Whew, last week was busy. It started out on Sunday by hearing a talk on BYU’s radio station featuring Sister Bonnie Parkin, formerly the General Relief Society President of the LDS Church. Her talk was all about having a personal ministry. (see http://www.byub.org/talks/Talk.aspx?id=121) That was a new idea to me. I mean, I always hear of “ministering to the one,” when people talk about Jesus but I had never really connected that to how to do that in my life. She said there are many things we can do quietly as acts of service by following the generous impulses we get. Then I realized the idea wasn’t so new to me. I have witnessed many people throughout my life do kind things not because they are given a church calling or public recognition to do it, but just because they feel like it. I want to be more that way. I am learning it doesn’t have to involve spending money or spending a lot of time. It doesn’t involve making a wedding cake when cupcakes, or even nonedible, but sweet sentiments, will do. It can involve simply smiling at someone, welcoming new people or visitors at church, getting to know your neighbors, making phone calls, and wishing people happy birthday.
Sister Parkin said that her daughter-in-law’s mother was that kind of person. This lady once felt like making a tie for President Kimball out of some silk she had bought. She started taking it over to him but then felt like she was being out of place, giving a homemade tie to the prophet. She decided to give it to him anyway, almost apolegetically, and he told her to never suppress a generous impulse.
That answered a question in my mind. I have been working on family history research. Right now the names that are right before my eyes in my research are not names on my personal ancestry line, but “sideways names” on my family tree. I researched the relations of my fifth great grandfather’s nephew’s wife. So they are in-laws. They are all in Georgia. I found a lot of them as a huge goldmine of names on findagrave.com. They haven’t had their temple work done. I had been wondering if I should submit their names and get their work done. “Never suppress a generous impulse” tells me that it’s OK that I do them. I’m calling the work I do for them part of my personal ministry.
Every week my three oldest children go to the temple to do baptisms to do the family names I’ve been finding. So now I have quite the pile of names to do the rest of the work for. Over a year ago I had the problem of how to find names since my direct line has been a ways back. I like this new problem of having too many names. I decided I would go do some initiatory work at the Bountiful Temple last week. It took some planning and finagling to fit it with my children’s schedule. I originally just thought I would go on Saturday when everybody’s home and either my husband or the older kids could be in charge. Then I remembered I would be gone on Saturday to the Freedom Bowl with my older children. I finally determined the best time to go to the temple would be before I have to pick up my children at their weekly commonwealth school. I haven’t done initiatories in a long time, what with having my baby eighteen months ago. I am getting back into the groove of doing temple work regularly. And best of all, I am doing family names. I love it!
It felt so marvelous to go to the temple in the middle of the day on a Thursday. I have never done that before. Ever. Not even before I had kids. It’s so wonderful to have older children to babysit. Having kids has and having them grow up has opened up my life to new possibilities. I did a dozen names and then went and picked up my two children at their commonwealth school. It feels good to go to the temple more. I am going to make this a habit, now that my baby is eighteen months old and can separate easily.
The day before my girlfriend Shauna called me at 7 AM announcing that she had found a toilet for sale for only $15 on ksl.com. This is my friend whose frugality puts Amy Dacyzyn to shame. This toilet was perfect for the basement she is finishing. She begged me to go buy it for her before someone else nabbed this screaming hot deal since it was only 10 minutes from my home and 45 from hers. It would certainly take some time out of my day but I was happy to help her out. Fetching a toilet can be part of my personal ministry anytime, despite my husband’s jokes.
Saturday I spent nearly all day with my kids at the Freedom Bowl in Salt Lake City. My two older kids won first place (for the third time) and my third child won second place. It was so much fun! Of course I watched some rounds, and that was fun, to see my kids compete, but it was also fun to visit with Shauna, and Aneladee, my girlfriend who helped co-found the Commonwealth School model with Tiffany Earl. Shauna had never met Aneladee and it was so fun to see them visit and talk about remodeling homes and scholar phase. I get a lot of satisfaction from networking, putting people together who I know will just hit it off. I’ve seen it happen in the La Leche League groups that I’ve led as I see moms in my group engage in passionate conversations and arrange visits and now I am seeing it my social life as my circles keep widening.
The previous week my attorney husband and two of my kids participating in the mock trial program had been to my friend Lily’s home to prepare for mock trial. Lily is such a talker that after the practice was over my family stayed till about midnight chatting with her. She is a second generation homeshooler and has an interesting perspective. In fact, it was her mom’s talk at the LDSHEA convention years ago that totally inspired me. So at the Freedom Bowl Lily gets together with my girlfriend Shauna and they find out that Lily used to babysit for Shauna’s sister-in-law Christy once a week when Christy would go to the temple. So that gave them hours of material to talk about. Shauna said that Lily is the first person she has met who could out talk her. Lily had to be practically dragged out of the building by her son when their ride was leaving the event because she wanted to finish telling her story.
At these homeschooling competitions, I like to give my children the best edge. I intervene as I can if I see something that’s not right. It’s not like I am a pushy stage mother, I just like to do my part to make sure they get their best opportunity to show what they know. So I made sure I was there for the training of the judges/volunteer parents. I was told that I couldn’t be a judge since I had children in both divisions, sr. and jr. That was OK. I looked over the schedule and saw that son and daughter’s team was competing against girlfriend Shauna’s daughter’s team the very first match. This was the match of the century, since it was pitting teams who have won first place before against each other. My friend Katie’s husband was put as the judge of that match. He was proclaiming stupidity (he is actually quite smart), saying that he didn’t really want to judge any match since this was the first time. I was willing to have him be a judge, I just didn’t want him judging the most critical match of the tournament. So I spoke up and said it was the most critical match and that I wanted somebody experienced to judge it. So the organizer got the writer of the program to be the judge.
That was a very good thing because Mr. Swain, the writer, remembered to rephrase each question in the match. The rephrasing threw Shauna’s daughter, Lighting Answer Girl, off. Lightening Answer Girl has opposed one or more of my children every year for four years. Two and three years ago she won first place, last year she lost to my two older children. No longer could she rely on her memorized question/answer bank. The kids actually had to listen carefully, not cut the judge off after two words, and think. It was a close match, but my kids won so after that I knew they had won the tournament. Now they can attend AYLI’s Simulations Week for free. Yippee!
Who knows what would have happened if someone else was the judge, someone inexperienced who forgot to rephrase the questions. My kids might have lost. I am learning that these little interventions I can make as a mother matter. I really am not the pushy, bossy type so I do it politely. I am seeing that mothers can make all sorts of interventions, especially homeschool moms. It really does make a difference in your kids’ lives. There are lots of times when I just want to be alone and study and have a break from supervising and intervening and mentoring and phone calling. I am constantly seeing that my kids need me in different ways from when they are babies. When they are babies, I really enjoy breastfeeding and being an attachment parent. Those things are easy to do. As they get older, I am learning that it takes some creativity and thinking and still sacrifice of my free time to make phone calls, do research on classes and scholarships and programs and having mentor meetings to facilitate their achievement. I am liking it. It’s part of my personal ministry as a mom. If I don’t do it for them, who will?
Moms, as the Savior is a tree of life to you, you are the tree of life to your babies. Nobody else can give your baby your milk and a breastfeeding experience, the best and biologically normal start in your life. It’s worth whatever sacrifice it takes. When you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, you are a literal tree of life to them, giving them everything they need for sustenance. That experience can be a model for the rest of your mothering career. As your children get bigger and wean, they don’t need you for your milk but they need you for mentoring. nobody else can mentor them like you can in their education and intervene in their behalf. Being a tree of life to our babies is something we can resist or something we can choose to feel honored about and embrace. It’s actually quite fun, and infinitely more rewarding than any CEO or attorney job, so go for it!