On Mothers Day 2007 Jill and I spoke in Sacrament Meeting. I am publishing Jill’s words from two years ago to celebrate Mother’s Day this coming Sunday.
You will probably be surprised to hear that I’m happy to be up here today. The main reason is that I get to sit on the soft seats instead of on the hard metal folding chairs in the back. I am also happy today because in a couple of hours I will get to talk to my son, Jake, who is on a mission down in Mexico. He called to give me the phone number yesterday and it was so good to hear his voice, even with the Spanish accent. Jake was 6’3” when he left and he thinks he has grown another couple of inches taller. He’s also grown in more important ways. I’d like to read a portion of his last email:
Mexico keeps getting funner each day. We play soccer, read the scriptures, baptize the people, and improve ourselves in the process. What more can you ask? My soccer skills are improving drastically. We sometimes play the American missionaries verses the Mexican missionaries and we have only lost once. We play every week outside of the church. My knowledge of the scriptures and how to teach from them is improving bit by bit. Studying everyday really helps improve your understanding and application. You can learn each day in a different way how the church is true.
Getting emails like this is one of the blessings from being a mother. Today I’m going to share some of the words of the prophets and others about motherhood.
In 2005, a magazine published a listing of the world’s 100 most powerful women. All the women were included because of their political, business or entertainment prominence. Motherhood was almost entirely ignored or at the very least devalued. The work that most women in the history of the world have performed and continue to perform was overlooked. Good parenting, while very challenging at times, offers great potential for happiness. Parents can experience great joy by building a strong, loving home environment and teaching gospel principles, which can help their children lead righteous, happy, and productive lives. In 3 John 1:4 we read I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
President Heber J. Grant said:
Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels. (Heber J. Grant, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, p 203)
Most of us have heard the quote from Abraham Lincoln,
All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.
How about this from George Washington:
My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.
Washington Irving said:
A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.
The local paper gets nominations for
Mother of the Year for each city in Davis County. The mother from Fruit Heights, Lynette Kinard, said this about motherhood:
The insecurities a mother feels of trying to do a job you’re not trained very well to do can be agonizing at times. The worry when kids are sick, or get home late, etc., is scary. But anything that brings you happiness usually requires some degree of worry, sacrifice or effort, and motherhood is not different. The love you get from these precious little beings that come to live with you and the happiness you get from their happiness is the best part of being a mom. It’s also rewarding to feel like you have accomplished something important in teaching and guiding them, especially when you realize you didn’t know what you were doing in the first place.
Patricia Holland in a booklet titled
Quiet Moments [p. 11] tells this story:
My daughter Mary was assigned to visit teach a friend but she didn’t like to go. The friend had three preschoolers and was pregnant. She always seemed frazzled and frustrated. Mary liked to help but adding three more children to her two for a few hours seemed overwhelming. Even if the friend accepted her help there was little difference in the friends mood. One day when Mary herself was having an exasperating day, she called her friend to talk about all her frustrations. Near the end of the conversation her friend admitted to feeling nearly ecstatic to realize that Mary also had bad days.
I think many of you will relate to some of the memorable things that happened when I was a mother of young children. One day two of the kids found the poison oak in the creek across the street in Shadowbrook and came home with a miserable rash. The younger brother wanted to make sure he didn’t miss out on the fun so he went over to investigate and came back with a worse case. Another time I opened the refrigerator and found my son’s worm collection neatly laid out on the shelf.
Several years ago my husband gave me a book called
A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. That is a really nice quote but probably wouldn’t happen at my house.
President Hinckley teaches us:
What a wonderful thing you have done as mothers. You have given birth and nurtured children. You have entered into a partnership with our Father in Heaven to give mortal experience to His sons and daughters. They are His children and they are your children, flesh of your flesh, for whom He will hold you responsible. You have rejoiced over them, and in many cases you have sorrowed. They have brought you happiness as no one else could. They have brought you pain as none other could. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Your Greatest Challenge, Mother,” Ensign, Nov 2000, 97–100)
The best advice I ever received was that mothers need to try and find balance in their lives. It’s important to take care of yourself physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Do things that refresh yourself.
Joseph F. Smith taught:
The true mother, the mother who has the fear of God and the love of truth in her soul, would never hide from danger or evil and leave her child exposed to it. But as natural as it is for the sparks to fly upward, as natural as it is to breathe the breath of life, if there were danger coming to her child, she would step between the child and that danger; she would defend her child to the uttermost. Her life would be nothing in the balance, in comparison with the life of her child. That is the love of true motherhood for children. (Joseph F. Smith, “Love of Mother and Father,” Ensign, Aug 2004, 8–10)
Each person’s success and happiness, both now and in the eternities, depend largely on his or her responses to the difficulties of life.
My mother was exactly my age when her leg was amputated above the knee. She tried unsuccessfully to use an artificial leg to walk again but kept falling. So for a while she would wear the leg while sitting in her wheelchair. Soon that became too cumbersome so she would leave it standing in the closet. One of the things I really admired about her during the 10 years she lived without her leg was her positive attitude. She focused on doing those things she could and not on what she could not do. My mom loved to garden and would scoot around the yard keeping things growing. Even 11 years after her death, I still see my mom’s care in the many plants that grow around her yard. As her eyesight got poorer she decided to sew and tie quilts for each of her 12 grandchildren. I can still see reflected in those quilts the love she had for her grandchildren. My mom was a wonderful example to me of keeping a positive attitude in the face of difficulties.
I love this statement by President Hinckley:
Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just like people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, and most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is just like an old time rail journey . . . delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “What God Hath Joined Together,” Ensign, May 1991, 71)
My dad really loves trains. Last year we took him on the Centennial Train of the Nevada Northern Railway. We sat in the open car and experienced the smoke, dust, cinders and jolts of that ride. There weren’t many beautiful vistas or any bursts of speed but we were thrilled to be able to experience this historic train ride with my dad.
Richard and I got married in our late 20’s and then were unable to have children for a couple of years. Then over the next 7 years we had five. When their ages ranged from 6 to 11, we took the family on a vacation to the church historical sites. We camped in a tent the entire way to New York and back over a three week time period. As we visited each site, I would silently pray that the kids would gain a testimony of the truthfulness of all they were being exposed to. After many such prayers, I was walking alone down the back side of the Hill Cumorah and again prayed for a testimony for my children. The answer I received shook me but it was unmistakable:
They ask. As a mother I can’t ask for my child’s testimony, or take my child’s test or go on their mission for them. Often I’ve had to step back and allow my children the agency to make choices and sometimes fail.
It’s the little things mothers do every day that make the most difference in the life of their children. It does not have to be big or dramatic or powerful. We learn this from our Savior, the Master Teacher.
Charles Henry Parkhurst said:
The completed beauty of Christ’s life is only the added beauty of little inconspicuous acts of beauty—talking with the woman at the well; showing the young ruler the stealthy ambition laid away in his heart that kept him out of the Kingdom of Heaven; … teaching a little knot of followers how to pray; kindling a fire and broiling fish that his disciples might have a breakfast waiting for them when they came ashore from a night of fishing, cold, tired, and discouraged. All of these things, you see, let us in so easily into the real quality and tone of [Christ’s] interests, so specific, so narrowed down, so enlisted in what is small, so engrossed with what is minute. (Kindness and Love, in Leaves of Gold, Honesdale, Pa.: Coslet Publishing Co., 1938, p 177.)
And so it is with being a mother. The little things are the big things sewn into the family tapestry by a thousand threads of love, faith, discipline, sacrifice, patience, and work.
I am grateful that I am a mother.
In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.