Newsmaker: Joyful Motherhood

Roberta Lynn Lawler, a 38-year-old mother of six, recently was selected National Mother of Young Children from a group of mothers representing states across America during the 1995 American Mothers Convention.

The youngest of five children, Roberta was born to Robert and Mildred Henry, who ran a Masonic school and home for children in Covina, California. She says, however, that her family seemed much larger. “I grew up with about 150 other children. We ate with them in a huge dorm hall. I learned to share. … I just assumed that my parents could love everybody and that I just happened to be their child,” she said.

Sister Lawler relates that, as a child, she learned many lessons of life in the children’s home. There was a policy that a child who found the lost possession of another child and returned it would receive a candy bar as a reward. “A friend and I took a toy, went back to the sandlot, buried the toy, then later dug it up and took it to the office to get a candy bar. I started to feel bad. I hid my candy bar. Later that afternoon, I went crying to my mother.” Roberta related to her mother what had happened; her mother hugged her and took her to the office where she could begin the process of repenting. Sister Lawler never forgot this incident that her mother turned into a teaching moment on not only honesty but also the positive results of true repentance.

Sister Lawler studied at Brigham Young University, where she received a degree in communications. It was there she met her husband, William F. Lawler. In the Church, Sister Lawler serves as regional public affairs media specialist for her area. The family attends the Waterville Ward, Bangor Maine Stake. Brother Lawler serves as stake president.

In raising their children—Rebecca, age fifteen; Wesley, thirteen; Matthew, eleven; Carrie, nine; Christina, seven; and Daniel, five—Sister Lawler says there have been challenges, but a key is to have joy, which “makes all the difference in the self-esteem of children. They have a more positive outlook on life,” she said. Her husband describes her as “a champion for her children” and says that even with the added demands on her time and the duties associated with the award, she is still able to do things that make their home a happy place.

“She is a natural choice for this award. She is a natural ambassador for mothers and for women in general,” President Lawler said. “The best quality about her is that she tries to make being a mother enjoyable. She is a good teacher, and when she teaches the children, they listen because it is interesting.”

Much of her ability as a mother is due to the example she received from her mother. “My mother was so good to me, and I’ve learned from that,” she said.

Sister Lawler is active in the local Parent Teacher Organization, is cofounder of a local Parent-Involvement Arena group, is a parent advocate for the Maine Advocacy Services for learning-disabled students (inspired by a concern about her own child’s reading difficulties), and has taught art appreciation at local schools.

[photo] Photo by Elm City Photo, Inc.

Serving as a Daughter

When Kathy Schultz was called as homemaking counselor in the Socorro Ward, Albuquerque New Mexico Stake, she had no idea what she was getting herself into. Within days, she’d received information about an upcoming stake share fair, along with instructions about her ward’s assignments, which included providing displays, a menu and meal, a class leader, instruction and kit for a mini-class, table settings, and a centerpiece.

The task might have been daunting for anybody, but Kathy has additional challenges. Struck by spinal muscular atrophy, she last walked when she was eleven years old. She uses a battery-operated wheelchair and is dependent on her husband and others for help in meeting many of her needs, but she has some control over small movements close to her body, such as combing her hair, writing and typing, and holding her two-year-old son, Ammon.

As Kathy contemplated the upcoming share fair, she pondered how she could fulfill her calling. “Even though I am disabled,” she explains, “I am not too disabled to do the Lord’s work. I may not be able to stand or walk, but I can serve as a daughter of God.”

First, she went to the Lord in prayer, explaining that she was inexperienced in her calling but willing to learn and grow. Immediately ideas started forming in her head. She wrote them down, then went to a folder of material she had been given some days earlier. There were more ideas there.

As the day for the share fair neared, Kathy learned of additional matters requiring her attention. But she found the pieces fitting together. Assignments were made, recipes came to her, projects were completed.

“If we allow the Lord to help us and inspire us, he will do so,” she says. “We have to make up our mind to do our best to fulfill our callings and then, if we let him be our partner, he’ll take us by the hand and lead us along.” Kathy’s example, quiet dependence on the Spirit, and commitment to the gospel inspire all those who interact with her.Martha S. Hatch, Socorro, New Mexico

Understanding through Music

David and Teresa Doolittle likely will never see the name “Condor” in lights. But they do often find the name of their two-member multicultural band scratched in crayon on a sidewalk. The audiences for the duet’s performances are relatively small—under five feet tall on the average. But to more than fifty thousand California schoolchildren, Condor ranks right up there with their favorite cartoon and peanut butter sandwiches.

Members of the Twenty Nine Palms Ward in the Yucca Valley California Stake, Brother and Sister Doolittle have played at hundreds of schools throughout California. Their “Musical Tour of Latin America” program doesn’t just entertain. While the children listen to fascinating music, they also learn about caring for the environment, the need for understanding and appreciating different cultures, world geography, positive thinking, and how nature plays an important role in the music of societies throughout the world. By the end of the program, children have seen more than twenty-five rare and historic instruments and heard tales of South American and Native American folklore. They might also have learned how to make a Pan flute from soda straws.

“We want to bring peace and understanding through music and culture,” says Sister Doolittle, a native of Uruguay. “Everything we say and do on stage is meant to present young people with a positive image and a positive message.”

Brother Doolittle plays more than a dozen instruments, but since he was nine years old, the guitar has been his favorite. “I have always felt that music has a profound effect on people,” he explains. “We’ve seen the negative effect all too often. Teresa and I want to create beautiful music.”John St. Ray, Joshua Tree, California

In the Spotlight

  • Mark Freeman, a member of the Lehi Eighth Ward, Mesa Arizona Lehi Stake, was recently honored as Arizona’s Firefighter of the Year. Brother Freeman, a firefighter for almost fifteen years, earned the award for saving the life of Shane Hill, another Church member, while the two were at Boy Scout camp.

  • Donna McLeod was presented with a Government of Canada Certificate of Appreciation for her nurturing role demonstrated at home and in the community. Sister McLeod, a member of the Thunder Bay Ward, Duluth Minnesota Stake, is actively involved in community service and was nominated for the award by a member of parliament.

  • Idaho Second District Representative Mike Crapo has been elected a member of the United States House Republican leadership and will serve as Sophomore Class Leader. Brother Crapo, a member of the Pioneer Ward, Eagle Rock Idaho Stake, is serving his second term in Congress.