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Don’t Whisper Softly

Elle’s birthday was last Monday. She turned 12 years old!

12th Headshot

As we considered what we could do to celebrate Elle’s 12th birthday, lyrics from one of my brother’s songs came into my mind.

“Don’t whisper softly the things that you want loudly to be.”

I have thought about this powerful message many times over the years, especially in regards to parenting.  This time I thought about what I wanted “loudly to be” in Elle’s life, and I knew what we should do.

I wanted her to go to the temple on her birthday.

I wanted her to know how important I think the temple is and how special it is — so special that we couldn’t even wait a day.  It took a few phone calls and some planning to pull off a temple trip on her actual birthday, but I wanted her to know, out of all the excitement of turning 12, being able to go to the temple was the most exciting of all.

I wanted the quiet temple to be a loud part of her youth.

(See, in Mormonland, you have to be 12 before you can go inside the temple.  Up until this time we read about temples, talk about temples, sing about temples, and we even visit the temple grounds, but the kids can’t go inside. 12 is so significant because that is when they can start participating in some of the ordinances of the temple themselves.)

Elle’s birthday came, and she was so excited. I was excited too.  She had packed her bag with great care the night before. Dad took part of the day off to go with us. Grandma watched the younger kids for us so we could enjoy the day together. The closest temple (open on a Monday) was the Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, so we headed out early. The weather was beautiful.

elle temple collage_Fotor

We brought some names my sister had given us. These are people for which we would get baptized. The workers were so nice to us and everyone we talked to commented on Elle’s hair.  She felt beautiful and special. We dressed in white and went down to the baptismal font. We got to watch others be baptized first.  Then it was our turn. Chad got to baptize and confirm us both.

(To find out more about baptisms in the temple, you can read here and here.)

Image

After the temple, we went to lunch at the Garden Restaurant.  Grandpa Randy joined us since he works right on Temple Square.  We had a window seat with a beautiful view of the Salt Lake Temple. It was a perfect day.

elle & gpa

I hope that Elle remembers this day always and knows how important the temple is to our family. I hope my temple message wasn’t too soft or too subtle, but loud and clear.

Afterall, “Don’t whisper softly the things that you want loudly to be.”

….

What does this lyric mean to you?

To me this phrase means, make sure you are putting your time and energy into what is ultimately most important to you.  It means don’t profess to value one thing but spend all your time doing another. It means to make your actions consistent with your ultimate intentions and desires.

I think we often say we want one thing for our children and then spend most of our time doing something else.

I often evaluate my own life to see what messages I am sending my children.

If I want a mission to be a loud priority in my son’s life, how much time do I spend preparing him for missionary work?  Do we put more emphasis on sports’ practices and games then we do on studying, learning and living the gospel?  Are there any indicators in our home that I am preparing a missionary or does it seem like we are hoping for a professional athlete instead? Am I whispering the gospel and yelling sports?

If I want my kids to go to the temple often, do they see me going often? Do they see me making temple attendance a priority or do they see me begrudgingly fitting a visit in here and there? Do we talk about the temple, share experiences and have temple pictures on our walls?  Or do Chad and I keep our experiences to ourselves? Do my children see me exercising, shopping, crafting or socializing way more than they see me going to the temple?

If I want my children to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, do I bear testimony of my Savior often or do they just hear me share a formal testimony once a year in fast and testimony meeting? Do I teach them about His birth, His life, and His death daily or do I just hit the highlights around Christmas and Easter? Do they know His names, His parables, and His teachings or are they more familiar with fairy tales and Disney movies?

If I want my kids to be hard workers, how much work do I give them?  Do they see me working my buns off or do they see me taking shortcuts? Do I somehow want them to develop character and strength and work ethic, but don’t give them enough responsibilities to develop such characteristics? Do I pack their schedule so tight with activities that they have no time for chores, home responsibilities or a job, and then I am confused that they don’t have a great work ethic? Do I take them out to dinner, buy them video games, pay for all their camps and activities, then wonder why they don’t see a need to work?

If I want my kids to be kind, do they see me being kind?  Or do they see me raging on the freeway, gossiping to a neighbor, or complaining about the grocery store clerk? Have I taught them what kindness looks like, sounds like and feels like or do I just hope that kindness is a natural trait that they will somehow develop?  Do we role play and talk about appropriate responses and behaviors or do I just cross my fingers that they pick kindness up somewhere?

If I want my kids to serve others, do they see me serving others? Do I build time into our schedules to serve or are our days packed with our own family activities, sports, and vacations? Do I serve my children happily and without guile or do I complain that I am sweeping the dang floor for the 6th time that day?  Do I let other people serve our family or do I refuse service, because of pride, when it is offered?

Do I put as much time into Elle’s personal progress as I do her dance?

Do they see me fretting more about their clothes or their character?

Do they see me reading my scriptures or reading facebook?

Do I care more about what my house looks like or what it feels like?

Do they see me bump family scripture study when we are busy, but we would never skip a class or a practice or a meeting?

Am I loud and clear about my priorities or do I subtly and softly whisper my beliefs hoping that someone picks them up in the wind?

As parents, we can’t whisper softly what we want loudly to be. If it is important to us, we must make it known through our actions, our time, our schedules, and our energy.

I have this lyric in my new bedroom collage that I am working on because it applies to marriage as well.

whisper softly_Fotor

I think about what I want loudly to be in my marriage — trust, friendship, support, selflessness, forgiveness, love. Then I wonder if I am softly whispering these qualities or shouting them from the rooftops?

Do I say my husband is the most important thing to me, but then I put him after my children, my calling, and my recorded television shows?  When he comes home from work do I drop everything to show him how grateful I am that he is home or do I keep on cooking dinner and mutter a “Hi, honey” as he walks into his office? Do I give him my full attention when he talks to me or do I try to multi-task as he recaps his day?  Am I his biggest support or his biggest critic?  Do I forgive as freely as I want to be forgiven?  What am I whispering softly in my marriage and what am I declaring loudly?

I appreciate this visual cue right by my bed to remind me to be a louder parent and spouse- not in voice, but in action and in purpose and in priorities.

I don’t want my children or my husband to be confused about what I say I want and what I actually do.  I don’t want them to see a disconnect between our long-term goals and our daily schedules.

As I ask myself these questions, I realize that I am doing many things right, but I also realize that I’ve got some work to do.

How about you?  Are you whispering softly the things you that you want loudly to be?

(P.S. You can buy this print by emailing tylerstensonorders@gmail.com The prints are normally $14, but if you mention Raising Lemons in the order, you can get the print for $10. The purchase includes a download of the song where the lyrics are found as well as the print with Tyler’s signature at the bottom. And by the way, I think the print would be great in any room in the house.)

whisper frame

 

 

 

 

5 Responses to “Don’t Whisper Softly”

  1. Hailey says:

    Thank you again for always posting the most applicable topics. I just love that this blog is a cheerleader to me in all things good. I love being a young mom (meaning a mom to young children), and I love knowing that I can get better.

    You are a blessing!

  2. Hailey says:

    Thank you!

  3. Rachel says:

    This is golden.
    My 7 year old recently said when asked what I’d like to be doing most was: “being on her phone.”
    I was shocked at first, since that’s not true! But it’s what’s being yelled at my kids right now, so sadly it is true.
    Yikes times ten. Major overhaul happening in my house right now, starting with me.
    Thank you for posting.

  4. Heather jones says:

    Amen! I love how you put things into words Tiffany! Thank you for taking the time to write this. It is beautiful, perfect, and absolutely true.

    • Angela says:

      Thank you for sharing your observations with us in such a creative way and with such staying power!! T
      he potential for all of our families is eternal and grand, and this helps us to remember that it is up to us to teach and lead by example to achieve that grand potential!! Thank you Tiffany!!