in family prayer, we are able to grow closer to one another.

President Monson shared advice he received from the sealer on the day he and his wife were married:

May I offer you newlyweds a formula which will ensure that any disagreement you may have will last no longer than one day? Every night kneel by the side of your bed. One night, Brother Monson, you offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. The next night you, Sister Monson, offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. I can then assure you that any misunderstanding that develops during the day will vanish as you pray. You simply can’t pray together and retain any but the best of feelings toward one another.”

I have heard variations on this advice in sealings that I've attended. In practicing this, Adam and I have found it to be 100% true. When we pray together, we find ourselves able to work through anything. That helps us grow closer together and ever so happy.

The second hallmark is making your home a library of learning. Pres Monson emphasized the importance of having good books within our libraries. Reading opens up a world of knowledge that we can engage in at any time. This of course includes the standard works.

I would like to add that in our library of learning we should include sharing our talents and interests with each other. Recently my brother and I spent time sharing in our interest in photography. In doing so we were able to learn from each other different ways to create a photograph that represented that point in time. When we take the time to teach and learn from each other, we grow closer together. We feel like the members of family have a vested interest in our lives. We can be happy in knowing our family members care.

The third hallmark is making our home a legacy of love.

Pres Monson shared the following:

When our homes carry the legacy of love, we will not receive Jacob’s chastisement as recorded in the Book of Mormon: “Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you.” (Jacob 2:35.)

Let us not be discouraged by the many newspaper and television accounts of discord—and sometimes cruelty—between companions and assume that virtue has vanished and love’s lamp no longer glows. Two of my dearest friends now lie in poor health and helpless. They are not alone. Their faithful companions minister to them in tender love. My friend Pres, who rarely leaves the side of his wife, said of her, “Christine is weaker but still beautiful. I love her so.” What a noble tribute to fidelity, to love, to marriage!

It is not always easy to express love to each other, often because we don't know how others best feel loved. There is a book by Dr. Gary Chapman that most of you have heard of called the Five Languages of Love. In his book, Chapman breaks down that the 5 languages are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. When we understand how our family members best receive messages of love, we can act accordingly and better achieve that legacy of love that builds a home of happiness.

As we show our love for each other, we can find happiness in the stability of our family.

The fourth and final hallmark is making our home a treasury of testimony.

Pres Monson related the following story:

Some years ago, while visiting the members and missionaries in Australia, I witnessed a sublime example depicting how a treasury of testimony can bless and sanctify a home. The mission president, Horace D. Ensign, and I were traveling the long distance from Sydney to Darwin, where I was to break ground for our first chapel in that city. En route we had a scheduled stop at a mining community named Mt. Isa. As we entered the small airport at Mt. Isa, a woman and her two children approached. She said, “I am Judith Louden, a member of the Church, and these are my two children. We thought you might be on this flight, so we have come to visit with you during your brief stopover.” She explained that her husband was not a member of the Church and that she and the children were indeed the only members in the entire area. We shared lessons and bore testimony.

Time passed. As we prepared to reboard, Sister Louden looked so forlorn, so alone. She pleaded, “You can’t go yet; I have so missed the Church.” Suddenly the loudspeaker announced a thirty-minute mechanical delay of our flight. Sister Louden whispered, “My prayer has just been answered.” She then asked how she might influence her husband to show an interest in the gospel. We counseled her to include him in their home Primary lesson each week and be to him a living testimony of the gospel. I mentioned we would send to her a subscription to The Children’s Friend and additional helps for her family teaching. We urged that she never give up on her husband.

We departed Mt. Isa, a city to which I have never returned. I shall, however, always hold dear in memory that sweet mother and those precious children extending a tear-filled expression and a fond wave of gratitude and good-bye.

Several years later, while speaking at a priesthood leadership meeting in Brisbane, Australia, I emphasized the significance of gospel scholarship in the home and the importance of living the gospel and being examples of the truth. I shared with the men assembled the account of Sister Louden and the impact her faith and determination had made on me. As I concluded, I said, “I suppose I’ll never know if Sister Louden’s husband ever joined the Church, but he couldn’t have found a better model to follow.”

One of the leaders raised his hand, then stood and declared, “Brother Monson, I am Richard Louden. The woman of whom you speak is my wife. The children [his voice quavered] are our children. We are a forever family now, thanks in part to the persistence and the patience of my dear wife. She did it all.” Not a word was spoken. The silence was broken only by sniffles and muffled sobs and marked by the sight of tears streaming from every eye.

Sometimes it is hard for us to share our testimonies, but of all the people we interact with, we should be able to share them with our family. Our families should know of our love for the Savior. If we are not verbally, we should at least visually share our testimonies with our families by acting true to our testimonies. And by living our testimonies, it should bring the spirit into our homes and make them a happy place to dwell.

I hope that we can all do our part to make our homes happy so that we have a safe haven to dwell in when the adversary is all around us.