Today was bittersweet for me. You see, every year our family picks a phrase that we repeat morning and night after our family prayer. I've written about this before here. In December of 2015 I was reading "Little Women" out loud to Steven, the part where Mrs. March leaves to go take care of a very sick Mr. March and the girls are all heartbroken and worried. They decide that Hope and Keep Busy will be their motto while she is away. Steven stopped me and said, "Brooke, that's our motto for next year!" And it felt so right!
And it was so right. I can't tell you how many times over the last year that motto has helped me. When I was overdue with Merit and praying for help in knowing how to stay happy and peaceful: hope and keep busy. When I found out about my little friends (tumors on my thyroid): hope and keep busy. When I was stuck in the Dallas airport trying to get home, pregnant and covered in the PUPPS rash: hope and keep busy. And other sorrows and worries that I won't go into here: hope and keep busy.
And I wasn't the only one! Tonight we gathered around the living room with mint brownies and (miracle of miracles) everyone was calm and happy to participate in a family devotional to say goodbye to our sweet family motto. Steven had many words of wisdom about how this motto helped him to find focus. Gage, in all serious said, "Dad, I know exactly what you mean. This year when I kept picking my nose, I didn't know what to do. Then we were saying our motto and BOOM! I remembered: I needed to hope that I could stop picking my nose and keep myself busy so that I wouldn't do it."
I'm happy to report that Gage has overcome that particular demon, much to my delight.
It's really hard to say goodbye to a phrase that has been a compass and an anchor for each of us. Will couldn't even say "mama" last January when we adopted this motto. Last night when we said it for the last time, he was there with the rest of us, "Hope an Teep Bizzzeeee!"
Ah, the passage of time. So sweet and sad.
Well, we needed to choose a new one. For the last couple of months I've thought we had it all decided. I loved Sister Marriott's talk and the phrase: "it will all work out." But right at the end of December we just didn't feel like that was right for this year. This is the first year that the motto wasn't absolutely clear from the get-go, so we did things a little differently. Instead of Steven and I deciding, I made a list of three phrases that have special meaning in our family and during our devotional tonight, we put it to a vote. Of course, we all voted for different ones, and ended up more confused than we started, ha!
But in the end, we chose this:
from this hymn.
It became clear to me that this was right for our family when we took a break from voting to finish off the night with family scripture study. We read the first five verses in 2nd Nephi chapter 1, in the Book of Mormon. Lehi, an ancient prophet from Jerusalem had brought his family across the sea to the American continent 600 years before Christ's birth because he had been warned by God that Jerusalem was about to be destroyed. Two of his sons and their wives rebelled many times over, but especially on the ship as they crossed the sea. Nephi, one of Lehi's sons, was valiant and never rebelled, but was obedient and happy. When he didn't understand or wasn't fully converted to the teachings or prophesies of his father, he prayed and received his own witness.
In the verse we read, Lehi is reminding his rebellious sons of how God brought them safely across the sea, and then he tells them that he has just had a vision that Jerusalem was truly destroyed. I pointed out to the kids that Jerusalem wasn't destroyed the day after they left. It wasn't destroyed for years, in fact! But when God had spoken, the prophet, Lehi, had obeyed. He listened and obeyed, and as a result his family was saved both temporally and spiritually. Gage summed it up nicely: "Sometimes," he said, "You will tell a boy to do something when he is seven. He won't understand. Then later he will become ninety-nine and he'll say, 'now I understand'."
I want to listen and I want to obey, without question. It has been easy for me in my adult life to obey the commandments and the admonitions of the scriptures and modern prophets. It has not been easy for me to obey the promptings from the Spirit to be kind to myself, to give others the benefit of the doubt, and be grateful in all things. Plus about a billion other promptings that i've ignored or disobeyed. This year, I want to listen to the Spirit and obey immediately.
I have high hopes for 2017. Happy New Year!