Retiring, but Not from Life

I had always hoped to serve a full-time mission someday with my husband, but unfortunately, when the time came, health problems intervened. I was released from a demanding Church calling. With more time and fewer responsibilities, I felt a bit lost.

I began to refocus my activities. As I did so, I realized that despite my health problems, my goals had not changed. I still wanted to work, to learn, to relax, to develop spiritually, and to serve others. So I began to organize my activities each week so they included a balance of work, learning, and recreation.

When my husband and I went on vacations, we often combined recreation and learning. We learned how to cut the costs of lodging and food so that we could afford to buy tickets to selected events. And we found many points of interest with little or no admission charge. On one vacation, for the price of the gasoline, we drove to the Pacific Ocean, where we watched gray whales spout and dive as they migrated from north to south.

When my husband passed away two years ago, I made further adjustments to my life; but I still continue to enjoy many of the activities we enjoyed together.

I pruned the trees and shrubs in our yard—and enjoyed its neater appearance. Our dwarf peach tree responded by producing beautiful fruit, which I froze for winter eating. I planted a garden in a small space with little sun. It proved challenging but rewarding; I had carrots and potatoes nearly all winter, and enough tomatoes to share with my neighbors.

I have taken the time to learn more about art, philosophy, and literature, as well as the scriptures and other writings of the prophets.

A new computer has enriched my life as I unlocked its mysteries and set up a computerized household budget that helps me keep my needs and wants within my financial means.

I have also learned to enjoy doing simple things—visiting with neighbors, going to the temple, attending community cultural events with friends, or attending institute and college classes. I also enjoy family dinners and being with my grandchildren.

Through all this, I have learned that retiring from a job or being released from a demanding Church calling does not mean retiring from life. We can have purpose and direction in our lives at any stage if we make an effort to balance work, learning, and recreation.Arlene Flanders, Ogden, Utah

Creating Quiet Occasions

After young Joseph Smith’s first vision, he returned to his home, where it was calm enough that his mother noticed a difference about Joseph. As I read that passage, I wondered if I would notice a difference in my child if he or she had had a spiritual experience. Joseph recorded that he studied the scriptures at home. That was where he read the admonition in James 1:5 and received the inspiration to pray. I wondered if my children feel the inspiration of the Holy Ghost when they study the scriptures at home. And after the angel Moroni appeared to him, Joseph went to his father, who was working in the fields, and shared the experience with him. Again I wondered if my children would be comfortable sharing spiritual thoughts and feelings with me. (See JS—H 1:11, 20, 49–50.)

President David O. McKay said, “It is possible to make home a bit of heaven; indeed, I picture heaven to be a continuation of the ideal home.” (Gospel Ideals, Salt Lake City: The Improvement Era, 1953, p. 490.) Of course, homes filled with children are filled with sounds—that is part of raising a family. But as I thought about it, I realized that I have usually received inspiration or the answer to a prayer when I was in a quiet place and a quiet mood. Inspiration has come while I have been doing dishes, showering, rocking a baby, preparing lessons, participating in family home evening, doing my personal study. These are all quiet times. It became clear to me that we must nurture quiet, peaceful intervals in our homes where the Spirit of the Lord can be encouraged and enjoyed.

Here are some changes we have made in our family to encourage the Spirit of the Lord to dwell in our home so that we can create peaceful intervals.

  1. 1.

    We try not to let our children fight and quarrel. (See Mosiah 4:14–15.) This usually means we have to leave what we are doing and go to them. As part of the process of ending the disagreement, we try to teach them how to solve the problem themselves.

  2. 2.

    We have no double standard of guidelines for television watching in our home. If a show is inappropriate for youth, it’s off limits for us also.

  3. 3.

    We try to apply a guideline that we cannot talk to another family member unless we are both in the same room. This eliminates shouting, which unfortunately can otherwise become the normal tone of voice for communicating in the home. This also prevents us from yelling for someone who cannot answer or who might not even be home.

  4. 4.

    We have regular family home evenings and family councils. This is an important key in creating a gospel-oriented family. This is also where we formally teach our children from the scriptures and where, many times, they teach us.

  5. 5.

    We do not hesitate to let our children see us using the scriptures. Children need to see us as parents relying on the word of the Lord when trying to solve family problems. They need to be comfortable discussing spiritual things with us.

  6. 6.

    Stereos, radios, and televisions must be listened to quietly. Of course, there are exceptions, but as a general rule, this one guideline helps tremendously.

Home can be a wonderful environment to learn the gospel and to cultivate the Spirit of the Lord. As parents, we need to design our homes around this goal. We cannot leave this sacred responsibility to chance.Julie Cannon Markham, Houston, Texas

Home Is Where Family History Is

As I listened to Lydia, an elderly relative, tell stories of our ancestors, I knew I had come across a vein of gold. But when she led me to a spare bedroom, I found the mother lode. Lydia had turned the room into a small museum. It had oil paintings by family members hanging on the walls. There was a cobbler set and a brass bed that our pioneer ancestors had brought across the plains. The closet was filled with pioneer clothes, and several drawers contained important documents and photographs.

I decided to follow Lydia’s example in my own home so that our heritage would be an integral part of our family’s life. We didn’t have an extra room, and I had few items to put into my family history “museum” when I started—but my collection is growing.

In two bookcases, I display all of my family history books and records. These records include family journals and biographies, my mission scrapbooks, my personal-history audio- and video-cassette tapes. I have about fifty items. I display family mementos here as well. When one of our children makes a gift for my wife or me, I put it in a place of honor for everyone to see.

I also have boxes that I have divided into two categories: distant past and recent past. In the distant-past chests are items of interest from our extended family. These include my mother’s roller skates, my father’s catcher’s mitt, my grandfather’s World War I doughboy helmet, and the police whistle Grandpa used as a deputy sheriff in the early part of the century.

In the recent-past chests, I have mementos from my life: my first baseball mitt and bat, a stuffed doll my grandmother made of socks, and my first toy gun and holster. Each of my children has his of her own chest; we add special items as he or she outgrows them.

I display the finer items in my collection in various places throughout our home. My ancestors had two main homesteads—one in Payson, Utah, and the other in Dedham, Massachusetts. Both homes have been depicted on china plates, in drawings, and in oil paintings. I have our plates on display in our dining room. I hung drawings of the homes on the wall in our family room, next to a sketch of my great-grandfather John B. Fairbanks that was drawn by his artist son. In my living room are two prints of oil paintings by John B. (who was one of Utah’s first native-born artists), and on the bookshelves in my office I have my grandmother’s sewing machine and my grandfather’s hand-crank adding machine.

I want to use my “museum” to share with my children as much knowledge of their heritage as possible. I want to give them what I wanted as a youth—a tie to my past. I want them to feel the excitement I felt when I walked into that spare bedroom long ago and found Lydia’s gold mine of family history.Martin Fairbanks, Salt Lake City, Utah

[photos] Photography by Phil Shurtleff