Saturday, November 1, 2014

Self-Reliance

Tomorrow afternoon, I'll be teaching the lesson What does it mean to be self-reliant? to my Mia Maid class. It is a great lesson and chock-full of very helpful and inspiring information!

I've been taught self-reliance throughout my entire life, so this idea is nothing new to me. :) Now, I hope I can say this next part without sounding prideful because it's certainly not my intent... I am greatly pleased that Greg and I have done everything within our power to be self-reliant. That previous statement sounds funny to say because we're together in our self-reliance! Should we call it couple-reliant?! Ha ha.

Anyway, Greg's and my desire to remain self-reliant is probably one of the main reasons we've moved so many times. Well, that, and our desire to have me continue as a stay-at-home mom. Yes, we've gone to great lengths to live our lives self-reliantly and honorably.

Although Greg and I have never had to ask for government or church assistance (my church has an amazing welfare program: The Church Welfare Plan, A Mission of Self-Reliance and Service), there have been two times in our marriage when Greg and I chose to borrow money from extended family members to get us through a financial rough patch.

Thankfully, we absolutely paid back every penny to our generous family members! I'd like to point out that we could have made ends meet without their assistance, but they were kind enough to help us out with an interest-free loan, and we will be forever grateful for their generosity! :)

D&C 104:78 is direct and to the point about our debts—this is our Savior "talking" to us:
78 And again, verily I say unto you, concerning your debts—behold it is my will that you shall pay all your debts.
It doesn't get much clearer than that, does it?! Thus, I'm grateful again that Greg and I have done our best to stay out of debt. Granted, we're currently paying off Greg's MBA student loan, and the mortgage on our home will be there for the next 25 years(!), and we're still recovering financially from our move in 2013 (it's been hard recovering this time!), but we're whittling away our debts every month, and I know eventually we'll get our balances back to zero! :)

One of the lovely talks I read for this lesson is Strengthening Future Mothers, by Susan W. Tanner. Here are three of my favorite paragraphs from her talk, emphasis added:
"Homemaking skills are becoming a lost art. I worry about this. When we lose the homemakers in a society, we create an emotional homelessness much like street homelessness, with similar problems of despair, drugs, immorality, and lack of self-worth.  In a publication called The Family in America, Bryce Christensen writes that the number of homeless people on the street 'does not begin to reveal the scope of homelessness in America. For since when did the word home signify merely physical shelter, or homelessness merely the lack of such shelter? … Home [signifies] not only shelter, but also emotional commitment, security, and belonging. Home has connoted not just a necessary roof and warm radiator, but a place sanctified by the abiding ties of wedlock, parenthood, and family obligation; a place demanding sacrifice and devotion, but promising loving care and warm acceptance.' 
"So we must teach homemaking skills, including practical ones such as cooking, sewing, budgeting, and beautifying. We must let young women know that homemaking skills are honorable and can help them spiritually as well as temporally. Making a home appealing physically will encourage loved ones to want to be there and will help create the kind of atmosphere that is conducive to the Spirit."
"My best and most consistent example in learning the joys of homemaking and mothering was my own mother. She told me many times every day how much she treasured being a mother and homemaker, and then she lived those words in every action. She sang as she folded laundry; she exulted over the clean smell in a freshly scrubbed bathroom; she taught me how to read and write, sew and cook, love and serve. Because she emanated the Spirit and the fruits of love, joy, peace, meekness, long-suffering, and temperance, I felt it, and I knew I wanted the same things in my life (see Gal. 5:22–23). Her example continues to teach me daily."
I couldn't agree more with Susan! I love her words!

While I'm always trying my best to be a good/happy mother and homemaker, I know there is more I can do to step-up my game, and I will do it—whatever it may be! :) *That said, I will continue taking good care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually, for I know I'm a better wife, mother and homemaker when I feel fulfilled, uplifted and happy inside.

Yes, women must always fill their buckets first, so they are able to endlessly give the water needed to their family members and others in society. :)

Speaking of being a good homemaker, I just stumbled across a video of President Obama speaking in Rhode Island titled President Obama Speaks On Women and the Economy. Sadly, I was completely disappointed (and frankly appalled) at his words from 13:34 through 14:34:
"In many states, sending your child to daycare costs more than sending them to a public university. True? And too often, parents have no choice but to put their kids in cheaper daycare that maybe doesn't have the kinds of programming, uh, that makes a big difference in a child's development, but, you know, and sometimes, there may just not be any slots, or, the best programs may be too far away. 
"And sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. That's not a choice we want Americans to make.
"So, let's make this happen, by the end of this decade, let's enroll six million children in high quality preschool. And let's make sure we are making America stronger. That's good for families..."
Um, no, President Obama, I completely disagree! Granted, I'm not disagreeing that preschool is a good idea because preschool is great for kids—I love preschool for all children! That said, I feel strongly that moms (or dads) need to be home with their children before and after preschool. Daycare is not the answer!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Children grow up and move-on. We only get to care for our children for such a short period of time! We must enjoy our children and raise them while they need us! Sorry to be repetitive, but daycare is not the answer! (Unless there is truly no other option.) Then, when our children are grown and gone, we can absolutely go back into the workplace—it's not going anywhere, it will still be there when we want to return!

I completely and fully intend to return to working outside our home when my youngest child is ready to venture out on his own. In fact, my patriarchal blessing talks about the career I will have one day. It's pretty specific, so I'm very interested to see where I end up in my career when my children have left my lovely little nest. :)

Yes, I strongly believe that self-reliance absolutely applies to raising our children ourselves, instead of depending on babysitters, nannies, daycare, or other private/government programs to do the job that our Heavenly Father intended us to do as parents! Seriously, how do so many people not understand this, or choose to ignore it?

What really irked me is President Obama's implication that money is somehow more important than mothers caring for their own children. I can't believe he doesn't want American women leaving the workplace to care for their children because they'll earn a lower wage for the rest of their lives. Seriously?!

Sorry for my tangent-rant...I'm just very passionate about mothers being there for their children. :)

In the book True to the Faith, there's a section on welfare. It points out so many good things, but my favorite paragraph is this,
In order to become self-reliant, you must be willing to work. The Lord has commanded us to work (see Genesis 3:19; D&C 42:42). Honorable work is a basic source of happiness, self-worth, and prosperity.
See? I'm not against work! I'm simply for mothers working inside and around their homes—having their family be their greatest joy and most important priority! :) *Again, I know it's not always possible for mothers to stay at home with their children. I understand when single mothers or married mothers must work outside the home because there is truly no other choice to keep their family financially afloat.

That said, I continually wonder how often women work to provide for the extra$ of life? Could women do more with less? Julie Beck said in her amazing (and somewhat controversial) 2007 talk Mothers Who Know (emphasis added),
"Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all..."
I cannot state enough how much I completely agree with Julie! I loved her words when I first heard her talk, and I love them even more today! She was truly inspired when she wrote them. :)

If only President Obama could have an inkling of Julie Beck's beautiful understanding, he would not have said what he did. He would understand that, just like Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:" Truly! There is plenty of time for women to raise their babies and later have their careers. Life is long, and we will have many years to make money, but we only get 18 years with our darling children!

To finish up this post, here are the handouts I created for my Mia Maids. I hope they like them because I love them! :)



*Update: 11/10/14
For a follow-up of this post, please read A Follow-up to President Obama's Speech on Women and the Economy.

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