Mothers Who Know: Homes and Temples

February 4, 2008 | 87 comments
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In her General Conference address last Fall, President Beck said, “Growth happens best in a “house of order,” and women should pattern their homes after the Lord’s house (see D&C 109).”

[Sidenote: I'm still irritated by the frequency with which President Beck was misquoted (both on blogs and in print) to say that she thought that women should keep their homes as clean as a temple. But that's not the point here. If you want to criticize this talk (or your invented version of it) I imagine that you might possibly be able to find a thread or two where you can do that. But you can't do it here.]

What do you think could be included under the banner of patterning a home after the Temple? Here are a few ideas:

(1) Everything in the temple is goal-oriented: nothing there “just happens.” I’ve had days where I’ve felt that the only goal was to keep everyone alive; I don’t think that that is compatible with a temple-patterned home. Do we have goals (major and minor, daily and long-term) for our families or are we just filling time? What would be some appropriate goals for a family to have?

(2) Temples (usually) have kitchens and laundries. But those aren’t the point of the temple–they are there in a supporting role. Similarly, the point of being a mother isn’t to do housework but rather housework is done to support the larger mission. In some smaller temples, laundry and kitchen work is farmed out–while these things have to be done, they don’t have to be done on-site. There’s nothing wrong with delegating your housework if it helps your family meet larger goals. But it would be as much of a mistake as to see a homemaker’s job as “about” laundry and meals as it would be to see the temple’s job as about providing laundry and meals.

(3) Temples are very well-organized–you don’t find people searching frantically for that list of names or canceling sessions because they couldn’t get their hands on some necessary materials. I’m not convinced that dust is fatal to family life, but I am convinced that extreme disorganization and clutter can hamper the peaceful, successful working of family life.

(4) Most LDS have a reaction to simply seeing the temple; I know I did when I got to see the Oakland Temple every day on my way to and from work. But do you ever wonder how many people drive by and never give the place a second thought–people who have no clue of the importance of the work done within? Similarly, it is easy for the unaware to dismiss what happens within a family as unimportant work. But inside of a temple, heaven and earth are linked. The same can happen in a home.

(5) I’ve never seen a temple worker become despondent over the fact that they only made it through 200 of the billions of names that needed to be done that day. They do what they have the resources to do and don’t worry about the rest. In a home patterned after the temple, we don’t agonize over what we didn’t do. We just do what we can.

(6) In the temple, women exercise power and authority in a way that they don’t outside of the temple. President Beck made reference to the power that women exercise in the home.

(7) The temple president and matron delegate almost all of the work (both auxiliary work such as laundry and essential work such as performing ordinances) to other people–they do very little (percentage-wise) of the work. Similarly, I think mothers should delegate more work to their children.

In what other ways might we pattern our homes after the temple?

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87 Responses to Mothers Who Know: Homes and Temples

  1. Julie M. Smith on February 4, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Maybe another question to consider: Pres. Beck said that “growth happens best . . .” So: In what ways do we grow in the temple and what would we have to do to have that same kind of growth happen for our families in our homes?

  2. Ardis Parshall on February 4, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Temples exclude activities and behaviors that distract from the temple’s atmosphere. I try to do something similar in my home — some conversational topics are not welcome, nor are some people who bring anger and ridicule wherever they go. In my parents’ home, we had standing rules about certain words, tones of voice, and activities that just were not allowed.

    I’d rather concentrate on the activities and moods that belong in the temple/my home, but at the same time I do have to exclude some influences in order to foster others.

  3. Jonovitch on February 4, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Julie, this is impressive. A real eye-opener. I think you hit the nail on the head of every point listed here.

    My biggest first reaction was to the point that some of the more menial tasks (laundry and kitchen) are outsourced. My wife has on occasion mentioned something about hiring a maid to help keep our place cleaner. I felt my chest collapse every time she mentioned it, because we were still in school and I couldn’t realistically think of a justification for paying someone else to do a job at a lower rate than what we were earning. (I think she’s made some online friends who live a little above us.)

    I don’t disagree with the idea, though. And when I got to point 7, I had another big internal reaction. My heart lept! As a Scoutmaster, I’ve been trained to not do anything for my boys that they can do for themselves. (Similarly, I believe it is a true principle that God treats his children the same way — he doesn’t do anything for us that we can do for ourselves.) So I try to do the same thing at home with my oldest munchkin (he’s 3 — the other munchkin is happy just to find her own mouth, so she’s off the hook…for now.)

    If my little boy is done with dinner, he cleans up his plate, glass, and utensils. I showed him how to hold the fork under his thumb as he carries his plate to the sink, and now he does it perfectly every time, by himself. If he’s done watching a sign-language video, he turns off the DVD player, TV, receiver, and light. If he’s done in the bathroom, he flushes, closes the lid, washes his own hands, dries them off, turns off the light, and closes the door. And he loves doing it!

    My wife hasn’t been BSA-trained and is still learning the concept of “outsourcing” to your own children — some days she’s frantic. So I’m trying to let her in on the secret as much as I can, by example and careful (very careful) advice. And I’m trying to be one of the outsourcees whenever I can, of course.

    For me, points 3, 5, and 7 resonated the most (“house of order”, “do what you can”, and “delegate”). But in failing miserably on most other points, number 5 (“do what you can — and don’t fret”) probably resonates the most with me. :)

    A great analogy and comparison. Thank you!

    Jon

  4. Jonovitch on February 4, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Ardis (2), another great point! I remember my dad having a bit of a temper, and I later found out that his dad had even a bit more (my grandpa died before I was born). So after having learned how to be loud sometimes (I’m really good at it!) I’ve had to learn to keep my voice down most of the time. My work with the Scouts has certainly given me plenty of opportunity to practice! :) I’m able to stay calmer for longer than I used to, but I still have to work on it. I’m always trying to improve the tone at home, so rather than a scary and dangerous place to be avoided it’s always a safe haven and a place of refuge and comfort (another principle of my BSA youth-protection training).

    A slightly less-holy example: I enjoy watching movies, but with two kids, it’s sometimes hard to go out to see them, so we check out and rent and download a lot. Sometimes a film is released that I really want to see, but I know I have to find a way to watch it in the theater, if at all, because I don’t want to bring it into my home. (Of course, even better would be to not want to watch such movies, but that’s a different discussion.) So I have seen a few of the more secular titles, but always in a very picky and deliberate fashion, and always going out (into the world)/in the theater, rather than at home.

    Jon

  5. Anita on February 4, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    as to #4–Clearplay DVD filters are your answer!

    Great post, Julie. I heard my uncle Jack Welch speak recently on this topic, “Temple as Template.” He said that when he attends the temple, he thinks, “What good thing can I see today to model at home?” Some of his suggestions relevant to this post included: the importance of sanctity, quiet voices, and the power of the priesthood in a righteous home, unselfishness and consecration, and how the order of principles taught in the temple work with the order of teaching our growing children: in their initial years they are given a name and learn about the importance of bodies, body parts, about clothing and modesty, the nature of this world, creation, and opposites. As they are baptized and accountable, they learn to recognize Satan and his half-truths, and as they become teenagers, we focus on morality and chastity, and preparation for marriage. The temple can be a map through mortality and guide us in raising our children if we look at it that way.

  6. Graham Wing on February 4, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    What a great way to look at Sister Beck’s talk! You’ve certainly given me lots to think about…

  7. John on February 4, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    This talk made me think about how I can present my home to provide an atmosphere of peace and, since I’m single, allow people to know that I’m a follower of Christ, just by entering my home. I’m working on this through keeping the house clean, having appropriate decorations, and making sure that my surrounding yard is neat and clean as well.

  8. Jacob F. on February 4, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Thank you for a good-faith perspective on Sis. Beck’s talk!

  9. Margaret Young on February 4, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    When my grandmother, who had been inactive for some years, prepared to go to the temple again, she was terrified that she’d do something wrong and make a fool of herself. My mother was so impressed by the temple workers who were extremely patient with her.
    I am a mother with at least one son who has NOT chosen the gospel path. My greatest responsibility to him is to show him I have faith in him. NOT that he’ll come around to my way of thinking, but that I have faith in his future–whatever it is–and that I’m with him in his struggles–whatever they are. I’m afraid I did not listen to Sister Beck’s talk when it was given. I chose instead to read a talk by John Groberg called “There is Always Hope.” That is the message I want my children to have above all else. Of course, the hope comes from Jesus Christ, but even if they don’t know that YET, I firmly believe that they will know it someday. Every knee…

  10. Naismith on February 4, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    This was excellent, thanks.

  11. Heather O. on February 4, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    Thank you again, Julie, for a very thought provoking post. I suppose one way that I’ve always thought of keeping your home like a temple is making it so the spirit can dwell there. As I was reading your post and the comments, I realized that’s a fairly vague statement, and I should think harder about what it means. I like what Ardis said about keeping evil at bay in your home, and not allowing certain influences inside.

    My two cents: Preparation is a huge thing in the temple, and I have found that, going along with your ideas about disorganization being detrimental, that prepardness can be huge in keeping things calm in the home. For example, things go better in our house when we actually prepare for the Sabbath–clean the house, lay out our clothes the night before, thinking through dinner plans, etc. My older sisters have given me tips about how to make getting the kids out the door on time for school easier—preparing homework and backpack materials the night before, packing lunches the night before, etc. So ‘prepare every needful thing’ isn’t just about food storage.

    Thanks again for a great post.

  12. RoAnn on February 5, 2008 at 12:21 am

    Wonderful post and comments with some great practical advice.

    A little sidenote to #2 re smaller temples. Although they usually have someone hired to do the deep cleaning weekly, I was interested to learn that at least in many small temples, it is the presidency and the matron and her assistants who do the daily upkeep cleaning of the restrooms, to make sure they are clean and tidy all day long. They realize that maintaining a level of cleaniliness and order in the physical surroundings will enhance our spirituality in that holy place.

    I think if we approach the maintenance of our homes in that frame of mind, it will make it easier to be cheerful as we do some of our less favorite cleaning tasks. And it will enable us to cheerfully teach our children to help us!

  13. Frank McIntyre on February 5, 2008 at 12:23 am

    Very nice, Julie.

  14. Bored in Vernal on February 5, 2008 at 1:51 am

    Julie–nice post, and good comments. I really want to make my comment in the spirit of what you are trying to do here. I think that if I chose to outsource much of the housework in my home, and if I paid someone to come in an organize paperwork, such as is done in the Temple, I would surely be able to realize a great measure of the peace that is found there. But I wondered if that was really the point of Sister Beck’s talk. So I went back and read it (again!) Julie suggests honoring sacred ordinances and covenants, and pointing our children toward the Temple and eternal goals. When she mentions patterning our homes after the Lord’s house, she does it in the context of gaining the skills to create a climate for spiritual growth. I am afraid that the direction this post is moving suggests that we remove ourselves from some of the work of the home in order to create some unreal and in many cases, impossible goal of Temple-like serenity. I’m not sure that that is being true to what Julie is actually trying to promote. I don’t disagree with outsourcing some of our work, but in advocating this, you are doing what you accuse others of doing–inventing your version of her remarks.

  15. sol on February 5, 2008 at 2:49 am

    When I think of patterning my home after the temple I think of being consistent. I know what to expect when I go there. I know where things are, how things will operate, etc. Much of this has to do with organization. But, for me, it also translates into being consistent in the spirit I introduce into my home by my thoughts, attitudes, and actions. No child or spouse likes to come home wondering “who” they will find there based on how mom’s day went. I want my children and spouse to know what to expect when they come home and to look forward to being there. Now if I actually did it…

  16. dangermom on February 5, 2008 at 3:31 am

    Some very nice points to think about. Thank you.

  17. Naismith on February 5, 2008 at 7:46 am

    “we were still in school and I couldn’t realistically think of a justification for paying someone else to do a job at a lower rate than what we were earning.”

    Where were you going to find this cleaning person who earned so little?

    When I first returned to the workplace, my cleaning person was earning the same as I was (with a graduate degree). I paid her 1.5 hours of my gross hourly rate, of course, for an hour of work, since she had overhead costs. Over the years, my income went up and hers did not, and it was a bit more of a deal.

    But home cleaners are the cream of the janitorial industry. They should be bonded, of course. And I want a cleaning service, not an employee, to avoid the tax issues in the US.

    I highly recommend it as a way of reducing stress and making time for the family. I was only employed part-time when I started using a cleaner, but even with that, it was a necessity.

  18. ESO on February 5, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Very nice post–I am enjoying this series.

    While I appreciate that many aspects of the temple would be appreciated in our home, I just want to clarify that it is appropriate for the home and the temple to differ in some ways. Specifically, the work of the home and the work of the temple are very different, and I wouldn’t want anyone to feel badly that their home is not “serene”–bonding as a family (the work of the home, I think) may include running, laughing, and other behaviour not associated with the temple.

  19. Geoff B on February 5, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Julie, thanks for this post. Very thought-provoking material.

  20. TMD on February 5, 2008 at 11:19 am

    RoAnn–I just wanted to clarify that at least with our small temple, members from surrounding stakes appear every evening after the last session to clean the restrooms, vacuum the floors, etc. (there are assignments, I should clarify) Then, once a week a larger group comes to do a ‘deep cleaning.’ I’ve done it many times, and I value the expereince. My ward has also engaged in stream maintenance and landscaping work on the temple grounds I think there’s also something very right about having the members involved not only in the overtly spiritual work of the temple, but in its more temporal aspects, as well. So far as I know, the only time professional cleaners touch our small temple is during the annual maintenance, when they shampoo the carpets, etc.

  21. Aaron on February 5, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    I like your analogies and points to consider.

    One other thing I thought of was that in the temple we listen to music and watch a movie/T.V. as well.

    What kind of music and media are we allowing into our homes?

  22. cheryl on February 5, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Julie-
    Thank you so much for this post. It is something I definitely needed to think about and to hear at this time –and I’m always grateful to anyone who sees Sister Beck’s talk for what it really was…

  23. annahannah on February 5, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    We would have no problem keeping our house quiet. My husband and 2nd son are so soft-spoken that my father cannot ever hear them. On the other hand, when my children, and even us parents on occasion,cannot bear yelling and putting people down loudly. We wince. My youngest son is afraid (almost 20) when voices rise. I have had to learn to not yell but my husband has been a good influence.

  24. Matt on February 5, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    I was wondering a couple of days ago if you would come up with another great list of ways we can incorporate Sister Beck’s talk in our lives… Thanks!

    Hiring a cleaning service may buy someone more leisure time but that circumvents part of the goal of teaching our children to be self-reliant. Just the opposite. I know families with multiple children with disabilities who get help cleaning and that’s okay – they have an extra burden. But the rest of us should be able to use any job around the house as a teaching moment. Either a teaching moment of how to do the job or a teaching moment about any topic. That’s what Sister Beck meant. One example we do is practice spelling words while doing the dishes. Treat housework like you do grooming: you just need a certain amount each day to keep things up. Do the dishes after each meal so they don’t pile up. Run the vacuum in the main rooms every three days and bedrooms once a week. It won’t take long. Assign certain jobs to each child and spend 15 minutes doing housework a day and you’ll be amazed. No dreading the weekly clean. No arguments from the kids. No scrambling to pick everything up in a mad rush before the home teachers (or whoever) comes over. Dust and dirt won’t hurt the spirituality of your family but complaining and arguing about housework will.

    Disclaimer: Yes, I’m a neat freak but I hate to do housework more than most people so I try to do it as efficiently as possible with the most benefits to all of our family. So far, this system works for our family of five, one dog, one cat, five fish, schoolwork, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Young Men’s, home teaching, visiting teaching, occasional Primary activities, soccer, baseball, ski club, my wife’s calling, my calling, and work.

  25. sol on February 5, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    #24- I’m not sure if I read your comment correctly. Are you saying that people who have hired help are not teaching their children self-reliance? Because, before I sink your battleship, I just want to be sure.

  26. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Thanks for all of the comments.

    Ardis, I really, really like your idea. The temple is defined almost as much by what it isn’t as what it is.

    Anita, that’s interesting–I’ll have to think about that more the next time I am at the temple.

    John (#7)–yes. I like that.

    Margaret, I think that is a very important point. We should feel comfortable and welcome in the temple.

    Heather, I agree that preparation is huge.

    BiV, I don’t think we disagree so much as that I haven’t explained myself well. I think outsourcing can be broken down into two types:

    (1) outsourcing to children, which is essential for their growth (not to mention mother’s sanity), as Matt mentions
    (2) outsourcing to paid workers, which is not necessary (I’ve never done it) and not financially possible for most people, but I just mentioned it to draw a distinction between the primary work of home/temple and the support work of home/temple.

    So I’m not advocating outsourcing to paid employees to create serenity (although there is nothing wrong with outsourcing). I was just making the point that housework isn’t the essence of homemaking any more than it is the essence of temple work. In both cases, the physical labor supports greater goals.

    As far as the issue of temple-like serenity, which BiV and ESO mention, I think it would be setting yourself up for a disaster to expect the serenity of your home to be exactly like the serenity of the temple. Yet having a serene home is a good goal–but serene around here might mean playing Carmen Sandiego while the 3yo does puzzles.

    sol, that’s a very good idea about being consistent.

    Before Matt and sol go at it too much, can I ask that we pull away from the tussle over paid help and focus on some of the other issues? I’m really curious to hear what people think about goals for families and growth.

  27. Jonovitch on February 5, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Naismith (17), I worded that poorly. I meant to say, “we were earning less than what it would cost to pay a maid.” I couldn’t justify it on my internal time vs. money chart.

    Last night I was thinking about point 1 a little — was I doing something substantive, with an end in mind? And I started to think about the things I needed to accomplish. With two kids, often my other “have-to-do”s get pushed aside because the kids need attention or cleaning or help or discipline. And while I sometimes think I’m getting nothing done, I have to remind myself that when I’m spending time with my kids, am doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. And that I need to be more organized and motivated when the kids are asleep so I can get all the other “have-to-do”s done.

    Which led me to think about point 5 again — I don’t have to be perfect today, I only have to be one “bit” better than yesterday. If I contacted five of my home-teaching households in January (with four actual visits), I didn’t fail. And in February I should try to contact six of my households, one “bit” better. If I got only two things done last Saturday, I didn’t neglect the other 10 I needed to do, I should just aim to do three this Saturday. If our ward only baptized 54 people last year (down from 72 a few years ago), we shouldn’t aim for 75+ this year (to somehow make up for it), rather 55 or 60. Besides that, our retention seems to be improving!

    I’ve heard this concept in different settings recently (I think General Conference was one of them) and I really appreciate it. Being just one bit better tomorrow than I was today is encouraging, not depressing, and it motivates me to keep going rather than give up. Being just one bit better is not an overwhelming task, and is often surprisingly simple. Bit by bit (line upon line, precept by precept) is how we get to perfection — not an overnight insta-change. Bit by bit, one thing at a time, just a little better than before. Not much now, but in the end, it will have made a consequential difference.

    Thanks again for point 5.

    Jon

  28. Idahospud on February 5, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Julie, this is a superb post. You gave me a lot to think about today.

    #25 sol, I don’t think that #24 goes as far as you suspect, but having seen you in full uniform before on the rape thread, I would *love* to watch you let the torpedos rip (maybe at your blog, so as not to threadjack?). You rock.

  29. sol on February 5, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    “Before Matt and sol go at it too much, can I ask that we pull away from the tussle over paid help and focus on some of the other issues? I’m really curious to hear what people think about goals for families and growth.”

    Okay, Julie. But only because I respect you and this is your thread. However, the torpedoes are loaded and the aircraft carrier is on high alert. Another another attack on innocent maid-employing citizens will not be tolerated. (Insert stink-eye here)

  30. sol on February 5, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Why, thank you, Spud. I’m a current spud myself, you know. Come on over to my blog anytime!

  31. kristine N on February 5, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Julie–I am glad you are here to translate Pres. Beck’s talk into something I can get on board with.

    I’ve liked all the suggestions, but I especially like the suggestion about keeping some topics of discussion, tones of voice, and types of media out of the home.

    For me, the temple is a place of service, as is the home, even without children. My sisters and I were happiest when we were serving each other (which I admit didn’t happen often, especially in our younger days), and the most fun I ever have cleaning is when I’m doing it for my husband. I’ve found I quickly forget the service aspect of such necessary daily tasks as the dishes or the cooking, which definitely saps my motivation to do them. I appreciate the reminder that the physical work is service that is necessary to, as you say, support greater goals. Remembering that is the case is definitely difficult, though! Temple service has the advantage of being something most of us don’t do every day, making it easier to remember the importance of what you’re doing, I think.

  32. Mark M on February 5, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    On Anita’s (#5) solution to Jon’s (#4) dilemma, I can’t help but think of (needless?) technicalities. I don’t know the workings of ClearDVD filters, but…

    The temple would not bring in filth to have it filtered clean inside. Instead, the filtering or cleansing is done outside the temple premises, and then that which is worthy enters.

    (Take this comment and possible misapplication with a huge grain of salt!)

  33. Mark M on February 5, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Experienced parents will quickly realize I am at a lucky/blessed phase of early parenting, with my oldest (17 month boy) enjoying housework more than toys. He just loves doing whatever he has seen Mom and Dad do — vacuuming (and changing the attachments), rinsing dishes in the sink, stacking clean dishes, raking leaves, watering in the garden, sweeping with a broom, wiping down surfaces, etc. He cries when the vacuum cleaner is turned OFF.

    As I enjoy this miraculous season of life, it is fun to realize that special bonding time with my boy is created as we go about mundane matters. And it doesn’t matter that it takes twice as long to clean, or garden, or whatever. He is loving it (adult’s work is child’s play to him) and I relish in watching his development.

    Down the road, when this “dream phase” of life ends, I’ll be first to line up for your wisdom in dealing with life’s realities!

    P.S. Don’t send the Dept of Social Services my way — it’s the toddler himself that races to the closet to pull out the vacuum in the morning.

    Additional Postscript: I like the comments about “serene homes” including plenty of giggles, laughs, and running around. Some of our most joyful spontaneous moments have been with the radio on, breaking out into spontaneous family dancing (Mom & toddler boy, Dad & baby girl, after Mom & Dad lead off).

  34. Jonovitch on February 5, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Julie, (26) continuing along with point 1 — one major long-term goal for a home I think is to teach children self-sufficiency. (Isn’t that what us grown-ups are still learning ourselves, too? I.e., isn’t that how God sees his relationship with us?) A rough progression might include eating, walking, dressing, toilet-ing, cleaning, schooling, cooking, fixing, earning, marrying, parenting.

    Right now I’m trying to “teach” my little boy that before he moves from Legos to animals to carspaceships, he cleans up. It would be faster to do it myself, but speed is not as important as the training he needs — it helps me practice patience, too (does this sound like something God could say about us adults?). After showing him how to clean up his dishes from the table, sometimes he now does it by himself. Success!

    A family in my ward (with three children older than mine) has a checklist of Saturday chores. (The dad is very goal-oriented.) I’ve seen the kids go whizzing around the house, getting things done, checking off boxes, and the house looks great before noon! They are organized, productive, and united in their family chores.

    A long-term goal for older families might be to pay cash for a new car, for example. Instead of ordering pizza for the whole family, they make it from scratch at home and deposit the difference into the “car jar.” If the teenagers want to drive, they have to be on the honor roll (or pay the difference in the insurance). Maybe the family can spend a night or two camping by the lake, rather than staying at a resort with a waterpark. The point is a common goal, everyone working together, but contributing in their own unique way.

    A daily goal for parents might be to *start and end* each conversation or phone call saying “I love you” or with a compliment, before unloading the list of things that need to get done, or how tired or frustrated you are. A small goal for our home might be to get the kids to bed by 8 pm — which would drastically improve our serenity at home!

    Jon

  35. ECS on February 5, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Great post and comments! Thanks, Julie.

    I think it’s important to stress the fact that keeping a house organized is hard work and that everyone should pitch in to keep the house in decent shape. I laughed when I heard Michelle Obama complain that Barack Obama never picked up his socks or that he keeps leaving the butter out on the counter. You may be running for president with millions of adoring fans, but you’d better pick up your stuff!

  36. A different Matt on February 5, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    My wife and I have frequently discussed the need to improve the communication in our home (think tired, impatient parents and quarreling of three young kids). My wife had the inspiration to set a family goal, which we agreed would be to work on nice words, nice faces, and nice tones of voice. Each one that shows they are trying their best to meet the goal on a given day gets to put an M&M in a pint jar. When the jar is full we will do something really fun as a family. More important, we are including the goal in our family and personal prayers, and thinking of ways to help each other be successful at meeting the goal. I don\’t know how this will affect things long-term, but even after just a week there is a renewed spirit in our home.

    I didn\’t explicitly connect this impulse with the model of the temple before reading your post, but it is true that respectful communication and elimination of \”unkind feelings toward one another\” are qualities of the House of the Lord.

    To pick up on one of your other points, I am daily in awe of the benevolent power that my wife exercises in our home. I never sought or expected a wife who would fill a purely \”traditional\” role, and her worldly talents and accomplishments are considerable. But as she has turned those talents toward managing our home and young family, we recognize the blessings of it every day. Your reminder that the mundane tasks of life (of which there are many, especially for at-home moms) should be viewed as in service of a greater good is really important. I think it also applies to fathers who may forget why it is that they go to work every day.

  37. Jonovitch on February 5, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Mark M (32), interesting analogy on the location of the filtering.

    I’ve seen enough *edited* R-rated movies at friends’ houses (including some Oscar winners) to know that they still have the R-rated *feel* to them, even if the R-rated *parts* are cut out. I did not enjoy them and decided that despite the technological workarounds, I didn’t want to bring that feeling into my home.

    Since then, I have seen a small handful of very select rated-R movies, but only in the theaters. So my strategy is this: I carefully “filter” my movie selections outside of my home (as you suggest), and I try to invite only worthy movies in.

    Jon

  38. Snow White on February 5, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    This is a wonderful post and very thought-provoking. My kids are all really little, so I often feel discouraged at how little I seem to have accomplished at the end of the day. Now I will have to rethink the whole “neat and orderly” thing. Thanks!

  39. Josh Smith on February 5, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Temple patrons use the potty.

    Temple patrons get dressed and undressed in private spaces.

    Temple patrons don’t use Nutella as an adhessive.

    Temple patrons don’t collect spit in their dressers.

    Temple patrons don’t give each other haircuts.

    Did I mention that temple patrons use the potty?

  40. Ardis Parshall on February 5, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    LOL — Are you home alone with the toddlers today, Josh?

  41. Adam Greenwood on February 5, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I like the way you’re thinking, Julie S. Point #4 was moving.

  42. Lupita on February 5, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Collect spit? That’s a new one for me.
    Julie, excellent post. I am inspired to do better.
    Family goals are a terrific idea. I would love suggestions, esp. with organization.

  43. Josh Smith on February 5, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    No, I’m not at home today. I work about 30 hours a week and my wife works about 20 hours a week. We switch off caring for the children and home.

    On days when I do the home- and child-care our home is more of a tabernacle in the wilderness than one of our modern temples. The home=temple metaphor is bit overdone in my opinion.

  44. kristine N on February 5, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Josh–you might enjoy this article in the NY times.

  45. Mark M on February 5, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    #36 – I love the ingenuity of the approach from A Different Matt.

    Putting M&Ms in a jar until it is FULL! If a tempted child removes some to eat them, it will take LONGER to reach the goal.

    Another classic line: #43 by Josh S,
    “our home is more of a tabernacle in the wilderness…”
    It’s the journey that matters anyway, right?

  46. Josh Smith on February 5, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Kristine, that article is awsome. Here’s a brief summary:

    “toddlers are not just small people. In fact, for all practical purposes, they’re not even small Homo sapiens.

    Dr. Karp notes that in terms of brain development, a toddler is primitive, an emotion-driven, instinctive creature that has yet to develop the thinking skills that define modern humans. Logic and persuasion, common tools of modern parenting, ‘are meaningless to a Neanderthal.’”

    So the question in my mind, the conference talk I really need to hear, is “What Do You Do When a Neanderthal Wants to Enter Your Temple?”

  47. Mark IV on February 5, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Actually, Josh makes a serious point. One reason temples are so orderly and well-organized is because they don’t let children in.

    Julie, I don’t mean to detract from what you are doing here, but I see a potential conflict. Something I see in the temple is the tremendous amount of respect God has for our agency. Often, when I encounter goal-oriented Mothers With Lists, I get the feeling they’re out to get results, agency be damned.

  48. Josh Smith on February 5, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Yes, let me make a serious comment. In all seriousness, the home=temple metaphor does little for me. In my mind, temples and homes do different things.

    Temples, in large part, are concerned with reverence, worship, reflection. We consider the purpose of life, remember those that have died, and commune with God. The temple is beautiful in its quiet reflection.

    Now these things can happen in a home, but not when the children are awake. When the children are awake, the home is the height of life and experience. The home, with small children, is constant movement–instinctual movement. It is sloppy; it is primitive; it is almost Lord of Flies (with some basic enforced rules). It is unscripted–and it is beautiful. But it is not beautiful like a temple. It is not a thoughtful-reverence beauty; it is an organic-alive beauty. There are no works for the dead in the home. The only work is living work, and it is messy.

  49. Ardis Parshall on February 5, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    On the other hand, Mark IV, the temple is the ultimate Mother With a List — if you don’t walk the walk and talk the talk, every detail exactly as prescribed, you don’t get the M&Ms in that jar.

  50. sol on February 5, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    While I can definitely see Mark IV’s point, Ardis gets 2 points on that response.

    Josh- Hilarious. And beautiful. And people are bound to make all sorts of analogies against what you just said, but just know that I feel you.

  51. Marisa on February 5, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    What\’s been said about children not being in the temple is exactly right, but I don\’t think this means we shouldn\’t try to pattern our homes after the temple, generally. After all, it was the General Relief Society President who after much thought and prayer gave us the counsel to do just that.

    I\’ve been thinking about Julie\’s point about housework being in a supporting role and wondering why it\’s so easy to forget that and feel like we\’re lost in a never-ending sea of dishes and laundry. I know that when I read my scriptures in the morning I have an easier time keeping perspective. Any other ideas?

    Also, it seems like a big difference between the home and the temple is that at home we often try to get many things done at once. When I\’m folding the laundry on the kitchen table while helping my first-grader with his homework, feeding the baby and calming a sick toddler, my home is not the picture of temple-like serenity. So is multi-tasking instrumental to chaos and can it be avoided?

    I think the reason why this subject hasn\’t been as thoroughly explored on this thread as it might have is because Julie\’s original post was so well-thought-out and comprehensive. Thanks for so many great points to consider.

  52. Ellis on February 5, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Our temple was recently closed for maintenance. Each ward was asked to send volunteers to spend one day helping to do a deep cleaning. The question I have is how is this analogous to hiring a cleaning service for the home? If one hires a cleaning service how do the kids learn how to do the things that need to be done to run a household? BTW, our temple does not have a kitchen. Should we replace ours with vending machines?

    I think my interpretation of this statement coincides more closely to BiV’s. It is the atmosphere that is present in the home, one of order and not disorder that counts. A place where meals are nourishing physically and homework get done as well as chores. A place where people laugh and learn together and grow spiritually while children learn how to care for themselves and how to be of service as preparation for becoming contributing members of society.

  53. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    “Temple patrons don’t use Nutella as an adhessive.”

    heehee

    Re #47: I agree with you about Mothers with Lists. That’s why I posed the question: I think it is a delicate art to compose goals that don’t deny agency–something missionary work related goals often do. I’m interested to hear from families with goals.

    Re #48: But another vision is that the temple is about performing the work necessary to get people back into the presence of God. Which is exactly what families do.

    Marisa, good thoughts about multi-tasking. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I relate to the idea that many people wanting things at once is one of the most stress-inducing parts of mothering.

  54. Naismith on February 5, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    “Hiring a cleaning service may buy someone more leisure time but that circumvents part of the goal of teaching our children to be self-reliant.”

    Just to clarify, our family does not use a cleaning service to “buy leisure time.” It uses the cleaning service to buy time to serve the church. Our callings are both pretty time-consuming. It also buys time to spend on other tasks. We do all of our own yardwork, cook virtually every meal at home when we are in town, and manage our own investment portfolio. Yet somehow eating out is acceptable while having a maid is not? It’s just a different type of outsourcing. (There is a direct link in our case, because half of the cleaning person’s time is in the kitchen, and it wouldn’t be so dirty if we didn’t cook so much. But we can cook healthier than we can eat out, so we spend our time cooking rather than cleaning, and our children become good cooks.)

    Also, it does not “circumvent the goal of teaching children to be self-reliant.” I appreciate there is that potential, but because we are focussed on the goal of raising children who turn into competent adults, it doesn’t happen. The children still have jobs before dinner and after; we still do dishes with them; they still have to pick up after themselves, etc. It’s just a weekly cleaning service, not a live-in maid. I’ve been a mom for 9 years with a cleaning service and 24 years without. I can honestly say that the kids have done about the same amount of chores with or without the cleaning service.

    As to the ease of cleanup, I think this does vary from house to house. We’re planning a kitchen refurb, and we are hoping that the new kitchen will be easier to keep clean.

    To be honest, without the maid, some of those things just wouldn’t be done, and we’d live in a little more dirt. It does bring serenity to our home to be that much cleaner.

    And so I refuse to apologize or feel guilty about providing a fairly paid, honest job for someone else. My husband served in missions in Southeast Asia where he had a maid and cook, and it would have been considered rude and selfish not to hire someone for that work if one could afford to. This may have influenced our outlook on the issue.

  55. Melinda on February 5, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    The temple has very structured activities. We don’t have 500 options for how to worship in the temple. There are several different specific activities we are expected to participate in. Then, there is time for quiet reflection (free time) after we’ve participated in the structured worship. I’m thinking of sitting in the celestial room after an endowment ceremony or sealings session.

    I’ve noticed that my toddler is a much happier boy when I have specific activities for him to do, in addition to unstructured time. But he likes having “coloring time” and other simple little activities a toddler can do that involve me guiding him and teaching him. Then, after a bit of structure, he’s much more content to play on his own and choose his own activities, which frequently involve something we’ve done recently.

    Telling children, “go play” without providing them any structure at all makes for kids who whine “I’m bored.” Some structure makes the free time more meaningful.

  56. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Melinda, good observation.

    I hope all those critical of outsourcing (and that includes those who have emailed me privately) are not only sewing their own clothes but growing their own fibers and weaving their own fabric and not only shredding their own cheese but also making their own cheese and milking their own cows. If they aren’t, I’m not sure why they should insist that others don’t outsource dusting. I do admit that there is a grave danger when children aren’t required to help around the house, but as Naismith points out, paid help doesn’t prohibit that.

  57. mmiles on February 6, 2008 at 12:34 am

    We had a housekeeper growing up. We still had choirs. There was still plenty to do.

  58. Kaimi Wenger on February 6, 2008 at 3:10 am

    I agree, mmiles. The division of housekeeping duties should have no bearing at all on the organized performance of music.

    :P

  59. MSG on February 6, 2008 at 3:26 am

    I’m a clean freak, I admit it. There’s just a lot of Martha in me that can’t just relax and let the Mary in me enjoy spiritual time if there’s still things to be done. And let’s face it–we can always find something that needs to be done. When our first child came along, my husband thoughtfully suggested that I hire a housekeeper to come in every other week to help me keep up and adjust to motherhood. I like to do everything myself and it was hard for me (believe it or not!) to hire someone else but I did–best thing I ever did and I kept her until my oldest was 17! And I was still always cleaning but I had more time to spend unstressed with my family–The woman I hired became nearly a part of our family and always will be. She had no children of her own and enjoyed watching mine go from 6 months old to age 17. I can’t thank her enough for her helping hand all those years–and I can attest to mmiles–yes, there was always plenty to do even with a housekeeper!

  60. sol on February 6, 2008 at 3:42 am

    well, you all sunk that battleship with more kindness than I would have even considered. That’s good. I’m tired from a late night at the caucus and I just didn’t have it in me to come home and solve all the bloggernacle problems too.

  61. Bored in Vernal on February 6, 2008 at 6:04 am

    josh, amen and amen. I think this post is taking the temple/home analogy waaaaaaaaaaaaay further than Beck intended. Please see her talk. Again, she connected the Temple with the home ONLY in the context of gaining the skills to create a climate for spiritual growth. Any connection with cleanliness, order, quiet, etc. is looking BEYOND THE MARK and a certain prescription for crazyness and UNBALANCE.

  62. Richard O. on February 6, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Sometimes our “stuff” forces us keep our nose to grindstone. Extra work to buy it. Extra work to launder it. Extra work to arrange it (and then re-arrange it). Less stuff might result in less unwanted work so we could focus on more satisfying work. Lots of “abundance” can sometimes become an unwanted “tar baby.”

  63. Heather O. on February 6, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Growth happens best in a “house of order,” and women should pattern their homes after the Lord’s house (see D&C 109).”
    BiV-

    That’s what Pres. Beck said, and Julie’s post isn’t just about cleanliness and order. Quite the contrary–it’s about what patterning our homes after the temple really means. Cleanliness is only a part of it, and it seems that you have perhaps missed the mark in considering what Julie (Smith, that is) is trying to accomplish with this post.

    Your statement about gaining skills to create a climate for spiritual growth I think is more in line with the spirit of the post, and I’d love to see you expand on that. What kind of climate fosters spiritual growth? And what better example than the temple?

    Obviously a home that has children in it is going to be loud and messy at times, something the temple never is. It’s just the nature of a family, and nobody is saying that things need to be always quiet and serene in the home. But I would say there is a certain kind of loudness that is more acceptable to the Lord than others–is your home loud because there is inappropriate music and media and fighting with each other, or because kids are happily playing and dancing? Is it messy because there are three day old dishes in the sink and stinky laundry, or is it because your kids have created an art display using messy clay? Etc, etc.

    The analogy between home and temple isn’t perfect, and it’s only part of Sister Beck’s message, but for the purpose of this discussion, I think it is a fascinating way to think about approaching ordering our home, and is not, as you describe, a certain prescription for craziness and unbalance. I would go so far as using the temple as an example is actually a wonderful way to achieve balance in the home, as you strive to put your priorities in line to create a gospel centered atmosphere.

  64. Naismith on February 6, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Re Julie, #26, apologies for reacting to an earlier comment without catching your request NOT to discuss paid help.

    Re Melinda #55, very insightful, I also thought about how children love rituals and never tire of hearing the same stories over and over again. Am I the only one mom who “lost” TOOTLE THE TRAIN for a few months because I just couldn’t bear to read it one more time?

    RE MSG #59, I appreciated your comment about not being able to relax if there are things to be done. I confess, I view my home as a place of work. If I want to relax, I go to the gym or library. My husband sees home as a refuge. I see home as a place where I work hard to make it a refuge for others. I don’t think this is entirely sex-linked, but rather more of individual differences. But I was shocked to read a medical journal state that one evidence that nausea of vomiting pregnancy is psychogenic is that women improve when they are admitted to the hospital. Of course they did! They no longer had a husband expecting dinner and toddlers whining. Their reaction was a reflection of moms’ lives, not a sign that the illness is in their head!

  65. Mellifera on February 6, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Wait– y’all are under the impression that the temple is *serene*!? That’s a good one! I’m at work right now so don’t really have time for a real post right now, but take it from a temple lady… it’s not what you think. More later. But for now, just know that even in the House of the Lord there are still people running around making sure things get done. So there. : )

    Julie, my husband and I LOVE your posts. This one is so getting linked to my blog.

  66. Julie M. Smith on February 6, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Heather O. explained what I was trying to say.

    Mellifera, can’t wait to hear more from you. . .

  67. Julie M. Smith on February 6, 2008 at 1:15 pm

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  68. Angie on February 6, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    \”I’m interested to hear from families with goals.\”

    My husband and I have a five-year-old and a four-year-old. During their baby/toddler/preschool ages, we have had four goals in mind:

    1) Teach them to be obedient.
    2) Teach them social skills.
    3) Set up patterns that will guide them through their teenage years.
    4) Build relationships that will be strong all the way through their adulthood.

    Now that the kids are getting ready to go to school, we\’re concentrating more on work ethic, independance, emotional self-control, and service. My husband and I have both worked in high schools, so we mainly think about how to set our kids up for success in the teenage years.

  69. Josh Smith on February 6, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    “Your statement about gaining skills to create a climate for spiritual growth I think is more in line with the spirit of the post, and I’d love to see you expand on that. What kind of climate fosters spiritual growth? And what better example than the temple?” –Heather O.

    I think my point is that the home and temple perform very different functions–there is a different type of spiritual growth in both settings. Because they have different functions, it is unfair, unneccessary, to create the expectation that a home should be a “house of order” like the temple. Members of the Church should not have problems with child protective services, but don’t tell them their homes should be ordered like the temple.

    So do we have a better example than the temple for fostering spiritual growth in a home? Sure. A man’s home is his … Hmmmm, wrong blog to post that one. I would consider spaces dedicated to growth through play and experiment more apt metaphors for the type of growth that occurs in a home. Maybe a laboratory, a classroom, a theater? Really, any place where youth, vibrancy, and active experience are celebrated–rather than formality, rigidity, and reverance. Spaces dedicated to play, spaces dedicated to experiential learning, are not ordered in the same way as spaces dedicated to ritual. To confuse the two can be misleading and possibly create unneccessary expectations and guilt.

    For me, the home=temple metaphor is worn out.

  70. sol on February 6, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    #67- Does THAT happen at the temple? Hilarious. I’ve come into the room and saved myself from that at just the last second many a time.

  71. Mark M on February 6, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    #51, #53 “Marisa, good thoughts about multi-tasking. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I relate to the idea that many people wanting things at once is one of the most stress-inducing parts of mothering.” (–quoting Julie Smith)

    Maybe this goes along with Mellifera’s upcoming stories…
    Serving in a baptistry soon after a new temple opened, I learned that Saturday mornings often had numerous patrons coming to insist that they needed to be served *right now* because they had brought family file names. There is still only one font, and it needs to be done orderly. So, yes, at least until the temple had been open several months, it was similar to having several children at home all clamoring for attention and help at the same time.

    I learned from the Baptistry Director’s example that he succeeded by listening to what they had to say, and calmly but assertively informing them that they would need to wait their turn.

  72. Mark M on February 6, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    My family is not one to work from “to do” lists or excessive goals. However, it has hit home from Church leader counsel that we need to be teaching our children the gospel. This gives our home activities a sense of purpose, without forcing a particular agenda on the children. And it helps us remember that we want the toddlers to enjoy both Dr. Seuss and stories of Jesus.

  73. Julie M. Smith on February 6, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Er . . . sorry about #67. But I will go ahead and translate it for you:

    “I vociferously object to my mother’s recently instituted policy of requiring us to wear white all of the time and only speak in whispers and only when necessary. /s/ T. Michael Smith”

  74. David Clark on February 6, 2008 at 1:59 pm

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    My sons response to your son’s previous interrogative:

    lijsdalnvcrewpoint0wtr093q4t30rgkldsfkja0u9e2wvcm9t3cqpqaewijdsaoijdskm;lkmfd;lkflks;;lkdskjfqc304tcqriih97yg87hy415469478694651hlkvgughuthtrhftgtdddddddddddddddddddddddgrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
    sdfuihouadhfHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT POIEGFPIJPF JWJWIEJ JSDLKJJSLKFJWOJFKJDKFJSDHFH TIUIRITIERIJJFIOWOJ7745802435–2=——-
    =============

    I hope that clears everything up now.

  75. tiredmormon on February 6, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    As an aside, my grandmother actually patterned her living room after a certain celestial room — color scheme, furniture and all.

  76. sol on February 6, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    You know, I think we just need to expand the lessons we learn from the temple to encompass a broader view of putting those principles into action in the home. I think Josh and others are right that feeling that our homes should mirror the temple is deflating expectation. Impossible and inappropriate.

    Yet, I think there is validity to the claim that our homes can and should reflect the principles of the temple. The beauty is that there is no one correct formula for this. An example or two:

    -In the temple we are not set apart from each other by wealth, status, testimony, calling, etc. All are offered the same opportunities for growth and joy. This process is also focused on the individual. In a home, we can facilitate a climate wherein each individual is as respected as the next and opportunities are provided for individual enhancement of talents, abilities, interests, so forth. All are of equal importance to the whole.

    -In the temple we are taught truths. We each receive them on a different level at different times. In our homes we can foster an atmosphere of continual instruction by just the small conversations throughout the day. We can provide opportunities for different principles to have meaning at different times.

    -The temple is organized and clean. However, not all things are “done” at all times. Also, Responsibilities are often shifted around. In our homes we can prioritize what we need accomplished to function as a family, then jump in and serve where we are needed.

    -The temple fosters a spirit of reverence. However, some times and places are more reverent than others. In our homes we can teach that there is a time and place for all things. FHE may be a place to practice outward reverence (for 1 1/2 minutes). Prayer is another opportunity to teach outward reverence for sacred things. But we often teach the principle of an attitude of reverence in the way we speak of sacred things or treat one another.

    These are just some thoughts off the top of my head. The point is that I think it’s self-defeating to pattern our lives after practices instead of principles. We are to be like Jesus, yet I don’t walk through dusty streets healing people. I don’t forgive sins. However, I try to follow the principles involved in those acts. Similarly, we can adopt principles learned in the temple and implement them in our homes. Emulating practices alone leads to running faster than we have strength, and maybe doing the wrong things altogether.

  77. sol on February 6, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I meant “is a deflating expectation” not “is deflating expectation”. If it even mattered…

  78. Mark M on February 6, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I just re-read Julie’s point #1 in the original post. It is probably just semantics, but I now realize that over the years I have developed an aversion to “goals” and “goal-oriented”. That probably stems from being around people who were so bent on achieving their pre-planned goals that some of the beauties of life became a bother.

    My aversion disappears by changing from “goals” to “purpose”. Funny how over time we can get edgy about nuances like that!

    Everything in the temple serves a purpose. (Yet, I think of temple “goals” as the now-abolished practice of committing to your leaders how many ordinances you will do that year.)

  79. mmiles on February 6, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Kaimi-
    Ummm–yeah–They always loved our Von Trapp family-style singing in the background while scrubbing the tub. Obvioulsy I meant chores.

  80. Mellifera on February 6, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Hi everybody, I’m back! So before I get going, I just want to make it clear that even though I’m a temple worker nothing I say can or will be constituted as official church policy. : ) I’m not even a very good temple worker! I’ve only been doing it for almost a year and am still only halfway through memorizing the initiatory. In fact, until I started thinking today about all the ways working at the temple makes modeling your home after it actually look feasible, I thought I wasn’t learning anything there at all.

    For me, being a patron at the temple vs. working there has turned out to be vastly different experiences. Being a patron is a lot like coming back to your parents’ house for Christmas during college: all you have to do is show up on time and mind your manners, and everything else is taken care of. Even when you participate in the chores, somebody else still masterminds the effort. Then you go back to your own life and all the sudden you have to go back to deciding what to cook, chore triage, juggling your schedule etc etc. That’s what actually working there is like (but still nicer than real life because it’s still the temple.) I’m not trying to patronize anybody’s temple experience here- that’s a temple lady no-no!- just explaining the HUGE shift in perspective that I experienced.

    So, the point of all this is, I think maybe the problem with the “home should be like the temple” equation is that when people think “temple,” part of what they think of is “the serenity and calm of having everything taken care of by someone else,” because that’s a big part of the experience of the temple: being served by others. And it gets real obvious real quick that that is one principle that we as adults cannot apply in the home. So instead of temple patrons, we have to think like temple workers because that is who we are in the home.

    When we discuss the temple being a “house of order,” let’s give an example of the typical temple shift setup. There are about 30 sisters per shift, and there are certain things that need manning (or womanning- as since I don’t know the brothers’ side so well I’m going to just talk about the sisters’ side. But I assume we’re all working on the same thing!):

    -X number of ladies to staff the locker room
    -X number of ladies to stand at various posts throughout the temple to help people get where they’re going
    -1-2 ladies per endowment session to help out
    -X number of ladies to help out at the veil
    -X number of ladies to do initiatories, etc
    -X number of ladies in the baptistry

    Temple workers rotate through their various posts in ½ hour chunks (that’s why sometimes they stalk you around the temple. They’re really not trying to be creepy.) Plus everybody needs to have a lunch break scheduled somewhere, time allowed to newer workers for study and training, make sure you have sisters who speak the appropriate foreign language in the right time and place, and you need to know when live ordinances are coming through so you can schedule your super-solid ultracool temple ladies to them.

    That’s a lot of scheduling to juggle! How do they do it? Well, they have this amazing sheet that has a standard schedule of jobs: ie “Line 1” starts with attending the first endowment session, moves on to the locker room for 2 half-hour chunks after that, then does initiatories for 2 hours… etc. I’m somewhere down on Line 19 doing things like Recommend Desk Bouncer Lady and the occasional stint in initiatory or baptistry.

    And- take heart, Saints!- there’s always something that goes wrong with their schedule. Temple workers don’t show up, somebody runs low on blood sugar and needs to take their lunch break early, a Spanish-speaking lady came and wants to do initiatories but there aren’t any Spanish-speaking workers in there at the moment, etc, etc, etc. Luckily for the shift coordinator she does have that handy little schedule showing her (1) What the general needs are, and (2) where everybody is in case she needs to find them and switch them out should a change occur. The crossing-out-and-retooling starts right at the beginning of the shift when they find out who’s actually there that day, and by the end of the temple shift the coordinator’s clipboard has more red on it than my final paper for French 321.

    So, what this means is… The temple works because they have a solid basic plan that is extremely, extremely flexible and based on moment-to-moment needs!

    Another interesting point about their ability to fit their plan to the moment is that the shift coordinator really has to know her girls. Sister X speaks Spanish, Sister Y doesn’t but has the Spanish initiatory memorized anyway, Sister Z is creaky and can’t stand for too long so we don’t put her in standing posts, Sister J is hypoglycemic so she can’t help supervise an endowment session- too much time without snack breaks. And so on and so forth. Each sister who works there has her own individual strengths and the coordinator needs to work with those strengths so that the temple really performs. Kudos to my amazing shift coordinator Sister Peterson- wherever you are, you’re a darn good temple lady.

    ****I still have more thoughts on temple/home brewing, but this post is already long enough. That is, thoughts brewing on temple/home. Not home brewing at the temple. Er… more to follow.

  81. Mellifera on February 6, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Thoughts from a Temple Lady, take 2: More Ideas on How Home Can Be Like Temple

    My first thought is, At the temple everybody is nice to each other. (Very few exceptions.) That’s it! I think that’s the #1 expression of sacredness that transcends the boundaries of temple and home. You can’t do ordinances at home, but you can sure treat people with respect. Kindness and charity are the essence of Christianity. Now obviously kids aren’t born knowing (or caring) how to do this and have to be taught over many many years of encouragement and correction. Which brings to mind point #2, that in the temple there are very clear expectations as to behavior. Do you ever find yourself thinking in the temple, on the occasional times when you feel frustrated with something, “I bet if I flip out on this temple worker, then I’ll get my way.” No. That is very obviously not ok. You learn to wait. Again, kids don’t have the inhibitions that adults do. That’s why they are given adults to help them understand and be able to cope with the social norms of consideration and patience that we learn, through the temple, are our highest standard.

    I also liked someone’s commenting that in the temple we move at the pace of the slowest member of the group: how sad would it be to be left behind at the temple? The corollary skill to this is not only remembering to wait, but to not sit there and fume about how you’re being slowed down. See #4…

    #3: People working at the temple are united in their purpose. You don’t have the recommend desk guys going “Boo! Baptistry drools!” and vice versa. They see their jobs as little portions of a bigger whole and recognize that they need each other to achieve the whole point of their own selves’ being there.

    Applying this one to family can be a little tricky. Families really did used to need all their members, children included, to pull together to support themselves, but prosperity has made total cooperation somewhat unnecessary. I knew an LDS family therapist who told me, “Every family should have some kind of family business. Even if it’s just selling ice cream cones twice a year at parades. People and especially children just need something more compelling to rally around than doing dishes! ‘Wow Margie, thanks for putting the silverware away, we really couldn’t have pulled through without you.’ No, not very inspiring.” I often wonder if this is not the same need that SAHMs express when they feel frustrated to tears with the unfocused-ness of herding their kids all day. Activities going on in the home- gardening, tailoring, selling eggs and milk, and all other kinds of family business- used to be at least half the family’s living- income was only part of the story. And the whole family had to work together in order to make it happen. Kids felt needed and important and family members felt closer because they accomplished important things together. That’s what those ropes courses for businesses are all about- they’re just trying to recreate what every farmer kid used to have with their family. One of my goals when we have kids is to never do chores alone- I was doing dishes at 5, so I know it can be done. : )

    (If you want a more solid example of what I mean by this, I just have to put in a plug for my buddies the Jeffries family. They’re not LDS- they’re a bunch of pig farmers up in Vermont. But if you want an example of a home patterned after the temple, these guys are it. Check out their far-too-absorbing-for-your-own-good blog at sugarmtnfarm.com/blog)

    #4- And my final thought, The temple is not about efficiency. Of course we try to do things more in a smooth fashion than otherwise. That just makes for a good experience. But even when we have 500 initiatories to do, we still do them with dignity. Those are people, and this is not a soul factory- it’s the House of the Lord.

    What a revelation. It’s kind of like saying, “Your kitchen is not a food factory. It is a laboratory in which to work together.” Kind of changes the point of dinner prep a little bit. I’m sure this all sounds awful idealistic but I think ideals are also one of the temple’s main points- having something to aim for.

    There are other things I’m thinking still, but it’s late and I need my beauty sleep in a baaad way. : D Hope this continued to make sense until the end.

  82. Julie M. Smith on February 6, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Wow, Mellifera, that was way better than my post. Thanks. I especially liked “At the temple everybody is nice to each other.” and “The temple is not about efficiency.”

  83. Sean on February 7, 2008 at 2:21 am

    I agree with Julie – Mellifera, your posts were great. The idea of a family business to create opportunties for all family memebrs to work together is interesting. My wife’s Dad owns a sub shop business, and all the kids were working there at a relatively early age. They are very close-knit, even as adults, and have a good work ethic. Hmmm…

  84. Just_Kelly on February 9, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    This was a wonderful post, I absolutely loved the insight! Thank you very much!

  85. Lei on February 12, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    The first thignt hat hits me here Julie is your point of homemaking not jsut being about household chores. I don’t stay at home to care for my house, I stay at hoem to care for my chidlren. And that opens up a sleu of idas for ways to apptern my home after the temple. A thought I had was how a temple becomes such and how much involvement there is by church members. “It takes a villlage”, so to speak. I want my home to be a gathering place for other children and friends and family and I want others to feel welcome in my home, to work alongside me, to be an example to me and to teach me. In terms of charity and service, I think there is a lot to pattern after the temple. Do we open our homes to others often enough and do we accept service? Do we make an effort to be present in other people’s homes and serve them? VT’ng and hometeaching are 2 obvious ways of doing this, but what about going beyond? Are we teaching our children the importance of fellowshipping and embracing others and being of service?

  86. Lei on February 12, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Marisa (51) – I think one reason is that it’s the easiest way to order our world. And perhaps a misunderstanding of the adage “cleanliness is next to godliness”.

  87. Lei on February 12, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Oh, I like Melinda’s (55) observation very much, too! Sorry – commenting in spurts here.

    Mellifera, I agree – you’ve given us a fascinating perspective on this. Especially – “So instead of temple patrons, we have to think like temple workers because that is who we are in the home.” Thank you!