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Mother’s Day talk

May 20, 2014

So I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting on Mother’s Day.  What an assignment!  Some years I’ve actually wished to be asked so we wouldn’t hear any of the men talk about their perfect wives or their perfect mothers.  You know those talks. . . I’ve come to realize that many women hate Mother’s Day and would rather stay home from church if possible and I didn’t want to add to those feelings.  (I’m not one of them, I’m rather ambivalent about it.)  So here’s what I felt impressed to say.

(I’m sorry it’s long; they gave me 12-15 minutes to speak and since I was first on the program, I took my full time!)

(And you can thank DH that I even have a talk to share.  I think I’m a much better speaker than writer and usually go off notes or an outline only, but DH had to work that entire Sunday and missed my talk, so I made a special effort to write it out this time, although it’s not exactly how I said some things.)

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Mother’s Day–I know this day can be fraught with difficulty for so many!  We are all in different situations.

We all have a mother, but our mothers may no longer be with us.

Or we did not have a good relationship with our mother.

Or we are mothers, but don’t have a good relationship with our children, or those children are no longer with us in mortality.

Or we don’t feel as though we’re doing a good job at mothering those children.

Or despite our desires, we haven’t had an opportunity to be married, let alone have our own children.

Or we are married, and are struggling with infertility or are in some way unable to have children at this time.

Or you’re male.

Hopefully I can say something that will be of benefit to all of you this day. Probably the worst Mother’s Day for me was in 2007, when after several years of trying to have another child, I finally found myself pregnant and then miscarried two weeks prior to Mother’s Day.  I have often wondered (and mourned over) why some of our most righteous desires go unfulfilled, despite our best efforts, and I still don’t have all the answers, but I know the Lord loves each of us and has a plan for us.

I came across this great quote: Motherhood is a lot like a roller coaster–there are ups and downs, and some times when all you can do is close your eyes and scream! I’ve experienced some times I’ve felt like screaming! And I have learned some things along the way.

As I’ve thought about what direction to take this talk, this year, in particular, as we’ve been blessed with a little girl that I desire to raise into a woman of God with the potential for her own motherhood, I’d like to share some things that I have learned about mothering, both from my own mother and from women in the scriptures, that I am trying to incorporate in my own life, and in our home, and that I hope my children will also come to know.

Speaking of my mother, or my parents both–they weren’t perfect by any means, but they did a tremendous job in raising me and teaching me what was right.  My four brothers and sisters were all handicapped.  They couldn’t walk or talk, and we tried numerous times to have family scripture study.  But when four of us could never read, I don’t think we ever made it past 1 Nephi chapter 6.

But one thing that they taught me, that they got right, and that had a huge impact on me, was nightly family prayer.  It didn’t matter where we were, on vacation, staying at grandma’s house, or at home, every night we prayed together, and they taught me the faith it takes, and the power that comes as we petition the Lord for blessings for our family members.

Elder Ballard taught us:

“Pray deeply about your children and about your role as a mother. Parents can offer a unique and wonderful kind of prayer because they are praying to the Eternal Parent of us all. There is great power in a prayer that essentially says, “We are steward-parents over Thy children, Father; please help us to raise them as Thou wouldst want them raised.”

We are not parenting alone, amidst all the screaming moments!  We can have help from on high.  I’m still working on praying as my parents do, and trying to mother my children in my own way, hopefully learning better day by day how to do that, and not compare myself with others.

Elder Ballard also said,

There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else.

I always felt like my mother loved and prioritized us above all else, and for that I’m grateful.  From my mother I also learned about faith in the Lord and in his plan for us, as maybe her life did not turn out the way she expected as a newlywed looking forward to having children and watching them grow up and move on.  Instead she has buried four of her five, but she has hope that she will be with them again and all will be compensated for one day.

From the scriptures, I’ve always loved the stories of Rachel and Sarah that promises can be fulfilled by the Lord, and that with Him nothing is impossible.  Sarah had a baby in her old age.  I can’t even imagine having a baby at 90! (Having this little girl at 39 felt a little like my old age!)  But Sarah had faith that God fulfills his promises and was finally able to have a long awaited child, which I can relate to.  I also look up to Hannah, another barren women who, much like Rachel, was provoked by her husband’s other wife for her lack of children.

Hannah earnestly petitioned the Lord for a child with the promise in 1 Sam. 1:11 O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life,”

She was blessed with a child and turned him over to the Lord once he was weaned, saying, “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.”

She sent her son, at a very young age, probably around three, to live with Eli the priest.  I can’t imagine sending my young child, especially one so hoped and prayed for, away like that, but I do hope that I can dedicate my children’s learning to the Lord and teach them the things they need to know and do to follow and serve the Lord.  I hope that they will learn from me that there is much to be gained from the scriptures that they should both know and act on.

I love the scripture in 1 Timothy 4:12 which says: Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

I would ask each of us, are we an example of the believers?  Do we act upon that which we know to be true?  Does what we believe show through our everyday actions?

Also from the scriptures, I am always touched as we read about Mary, the mother of Jesus, who, when confronted by an angel telling her she would bear the son of God, said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”  Are we as  quick to accept the will of the Lord for our lives, whatever it may be, and say, “Thy will be done?”

One of my most recent new favorite scriptures comes from 2 Nephi 11, from Nephi’s brother Jacob (who’s not a mother).  Some day I’d love to give an entire talk on this chapter and all the things he delights in.  Verse 5 says, “And also my soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord. . .”

I hope my children will also know of me that my soul delighteth in the covenants I have made.

I’ve been feeling impressed to study more about Eve, our first mother, even “the mother of all living,” and her role in the events in the Garden and through the Fall.  I have yet to begin this study, but I appreciated these words of Pres. Eyring from the General Women’s Meeting this past March about Eve:

“You have her example to follow.   By revelation, Eve recognized the way home to God. She knew that the Atonement of Jesus Christ made eternal life possible in families. She was sure, as you can be, that as she kept her covenants with her Heavenly Father that the Redeemer and the Holy Ghost would see her and her family through whatever sorrows and disappointments would come. She knew she could trust in them… I know that Eve faced sorrows and disappointments, but I also know that she found joy in the knowledge that she and her family could return to God…     I leave you my blessing, that like Eve, you may feel the same joy that she felt as you journey back home.”

Like Eve, I have faced sorrows and disappointments; I still do, just in everyday life. And I will continue to do so–That’s a condition of mortality.  But like Eve, I know that, through the Atonement of Christ, eternal life with my little family is possible, even when everything else somehow seems to be going wrong, or when I feel like I’m failing.

Since I was a little girl, I always knew I wanted to be a mother. . . and a ballerina.  (That didn’t work out!)  But let’s face it, this is a hard job.   Family life is kind of the ultimate lab experience.  Do you want to develop patience?  Come live with my 4-year-old with his endless questions and “whys” and “why can’t I’s.”  I can read all the parenting books I want, even the scriptures, but nothing quite comes close to the hands-on, daily challenges of family life.  And sometimes I think I’m failing at the counsel in Mosiah 4:14 which says “ye will not suffer your children that they fight and quarrel one with another.”  That seems to be our lot in life lately with four brothers living in a small space.

And no matter how hard I try, I won’t win any housekeeping awards this year (maybe ever.) But I probably keep the city library afloat with my late fees. I just can’t keep track of all those books, but my children are quite well read!  I hope they know that not only do I love them, but I like them, and I like to spend time with them.

But then there are the times when I’m up way too late and thinking I should go to bed, everyone else is in bed.  But everyone else is in bed and the house is quiet, and I just can’t pass up this opportunity to hear myself think!  The daily chaos of five children coming in and out, just living, can be exhausting.

I think my own mother had those same struggles.  She used to say, “If these children aren’t  in bed by 8:00, something is going to snap!”  I used to think that was soooo funny, but now I know exactly how she felt! So I stay up and am tired the next day and I’m constantly trying to juggle their needs vs. my need for a little peace and quiet in my life, to fill my own cup a little, knowing that I have to get up again the next day and do it all over again.

I find comfort in these words from Elder Holland:

“When you have come to the Lord in meekness and lowliness of heart and, as one mother said, ‘pounded on the doors of heaven to ask for, to plead for, to demand guidance and wisdom and help for this wondrous task,’ that door is thrown open to provide you the influence and the help of all eternity. Claim the promises of the Savior of the world. Ask for the healing balm of the Atonement for whatever may be troubling you or your children. Know that in faith things will be made right in spite of you, or more correctly, because of you.

“You can’t possibly do this alone, but you do have help. The Master of Heaven and Earth is there to bless you—He who resolutely goes after the lost sheep, sweeps thoroughly to find the lost coin, waits everlastingly for the return of the prodigal son. Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be.

“Rely on Him. Rely on Him heavily. Rely on Him forever. And “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.” You are doing God’s work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you and He will bless you, even—no, especially—when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. Like the woman who anonymously, meekly, perhaps even with hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way through the crowd just to touch the hem of the Master’s garment, so Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and sometimes weep over their responsibility as mothers, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.” And it will make your children whole as well.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Because She Is a Mother)

(Then I bore my testimony to the truthfulness of the gospel and the plan wherein we come to earth in families to learn how to live together and prepare to return to Heavenly Father again.  Also, the reality of our Savior and that I have come to know, and be comforted in the knowledge, that not only did He suffer for our sins, but took upon Himself all of our disappointments and sorrows and can succor us in all of our needs, whatever they may be.)

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    May 21, 2014 12:10 pm

    Thank you so much! It was wonderful to read your Mothers’ Day talk. I’m glad I got to read it before I go to Washington tomorrow. I’m glad I did something right.

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