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Tenille Farr loves Big Ocean Women. She proved it by finding time to chat with me for this article in the midst of company, three teenage sons involved in homecoming, ball games, her garden “on full strength,” canning, and a truckload of fruit to distribute. Seeing her jam-packed life, I offered to wait until another month, but she happily worked me in at 10 p.m. after the truckload of fruit arrived, late, and before more company arrived in the morning. That’s love.

She joined Big Ocean after an invitation from Ann Takasaki to attend a retreat at her home. It was love at first sight. She laughingly admits, “you should just sign up before you first walk in the door, because you are going to love it.”  One thing Tenille loves about Big Ocean is our tenets. She had a hard time deciding which were favorites and concluded that her preferences rotate as they affect her differently at various times of her life.

She grew up on a dry farm in Rockland, Idaho in the United States, the middle of nine children. Perhaps that’s where she learned to work hard, play hard, and appreciate the abundance around her. She graduated from Brigham Young University where she majored in marriage and family and minored in music. She served a mission for her church in Tempe, Arizona. She is married and the grateful mother of five sons from ages 5 to 17.  

When she first joined Big Ocean Women, this month’s tenet of following our internal compass spoke strongly to her. She knew those five boys would need help to recognize truth by using what she calls “the Spirit” from within to always stand strong. When their friends struggle or stray, her boys must know how to respond with both integrity and compassion. She finds this tenet is a good reminder for her and helps her be a better mom. It also helps her confront the problems in the world and “avoid being desensitized to evil because we are less shocked the more often we see it.”

Tenille served first on the global committee and cited the opportunity to attend U.N. events in New York (CSW) and here in Utah (Civil Society Conference). She said, “It was life changing to meet women from all over the world, coming together to focus on preserving families and not letting them get erased.”  

She next took charge of the cottages in North America until a cancer diagnosis required stepping back. She cherishes the understanding of members as they rallied around her. Right now, she attends a meeting here and there as she can and looks ahead to getting back and doing more.  

She is currently growing out her hair for the second time after facing cancer twice. She was 14 weeks pregnant with their youngest son when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Medical wisdom dictated that she immediately begin chemotherapy to preserve her own life, but her internal compass led her instead to research and pursue natural treatments to keep the baby. This necessitated her moving away to receive alternative treatments. Her compass was correct. She found doctors who supported her strategy and strangers who took her in. When she delivered her fifth son at 37 weeks, the cancer had not progressed. She even nursed him. When he was 10 months old, she began chemo and was then pronounced cured. Four years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and just finished radiation and chemotherapy.

During these difficult times, she drew on the tenets of faith and gratitude for our interdependent relationships with men. Faith in God kept her going forward. She was grateful for her husband’s loving support–how he managed their home while she watched from her bed and demonstrated his powerful role as a father.

We leave with a final tenet that Tenille loves–the culture of abundance. She calls abundance her “word of the year,” and asserts, “Big Ocean gives women and families the chance to practice gratitude in large and small ways, reframe, share, and influence. This abundant way of thinking is a powerful part of Big Ocean’s influence. We don’t diminish our problems but reframe them with light.”  

That’s exactly what Tenille does. When asked about her latest bout with cancer she answered, “I just finished chemo and radiation and feel just fine because I’m done with the worst part.” She chose to take an abundant view rather than dwelling on the surgeries and procedures that lie ahead for her. In the meantime, she will relish the abundance of her life:  basketball, singing, days overflowing with boys, truckloads of fruit, canning, and her favorite gift–being with her family.