Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sister Phillips' Farewell Talk Outline December 2013

Show Ashlee’s quilt she made us for Christmas
This quilt caused me to remember a very significant experience that happened 19 years ago!

First some background:
When praising the “unfeigned faith” he found in Timothy, Paul noted that this faith “dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and thy mother Eunice.”

Growing up with Mom and Grandma
When we moved here 21 years ago my grandma had died only a couple years before and my mom was moving into the final stages of Alzheimer’s.
Soon after moving here I was asked to be the mother of 4 daughters in the musical “Quilters” Using different blocks of quilts to symbolize how the stiches and patterns of our lives are passed down from grandmother to mother to daughter through generations of time.
Crying in bed one morning to Jim- broken hearted that my daughters would never know the influence of these fabulous women. His profound precious answer to me, “But Starla, they know you.”
Elder Christofferson said to women in the last conference “Your intuition is to do good and to be good and as you follow the Holy Spirit your moral authority and influence will grow.”
Now years later there are the 3 essential truths that I can testify to that were first influenced by my mother and grandmother’s example. I can testify these truths not only to my daughters but to every woman striving to become a woman of God. These things I KNOW to be true!

First “As women of God our greatest calling and sphere of influence in mortality is being mothers in Zion”

President Gordon B. Hinckley stated ”God planted within women something divine”. That something is the gift of, and the gifts associated with, motherhood. Speaking to women, Elder Matthew Cowley of the Quorum of the Twelve taught that “you belong to the great sorority of saviorhood…Men are different, men have to have something given to them in mortality to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. You are born with an inherent right, and inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls. You are the co-creators with God of his children. Therefore, it is expected of you by a right divine that you’re the saviors and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children here upon the earth.”

Story of going to Jim’s training for CEO’s; “Jim might be CEO of this company, but I am President of our home! They thought that was “Cute” but I wasn’t kidding.

Married 3 daughters and Tanner left on his mission within 15 months of each other
I was Lost. Realized that every other endeavor or purpose pales in comparison and significance to being a mom
Beautiful example acting as a mother in Zion last week on my daughter Bri’s blog

We get a free Issaquah newspaper a couple times a week, and I find it annoying. We don't read it, and it ends up in the recycle. Such a waste of resources. Caleb loves it though. He gets so excited to get it and put it on Dan's desk thinking that Dad will be excited to read it.

Yesterday morning I got a knock on my door. It was my neighbor. She was ticked. She went on to tell me that Caleb has been stealing their newspaper a couple times a week. They finally found out who was doing it when they saw him run across the street. It all made sense why there were sometimes thick papers on Dan's desk. I. Was. Mortified. I apologized profusely. I headed upstairs to find Caleb. He was hiding under his bed and I'm pretty sure he heard the whole conversation.

We started talking about it, and he was shaking. I knew I didn't need to get mad because he was so embarrassed and feeling horrible already. I asked him why he did it. He was doing it for Dad. I asked him why it wasn't OK to take their paper, and he understood that it was because he was stealing. I knew he would not do it again, and went in to talk to Dan (who was still sleeping) about it.

Caleb was beside himself. He could not handle the emotion he was feeling. He was running around hiding in our closet, then coming out, going into our bathroom, roaming. We kept trying to calm him down so we could talk. He could not sit. He was devastated. Dan finally forced him to come into bed with us. He had to physically pick him up (while Caleb resisted and squirmed to get away) and bring him into our bed. We kept telling him that it would be OK. He made a mistake, but he can be better. We went on to share times where we made mistakes as children. He finally calmed down, but was visibly shaken from the experience.

The lesson in YW later that day was on how to create a Christ centered home. The teacher handed out scripture verses for each of us to read. The one I was given was not by chance. I knew it the second I read it.

2Nephi 26: And we atalk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we bprophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our cchildren may know to what source they may look for a dremission of their sins.

This was one of my favorite and most used verses on my mission. Little did I know the impact it would have on me on this Sunday morning in the future.

I felt strongly that I needed to share the experience of what had happened this morning with the Young Women. Especially the part about how he was so devastated and how he was hiding. My heart was sad, yet filled with the spirit. My prayer and probably one of the greatest hopes of my heart is that my children will know as to what source to look to for a remission of their sins. My hope is that my sweet son will not allow the pain and anguish to overtake him and force him into hiding.

God spoke to my heart. I am so grateful for the atonement. I am so grateful that through Christ, we can stand tall and be forgiven. We do not have to hide. I am grateful that I was given this message today, and I pray that we were able to teach this to our son. This was such a great reminder during this time of year when we get to celebrate His birth. God is good.

The power of being a mother in Zion!

Second: As women of God we can know who we truly are as we serve in His kingdom and knowing that, influence not just our family but the world.

Sister Sherie Dew gave a beautiful talk to the women of the church called “Stand Tall and Stand Together”. She closed her talk with these words,
“My prayer is that we can be equally clear about our mission as women of god. This isn’t just a really nice church that teaches really nice ideas so that we can live really nice lives. This is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, endowed with His power and charged with carrying His truth to the ends of the earth…We are the most blessed of all women to have such a vital part in it.
Powerful example in my life of this: Story of Barbara SmithPowerful example in my life of this:

Story of President Barbara Smith
(It's the experience Mom had riding to the airport with General Relief Society President Barbara Smith during the early 1980's after she came and talked to 3 stakes in California and calmed all the women's minds and brought peace to their hearts amidst the storm of the clamoring strident voices of the National Organization of Women, Sonia Johnson, women's rights etc. She spoke with authority, calm, and knowlegable on all the current issues. My mom called her "Magnificent". When Mom was driving home with Sister Smith, one of the counselors in the Stake R.S. Presidency asked where Barbara Smith had gotten her college degree. Sister Smith's surprising answer, "I hold no degree. If I have achieved anything it is because of what I have learned as I have served in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Powerful lesson on what we can become as we serve the Lord.)

LOVE THIS QUOTE BY Sherie Dew: When we live like Disciples of Christ should live, when we aren’t just good but happy to be good, others will be drawn to us because we are “distinct and different –in happy ways”, as President Kimball prophesied. Happy about the way we’ve chosen to live, happy because we’re not constantly reshaping ourselves in the world’s image, happy because we have “the gifts and the power of the Holy Ghost, happy to stand tall so that we will stand out.”

Third: As women of God our greatest influence will be to bring others to Christ

Last month I had an unforgettable experience in the Holy Land. As we were driving to the Sea of Galilee our guide pointed to a city that literally was built on the top of a hill. That visual image of a city that cannot be hid was stunning and as I pondered the symbolism I had an overwhelming impression that as a woman of God I can be like that city. As I leave behind the things of the world and come unto Christ so that the Spirit radiates through my life and from my eyes, I can be a light to the world.
How exciting that WE can be part of this final closing up dispensation, that we have been reserved for this very time. What a responsibility we have to influence not only our families but the whole world

Elder M Russell Ballard: “None of us can afford to stand by and watch the purposes of God be diminished and pushed aside. I invite particularly you sisters throughout the Church to seek the guidance of heaven in knowing what you can do to let your voice of faith and testimony be heard. The Brethren of the General Authorities and the sisters who are general officers cannot do it alone. The full-time missionaries cannot do it alone. We must all defend our Savior and testify that He is the Christ, that His Church has been restored to the earth, that there is such a thing as right and wrong.”

Last couple weeks I’ve had women (mothers and grandmothers) ask how we can leave our family, especially our grandchildren

My answer: ”How can we NOT go. The Spirit has whispered to me that it’s not enough to just love our children and grandchildren. We need them to see our devotion, sacrifice and commitment to our Lord in our actions. Last week I as I once again made a covenant with the Lord in His holy house to put it ALL on the alter I was brought to tears that we had the opportunity to do just that as we go forth to serve. Like my mother and grandmother I want our influence and legacy to be one of faith and sacrifice to our Savior.

As Diana testified to me a few weeks ago our sacrifice will have efficacy in our families’ lives in ways we don’t begin to even understand yet.

From Ashlee’s blog written the night we opened our mission call:

Tonight my parents got their mission call. We have been waiting for six weeks for it to finally arrive. Prior to submitting their papers they were recommended by Elder Bruce Hafen to serve in the young adult center in London, England so when they received this call we were not surprised. They will be serving young adults by creating a place, activities and missionary opportunities for those living in and around London. They have certainly been prepared for this calling by teaching institute to young adults, serving as a BYU young adult ward bishop and by constantly having a home filled with young adults who were friends of their children. They will be perfect. Those youth in London are in for a real gift! The only surprise was that the call was for two years (23 months to be exact) rather than the eighteen months they had requested.

As my five prospective missionaries huddled around the phone listening to their grandparents read their call I was a bit overwhelmed; to say the least! I was full of gratitude for the example of my parent's willingness to leave all behind to serve the Lord. The intense range of emotion from ecstatic to sorrow is something I am going to have to get used to. Tonight was a little taste of what I will get to go through five times with my boys. I cannot wait for those calls to arrive, but in the same instant my heart breaks to think of it! So exciting, such an opportunity, such a gift. Yet, such a sacrifice.

The reality that my boys won't have their grandparents around for two whole years of their lives breaks my heart. They will miss a significant portion of my boys' growing up, but the blessings that will come for my future missionaries will be worth the sacrifice. My two big boys were thrilled with the call to London because it is a place they have been. A place they can easily imagine their Babs and Mags being. The second they heard two years however, they broke down.

I sat in the next room listening to my Tanner sobbing in the shower for 15 minutes. He later asked me with tears streaming down his cheeks, "Mom, I can barely stand being away from Baba for five days! How am I going to be able to handle two years?!" What can I say to that? I tried comforting Little Lukey by promising him we would still go on trips while they are gone. To which he said through his sobs, "But it won't be any fun without them!" Again, what can I say to that?

I have been thinking in preparation for this call that the example of my parent's sacrifice is what will bless my boys the most. After tonight I think it goes further than that. This mission call requires a sacrifice from my boys as well. They will have to test their own developing little testimonies by letting their grandparents go. They will be far better prepared to one day leave themselves because they are learning while they are young to sacrifice. They are giving up one of the most important things in their lives: their Baba and Maga. I am so grateful for this lesson, for this chance to sacrifice. I am so grateful for my parents. I am so grateful for my own testimony that confirms to me that while this is hard, it is right and good and worth it!

Jim and I know we have great direct influence in the lives of our family, but we KNOW even more surely that the Lord’s influence is so much more powerful than ours. We KNOW that as we serve we will be able to beg the Lord in a more perfect way and with greater power to distill His blessings upon the heads of our children and grandchildren.
On this we can rely to make up the difference of us being gone.

Close with the words from this song I pulled out this morning to calm me:
Second verse:
Lifting the hand that hang down in sorrow.
Strengthening knees that bend in despair.
Reaching the hopeless hearts who do not know His love.
Seeing their lives begin to change I know I’ll never be the same.
How can I keep this gift to myself when I can lift somebody else.
I am a witness of His miracles and His mercy.
I put my future in His hands Knowing He’s made me all I am,
When I put my faith in Him the truth begins to speak.
His power is real. It moves me until I cannot be still.
His power is real I trust in His will. I will not be still.

I pray we will all desire to lift our “voices as with the sound of a trump”. And may we “cheerfully do all things that live in our power, and then stand still to see the arm of God revealed as His work goes forward boldly and nobly until “it has swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.

1 comment:

  1. I just finished reading your talk and I feel as though I was there! I could hear your voice as I read your words! I love you Starla Phillips! I am so grateful for your influence in my life! I was a young adult when you and Jim taught me in your home! How perfect that you get to work with the young adults as you serve your mission!