When the bishop asked if I'd speak in church today, I was mostly excited. A room full of people listening to what I have to say can be pretty thrilling for an attention hog like myself. Today I'd like to say a few things about the gospel in my life and in our home. Matt and I definitely try to do the things we know we should be doing - such as FHE, family scripture study & prayer, but we're not perfect, and maybe that's why this particular topic was assigned to me because we needed a push to be better. And thank goodness the gospel of Jesus Christ constantly allows us to better ourselves and to try harder, and encourages us to be better than we were yesterday. There are a few specific things that bring the spirit and gospel to our home, and I'd like to speak on those today. And as I speak to you today, please know that it's with humility and from a place of learning because I truly believe we are all in this together.
The gospel is a living entity in my life. Some days it's on top of it's to-do list and everything gets done with big smiles and lots of energy, and other days it tries really hard and then takes a nap. The gospel in my life and in our home can only function as well as I (and Matt and I) am functioning, but as long as we are actively trying our best each day I know the Lord is proud of us and appreciates our time and our efforts that go toward his kingdom here on the earth.
Honesty , truth and integrity are very important to our family. I don't think you can truly call yourself a mormon unless you've heard a story about a stolen candy bar, and how honesty was learned by returning to the store and making things right. What a great lesson for children and adults alike to learn because we need people with high moral compasses in our world. I, however, am referring to a deeper sense of honesty and what is meant by living with integrity. We matter to God. We matter to our Savior Jesus Christ, and we matter to the people who love us. I think it's important to know WHO I am as a person and how I can honestly share that with my husband, my children, my family, my ward family, and my world family. The home should be a very safe, loving place, and having the spirit of Christ dwell within our homes encourages the safety that we need to be honest. I need to share what things am I proud of, what makes me happy, what makes me upset, ashamed, embarrassed. What specific moments have built my testimony, or the times I've felt God in my life. What are some of my deepest regrets, or temptations that plague me personally in this life. LDS.org states "being honest often requires courage" I can't think of anything more courageous (and terrifying) than sharing your whole self with another person. In an Ensign article in 1990, President Gordon B Hinckley said "Those who are living the principle of honesty know that the Lord does bless them. Theirs is the precious right to hold their heads in the sunlight of truth, unashamed before any man." I love that he paints such a beautiful picture for us in holding our heads in the sunlight of truth. I also think a keyword from that quote is "unashamed." Shame is a tool used by Satan to make us feel less-than. We need to pay attention to shame. Shame is different than guilt. While guilt is a painful feeling of regret and responsibility for one’s actions that often leads us to repentance and change, shame is a painful feeling about oneself as a person. It damages self-esteem and self-worth, and we should work to keep shame out of our homes and our lives. True honesty means being able to share our weaknesses and our struggles just as much as we share our joys and our triumphs with those we love and the lord. Honesty creates a safe haven for family members. The Lord loves when we are honest with him and ourselves. Matt and I have worked very hard in our marriage on these concepts. I never feel afraid to approach Matt if I'm struggling with something or if I have questions or concerns, and I believe he feels the same. And, as I quoted President Hinckley before, I've seen how the Lord has blessed us, because he does bless us. Now that we've entered the parenthood stage of our lives, I only hope that we can instill the quality of honesty and integrity in our son (and future children) and always welcome it into our home. And when we fail to be the best example, which we will because we are human and imperfect, we can always look to Christ as the best example. David A Bednar wrote in a New Era article in 2005 that "People of integrity and honesty not only practice what they preach, they are what they preach. And the Savior stands as the finest example." That is so very true, brothers and sisters. We owe it to ourselves, to each other, and to our loving Heavenly Father to be a more honest people. To find strength in integrity.
Now in conjunction with honesty, I believe education is important for all of us. We need to educate our children, but we as adults have a responsibility to further our education as well. We need as much education and learning as we can hold in our big 'ol brains. Proverbs 1:5 says "A wise (person) will hear, and will increase learning..." In Alma 37:35 it reads "O, Remember my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth, yea, learn in they youth to keep the commandments of God." in D&C 93: 53 it reads "And, verily I say unto you, that it is my will that you should obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man, and all this for the salvation of Zion." The Lord expects us to learn, and not just in formal schooling. He says multiple times through-out the scriptures that we need to learn his gospel, study it, ask questions about it, and come to understand and love it. We are question asking people, and we should be asking questions with faith that the Lord will answer those questions. We need to be creating homes of learning. In Deuteronomy 11:19 - "And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." We should be discussing gospel topics every day in our home, and how it relates to everything we do as Latter Day Saints. In April 2010 General Conference, M Russell Ballard said ""In these last days it is essential—even critical—that parents and children listen to and learn from one another." We have a lot to teach each other. And we have a lot to learn. And it is a great time to be a mormon! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is being talked about by non-members all over the world, and we should be taking advantage! Let us teach and show the reasons why we love the Gospel of Jesus Christ, why we choose to live it, and how we are trying to make the world a better place. Along with learning about the gospel, we need to study the world. Doctrine and Covenants tells us we should study history, and countries and laws of man. When we can relate to people and form real relationships, they'll be more interested in what we have to say. We should be learning all that we can so we can better serve our fellow beings. Matt and I constantly have discussions about gospel topics, world topics, and often how they relate to each other. I'm usually the question asker - and he's usually the one that answers (or we find the answers together.) We are never done learning and it'd be good to remember that.
Now the glue that keeps all of us together, that allows us to be honest and true while we seek learning, is love. Christ-like Love that permeates our hearts and souls. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said in a Gen Conf address "Love is what inspired our Heavenly Father to create our spirits; it is what led our Savior to the Garden of Gethsemane to make Himself a ransom for our sins. Love is the grand motive of the plan of salvation; it is the source of happiness, the ever-renewing spring of healing, the precious fountain of hope. As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit."
I believe in love. I cannot stand here today without thanking my heavenly father, my savior Jesus Christ, my husband, my son, my parents & in laws, and this ward for the love that has been given to me. True Christ-like love changes the world. It changes us. It makes us better people, better servants, better parents and friends. Love embraces honesty and education and real relationships, while pushing away shame and sorrow and regret. Love is kind, love is acceptance, love is Christ. I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, is alive on this earth, and is available for all of us who choose to embrace it. Our home is not always tidy and we don't always do what we should, but we do try our best to love each other and include God in our decisions and our daily life, which invites the spirit to dwell within our home.