Motherhood is such a broad subject. I was a little worried about it just because there were so many directions I could take. So, I prayed and then I just started typing. I am sorry. You are about to hear the randomness of my thoughts and notes I gathered in my scripture journals and stories that popped in my head. My first thought was, “What do I strive for as a mother?” The first thing that popped in my head was “Mother in Israel” which automatically made me think of Deborah from the Old Testament. Deborah was one of the coolest women of the old testament. Not only was she a Judge of Israel but she was also a prophetess (Judges 4:4). Those of you who haven’t read her story should totally read it. It’s very cool. There’s war, deception, a violence… yeah… lots of fun stuff in this section. However, the reason I bring up the story of Deborah, besides the total coolness of herself and Jael (another woman in the story), was because of Judges 5:7, “The inhabitants of the villages ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.”
The term ’Mother in Israel’ originates from Deborah. There is no evidence of her having biological children. Instead, she was a mother figure to her people. “She loved the people she served as a mother loves her own children. Deborah nurtured, protected, taught, and inspired the people of Israel to trust in God, act in faith, and work with Him to restore freedom, peace and opportunity within the land. She led her charge to the source of salvation… A mother sees beyond daily survival to eternal and spiritual progression. She recognizes that she can never save her children but He can. Armed with this knowledge and conviction, she selflessly seeks to bring others to the same truth.” (Women of the Old Testament, Camille Fronk Olsen, pg 114) I think of the many women who serve the primary, youth, and relief society. Not all of the sisters have biological children but we can all be “Mothers in Israel”. I think this lesson we learn from Deborah is so important to achieving the title of “Mother in Israel”.
Another amazing mother of the Old Testament was Rebekah. She is actually my favorite. She also taught a very important lesson to us. She and Isaac seemed to be a very righteous family who prayed for over 20 years to have a child. Finally, Rebekah became pregnant with twins. In Genesis 25:22 we read that Rebekah felt the twins “struggling within her”. She wanted to know why this was happening so she went to the Lord in prayer. She went herself. She didn’t ask her husband to pray to the Lord for her but she went and received her own revelation. She learned through that revelation that her youngest would receive the birthright and she made sure she obeyed the Lord and made that happen. Bruce R. McConkie said, “What a marvelous example Rebekah has set for all the women of the church. Not only did she pray and get personal revelation when she needed it, but she so influenced her husband and her son that they did what was necessary so that Jacob married in the church and with his beloved Rachel, gained eternal life.” I love that Rebekah did this. Women have the power to know how to help their family as well. the husband and wife can receive revelation independently but they must work together to influence their families to follow the commandments of the Lord.
On Sept 23, 1995 something very profound was shared in a General Relief Society Meeting. The Family Proclamation. President Hinckley said, “Why do we have this proclamation on the family now? Because the family is under attack. All across the world families are falling apart. The place to begin to improve society is in the home. Children do, for the most part, what they are taught. We are trying to make the world better by making the family stronger.” He continued by saying, “You are the guardians of the hearth… You are they who nurture them and establish within them the habits of their lives. No other work reaches so close to divinity as does the nurturing of the sons and daughters of God.”
President James E Faust then said, “Because you mothers are the heart and soul of any family, it was appropriate that [the proclamation] was first read in the general Relief Society meeting.”
Sister Zina D. H Young (3rd RS General President) taught sisters to “make the home the center of attraction, where the spirit of love, peace and unity will dwell, and that sweet charity that thinketh no evil will ever abide.”
Ezra Taft Benson made this profound statement that puts great amounts of pressure on me. “Mothers in Zion, your God-given roles are so vital to our own exaltation and to the salvation and exaltation of your family. A child needs a mother more than all the things money can buy. Spending time with your children is the greatest gift of all.” *sigh* Recently, the relief society sisters were presented a challenge. A challenge in which we were to eliminate or moderate something in our lives to make us more present for our families. The week before that was national screen free week. The following week was our weekly challenge. So, during the day, after school was complete and screens were allowed back on, the kids and I had to share a screen if we were on it. Often we find ourselves on different devices and we may as well not even be in the room together. We aren’t present in each others’ lives. During this challenge, when we did watch TV we were watching it together, cuddled together and discussing the show. Often we were outside playing, running through the sprinklers, hiking through Hitchcock Woods. I listened to the stories my kids told me. I have to say, I have some really hilarious kids. I want to reiterate the last sentence in the previous quote from President Benson, “Spending time with your children is the greatest gift of all.” I hope the memories my children have of their mom are fond ones. I hope they remember the fun they had with me and the time they spent with me and that they are great memories.
Hopefully, the fun memories aren’t the only things they remember about me. Hopefully they remember that “I knew it” just like the Strippling Warriors knew their mothers knew it. We all love this story, right? Just in case you are unfamiliar with it, here is a quick synopsis. “In the Book of Mormon we read about 2000 exemplary young men who were exceedingly valiant, courageous, and strong. ‘Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him’ (Alma 53:21). These faithful young men paid tribute to their mothers. They said, ‘Our mothers knew it’ (Alma 54:48)” (Julie B. Beck). I bet mothers of Capt Moroni, Mosiah, Mormon and others also knew it. Here are some lessons learned from these great young men.
1) Teaching our children in the home makes a great difference in the world.
a) These mothers caused a ripple effect. Ready for it? (1) These mothers, ordinary mothers, taught their children. (2) These boys lived and obeyed those teachings. (3) They inspired Helaman as they lived and shared their Mother’s teachings. (4) Helaman wrote this in a letter to Captain Moroni. (5) Over 400 years later, Mormon chose this story to be part of the Book of Mormon. (6) We now know their teachings and example.
If we effectively study and teach, what type of ripple can we cause through the generations?
2) The seemingly small and insignificant things we do as mothers are much more significant than they seem.
In 1945 Elder L. Tom Perry was in the Pacific during WWII. He wrote a letter to his mother for her to open on Mother’s Day. Here are parts of it:
“Dear Mom,“This year more than any of the others I can see just what having a wonderful mother has done for me. First of all, I miss the little things you used to do for me. Whenever I got out of bed in the morning, I never had to worry about whether I’d find a clean shirt and clean socks. All that I had to do is open a drawer, and I would find them. At mealtime I always knew that I would find something I liked, prepared the best way possible. At night I always knew that I would find clean sheets on my bed and just the right amount of covers to keep me very comfortable. Living at home was really a great pleasure.”
“But deeper is the feeling for you because of the example you set for me. Life was made so enjoyable for us as a family that we wanted to follow in your footsteps, to continue on through experiencing the same joy that had been ours in our younger days. You always found time to take the family into the canyon, and we could count on you to do anything from climbing mountains to playing ball with us. You and Dad were never going on vacations alone. The family was always with you. Now that I am away from home, I always like to talk about my home life because it was so enjoyable. I couldn’t turn from your teachings now because my actions would reflect on your character. Life is a great challenge to me to be worthy to be called the son of Nora Sonne Perry. I am very proud of this title, and I hope that I will always be worthy of it.” The small things are important and will, hopefully, be remembered and perceived as acts of love
3) We must make sure our children know we know it.
I hope my children and the children I teach in primary know that I know it. I know I am a child of God and I rely on Him. I know what President Ezra Taft Benson said was true when he stated that “in the eternal perspective, children – not possessions, not position, not prestige – are our greatest jewels.” I know that the temple is a holy place and somewhere we should strive to go and get our children inside someday as well. I know that by being the nurturer in the home I can provide my children with a home where they feel safe and loved and truly be the guardian of the hearth. I know that, together with my husband, we lead an eternal organization and must keep our organization looking towards the future, towards eternity. I know that I can be a teacher and am never off duty as I train my children for missions, finding an eternal companion and teaching them the things they need to ‘endure to the end’. I know that I allow less in my home, less media, less distraction, less of anything that may draw away from the Spirit I want in our home. I know that I can set the example and teach my children to stand strong and immovable. I know that I have great power and influence in my home and if used wisely my family, our eternal organization will endure to the end and be together throughout the eternities.
4) Our children are strengthened and empowered by opportunities to teach and share their testimonies during scripture study and family home evening.
a) “Young children desiring to bear testimony in public can be taught to respond to the Spirit and share heartfelt expressions. Such teaching is done most effectively in the home by loving parents who adhere to principles related to testimony bearing.” (Elder Carl B Cook)
5) The war that began in the Premortal life rages on. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Mothers do not need to fear though. Family scripture study and prayer, arms and prepares our children to face the battles of their lives.
I hope that I will be able to live my life in such a way that my own children will think of me as Joseph F Smith thought of his mother when he said, “Whenever… temptations became most alluring and most tempting to me, the first thought that arose in my soul was this: Remember the love of your mother. Remember how she strove for your welfare. Remember how willing she was to sacrifice her life for your good. Remember what she taught you in your childhood…. This feeling toward my mother became a defense, a barrier between me and temptation.”
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Happy Mother's Day! So, guess who was asked to speak again! Yeah, I was. In case you missed it, I spoke 6 months ago at church on Gratitude. Here is a link to that talk if you'd like to see it. With a ward (congregation) as large as ours, one would think I wouldn't have to speak as often. Oh well, here is my Mother's Day talk if you'd like to read it.:)