It is a very humbling experience to stand at this pulpit and look out over this audience of devoted Relief Society leaders, to share with you my feelings about the great work for which we all have responsibility.
Recently at a fast meeting I was impressed with the testimonies that were expressed: the bishop’s appreciation for his dear wife and her support; the young girl, home from a summer job; the family that had joined in fasting together for a sick mother; the young boy, grateful for daddy, mommy, and little sister; the young girl who had found her testimony during her summer experience. Each one expressed gratitude for home, parents, and family.
How precious family ties and home should be to each of us!
Today we are surrounded by forces that would destroy home and family. These forces would attack one of the most sacred principles of the gospel—the eternal nature of the home and the family. The scriptures are replete with admonitions and direct commandments to parents to establish homes of righteousness, to teach and train their children in the ways of the Lord, to prepare family members, individually and as a unit, that they may be worthy to return to God’s presence.
Family preparedness has ever had its roots deep within the culture of a Latter-day Saint home. In this time of worldly concern its importance cannot be overemphasized. The responsibility to achieve this goal lies, in a large measure, upon the shoulders of the homemaker.
Family preparedness not only includes the physical aspects of home living but must include the spiritual as well.
A clean, well-ordered, happy home provides the climate where love and peace abide, where family members find refuge from the troubled world about them, and where their spirits may be uplifted and renewed.
The role of the homemaker becomes a challenging, complex, and rewarding vocation as she strives daily to strengthen and fortify her household through family preparedness. Time is of the essence. So few years are allowed us to teach and train our children that every experience with them becomes a precious teaching moment.
It has been aptly said that every home has a body and a spirit. Perhaps we might carry this thought further and add that the physical structure—the material components of food, clothing, and shelter—make up the body; while the faith, devotion, attitudes, feelings, purposes, and love which prevail within the home make up the spirit. Each is important to a happy family circle. To achieve satisfactory accomplishments in both areas requires proficiency in many skills.
In Proverbs 3:17, we read: “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” [Prov. 3:17] How fortunate is the family whose homemaker has a cheerful countenance, a ready smile, a willing hand, a tidy, attractive appearance, and a grateful heart; who is thankful for the blessings of womanhood, for the privilege given her by her Heavenly Father to serve her family in this greatest of all womanly professions, and whose home reflects and radiates such a spirit.
Cleanliness and order would be a basic characteristic of such a home. Confusion and disorder are strangers to its doors. Size, shape, color, and cost are of little consequence, for even the humblest house, if clean and neat, has the foundation for a happy home to which family members point with pride, where friends and relatives love to gather. To cross its threshold is to know a bit of heaven.
Perhaps the one skill of the homemaker which draws the fullest appreciation from all family members is the ability to cook. Every household (family) has the right to expect nutritious, delicious, satisfying meals as a part of their daily living. Is there anything which can draw a family closer together than gathering around the family table to enjoy good food?
A friend’s young son announced proudly to his mother that he planned to be a millionaire. “Now, how are you going to do that?” she asked him.
“I am going to bottle the smell of your homemade bread. Everyone will want to buy that,” he replied.
Yes, the very smell of home baked bread, the appetizing flavor of freshly baked pies, the aroma of savory soup, a casserole brought steaming from the oven can brighten the atmosphere of any home. In this day of rising food costs one can hardly afford the luxury of extravagance and waste in food buying and preparation. Home cooking has become a necessity.
It is important in family preparedness to acquire the skill of home sewing. One may not wish to make her own clothes, but it is important to know how so that in case of an emergency the needs of the family can be met. It is exciting to take a simple piece of fabric and produce something lovely through the efforts of one’s own hands. The homemaker has only to read the cost labels on children’s and adults’ clothing to be persuaded quickly to try her hand at sewing. I have found great pleasure and loving rewards from sewing for myself, my family, and friends.
From the beginning of time, women have been instructed to be frugal and wise in their home management. Today the use of a budget and the keeping of records is almost as necessary as the income earned. Many homes throughout our Church could be made happier and more secure if the homemakers would resolve never to let their yearnings exceed their earnings.
Another important factor in family preparedness is learning to use one’s own time wisely. Homemaking today is far different than in our grandmother’s or mother’s time. We live in a mobile civilization. Although modern conveniences have replaced the laborious, time-consuming tasks of yesteryears, there are still demands on the homemaker’s time from every facet of living.
Perhaps we should reevaluate our needs and values and try to simplify the lives of family members so that more time may be devoted to the spiritual areas of family preparedness.
It is the homemaker who must build the spirit of the home. Here she reflects the basic spiritual qualities she would teach her family, such as honesty, truthfulness, self-control, loyalty, compassion, kindness, courage, and devotion to the gospel. Here by precept and example she helps to build faith in the hearts of her children to fortify them against the forces of evil which pull at them from every side. Here she teaches them to seek after those things of eternal consequence, ever mindful of the words of President Kimball that “security is not born of inexhaustible wealth but of unquenchable faith.”
One of the most important duties of the homemaker in promoting family preparedness is to teach, to train, to pass on to her daughters the homemaking skills which her own training and experience have taught her. Every young woman deserves to begin her own home prepared with at least a knowledge of the basic skills required for every needful household task.
The Prophet Joseph Smith, in turning the key in behalf of women, opened the door to learning, not only in the academic and theological areas but also in the homemaking pursuits of women. Now, through the homemaking program of Relief Society, every Latter-day Saint woman can be instructed and strengthened in the important responsibility of homemaking and family preparedness.
You, my dear sisters, as Relief Society leaders, must ever keep before the sisters over whom you preside the high calling and privilege of womanhood, the blessings of joyful home living, and the sanctity of the home. Make them aware by your precept and example that Relief Society stands ever ready and able to provide the help, the instruction, and inspection they need to fulfill their obligations to themselves and their families.