my speech

by Shawni

I’ve had a few people ask me to post the 3-minute speech I had to give at the American Mothers National Convention last week. So here you go:

One beautiful spring morning when I was a teenager, I had the rare opportunity to take a ride in a hot air balloon.
I loved it.
I loved watching the world shrink below me and the sheer beauty that such a different vantage point allowed. I could see everything from a whole new perspective.
At that time I had no idea that what was making our ride so beautiful was fire, and the heat it generated as it lifted us high into the sky.
Four years ago our fifth child, a daughter named Lucy, was born with six toes on one foot. The doctor quickly reassured us that it was much more common than we realized and that it could be removed without a fuss. Just like that teenager in that balloon years before, I had no idea at that time what fire that seemingly insignificant extra little toe would bring into our lives. A couple years later that toe would lead to a diagnosis of a rare genetic syndrome that would cause a myriad of health issues, most heart-breaking for us: imminent blindness.
Although our journey has certainly been a refiners fire, I would never trade it. It has made my children glow with compassion, it’s made me be a more deliberate mother, and my dear husband, well, he’s still trying to figure out whether he likes this fire much at all.
But that’s ok. Some fires last a long, long time.
Everyone here has some unexpected fire in their lives whether they are on the surface or deep down inside. Our fires are sometimes big and sometimes small…things ranging from your seven-year-old thinking it’s funny to call 911 (like what happened at our house last week), or they could be smoldering long-term fires like having to deal with drug or alcohol addictions, or losing a loved one. But I’d venture to say that as we look back on these fires, big or small, we would probably all agree that they, although at times horribly painful, have elevated us as they have given us a new perspective in life to make us stronger.

I love this quote from Rick Warren: “Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort.”
Just like a ride in a hot air balloon, sometimes the wind takes us places we may not want to go. But we have to train ourselves to cherish the new vantage point that the fires in our life give us, and eventually we find that these fires are what elevates us to become the kinds of Mothers God wants us to be.
In closing I want to share one more quote: “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved piece, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‑‑WOW ‑‑ WHAT A RIDE!”
May we all go forth and remember that fire has the power to elevate if only we will allow the hand of God to help us through the hottest, most smouldering parts.

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Kelly Jean May 10, 2011 - 4:28 pm


ChrisKatieKelly May 10, 2011 - 4:29 pm

Beautiful. And inspiring as always. Thank you!!

Brooke and Jason May 10, 2011 - 4:57 pm

I guess it is good to remember that everyone has a fire, sometimes we don't see what it is they are dealing with, but everyone has something in life that is difficult for them, but it does eventually give us new perspective that will hopefully help us to appreciate and enjoy life even more when the fire is small!

alecia May 10, 2011 - 5:56 pm

Thank you!

Becky May 10, 2011 - 5:58 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this- the truth of it speaks to my soul! Beautifully written- just as, I am sure, it was beautifully delivered!

Johanna V. May 10, 2011 - 6:03 pm

Beautiful. Great quotes. Congrats again on the well-deserved recognition. I love reading/looking at your blog. Not sure why I wrote this in telegram style :).

EliseM May 10, 2011 - 6:04 pm

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing it with us. I especially love the Rick Warren quote 🙂

Katie May 10, 2011 - 6:08 pm

Lovely! I love the analogy and the quotes, thanks for sharing!

Jonah and Aja May 10, 2011 - 6:27 pm

yo sis. you rock!

Nichole May 10, 2011 - 6:31 pm

Awesome! Loved the balloon analogy.

likeschocolate May 10, 2011 - 7:13 pm

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing this will all of us! It has uplifted my day!

knit one, knit two May 10, 2011 - 8:20 pm

Thank you for sharing this. Your speech (and especially the quote) gave me the lift I needed today.

Heidi (Todd) Broberg May 10, 2011 - 8:28 pm

Is it ok if I share this on my blog? (your blog link & speech) WONDERFUL!

Lauralee May 10, 2011 - 9:26 pm

love it! love that quote Rick Warren, so true…Thanks for sharing!

Linds May 10, 2011 - 9:59 pm

I LOVE the quote by Rick Warren. Thanks for sharing your speech and experience at the conference.

Shawni May 10, 2011 - 10:51 pm

Go right ahead, Heidi!

Leslie May 11, 2011 - 1:33 am

Wow! Thank you for sharing! I loved it! 🙂

cortney May 11, 2011 - 4:04 am

loved this, thanks for sharing! i'll try to remember this on the "hot" days when things get overwhelming.

Melanie May 11, 2011 - 4:32 am

Hi, Shawni! I found your blog through your profile on, and I am so glad I did! Thank you for being a great mother and sharing your knowledge and experiences! I am learning a lot from you. Your speech is inspiring. Congratulations on being named the National Young Mother of the Year. I think you deserve it.

Anne-Marie May 11, 2011 - 4:54 am

Great speech Shawni! Thanks for sharing so much of your life.

Megan May 11, 2011 - 4:54 am

Shawni, this is SO what I needed to read right now. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for sharing, and for being such an inspiraton to deliberate, devoted mommies everywhere! You are amazing!

Megan May 11, 2011 - 5:02 am

PS – I hope you don't mind, but I just had to post this link on my blog. 🙂 So beautiful.

Lauri May 11, 2011 - 6:31 pm

Hi Shawni-
I've been following your blog for a few months, and just love it! Your speech was fantastic! My daughter has a learning disability, and is graduating high school this year (Yippy)! As I reflect upon our sometimes difficult journey (fire) through the school years which has included laughter, tears, heart-break, successes, failures, joy and frustrations- I realize that it's all been worth it!

Kristin May 11, 2011 - 7:17 pm

I love this. Thank you for sharing.

American May 11, 2011 - 9:47 pm

Thank You for sharing your speech. It was truly inspiring.

I posted w/permission the speech of the CA Mother of the Year here:

Sheila May 11, 2011 - 11:52 pm

Thanks so much for this. I found out this morning that I lost another baby (second miscarriage in a row). I have four beautiful kids, but I am longing for the fifth that can't seem to make it.

This was just what I needed.

The Giles Family May 12, 2011 - 3:11 pm

I stumbled upon your blog and this is such a beautiful message! It brought tears to my eyes. I hope you don't mind if I share this with my family and post this link to my blog. It was just the daily dose of inspiration I needed to hear this morning. Thank you thank you!

Dana Broderick May 12, 2011 - 4:42 pm

Thanks so much for sharing that!! I needed to hear those words today.

Deila May 13, 2011 - 10:34 pm

thanks for your words and thoughts on these fires we are constantly fighting. You are a great example.

Brittany May 16, 2011 - 6:39 pm

I really needed to read that today. Thank you!

Becky May 17, 2011 - 1:01 am

Thanks for sharing your speech. Beautiful, inspiring message and powerful quote by Rick Warren.


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