Category Archives: Holidays

Mother’s Day

Last year on Mother’s Day I did something others might consider crazy. I went to the Bishop of our congregation two weeks in advance and asked him if I could be a speaker in Sacrament Meeting on Mother’s Day. I felt that words needed to be said that addressed the needs, desires and concerns of all women. After much prayer, editing, and definite guidance from the Lord, this is the talk that I gave:

I would like to speak today to the women of the church regardless of your current status as a Mother. First, to those for whom Mother’s day brings much joy. Sticky kisses, homemade gifts, that anxiously-awaited call home from your missionary, or thoughts of your own mother and the sacrifices she made for you. 2 years ago I humorously watched an edible Mother’s day gift made 2 weeks in advance and tucked carefully away in my child’s sock drawer slowly reduce in size. The temptation to eat it rather than save it for Mom was just too great. There is much to be thankful for on Mother’s day. But I wish to speak also to those for whom the words “Mother’s Day” might bring pain.

Perhaps you have recently or even long ago lost your own beloved Mother and yearn for the ability to pick up the phone and call her for advice. Perhaps you struggle with infertility and like one of my dear friends would rather sit out in the car during sacrament mtg than endure yet another Mother’s day talk, or are not yet married and like my dear own sister have tolerated painful comments from others such as “What are you waiting for?” You might wonder if this holiday will ever relate to you and your life situation.

Others may feel pain on Mother’s day related to their children’s actions. Perhaps they have strayed far from the gospel and you doubt your abilities as a mother. Or maybe you just feel that you don’t measure up to those idealistic women presented through word and song on Mother’s day.

Some of you already know that I was not a fan of Mother’s day for many years. In our early marriage as we struggled with fertility issues, Mother’s day was just a reminder to me that I was not yet a mother.

Other times I have struggled as a speaker declared a list of everything their mother had done perfectly and I left feeling “not good enough.” In speaking to many sisters over the years, I found that I was not alone in my feelings. How could a day designed to give joy and honor to women as a whole bring heartache to so many?

And then I read “Are we not all Mothers?” by Sister Sheri Dew who originally gave her talk while she was serving as a counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency. I would like to base much of my talk today on her inspired words.

In my role as a foster parent, I am asked to participate in something called “shared parenting” with the biological parents of the children we foster. It might involve writing letters to them letting them know how their child is doing, sending pictures, or even modeling appropriate parenting skills.

I would submit that our Heavenly Father also participates in “shared parenting” which is resounding evidence of his faith and trust in us. Just as I sometimes have fearfully returned foster children to homes where I feel parenting standards are lacking, our Heavenly Father sends his children down to us to raise even though our parenting abilities don’t come close to measuring up to His. He too writes letters—through the scriptures; sends pictures – more than once as I have knelt in prayer with or concerning my children, he has given me glimpses of personal revelation of who my children really are and what they can become. He also models appropriate parenting which we most clearly can see through the example of the perfect life of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Lord stated that his work and his glory are to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39) We have the divine role as daughters of God to participate with Him in this work as he has entrusted us as women with his children.

Sister Sheri Dew stated: “While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity and in effect limit it to that definition, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words or titles they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve ‘the mother of all living’ …and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege and responsibility of motherhood. Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly and definitely that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits, talents and tendencies our Father gave us.”

Elder Matthew Cowley taught that “Men have to have something given to them (namely the priesthood) in mortality to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. They are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children.”

“Nevertheless”, Sister Dew continues, “the subject of motherhood is a very tender one, for it evokes some of our greatest joys and heartaches. Some mothers experience pain because of the children they have borne; others feel pain because they do not bear children here. For reasons known to the Lord, some women are required to wait to have children. This delay is not easy for any righteous woman. But the Lord’s timetable does not negate our nature. Some of us then, must simply find other ways to mother. And all around us are those who need to be loved, led, nurtured and mentored.”

In the words of Elder Holland, “We rejoice that the call to nurture is not limited to our own flesh and blood.”

Whether that means leading and nurturing in your role as a school teacher, Primary leader or Young Women’s leader, you are fulfilling your role as a mother as you nurture the children and youth of today. I would challenge you today to look around you. Who needs you and your influence? Who needs someone to understand them and believe in them?

I am grateful to all of the Mothers I have had over the years. I am grateful for my own mother who gave birth to me and has nurtured me for many years, but I am grateful to many others as well. Who said you could only have one mother?

I am thankful for:

— A seminary teacher who inspired me to gain a testimony by daily reminding us at the end of our class, “You have to find out for yourself if the gospel is true. You cannot live on borrowed light.”

–for Young Women advisors who had faith in me when I didn’t have faith in myself. For Sunday school teachers and seminary teachers who came to my high school softball and basketball games and left me feeling loved from their support.

–Visiting teachers who used to think that I would not want them as my visiting teachers because they were from my mother’s generation and yet as a young mother I so appreciated their example, their love for me, and most especially their wisdom.

I am thankful for women in this very ward who have loved, nurtured, and taught my children. Who have attended my children’s: dance performances, gone to football games to watch the band perform, sewed a wedding dress for my daughter, struggled in a sign language class because she was in the Primary Presidency and wanted to be able to converse with my son. Those efforts have not gone unnoticed. It may not take a village to raise a child, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have a ward family to do so.

If you are not yet married or do not have children, the Lord may have a different timetable for your life, but you ARE a mother in Zion. My sister has often nurtured my children much better than I as not a birthday or holiday goes by without a package in the mail or a visit from her letting them know that they are special to her.

Last, if the children you have borne cause you pain on this Mother’s day, please know that your Heavenly Father is aware of your situation and recognizes you as a valiant mother. Eve was glad after the fall realizing that without it she would never have had children. Yet imagine her anguish and sorrow over one son who killed another. Our children have their free agency. 1/3 of our Heavenly Father’s children chose not to keep their first estate in the premortal existence as they chose to follow Satan instead of our Father’s plan. Yet we would NEVER doubt our Heavenly Father’s parenting skills. The Lord is aware of your children. He knows them, he loves them. They were his before they were ever yours and he will never give up on them. As it says in Isaiah 9:12, “His hand is stretched out still.”

As an aside to those who see others’ children make unwise choices and say, “My children would never do that,” you probably ought not to say it in front of any witnesses. If you have never struggled with any choices that your children made you are probably the mother of a newborn.

As Sister Dew so aptly stated, “As daughters of our Heavenly Father and as daughters of Eve, we are ALL mothers in Israel and we have always been mothers. And we each have the responsibility and the privilege to love and help lead the rising generation. How will our young women learn to live as women of God unless they see what women of God look like, meaning what we wear, watch, and read; how we fill our time and our minds; how we face temptation and uncertainty; where we find true joy; and why modesty and femininity are hallmarks of righteous women? Every one of us has an overarching obligation to model righteous womanhood because our youth may not see it anywhere else. ”

Elder Holland declared, “You can’t possibly do this alone, but you do have help. The Master of Heaven and Earth is there to bless you. [As mothers and women] 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. 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.”

May we rise to the challenge that the Lord has placed before us. May we recognize our sacred role and stewardship that our Father has entrusted us with as mothers in Zion and may we always remember that regardless of our current mortal circumstances, that we are ALL mothers for it is a divinely appointed, and eternal role.

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I Will Rise

After seeing this today I had to share it. I love Alex Boye’s music anyway, but this combination with the Institute Choir is a-ma-zing! It gave me goosebumps as they sang and I cannot imagine a more beautiful message for Easter than “I will rise when He calls my name.” Because He lives, we will live also, and there is no greater message to the world. Yes, the victory is won! Thanks be to God for the blessed gift of His son and His atoning sacrifice for all mankind.

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Outlaws out West

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Is Mother’s Day at your home the stuff Hallmark commercials are made of? Do your children spontaneously burst into song as they hand you gifts they have lovingly worked on for months? Mother’s Day at my home is more like a scene from Animal House or National Lampoon’s vacation.

My day started off with a bang as my two youngest came to crawl in my bed at 6 a.m. I was exhausted as Alyssa had been up until one a.m. tossing her cookies and I had been up with her, rubbing her back and making the clucking sounds that every good Mother Hen should make when you have a child who is sick. Jeff had already risen, so his entire side of our kingsized bed was vacant. Doesn’t matter. They both prefer to wedge themselves between me and my edge of the bed. I wasn’t buying it this morning. After all, this was MOTHER’S DAY! I cracked one eyelid open long enough to look at them and say, “Don’t even think about it!” They reluctantly moved over to Jeff’s side of the bed and fell back asleep.

During church, V. decided it would be far more fun to scream during the service than quietly draw or look at books. So, I spent most of the meeting out in the foyer holding a very unhappy child on my lap because I don’t reward screaming kids by allowing them to run in the halls. I went back in and sat down briefly in the back while the Primary children sang. I WILL give them credit that it was a great song about families rather than the gaggingly sweet “Mother dear I love you so, your happy smiling face,…” that they usually sing. However, Micheline, who is being tested this week for central auditory processing disorder didn’t know most of the words. She stood in the front row of kids who were singing, and periodically grinned my direction. Every once in awhile she would mouth a word or two, but then returned to her grins.

After church, my youngest 3 ran up to me each bearing a carnation and shouted “Happy Mother’s Day!” A little suspect, since the gift to the mothers for our congregation was an instrumental CD of American Hymns.

I immediately noticed women from the congregation after ours carrying long stemmed carnations and realized that my newest Mother’s Day offerings from my children were stolen goods. I told them to put them back. The kids disappeared, but when it was time to go, they had not returned. I found them instead in that congregation’s clerk’s office trying to pilfer a few more out of some five gallon buckets. Come to think of it, maybe a more accurate description of my family would be the pickpocket scenes from Oliver!

After shooing them out the door to their father, Caleb announced that he had lost his scriptures. Unfortunately, he had most likely left them in a room that was now holding a Sunday School class for adults. Jeff was already in the car with the other kids, and since we had two vehicles at church, I told him to go tell Dad not to wait for him, but to come back in and I would help him find them. Instead, he somehow misunderstood and took off with Dad, telling him that I said for them all to go home. After circling the building 3 times looking for him, I finally realized he was gone. I was unsuccessful in my search, but 10 minutes after arriving home, the missionaries called to tell me that they had found them under a chair in a room so I told Caleb he had to put his church clothes back on to go back to the building to get them. After all, I am a big believer in natural consequences. I didn’t lose the scriptures, he did, so what better natural consequence was there? Well, according to him and his mutterings, there were quite a few consequences he would have rather chosen. Off he went back to the church with Dad, but my chances for his vote for Mother of the Year were dwindling rapidly.

After a quick lunch I tried to nap, but V. decided that screaming in church was so much fun, that she might as well continue to do it at home any time anyone even looked at her. I was anxiously awaiting my call from our missionary son who is currently in Waco, Texas, so I couldn’t really rest anyway. They can only call home on Mother’s Day and Christmas, so I was looking forward to hearing his voice. He called close to 6 p.m. and it was one of the highlights of the day. He was sounding great and said he is being transferred next week to Arlington where he will continue to be a zone leader.

Caleb then decided that perhaps he should make a card. After all, Ben had made one and he had also made one from V. to me. Micheline had some gifts she had made at school that she was anxious to give me, so Caleb didn’t want to feel left out, but I don’t think his heart was in it. After all, he was still grousing about me sending him back to the church to retrieve his scriptures. He has asked me before why his birth mother in China didn’t want him, and he has been more than grumpy the past few years on Mother’s Day, so I think this day brings issues to the forefront that he would rather not deal with. After asking Jeff to sign it and wanting the rest of the family to sign it as well, Jeff told him no, and explained that it should probably just be from him since he had made it. Obviously Caleb didn’t think so and got mad and tore it up and threw it in the garbage.

Micheline gave me her gifts from school: a beautiful photo and a darling clay wallhanging of her self. She also handed me a not easily identifiable pile of a few chocolate covered pretzels. A few weeks ago, when she made the gift at her Achievement Day at church, she had quite a bag full of chocolate covered pretzels, but the temptation for her while hiding them in her room for two weeks waiting for Mother’s Day to arrive was too great and I humorously watched the pile dwindle in size each time I put clean clothes away in her top drawer.

After dinner in which V. spent the last 10 minutes under the table screaming, we started kids in the direction of bed. Problem was, Ben decided he needed to now make me a card on the computer in addition to the one he had already made, and was not going to be dissuaded. After Jeff read to Micheline, she headed for bed, only for us to hear V. –who we thought was asleep-screaming again. Upon questioning, Micheline innocently said, “I was climbing into the top bunk and just yanked her sheet off of her before I got into bed”, with a look that said, “What could I possibly have done wrong?”

Ben is always wide awake at night and his meds had not kicked in yet, so while I texted Nicole about my day, he decided to lie down next to me on the sofa and self stim by rubbing his cheeks on my legs. I hadn’t shaved them since Friday evening, and Mr. Sensory Seeker loved the feel of stubble from my shins on his face. I finally convinced him that going to bed would be in his best interest, and off he went.

It’s now 11:30 p.m. and another Mother’s Day has come and gone. Can’t say that I’m sad that it only comes around once a year, but each year I think I gain a bit more perspective. Yes, kids can be a pain. A royal pain. And yet, isn’t that what Mother’s day is about? Mothering? Today I rocked a screamer, held a child whose feelings were hurt, gave another backrubs, read to another, and yes, even got angry more than a time or two. There will be no Mother of the Year awards in this house, and I can promise you that none of my children will ever call me “My Angel Mother.”

But would I run into traffic to save one of my kids? Of course. Go back into a burning building to find one? Absolutely. They each have their quirks that can drive me crazy, but I’m glad that they are mine. Actually, they are His. They are only on loan from above, and I am thankful to a Heavenly Father who in spite of my glaring ineptness, trusts me enough to attempt to raise a few of His children. He knows them better than I do, and on days like today when I just can’t figure out why V. needs to scream so much, or why Micheline needs to torment her, or a million other why’s, I have to turn it over to Him. At a time when many of my friends are starting to have empty nests, I have a 3 year old who wrote on the walls today with crayon.

Lynn sent me a hilarious card with a sweet message, and Nicole came by with a sweet card she had made and a gift certificate for a massage. Believe me, after the day I had today, I will be scheduling it soon.

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Happy New Year!

Although it is the story of my life to be behind in blogging, I wanted to add this post tonight. Alyssa headed off to a New Year’s dance for youth at the church and wanted to buy a formal dress for the occasion. Here are some pictures of her before she headed out the door. Doesn’t she look gorgeous?
new-years-eve-dress

close-up
Once you hit my age, ringing in the New Year doesn’t seem so exciting. I have kids right now watching a very touching DVD on the life of Emma Smith, trying to stay up one more hour so they can say Happy New Year. I hope we don’t pay for it tomorrow as getting the sleep schedule “off” for a bipolar child is not usually a wise idea.new-years-eve-2008

watching-movie-on-new-years-eve
Jeff is supposedly watching the movie as well, but is soundly sleeping on the sofa. Whenever this happens if I wake him, he claims not to be sleeping, but merely “checking his eyelids for cracks.” I don’t think he would appreciate me adding a photo of him snoozing on the couch.

Less than an hour and I can put kids to bed after shooting off a couple of illegal firecrackers out in the cul-de-sac that we have saved from Independence day. Then it will be off to pick up Alyssa about 12:45 and I can finally hit the hay myself. Happy New Year to all of you and may you have a blessed and prosperous 2009.

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Protected: Water day at School

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Protected: It’s Rodeo Time!

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