We recently talked with Sister Kristen M. Oaks, beloved wife of Elder Dallin H. Oaks. She shared with us her thoughts on being an apostle’s wife, stepmom, and writer, as well as her passion for helping families make their homes more holy places.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned as the wife of an apostle?
I’ve learned that my major responsibility is to create a holy atmosphere at home. Without the Spirit, Elder Oaks cannot function to his fullest potential. This even includes such mundane things as washing his socks and preparing good meals to the more essential spiritual tasks of maintaining harmony and peace, as I try to be a woman who honors the commandments of our Heavenly Father.
What’s your favorite place?
I was an international education consultant and traveled widely before I married my husband. I love this beautiful world, especially anywhere the Saints congregate. Because of my time as a teacher and missionary, Japan, the Philippines, and Mexico are especially dear to me.
Favorite mission blessing?
The eternal friends I gained and affinity with a nation. My ties to Japan and the Philippines seem only to deepen as I stay in touch with the members.
Favorite Primary song?
A favorite song is “Love Is Spoken Here” about intentional parenting. Every time I hear it, I visualize a “mother kneeling with her family each day," and a home where “the Savior is near." We included it on the album that accompanies the book My Home Can Be a Holy Place for that reason.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a stepmom? Any advice to other LDS stepmoms?
I inherited an amazingly loving and supportive family whose mother had prepared for my arrival. In the year before her death, Elder Oaks’ first wife, June, realized Elder Oaks would need a companion to help and support him. She asked the family to love and help the new wife who would come. My family often speaks of their mother and I do, too. Although she is now in Heaven, I believe she is still very involved in her children’s lives.
Also, Elder Oaks, in his wisdom, did not date until every daughter approached him and told him she was ready for him to remarry.
Because I worked outside the home my entire life, the most rewarding part of marriage is being at home. I enjoy decorating and holidays, making our home cozy, and I relish every chance I have to be with my wonderful family and grandchildren.
I love sleepovers, school plays, high school football games, and especially the new great grandbabies who are coming to our family.
I would advise every second wife to revere the history of the family she has joined and add to it. Have patience and allow others to have patience, too.
You shared several insights about being a single member in your book, A Single Voice. Best piece of advice for LDS singles?
The best advice comes from Sister Julie Beck, whom I often quote: “As men and women of covenant, our goal is to go forward and develop nurturing and caring hearts that will prepare us for our roles as parents in the eternities.” That is no easy task; it might even be a bit painful, if your eternal blessings have not yet manifested themselves. Persevere—your reward is certain.
However, I am thankful for my many married friends who included me in their social circles and for the Church callings that allowed me to have close association with families.
What are some of your passions and hobbies outside of writing?
I enjoy eating, laughing, daily walks with my husband, playing with my grandchildren, studying the gospel, and attending the temple.
You recently came out with a new children’s book, My Home Can Be a Holy Place. What inspired you to write it? What message do you hope people will take from it?
The idea for the book has weighed heavily on me for the last three years. I want so much for the young parents in Zion to prepare and protect their precious children, the future of our church. I hope people will realize (1) by relatively small, consistent holy acts we can achieve a sanctuary for our family, and (2) that children—properly taught—have a magnificent capacity to help make their homes holy.
You also have a new blog, homecanbeaholyplace.com. What is its purpose? What can readers expect to find there?
I have tried to listen to prophets who have told us to share our testimonies with the world. The purpose of my blog is to extend the ideas in my book into real-life practice in the lives of members. I’m gathering ideas from a variety of LDS parents on how they make their homes a sacred sanctuary against the ever-increasing evil in the world. The stories, activities, reading suggestions, and other resources on the blog provide ideas and inspiration that can help others make their homes places of joy, safety, and refuge.
In addition, there are reading suggestions, recipes, music, and links to relevant Church talks. I invite everyone to contribute suggestions that have blessed their homes.
Is there something not many members of the Church know about you?
I am essentially a convert to this Church, and I can testify to the great power of our Heavenly Father to bless our lives, our homes, and our families if we are obedient to His commandments. Life under the gospel plan is true happiness.
Is there anything else you would like to share with LDS Living readers?
We have such a sacred privilege and responsibility as members of this Church to serve our Savior, Jesus Christ. Remember: “The first duty pertaining to the training of the children of the Church belongs in the home. It is the responsibility of the parents to bring them up in light and truth…”(Joseph Fielding Smith, page 206, Teachings of the Prophets.), and that “only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness” (Bible Dictionary). We have a daunting charge to be valiant, and I am so thrilled to be part of it.
I pray for the success of all of us—we are all in this together.
Read more from Sister Oaks in her new children's book, My Home Can Be a Holy Place, available at deseretbook.com.