Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Mother's Love

I have an AMAZING mother, but she doesn't know she is amazing.  She has no idea how many she has influenced and continues to influence every day with her example.  I don't think any of us realize the impact that we have, but we will be amazed someday when we realize how the desires of our hearts have rippled through the world.  My mom had the courage of breaking the cycle of abuse and ignorance that had been passed on through generations.  There are not many people who could do what she has done. All of the environmental factors were against her, yet her heart was good and her perseverance strong.  Out of rocky, infertile soil she rose as a beacon of light.
This is an old picture, there are 5 1/2 more grandchildren since then :-)
I think about my circle of influence, and their circle of influence and how each life impacts so much more than is perceived.   I know she will someday be amazed at how much good she has brought into this world because of her courage.  These are my Mother's Day thoughts of her (I am not a poet, but these are thoughts from the heart, which makes it worth posting :-) ):

Dear Mom,
I know you think you're ordinary
As you look back on your mistakes.
And you desire to have known better
And to have had all that it takes.

You don't yet see who you are truly.
You miss the Majesty beneath
Insecurities, unreal perceptions.
They hide from you your queenly wreath.

If you could pierce that false perseption,
Glimpse the nobility I see,
I know you'd walk with head held higher,
No fear to let your light shine free.

Your love has been an earthly refuge.
Your love has filled my life with warmth.
I have always felt worthwhile
Amidst the world's put-downs and scorn.

Though you see not your heavenly influence,
Your love has made me who I am,
And all my children and their children
Will sing vast praises to your name.

Your selfless love has made an impact,
Though to you seems rather small,
It has elevated spirits
Which, in turn, have lifted more.

Your love will ripple through the ages
And on, through all eternity.
Your widow's mite (to you so meager)
Has transformed lives infinitely.

For now, blind to your queenly splendor,
You keep on giving selflessly,
You do not see the hero I see,
You give in great humility.

But someday will the veil be lifted,
And you will see the good you've done,
And all of us whose lives you've altered,
Will humbly reverence your throne.

Thank-you to all mothers everywhere.  You do not yet see your influence, but it is great.  There is no work on earth more meaningful.  I didn't like the last line of my poem very much at first, it kind of just came to me, and I thought - I'm sure my mom would not like the thought of herself on a throne, but as I pictured in my mind all of her sacrifice and love, I knew I felt so honored to be in her presence, and so would many others.  The line was true, even if she might not like it ;-)

While changing diapers, folding laundry, washing dishes, or any other mundane and endless task. Let's not forget whose work we are doing.   Motherhood is a hard, but ennobling work.

"Mothers, cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones. Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are, better than you are, and better than you have ever been." - Elder Jeffery R. Holland

Sunday, May 5, 2013

What is Glaringly Missing?

 This was the question that was asked in our stake conference today about a child's testimony that you often hear in Sacrament meeting.  He said he was praising their testimonies, but that there was a very important element that was often missing and it reflected what was being taught at home.  He quoted the "standard" child's testimony: "I'd like to bear my testimony.  I know the church is true.  I love my mom and dad and brothers and sisters. I know Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."  Then he asked, "What is glaringly missing from this testimony?"

He said that in our teaching our children we often focus on "keep the commandments, keep the commandments, keep the commandments".  I thought about the scripture in 2 Nephi 25:26:
 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
He said we may be guilty of "looking beyond the mark" in our teaching our children.  That the focus should be on Christ in everything we do - on the "why" of keeping the commandments.  I know a couple people who have left the church, and I think in large part it was because the focus had been on the "what" of the gospel instead of on the Living God.  When I went to copy and paste the above verse to my blog, the next verse caught my attention:
Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.
This week, I had the incredible privilege of going to a fireside in an small, intimate setting where one of the most incredible men I have met was speaking.  I read a book about him titled, Yearning for the Living God: Reflections from the life of F. Enzio Busche.  It is an incredible and inspiring book. He was a small boy in Nazi germany and he talks about his quest to find God after his confusing childhood (which included being drafted to the Nazi army at the age of 14).  What I loved about watching this man speak was his glowing radiance and excitement about the fact that we have a Living God and His love is the greatest power.  
He said (paraphrasing), "When I look at the millions of stars and know of the many galaxies and I know that there is a God who created them all, and that I am His child - I want to to jump for joy! I don't know how it works, but I feel that individual relationship that I have with him... when we want to speak to a king or some important dignitary, we dress up and make an appointment and wait for him to have time for us, but the ultimate King - the creator of all - is always ready to listen to us!  When we talk to him, like a child to a father, he is always there."

He said that with this love, everyday is even more bright and full of love than the day before and he wants to smile and hug people (we all laughed and he said, "Don't laugh!  It's true!") Since he was in the Quorum of the Seventy for a time, someone asked him where his favorite place in the world was.  His answer, "Every place where the Spirit was."  Isn't it true?  When we feel God's love flowing through us, we have no desire to be anywhere else and feel such joy and peace about wherever we are and whatever we are doing.

That is why we are here.  It is not to learn all of the "to dos" of the gospel and try to do them all.  It is to develop that relationship with God and to learn to love like He does through His grace.  For a great talk about how grace is not only the redeeming power of God, but also the enabling and strengthening power of the atonement, I highly recommend "In the Strength of the Lord" by Elder Bednar.  I listened to it this week and it opened my eyes to a few things.

I do have a strong testimony that the Lord strengthens us and enables us as we reach out to him.  Not to be melodramatic (my life is so blessed and so many people are suffering) but I will admit that I have been so exhausted at times being pregnant, after a sleepless night with children and an active morning with mischievous toddlers, that I know that I do not have the strength to be a good mother the rest of the day.  Knowing a nap is infeasible at the time, I get on my knees and plead with the Lord.  I have literally felt transformed with the energy and strength I needed until I could make it to nap time (or bed time - if nap time is impossible).  I know this strengthening and enabling power is real.

I want to be better at drawing closer to God in all the things I do, to make the effort to reach out to Him more sincerely and intently.  I know He is aware of me.  I know he loves me beyond what I realize or can conceive.  I know I am His daughter.  I know He is waiting for me to let Him help me reach my divine potential in finding joy in blessing His children.  That is what this life is about.  The commandments help us find our way, but we should never forget that they are not the Way.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. -John 14:6