Building Our Eternal Homes

by Sally Zlotnik
(A talk given at the stake fireside, "We Are Daughters in His Kingdom," for all women 8-110 years of age, May 2012)

The Young Women’s theme starts off by saying, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him.” As members of the Young Women’s organization, we get to recite this awesome line every Sunday.

I love the imagery of being called His daughters. The word daughter is always used in a positive light. I would imagine that none of us have been disciplined by our parents saying, “Daughter, stop that.” Or “Daughter, get over here right now.” That is just not how we use this sacred word.

The word daughter is more commonly used in positive phrases such as, “I would like you to meet my daughter,” or “My daughter is really good at....” And you can fill in the blanks. Being a daughter is a privilege.

Recently, as I was thinking of these three organizations--Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society--I thought about the building of a home. When we first build a home we have to dig a huge hole and prepare the ground to pour the foundation.

The years we spend in Primary can be like digging that hole. We learn to pray, we learn the basics of the gospel and the scriptures. We prepare ourselves to get a foundation.

Our years in Young Women can be compared to pouring the foundation of a home. When anyone is building a home, it is so exciting to see the foundation being laid. This is because then you can see the home starting to take shape. Young Women helps young women start to take shape and become the women that they will someday be. Our years in Young Women are filled with so much excitement.

While we are in Young Women we get many opportunities for our testimonies to become solidified. We get to go to girls' camp and have many foundation-laying spiritual experiences there. We get to attend weekly activities where we can be influenced by our friends and wonderful young women leaders, and our foundation becomes stronger. Our Sunday lessons get more specific to the needs and concerns that teenagers face, and our foundation becomes stronger.

Our teenage years are full of exciting decisions and opportunities, and the Lord has given us this wonderful Young Women program to help us through these years. He helps us build our foundation.

None of us would want a home with just a foundation. We want the walls. Relief Society is the home.

When building a home after laying the foundation, we get to put the walls up and lay the carpet and pick out the kitchen countertops and really make the home what it is going to be. Relief Society gives us the opportunity to become the women that we really want to be. We get to pick out the characteristics and talents that Heavenly Father has sent to us, and we get to make our world unique and beautiful.

Sometimes in our homes, we redecorate and change things to make it better. The years we spend in Relief Society are full of change, some expected and some unexpected, but since we are daughters of our Heavenly Father, He always wants to be there to help us with the changes. Primary and Young Women prepare us, and Relief Society is where we get to perform the things that we have been prepared individually to do. Just like none of our homes turn out exactly alike, none of our lives turn out exactly alike, but they turn out the way the Lord has planned for us.

If you didn’t get the opportunity to go to Primary and Young Women, it is not too late. Because just like a home, we can all move into an already built home, and we can make it beautiful. So we can start today building our eternal homes, no matter what stage of the process we are at. President David O. McKay said:

The principal reason the Church was organized is "to make life sweet today, to give contentment to the heart today, to bring salvation today."

I know as women, young and old, it is easy to compare our homes to others. We sometimes think we don’t decorate as well, or keep it as clean or as organized as one of our neighbors. And just like our homes sometimes we compare ourselves to others. President Uchtdorf said:

May I invite you to rise to the great potential within you. But don’t reach beyond your capacity. Don’t set goals beyond your capacity to achieve. Don’t feel guilty or dwell on thoughts of failure. Don’t compare yourself with others. Do the best you can, and the Lord will provide the rest. Have faith and confidence in Him, and you will see miracles happen in your life and the lives of your loved ones.

President Hinckley once said, “When you save a girl you save generations.” I love this quote because it makes me realize that the choices I make for myself aren’t just affecting me, but they are affecting generations of people.

Women have such an influence on the world. Barbara Bush once said “Your success as a family...our success as a nation...depends not on what happens inside the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”

Sisters, you are the women that are saving generations. Of course we are all different. We all have different gifts and talents and abilities and that is wonderful. When I was growing up my mom would always tell me “Isn’t it great that we all have different talents and abilities because it would be a pretty boring world if we all were the same.” It’s like homes. It would be a pretty boring neighborhood if our homes all looked exactly alike.
President Hinckley once said, “When you save a girl you save generations.”

I would like to share three examples of daughters who made a difference, one from Primary, Young Women and Relief Society.

First, a simple example from a Primary-age girl. Estella Elder was born in 1910 in Southern Alberta, Canada. She had a fairly normal childhood; her mother faithfully taught her the power and principle of prayer. This principle of prayer sustained her when Estella was only eight and her mother died giving birth to her 16th child. Estella said, “It was a cold blustery, snowy day. To a little curly-haired girl of eight, it was the bitter end. I crept into the house without anyone seeing me and up the stairs, where I threw myself down and cried.”

She didn’t know how she was going to go on; however, she said the only way she made it was that she always remembered to pray. She prayed when she was bounced from home to home, she prayed when the couple she lived with was physically abusive, she prayed when she got boils all over her body, she prayed when had 10 miscarriages, she prayed when she got rheumatoid arthritis, and through multiple other trials.

Consequently, because she understood prayer, she instilled in her own children the power of prayer, and that one simple principle learned by a young Primary-age girl is being taught for multiple generations now. One daughter of God changed the world. She started the process as a Primary girl of building her spiritual home. I am certain that Estella didn’t know that she was affecting generations when she was praying. She was just trying to stay afloat, but as her granddaughter, I know she has blessed my life. Primary girls, you are blessing others' lives.

Next, I want to share an example of a group of young woman changing the world.

A couple of years ago, a friend of ours had a foreign exchange student from Germany come and live with their family. She was not a member of our faith. She wanted to be as much a part of the ward as possible, though, and so she would attend church and Mutual activities on a regular basis.

In January of that year, many of the young women decided to start reading the Book of Mormon for their Virtue project. Sister Dalton had encouraged all young women to read the book of Mormon at least five minutes a day. They set their goal to finish the Book of Mormon by October for the Young Women in Excellence program.

Sasha decided she wanted to participate. So she started reading the Book of Mormon. When she went home in May, she wasn’t yet finished. However, in October, the Young Women’s president of that ward received a package from Sasha and was instructed to open it at Young Women in Excellence. When they opened it, it was a Book of Mormon with a note from Sasha telling everyone that because of their examples she had finished the Book of Mormon.

Now, we don’t know if Sasha will join the church yet. But we do know that these ;young women, through their examples, made a difference in someone's life. Young women, you can have an amazing influence on others while you are setting your own foundation.

Third, President Hinckley shares the example of a Relief Society sister changing the world. I believe that as members of Relief Society we have all felt this way in one way or another. This particular sister was feeling worn out. She had to return something to the neighbor, and as she turned around to go home this is what happened:

“I could see my house lighted up. I could hear echoes of my children as I had walked out of the door a few minutes earlier. They were saying: ‘Mom, what are we going to have for dinner?’ ‘Can you take me to the library?’ ‘I have to get some poster paper tonight.’ Tired and weary, I looked at that house and saw the light on in each of the rooms. I thought of all of those children who were home waiting for me to come and meet their needs. My burdens felt heavier than I could bear.

“I remember looking through tears toward the sky, and I said, ‘Dear Father, I just can’t do it tonight. I’m too tired. I can’t face it. I can’t go home and take care of all those children. Could I just come to You and stay with You for just one night? I’ll come back in the morning.’
“I didn’t really hear the words of reply, but I heard them in my mind. The answer was: ‘No, little one, you can’t come to me now. You would never wish to come back. But I can come to you.’”

I am sure that this daughter of God learned an important lesson this day. Heavenly Father wants to help us. I would imagine she learned that if we truly want to build our homes to be the beautiful spiritual places that they can be, we need to turn to our Heavenly Father. None of us can do it alone. One daughter of God changed her thoughts and then changed the world.

Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society sisters, we are all daughters of God. Sometimes we don’t feel capable enough, or beautiful enough, or talented enough, and the list could go on and on. But I want you to imagine the most beautiful place you have ever seen--it could be a mountain, a waterfall or a flower. Imagine this as I read you this quote from President Hinckley:

“Of all the creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God.”

You are a lovely daughter of God.

We are all daughters of God. It is my prayer that we will always remember that we are here on earth digging and laying our foundations and building our eternal homes. And they are all unique and different. As we remember that we are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us and we love Him, we will have the strength and the courage to build the home that Heavenly Father has planned for us. Of this I am certain, in the name of Jesus Christ amen.