Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Talking in Church
Ok. I know it's supposed to make us all feel better, but if it really worked, we wouldn't get nervous when speaking in public, right?
In our church, responsibilities are filled by ordinary church members. Even speaking assignments.
So why do people say, "yes" to church service?
I think the answer is individual, but for me personally (and I think a lot of other people who serve) the idea that we are blessed and given so much is a compelling reason to reach out of our comfort zones and give back.
Our family's experience with church service has shown us that we give all we have...talents, abilities (and even lack of abilities) and God makes up the difference. I'm amazed at how he can take whatever offering we make, and turn it into something amazing.
So a few weeks ago when a member of our bishopric (one of our local leaders) asked Tim and me if our family would talk in church, we joked a lot about having the shortest church meeting ever, but agreed to participate. He asked us to focus on the subject of forever families, and asked us to share some of the experiences of our family.
Getting ready was an interesting process. First we threw out the idea to the kids. We told them they all had their choice, but said we really wanted the other three to participate. Ironically, the youngest two were the most willing.
(Isn't naiveté great?)
Each child came up with ideas for their own talks. The youngest ones dictated to me while I typed, and as they practiced and had new ideas, they made modifications. It was inspiring to me that all the ideas were their own, and I was proud of them all for speaking from their hearts and sharing with others the importance of families in the plan of our Heavenly Father.
And even though they had all been willing, the anxiety level around our house on Saturday and Sunday was intense.
Nate re-wrote his entire talk.
Megan lost the print out of her talk.
Jeran walked around the house trying out jokes on all of us that he could use in his talk.
Joie hid under the blanket and didn't want anyone to hear her speaking. Then she wanted to change her talk last minute. I told her she could back out if she changed her mind. She didn't.
Gabby asked the night before if they ever let people hide while they're speaking. I told her I hadn't heard of that happening, and told her she didn't have to do this if she didn't want to. She said, "No, that's ok. But wouldn't it be great if they had a way to hide the people who are talking?" Then right before getting in the car she said, "I'm gonna puke!" She didn't, and even after being told several times she didn't have to do this, she did.
They all went first, and did a fabulous job, so there was no excuse for Tim and I backing out...although I loved Gabby's idea of hiding or running to the bathroom.
Here's a sketch of what Tim and I shared shared in church. I'm going to do individual blogs with the text of each of the kids' talks. They did an amazing job, and I love their words so much I don't want to leave anything out!
Tim talked about "tender mercies" of the Lord in guiding and giving us strength when we've needed it. He shared the experience of adopting Megan so shortly after Jeran was born. Jeran was born six weeks prematurely, and had only been home from the hospital for a week when we got a call from Megan's extended family about adopting her. Our response? "We already have a baby."
Tim discussed the process of changing our minds and hearts to what we felt the Lord wanted us to do at that time in our family. Of course we ended up bringing Megan into our lives, which has been an incredible blessing, and opened the door to our other adoption opportunities.
He also talked about how we use daily prayer, scripture study, and the Family Home Evening program to strengthen our family and to help our children be strong in a world that constantly pulls at them to be pulled away from family and family values.
I talked about Lilo and Stitch. Yes, the Disney film. Now you all know my comfort zone. I'm a mom. I work with children in both church and professional life. 'Nuff said.
I talked about Stitch's quote, "This is my family. I found it, all on my own. It's little, and broken, but still good." I talked about the word, "broken" and used references from Jeffery R. Holland's talk, "Broken Things to Mend," and talked about how all families can feel a little broken sometimes through things like sickness, financial problems, divorce, death, injuries, abuse, addictions, etc. I talked about how the Savior lifts our burdens when we feel "broken" and how he has done that in our family.
I talked about the immediate comforts we felt after Joie's family died, and how those comforts carried us through difficult times, and have mended our family, even when the challenges seemed impossible. We've been so blessed.
Then I talked about the quote from Lilo and Stitch, "Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten."
I shared how we started feeling last year like someone was missing in our family. Our search lead us to Gabriella Pallavi, and we have felt the same peace in bringing her into our family that we felt with the addition of Megan and Joie. The adjustments are tempered with an understanding of healing, and the ability of the Savior to heal all of us, no matter what we've been through.
Mostly, we're thankful for the opportunity.
I learned how strong our children can be.
I loved the insights into their thinking about families as they shared their own experiences.
I loved sharing this growing experience as a family.
And I loved the opportunity to do something challenging together that helped us grow closer and ponder on (and articulate) the blessings of being in families.
We are blessed.