Saturday, January 30, 2010


This is my talk that I gave in church January 2010. It was not an easy thing for me to do. The week preceding this talk was one of the hardest I've had in a long, long time. I didn't know if I could get through it without completely losing it but I was strengthened and made it through it without too many tears. This is the talk:

We as a family have been asked to speak on Eternal families which for me is not an easy task probably the hardest topic I could be asked to talk on at this time. It is a very tender and dear subject for our family. For those of you that might not know our 6 month old son Wyatt passed away suddenly 22 months ago. We as a family know all too well about eternal families now. I would give anything in this world to not know what we know about this subject because that would mean Wyatt would still be in our arms and in our lives. It is truly one of the hardest things to have to go through. But with that said we as a family are beyond grateful for the knowledge that we have of eternal families and for the hope it gives us. We are so very grateful for temples and for the sealing power that has bond us together forever. We are striving to do all we can so we can be with Wyatt in the celestial kingdom someday.
President Ezra Taft Benson said "God intended the family to be eternal. With all my soul, I testify to the truth of that declaration. May he bless us to strengthen our homes and the lives of each family member so that in due time we can report to our Heavenly Father in His celestial home that we are all there--father, mother, sister, brother, all who hold each other dear. Each chair is filled. We are all back home."
A friend of mine gave me this quote about 10 years ago. As I read it I felt a great need and desire to make that a part of our family. So we began having family home evening lessons on this subject of “No empty Chairs.” We would have at least one or two lessons a year focused on this topic. I made a wooden sign with “No empty chairs” written on it and put it next to my grandmas chair to help reminds us of the importance of this statement. We made it our family motto.
When I was pregnant with Wyatt and was bedridden because of how sick I get with my pregnancies I was watching BYUTV and saw a talk by Steven R. Covey. He talked about the need as families to come up with a family motto and to make it a part of our daily lives. We had already made “No empty chairs” our family motto but it wasn’t something we thought of or said each day. So, that is when I added it to the end of our family song. “No Empty Chairs” Little did I know just a few months later our little Wyatt would take his chair at our eternal table and this family motto would mean so much more to us. Now that we have someone already in heaven waiting for us...his chair is filled… we as a family have such a great desire to do all we should so that we can be with him. We know all too well how hard it is to have an empty chair around our earthly table and hope and pray we will do all we can so that doesn’t happen at our eternal table. I personally can’t wait for the day when there are no empty chairs at our table.
President Eyring talks about No empty chairs in his talk this past October conference. He first speaks about the importance of Christ like love and how we can learn to have that kind of love within our family relationships. He says: quote "Love is the motivating principle by which the Lord leads us along the way towards becoming like Him, our perfect example. Our way of life, hour by hour, must be filled with the love of God and love for others. There is no surprise in that, since the Lord proclaimed those as the first and great commandments. It is love of God that will lead us to keep His commandments. And love of others is at the heart of our capacity to obey Him."
"He has offered us the family as an example of an ideal setting in which we can learn how to love as He loves."
"That is because the greatest joys and the greatest sorrows we experience are in family relationships." End quote.
President Eyring suggests a couple of things we can do to assure that there are no empty chairs in our families in the world to come.
First, he gives counsel to husbands and wives. he says "Pray for the love which allows you to see the good in your companion. Pray for the love that makes weaknesses and mistakes seem small. Pray for the love to make your companion’s joy your own. Pray for the love to want to lessen the load and soften the sorrows of your companion."
Are we praying for that love to do these things in our marriages? Are we seeking out our companions needs more than our own? I think those are great questions that we should ask ourselves often. It's not something that just happens I believe it's a conscious effort that we have to make. That strengthening our marriages takes work.
I would like to take a moment and publicly thank my sweet husband for all he does for me. He has been there for me each and every day as I have ached for Wyatt as I've cried thousands of tears. He has held me and loved me through it all. He has not once told me to move on, to get over it or to not dwell on the fact that Wyatt isn't physically with us anymore. He has loved me and comforted me and has shown me what Christ like love is all about and I will be forever grateful to him for that. Because he has shown such compassion towards me I feel our marriage has been strengthened.
President Hinckley said “True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well-being of one's companion." President Hinckley also said “Under the plan of heaven, the husband and the wife walk side by side as companions, neither one ahead of the other, but a daughter of God and a son of God walking side by side.
President Eyring goes on to tell of his parents and the love that his father exhibited to his mother as she was dying. He says. "In my mother’s final illness, the more uncomfortable she became, the more giving her comfort became the dominant intent of my father’s life. He asked that the hospital set up a bed in her room. He was determined to be there to be sure that she wanted for nothing. He walked the miles to work each morning and back to her side at night through those difficult times for her. I believe it was a gift from God to him that his power to love grew when it mattered so much to her. I think he was doing what Jesus would have done out of love."
I also, think it's very important to take the time to show and express the love we share as couples in front of our children. I know our children hate seeing us kiss but I know deep down that it's a comfort to them to know that their parents love each other. It's important for them to see that often.
President Eyring then goes on to counsel children. The Lord gave you a commandment with a promise: “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” It is the only one of the Ten Commandments with a promise. It's hard to honor someone without loving that person. So, children honor and obey our parents and you will be blessed. Along with obeying parents, children should show love towards them. Children should try to live the kind of life that will bring honor to their parents and to their family name.
Something we as a family struggle with and I think most families struggle with at times is being nice and kind to one another...showing each other true Christ like love can be hard at times. I think we have had a least one lesson for FHE each month for the past several months on this topic. For some reason it's sometimes even more difficult to be nice and show love to those we love the most but it is such an important thing to be working on as families. In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin explained:
“Ye will not suffer your children … [to] fight and quarrel one with another. …
“But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another” (Mosiah 4:14–15).
I think it’s important from time to time to sit back and think about what can we do to make our homes a place where love dwells? How do we treat each other? Is it the way Christ would have us treat each other? Are we showing christlike love to those we love the most?
Here are a few other things I think are important as families to do to help ensure that we don’t have any empty chairs in heaven. I feel as long as we are trying and doing our best that is all we are asked of. We are not all perfect. That is what this life is all about is to try and improve and do our best.
1. Have family prayer and scripture study ever day. Last week Brother Jolley from the high council talks about the importance of being consistent with doing these things. He referred to Elder Bednar’s talk this last General conference where he taught the importance of being consistent and how that will make one of the greatest impacts upon our children.
2.We need to make sure we are having FHE each week. The first presidency in 1915 gave this great promise to those families that will hold family home evening each week. “If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influence and temptations which beset them."
I personally can’t think of greater blessings than these to have in our homes.
3. Some other things we can do to strengthen our families is to do work projects together, go on outings and vacations…create memories.
4. Kneel together as husband and wife each night in prayer.
5. Learn to be kind, patient, long-suffering, and charitable
6. Attend church meetings regularly
7. Follow the counsel of the Lord in D&C 88:119: “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.”
I’m sure there are many more things we can do as families to ensure that we will be together forever but I think one of the most important things is to learn how to have Christ like love in our homes. To do our best and know that we have a loving heavenly father that wants us to have the greatest blessing as families…that of eternal life. And if we make mistakes or if a child wanders from the path for a time we have a loving Savior that has made it possible for us to repent. He gives us hope.
Elder Orson F. Whitney, in a general conference of 1929, gave a remarkable promise to the faithful parents who honor the temple sealing to their children: This quote gives great hope for parents with wandering children he said: “Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold.
President David O. McKay said, “With all my heart I believe that the best place to prepare for … eternal life is in the home”
President Brigham young explained that our families are not yet ours. The Lord has committed them to us to see how we will treat them. Only if we are faithful will they be given to us forever. What we do on earth determines whether or not we will be worthy to become heavenly parents.
I hope and pray all of us will do all we can so that we will be worthy of this blessing.
I also believe that those we love that have passed over onto the other side are not far from us. They do not lose interest in their families. I believe Wyatt is with our family more than we can imagine. I believe he prays for us just as much as we pray for him. Though I’m sure he is very busy doing whatever he is doing to build the kingdom of God on the other side of the veil he does not lose interest in his family and what we are doing here. Family ties are not broken because of death.
I would like to close with a couple of thoughts. I want to say how truly grateful I am for the knowledge that we have of eternal families. I don't know how I would have made it through the past 22 months without that knowledge.. But I do need to add that even though we have this great knowledge it doesn't take away the ache, pain and longing we feel as a family to have Wyatt back into our arms. It is BEYOND hard!
I love what Elder Russell M. Nelson says: "The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life" Since we will never stop loving Wyatt there will continue to be moments of sorrow for us as a family. And that is ok. One of the greatest things I've been given is to know that I have a loving heavenly father that truly knows my heart and that his son Jesus Christ knows how to succor and help me through the sorrow I feel. This knowledge did not come to me all at once. It’s come through moments here and there but what a great blessing that has been for me to know they understand me and how hard this is and will never tell me to get over Wyatt. Instead they send tender mercies into my life to help through each day as my arms continue to ache.
Once we are able to afford a headstone for Wyatt this is what will be engraved upon the top. It’s a quote from our prophet President Monson. He said “Our eyes may be moist with tears, but our hearts burn with the knowledge that the bands of death have been broken and that we will one day be reunited to share the blessings of eternal life. “ end quote.
We as a family have great hope and look forward to resurrection morning when we will hold our Wyatt again. The tears that day will finally be tears of joy instead of sorrow. This is only made possible through our Savior Jesus Christ. Oh, how grateful I am and will be forever grateful to our Savior Jesus Christ for giving me the greatest gift I could possibly have...that of eternal life with my family. We will never have to say goodbye to Wyatt again. He will be forever ours.
I hope as families that we will do all we can to ensure that we will be worthy to have the greatest blessing we could ever receive…that of Eternal life with our families. I know Jesus Christ lives and cares for each and every one of us. And through him we can find our greatest hope. In the name of Jesus Christ amen.


Hopeful Homemaker said...

What an outstanding talk, Andrea! Thank you so much for sharing it. I loved reading it, and it's so full of outstanding quotes. Great job.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. Tomorrow, my wife will be teaching a Relief Society lesson based on President Eyring's talk, and I'm doing some browsing to help her with ideas for the lesson.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your blog. I noticed you posted a quote regarding help from the other side, which you attributed to Elder Oaks. The quote was actually made by Elder Holland.

See "For Times of Trouble," BYU Devotional Speech, 18 March, 1980.

Erika said...

Thank you for posting. I completely just stumbled upon this and you've beautifully expressed the yearnings of my heart. Though I cannot relate to the pain of losing a child to death, I have four young step-children whose absence from our home gives me great anxiety and pain. Different kind of personal. I thank you for your testimony that all things are made whole in the Atonement, especially that most precious family unit, according to our faith and obedience. Love to you, sister.