Category Archives: Religion

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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Red-neck missionary

 castGot this photo tonight from someone in Texas. It came via Sprint so I am guessing it is from a cell phone? No message, nothing. Just a subject header with my son’s name on it. BTW, it took awhile, but we figured out the cast says Arlington (upside down) which is where he is currently working as a zone leader. Whose hat? Your guess is as good as mine.

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Missing my missionary

12-3-2007-1121We really love the missionaries we have serving here in Arizona, but sometimes being around them makes me miss my son who is serving a mission in Texas. I wiped continuous tears during a baptism on Saturday just thinking of my son doing the same work.

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I write him every week and we share our deepest thoughts about families, God, Christ, missionary work, trials in life, etc., but they aren’t funny things that show up here like the hilarious things my younger kids often say. I am really missing him tonight for some reason and since I can’t pick up the phone and call him, I will blog about him instead.

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I need to share more of my older kids on this blog since I realized after Nicole made a beautiful scrapbook for me of my blog for a Christmas gift that it consists 99% of my younger kids.

Tonight’s entry is dedicated to Taylor. He’s a kid who nearly drove me crazy as a young boy.
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Refused to stay in time out, was stubborn as the day is long, and once when I put him in his room for a timeout the kids said, “Mom, Taylor is watching TV!” No, that would be impossible since he was in his bedroom…or so I thought. Silly me for thinking he would have stayed put. Instead, the dear little one had removed his screen from his window, crawled out the window and come around the back yard to watch TV through our sliding glass door in the family room.

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With the girls when they were young, all I had to do was threaten to remove a privilege or a favorite toy, and they were quick to obey. With Taylor, however, I could say, “Clean your bedroom or you won’t be able to go to: _____. Insert anything here that one would think would inspire him to get busy; soccer game, baseball game, Cub Scouts, it didn’t matter. His all too often reply? “I don’t care, I didn’t want to go anyway.” It wasn’t that he didn’t want to go to Cub Scouts or soccer. He did, and he loved them both, but he wasn’t going to show it, and he would dig in his heels and miss both activities. Cut off your nose to spite your face? The phrase, I am convinced, was invented just for him. His early years on more than one occasion made me mutter under my breath, “I hope you have a child just like you someday!”

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He tends to be pretty ADHD, but has thankfully been able to make it through life without meds. One of his middle school teachers told him one time when he wouldn’t shut up, “Taylor, you are like a fart in a skillet!” I didn’t know whether to be offended for her talking to my son that way, or agree with her.

In spite of our challenges, however, Taylor has always had a sweet and sensitive spirit. scan0022
He loved it as a young boy when we would sit and sing songs together, and after one night of singing as a family in harmony by the light of the fire in the fireplace, he said that he loved the way that felt and wanted to do it again. If he watched a touching movie, he was always the first to be wiping away tears,

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and he always looked out for and was kind to the underdog.

His sensitivity has carried him far in life as he has grown and also brought him a wealth of friends. He was voted class speaker at both his junior high and high school graduations,  with Kelseyand if you mention his name to almost anyone from his high school, they will say, “Taylor? Yeah, I knew him. He’s a good kid!”

He has wanted to serve a mission for as long as I can remember, and from the time he was about 15, he didn’t think he could wait four more years to be old enough to go. He really wanted to serve a foreign mission, but when he was called to Texas, within an hour or so of opening his mission call, he said, “It feels right…it feels like a well fitting suit”, and knew that it was the Lord’s will that he serve the people in Texas. 12-3-2007-0691From the experiences he has had, it has been confirmed to us over the past year that Texas was exactly the place that the Lord needed him to be.

elder-white-biesinger-stevensonHe’s a wonderful missionary now, who has dedicated his life for the past year to serving his Heavenly Father. He has 11 more months to go and wishes that he had much longer because he loves missionary work and loves the people with whom he is working. Y’all has become a permanent part of his vocabulary.

108_00051When I see how much he has grown and matured over the past year and how much he loves the Lord and the people he is serving, all the past challenges when he was a young child fade away and I am blessed with the reward of seeing what an incredible young man he has become. Once again the words come to mind but this time in a positive light, “I hope you have a child just like you someday.”

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Merry Christmas

A beautiful video that I wanted to share.

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Keeping Christmas Eve

Every year I get frustrated, saying that Christmas has become too commercialized, and yet not wanting to disappoint children, I find myself joining the rest of the throngs who buy, buy, buy at Christmas time.  I love Christmas eve because that is when my family takes the time to focus on Christ and his birth. Taylor with Christmas lightsThis picture of my son Taylor 18 years ago pretty much sums up how I feel about Christmas eve. It should be quiet and peaceful with a warm glow as we honor our Savior by recognizing his sacred birth. The spirit that is felt with a fire crackling in the fireplace and the lights glowing on the tree as we read from Luke chapter 2 brings peace to my soul. Christmas morning, the focus seems to be too much on “What did you buy me?” or “What didn’t I get that I really wanted?” For me, Christmas morning is anticlimactic as the focus shifts from Christ back to materialism.

I’ve heard the phrase “Keeping Christmas” many times as it refers to serving others throughout the year. I don’t want to “Keep Christmas”, however; I want to keep Christmas eve. As a matter of fact, I wish I could make the feeling of Christmas eve last forever. I can if I am willing to try. This year I am not giving in to the spending that normally happens.  An economic recession has given me the boost that I needed to truly say, “Let’s stop the nonsense of buying so much and focus more on the true meaning of Christmas.”

What would Christ want me to do? Does he really want His birth celebrated by people spending more money than they have? What did He do while He lived on this earth? He healed the sick and raised the dead;  those who were both literally sick and deceased, and others who were spiritually so.  Most of us don’t have the power to do that, but we do have the power to lighten the burden of those whose hands fall down and whose knees are weak.

We can do little things. We can give a hug to someone who lives alone and who hungers for the touch of another. We can smile to a frazzled cashier in a store and thank them for their hard work  when the lines are long and children are crying.  We can let another driver cut in line when the traffic is snarled and nerves are frayed.

When my daughter asks to me to read a book to her and the list of unsent Christmas cards is long and the ingredients for unbaked goodies are still on the counter, I can say, “I’d love to read with you. Go get a book and hop on my bed!” After all, didn’t Christ serve the children even when the disciples said he was too tired and tried to turn them away?

Last night I went with a group of friends from my church and sang at a home where many homeless come to get a meal. We put on a short Christmas program of scriptures telling the story of Christ’s birth, intermixed with Christmas carols. Right before we started, one of my friends asked those listening to sing along with us if they desired. I am so glad she added that, because to see the joy on some of these people’s faces as they sang was priceless. One woman had a face that was etched in scars. I’m sure she has a tough story to tell, but the joy in her eyes as she sang with us of Christ’s birth brought true beauty to her countenance.

There was a refugee family present from Africa who was clearly Muslim as the mother and her daughters were wearing headscarves. Thankfully, there was no ACLU representative to tell them that they should be offended since we were singing of Christ. Instead, the woman caught my eye as I sang, and a broad grin flashed across her face. For that brief moment, my heart spoke to hers. I sang of Christ, she probably speaks of Allah. And yet, we are both daughters of the same God, even though we give Him different names. It’s moments like that, that help me keep Christmas eve in my heart.

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Words of Wisdom


Tonight, Micheline said something very cute, but unknowingly very profound at the same time. With her ADD, she has a hard time turning off her mind at night and struggles to fall asleep. She was asking for a Melatonin, but I am trying to wean her off of it. She already takes Guanfacine, which takes the edge off of her restlessness, and with both that and the Melatonin, she seems to be too tired during the day.

As I handed her dose of Guanfacine, she said,
“I need an atonement.”
“What??” I replied, not sure that I heard her correctly.
“I said, I need an atonement.” She then tried to self-correct to “Melatonement.”

As I inwardly smiled and tucked her into bed, I thought of how true her words were. We all do need Christ’s atonement in our lives. The fact that He died for my sins is the greatest gift that I have, and the knowledge that I have that He lives today brings joy and peace to my heart. Without my Savior and His atonement, there is no hope. With it, the possibilities are endless. Yes, my dear daughter, you do need an atonement, but it doesn’t come in pill form. You will have to learn to recognize when His spirit speaks to your heart, whether it is in the beauty of a sunset, 10 tiny toes on a newborn babe, when we read scriptures as a family, or when you turn to Him in prayer. He is there for you and always will be, but it will be your job to learn to recognize that. It is my job to teach you how.

Photo Credit Artwork by Simon Dewey

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