SALT LAKE CITY — When life throws a curveball, “we just do the best we can,” Ann Romney told thousands of women at Deseret Book’s Time Out for Women event Nov. 22.
Romney, the wife of 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was one of several authors and musicians to appear during the two-day event which focused on uplifting and inspiring women.
This year’s theme was “Higher” and based on the scripture Isaiah 55:9.
The Salt Lake event was the last of several events this year across the U.S. and Canada. Events were also held in Australia and New Zealand.
The program also included Deseret Book CEO Sheri Dew; authors Terryl and Fiona Givens, S. Michael Wilcox, Mary Ellen Edmunds, Laurel Christensen Day and Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt; and musicians Sandra Turley, Hilary Weeks and the new musical group Hudson Lights.
Trials and mothering
Romney talked about raising five boys and now being a grandmother, dealing with multiple sclerosis, her husband’s presidential nomination and her new cookbook, “The Romney Family Table” (Shadow Mountain, $29.99), in an interview/question-and-answer session with Dew.
“I’m grateful for trials I’ve gone through,” Romney said of having multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the nervous system. She was diagnosed in 1998.
“Sometimes the only way is to endure and enduring is part of what we have to learn in life," she said.
It also gives her perspective on others who suffer and gratitude for those who continually “reached out to me when I was without hope.”
On raising a family, she said that her boys would be so well-behaved at church, but at home, “boys like to bounce balls and bounce heads and bounce each others’ heads.”
Romney said that once when Mitt called home from a business trip, he told her to hang in there because what she was doing was more important than what he was doing. That helped give her new perspective on being a mother and mothering.
“When you’re a young mom, just hang in there,” said Ann Romney, who was baptized when Mitt was serving a mission in France.
When their family was young, they lived in Cambridge, Mass., during the 1970s. She would get awful looks and responses when she would walk down the street with her two young boys and was pregnant with No. 3.
“You know in your heart you are doing what’s right,” she said. “I had to be strong. I had to be firm.”
During Mitt's campaign for president, she said she had to remind herself daily why they were running and who she was running with — her husband — to help insulate herself against the negativity and criticism that comes with running for the nation’s highest elected office.
“I loved campaigning. I loved seeing the country and the people in it,” she said.
She’s recently been in the media, but for a different reason.
“It’s a huge relief to not talk about politics,” Romney said of the response she has received from “The Romney Family Table,” which includes family stories and recipes. In doing interviews about it, she’s been able to talk more about the importance of families.
Women and the gospel
Dew shared several “absolute truths” that she has learned, including that this life is about discipleship, each woman is on a divine errand and that God wants to talk to each person: “We all have access to God’s highest spiritual privileges,” Dew said of women.
The Givens' focused on five women who, before the Restoration, helped share five truths about God. Two of them were Sarah Edwards (1710-1758), who concluded that God is our Heavenly Father and loves his children; and Catherine Beecher (1800-1878), who after the death of her fiancé asked her brother, Edward, about the common belief of the state of his soul. He later received inspiration about the pre-mortal world.
“Heavenly Father is not just a repairman, but a great architect,” Terryl Givens said.
Each presenter shared stories, both serious and humorous, scriptures and thoughts from prophets and general authorities with the 8,000-plus women in the audience along with the hundreds tuning into the live stream on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Edmunds encouraged women to take time to ponder and think, and to pay attention about what things are quietly taking root in their thoughts and minds.
“There are many things we can’t control, but we can control our thoughts,” she said.
Turley, a former Broadway singer, shared her experiences while playing the role of Cosette in “Les Miserables” and also some of the lessons learned while dealing with infertility, adopting a 5-pound baby girl and then giving the baby back to the birth mother at the mother’s request.
“It’s within us to go out and add to the world around us,” Turley said.
Wilcox, a retired LDS institute of religion instructor, suggested that the word "pray" gets so overused that it loses its proper meaning. And that the words “pour out” or “wrestle” could be used instead.
“Different words give a different frame of mind,” Wilcox said.
Platt, who teaches Book of Mormon and New Testament classes at Brigham Young University, explained how taking the routine things of life and ritualizing them by preparing, participating and remembering, helps give them greater meaning in life and also allows for a more intentional life.
“We take the ordinary and mundane and give it richness,” Platt said. “When our daily behaving is congruent with out beliefs, we experience greater peace and clarity.”
Day, vice president of product development for Deseret Book, told the women that fears can lead to missed opportunities as she humorously shared about turning 40 and meeting the man she would marry.
“My head was full of fear, but my heart felt calm,” Day said, adding that fear can be fought with hope, love and a sound mind.
A odd and quirky experiment that singer/songwriter Weeks and her family tried was putting cooked rice into two jars, putting them in similar spots in separate rooms and then talking nicely to one of the jars of rice and angrily to the other. The jar with “nice” rice was still OK after two months, but the jar with “angry” rice had melted into an odd, soupy-like substance.
“The vibrations of our voices to the rice affected the water in the rice,” said Weeks, whose title song on her recent CD “Say Love” is about spreading love through kind words.
From their time as “rice whisperers,” Weeks learned that words have an impact and to not only speak encouraging words to others, but to ourselves.
Also at Time Out for Women, more than 750 meals for families of four were donated and assembled for the Bountiful Food Pantry’s Food4Kids project.
Nineteen stops across the U.S. are planned for the Time Out for Women 2014 tour, which will be centered on the theme “Inevitable Light” and 1 Timothy 4:14-15.
For information including cities, dates and registration information, see www.tofw.com/2014events.
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