The Individual is the Heart of Value

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What I learned this Halloween …

Life can be stressful with eight children, especially around Halloween. Coming up with eight different costumes gives me a headache.  The way I deal with the stress is by complete avoidance.  I don’t even want to talk about costumes until the day of Halloween.  And then, I just pull out the dress-up.  At least three of my children would really appreciate doing something a little more special.  Nevertheless, they know that their mother can’t/won’t/doesn’t do Halloween costumes and so they have dropped the issue.

Last night, about fifteen minutes before the trunk-or-treat, I sent them all to find something to wear.  Jane plays on her middle school basketball team and had just returned home from a game.  I thought that was perfect, she could be a basketball player.  Nothing fit Sean, so we wrapped him in toilet paper and he was a mummy.  Joseph and Sam dressed up like soldiers (thanks to our more festive neighbors).  Grace wore a costume from a dance recital.  Eve went as a witch.  Margaret was a pioneer.  And Joshua was a chinaman.


I thought it worked out just fine … at least people gave them candy.   And I breathed a sigh of relief because it was over. But I went to bed feeling a little pang of guilt because I knew that it had been a disappointment to some of my children.  Halloween was important to them, but it had not been important to me.

I woke up early this morning to study my scriptures.  I happened to be reading in the fifth chapter of Mark.  In this chapter the Savior raises a twelve-year old girl from the dead.  And after performing such a miracle, the scriptures say “he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.”  I was really struck by this little passage.  The Savior of the world, who had power to raise the dead, was concerned about this young girl being hungry.  He cared about what she wanted and what she needed.  It wasn’t enough that she was alive, he wanted her to be comfortable.

Later this morning, I received an email from my sister-in-law Niki who I love and respect with all my heart.  She sent us pictures of the cinderella costume she made for her darling daughter Ivy.  One thing I know about Ivy is that she loves princesses and she especially loves Cinderella.  I am sure the costume was exactly what Ivy wanted and her mother went to great effort to make her feel important on Halloween.  It isn’t that Halloween is important or that Cinderella is important or even that it is important to look your best, it is that Ivy is important. heart of value Niki would be so embarrassed that I wrote about her.  She is not one to look for attention.  But I want to thank her for her wonderful inspiration.  She has been a quiet example to me in many ways.  She values the individual.  She pays attention to what people need, to what they want, to what makes them happy.  She loves to give gifts and never forgets a birthday.  And the gifts she gives are always perfect because she pays attention to people.  Much like the Savior, she cares about the little desires of their hearts.

Not long ago, the furniture on my front porch was looking shabby.  I wanted to do something about it and Niki volunteered to recover the cushions for me.  When I got the cushions back, I was amazed at how meticulous she was.  She took great care to match up the stripes.  She made the piping around each and every edge.  She made adorable buttons and pillows. Everything about these cushions displayed to me great care and time and love.  I absolutely knew when I got this gift, that Niki valued me. new cushions If you have been reading my posts, you know that I have been thinking a lot about the concept of value.  I think that I have come to the conclusion that there is no value except in reference to the human soul.  The soul, theindividuality, the being is of great worth.  We read in the scriptures that the “worth of the soul is great in the sight of God,” so great that the Lord “suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.”

The individual is at the heart of value.  Everything else of worth is an extension of that individual.  What a person needs or wants or what makes that person happy are all of value to that individual.  And what is important to the individual is important to the Lord. I am thankful for what I learned this Halloween.  I am not saying that I am going to run out and make my kids adorable Halloween costumes or anything like that.  But I am committing to pay more attention to my children and care more about who they are and what they want. They, as individuals, are at the heart of value and what they care about should be more important to me.

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  1. Stephanie says

    Loved reading this Shawna. I read this to Dave while we’re driving in the car on a business trip. We were both commenting on what a great person you are. You do so many great things and you are such a good mother. Life’s lessons are such a blessing. Keep up the good work!

  2. Tiffany says

    Your posts always brighten my mood, and help turn around my attitude and day, which in turn brightens my families day (funny how that works).

  3. Ang says

    Great thoughts. I do think some people go overboard planning for something just so their kid looks amazing (better than everyone else’s kid), when it’s something so unimportant. Especially because it often causes stress and the kids doesn’t really care. It’s also easy to do when you only have a few children. But, you’re absolutely right – we are parenting individual children with individual needs. More important to focus on their individual needs and talents!

    • Shawna MorrisseyShawna Morrissey says

      That is something you are so good at Angela! I watch you with your kids and you seem to know just what each of them cares about and needs. And your kids always look AMAZING .. not just on Halloween! The way you take time to do their hair every day really instills in your kids the fact that they are important to you!

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