It’s Never Been Easy

Painting-final-LittleHearts-2 

by Janeen Brady

Wow! 7 babies on order, count them:  Becca, Lisa, Tasha, Morgan, Kristine, Clissa and Shauntae.  I am so thrilled for each of you.

 Of all the attributes I was able to pass on to you, my children, the one I am the most grateful for is that each of you have loved and wanted children and that you are wonderful, nurturing parents.  I was taught well by my sweet mother and grandmother the great blessing a child is as well as how precious they are, and somehow it seems I have been able to instill this divine truth into the hearts of my children.

 I know there is ridicule and judgment against women who are having families today, even from within the Church, but this is nothing new.   My folks were married at the end of the great depression and after my dad had started medical school.  Mother was 26 and they believed if they put off having children until Daddy was graduated it would cost them the family they wanted, so Daddy quit school and took over the family farm and became a financially poor farmer.

 They had 5 children by the time World War II ended and the Vets were coming home, getting married, starting college and beginning their families.  Many of these couples were older because of the interruption of the War and they ended up having very small families.  This was also the time when so many women began to work outside the home.  Mother, of course, went right on having her children and she took a lot of abuse from my Dad’s relatives, from the community and from members of the Church.  She told me years later that very many of their friends and acquaintances who had formerly been quite vocal in their disdain later envied them their children, expressing deep sorrow for decisions they could not alter and blessings they would never have.  But it wasn’t easy for my folks.

 I also had to develop a thick skin.  Ted’s folks were quite upset and sometimes very vocal about the family we were having as were some members of our ward.   One little 7-year-old whose mother was our Relief  Society President was having her piano lesson when she turned to me and said, “You’re having too many children too fast.”  Did she come up with that on her own?  I don’t think so.  It was hard having a house full, it was expensive and it was a lot of work, but it was wonderful.  Still it wasn’t easy.

 Please don’t think I’m just focused on numbers here because I’m not,  it’s the nurturing I see that really thrills me, the desire to have children and the tenderness I observe as I watch my posterity express their love for their children, both young and old.  It’s the respect you show your children, it’s the gentle voice, it’s the laughter you share with them and the pride you take in their accomplishments, it’s the firm but loving way you guide them.  I know I fell short in these things many times and I apologize to you all, but I must have done it right sufficiently that you are employing these wonderful nurturing skills which I cherish.

 Now I’m watching my granddaughters, all of you, as you work to raise your children.  I’m so very grateful first of all that you are choosing to have families and secondly for the way you are nurturing and loving them.  The Lord surely raised up righteous women for my young men to love and marry and who are carrying on the old-time tradition of real ‘Mothering’.  You may think you can’t afford babies, you may have a lot of pressure to wait until you finish school or have a home or an established career.   The world may try to convince you that there is more glamour in joining the workforce where you can make a ‘greater contribution’ to society.  But God, who knows the end from the beginning, has promised his daughters that their greatest joy and fulfillment will come from raising a righteous posterity, and he has promised his sons that a righteous posterity is a great covenant blessing .

 I believe raising a family unto the Lord is the most noble work we can do, but it isn’t easy.

 Nana

 After I wrote this I read “The Challenges are the Blessings” in the Ensign, June 2014.  Enjoy.

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New thoughts about some old scriptures.

Kershiznek

~by Diane McAffee

Recently, we have been encouraged to share our testimonies over blogs, forums, Facebook and all forms of social media. In fact, entire talks from the leadership of the church have been devoted to this move into a more visible position as we stand up for what be believe.

Unfortunately, as I have recently discovered, that can incur the wrath of even those that we know and love. But our words, floating through the ether, can end up on the screen of someone whose heart is prepared and gently nudge them toward the acceptance of the gospel.

Kerry, Thomas and I have been doing our scripture in the D&C and the other night we read a scripture that struck me most forcefully. Perhaps this has been used in the previously mentioned talks, but if so, I don’t remember it.

Look up D&C 84:62  It reads:

Therefore, go ye into all the world; and unto whatsoever place ye cannot go ye shall send, that the testimony may go from you into all the world unto every creature.

Pretty cool to think of this in light of what we have been asked to do. So as my finger is poised to ‘send’ I will hope that what I generate is positive, encouraging, joyful, and full of faith.  Love you all.

I’m Glad

Mother and newborn

~by lisa collett

I’m glad I had a mother.

I’m glad our home was filled with music and people rehearsing and for the excitement and richness it brought to our home.

I’m glad my mother sewed my clothes for me. I watched her sit for hours at her sewing machine with a baby at her feet. I remember, as a little girl, it pulling at my heart-strings when I had to give away dresses she had made me as I grew out of them. One of my favorites had yellow flowers and little black bows all over it. Another favorite was sage-green with a princess skirt.

I’m glad my mother made whole-wheat, homemade bread. My friend Julie used to come over when there was fresh bread. We would toast and smear it with jelly, nearly devouring an entire loaf between the two of us. We still fondly remember that delicious bread and the fun we had eating it and talking to my mom.

I’m glad my mother had two more babies when I was a teenager. I got to learn from her as she cared so diligently for her babies. It was also  fun to come home from school and awaken them from their naps to play .

I’m glad my mother showed me what it means to work hard.

I’m glad my mother was unique and sometimes quirky and zany and funny – even when she wasn’t trying to be…and a red-head. Nothing ordinary about her!

I’m glad my mother is still around and so busy and active and full of thoughts about books she’s read and great  conversation. I’m glad she continues to learn and to teach me.

I’m grateful that with all of my mother’s talents, she put mothering first.

I’m glad my mother liked to watch Perry Mason. Many nights I’d come home to her folding mounds of laundry as she watched her black and white episodes of Perry Mason. She never minded talking to me and catching me up on the plot. It was quiet and peaceful as we folded diapers and dishcloths together watching that show late at night.

I could recognize my mother’s hands against 10,000 other pair of hands. How often I’ve watched them compose, clean, fit a bodice, make a sandwich, comb my hair, bath a baby and a thousand other things. I’m glad I recognize how beautiful they are.

I am so glad I have my mother!

 

Women and the Priesthood

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By Kirsten Richards

While on facebook, I read an entry from a friend of mine.  It was so wonderful and so beautiful, I was touched and felt I needed to share.

 “I read in the paper this morning of a group of LDS women who are requesting and say they are ready for the Priesthood. I love my friends and family who do not share my views. But I feel a need to share my opinion as well. To me, when women demand the Priesthood, it implies that they in some way, do not feel fully empowered. It indicates that they do not feel that womanhood is big or powerful or influential enough. It implies that motherhood is not meaningful or fulfilling enough and we must have more. I disagree. I, as a women have incredible power to accomplish, lead, direct, organize, bless and serve. I, as a mother have infinite ability to influence generations beyond my vision. I am busy and fulfilled and happy. It is more than enough. Heavenly Father blessed both his sons and daughters with His godly power. When we fail to value the gift we possess, we must make our God very sad. I don’t believe that God’s plan was ever for us to compete as men and women, but to rise up together and accomplish His purposes. May I always be known as a champion of the Priesthood. May I always cherish being a woman.”

Often, I hear comments in Relief Society, read things on the Internet, or find myself in conversations with friends or family about women and the Priesthood.  I have thought a lot about why this has become such a big issue.  Many times, I listen and then go home and ponder what could be causing such a huge surge in this direction.  I have even gone onto the “Ordained Women Site” and read several entries, testimonials, and their mission statement.

I believe this is a case of “the philosophies of man mingled with scripture.”  It is a philosophy of man that we even have inequality between the sexes.   God perceives us as equally important and valuable.  He has always done so and will always continue to love EQUALLY both His sons and daughters.  It is because of wickedness that the world perceives women as “less than” in any instance where we find inequality.  This is man-made…..or more certainly….this is Satan-made.

 Whether men treat women less than themselves, or women feel less than men, it is Satan who is the perpetrator.  He whispers to all of God’s children.  And, EVERYTHING he puts into the heart of ‘man’ is for the purpose of deception.

In the case of women receiving the Priesthood, it is quite possible (and I actually believe it to be true), that striving for this type of “equality” is taking the philosophy of man, that we are not equal, and then trying to put it into the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is a pure and wonderful gospel.  Yes, it is housed by “the church,” (and sometimes people base their testimonies and their lives on the church rather than the gospel…but that is a totally different discussion) but it is the true and perfect gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is the same gospel that was on the earth when Jesus himself was here.  He loved us all equally…and still does.  He understood the hearts and minds of all men and women.  He blessed them and sanctified them and taught them all.  His gospel had the Priesthood (given to man) and he also had 12 apostles (all men) and never diminished women.

As my son, Spencer, was sitting in the Priesthood Session of Conference just this month, he listened to Elder Oaks talk about this very issue.  Spencer told me afterwards, he was filled with the most amazing testimony that Shauntae held every bit as much power in the Priesthood as he did.  It gave him a deeply profound understanding of how true it is that we, as women, share this magnificent gift and power of God on earth.

 My friend stated it so profoundly, sometimes “we fail to value the gift we posses.”  I pray we will all feel the strength and value of the Priesthood in our lives.  And even more, I pray we will NEVER feel “less than” any of God’s children…for we are made in His image.  We are precious and unique and we are His.  He loves us and knows us.  He gives us everything we need…and more.   I know this to be true.

 In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

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Trying to be a Good Mom and Failing at Every Attempt…or am I?

how-to-make-reading-a-real-blessing-to-mothers

By Clarissa Richards Lowry

So, you should have all been at my house last night.  Just to set up the story…I have a 4-week-old baby girl, a 22-month-old hellion (said with love), and I nanny a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old whose doctor parents were out of town for symposiums, so their kids were sleeping over at my house.

The night started out great.  I decided to take my “4 children” and my parents to paint some ceramics at a crafting boutique.  We had a great time, the kids all had fun, until they got bored and started messing around in the store.  I strapped one in her stroller, the crying baby in her car seat, and the other two started screaming and fighting about who should push the stroller (which caused the stroller to almost fall over) which then made us stay 20 minutes after closing time to get our stuff done.  This meant we were an hour late for dinner time.   So, instead of going home, we did the very healthy thing and bought them McDonalds.

Yes, they got to play in the fun room, but only for a little while because it was so late.  I insisted my parents go to a movie and reassured them that putting the kids to bed by myself would be a piece of cake.  Boy, was I wrong!

Before I could ask the 2 older kids to help, they ran inside just as Jade (2) went running down the street, Aria (new baby) started screaming.  After I grabbed Jade, and put the baby carrier over my arm, I still had to bring in the suitcase and diaper bag and my coveted diet coke (couldn’t leave that outside!)

Once inside, the real fun began!  I sat down to feed the screaming baby and I told Jade to go up and get her pajamas for bed.  Next thing I know, Jade is running out the back door naked to jump on the trampoline.  So I had to stop nursing (baby started screaming again), go get Jade…who was now screaming because she didn’t want to come inside, and I had Mia (5) telling me my baby was crying.  So, I gave the crying baby to Mickey (8), got the 2 girls dressed in PJs, and then Aria had a complete blowout diaper so Mickey freaked out.

I took the baby, told Mickey to get ready for bed and knew that we would soon be saying family prayers and all would settle down.  As soon as he was ready, I told everybody to fold their arms so we could pray and Mickey started jumping on the bed.  That made Jade start jumping on the bed but she, of course, fell and bonked her head…she started screaming again.  So, I handed Aria to Mia while I took care of Jade and Aria puked all over Mia.  Now Mia was freaking out and crying.  So, for the second time, I was changing Aria’s clothes, Jade had settled down, and we were able to have family prayer.

I would like to say that this was the end of the story, that we ended the night on a happy note, but where would the fun be in that…?  I still needed to get the 4 of them in bed. Jade, my escape artist, has to be locked in her room. Mia, the imaginative, likes to sleep in a bird nest. Mickey, the thinker, wanted to stay up reading. And Aria, the stinky baby, still needed a bath. By the time all was said and done it was after 11pm and I had had enough and then Aria puked again (and I didn’t even get to drink my Diet Coke).

Why is it that I work so hard to do the right thing, but then at the end of the day I feel like such a bad mom? I tried to plan the day out so things would be easier. I tried to talk calmly, but ended up yelling. I had planned to make dinner and fed them junk. I tried to get them to bed at a decent hour, and failed. All I know is that Yoda was right, “Do or do not, there is no try.” Even though I sometimes feel like a sucky mom, I have to remember the “Do’s” I did, and forget the “Tries.” They had fun, they had dinner, they went to bed, and above all they said their prayers. Last night I went to bed feeling pretty down on myself, but today looking back on everything, I know that I did the best I could. Today is a new day with new challenges, and tomorrow will be the same. All Heavenly Father wants is to have His children love Him, and feel His love in return. Last night, and lots of nights, I go to bed feeling like a failure and not feeling His love the way I should. It’s time I make a change in my life, and I hope that other moms/ women will too. I am going to stop focusing on all the  negative things I did in the day, and focus on the positive ones. So hopefully tonight I can go to bed feeling like I am a great mom (for the great things I did do) and not a failure.

Family. It’s about….size?

Mothers Love paintings world wide by shazida khatun - (1)By Michelle Stone

Last week on his way home from work, my husband heard a commercial for a web site called smallfamilies.us . It is put together by a relatively small group of concerned environmentalists called the “Utah Population and Environment Coalition.” Since this hits rather close to home for me, I checked it out. OK, I read every page of the web-site and watched several youtube videos of people in the group advocating for small families and explaining why small families are so much better than large families. Of course with my world view (hint: I have nine children) I was left with a general sense of “Ick” and my own completely opposite deep concern for the future. The things that I see as victories and view with a twinge of pride, others see as tragedies. When I read that Utah has the highest birth rate and among the lowest abortion rates I want to shout, “Hooray! Mothers are having their families!” Whenever I see a good woman choosing to have a baby, I want to cheer. I want my children to have their families. I want my daughters to experience the joy and growth in motherhood that I feel. When I lie in bed and think about each of my children I am so completely filled with gratitude and always amazed at the amount of love and joy that it is possible for one mother to feel. How can I share this? How can we help young women understand and desire the joy that is available to them?

I just watched a fantastic little documentary on Amazon called “Be Fruitful and Multiply” (link below) about Orthodox Jewish women struggling to—or to not—raise large families. Personally, I fell in love with these mothers. Miriam, a mother of 16 in Brooklyn expressed her joy in her family, and in her children having their large families in these words, “How many pregnancies is this worth? This is a payoff that you can’t even imagine when you are raising your little ones. When I see my children having baby after baby, that’s my biggest nachas (pride and joy), I’m thrilled!” But of course, this was countered by another mother in the film who felt lost and neglected in the large family she grew up in, and she sees the advantages of having fewer children. “I didn’t have my mother’s attention, and I felt that I needed it at important times, and I just didn’t have it. I didn’t have her attention.” This film made me think hard, but is this really the choice? I don’t believe so. If anyone has time to watch it, I would love to hear your thoughts.

I also just caught up with a cousin I haven’t seen for a few years. She has probably the worst pregnancies of anybody I know—she becomes completely incapacitated. She has four children, but she has deeply wanted more, and despite her horrible pregnancies she has tried and tried. But for some unknown reason, her babies’ hearts stop beating between 13 and 19 weeks and she has lost a total of twelve babies.  In her most recent pregnancy a year ago, the fetus somehow grew through her c-section scar and was growing on the outside of her uterus. The doctors were terrified there would be a fatal rupture any minute, and they explained that they could only save her if they took the baby and the uterus immediately. So, thinking she was going for a standard prenatal appointment, she ended up having an emergency hysterectomy with her still viable baby still attached and losing not only that baby, but any hope of future children. My heart ached for her grief, just as I ache for the pain of women who are not yet able to have the children they so desperately desire.

And yet, at the same time, probably the crowning achievement of the women’s liberation movement is a woman’s “right” to abort her own baby, euphemistically known in UN circles as “reproductive health.” What has happened in society to convince so many women that their greatest feminine power and source of joy, the Godly ability to create and nurture life, is at best an inconvenience and at worse utter bondage and slavery, and that true female power is the ability to kill their own children? I truly do not understand, but I mourn.

This is, of course, not a new topic—the dichotomy between world views exemplified by the Duggars “19 Kids and Counting,” and Bill Gates “Innovating to Zero” depopulation efforts has been playing out for decades. I will never forget a fabulous story of this ideological battle from almost 15 years ago. When Shane and I lived in student apartments in Orem, one of our neighbors went to a family reunion in Denver. One day her mother (a wonderful character actually named Zulabell,) took all of her daughters and daughters-in-law, and all of their children to a movie in town. A woman walking past them in a parking lot stopped dead in her tracks with her jaw wide open. Her loud exclamation was, “Oh my *$%#!! Don’t you people believe in abortion!?!” Zulabell, the protective matriarch of the group, marched right up to the woman and shot back, “No we certainly don’t! And it’s too bad your mother didn’t!”

The irony and seeming hypocrisy of all depopulation philosophy aside, (ie. all births are tragedies except for mine) what is the truth? Should we limit our families? Is it foolish, selfish, or irresponsible to have a large family? Are we commanded to have large families? How should finances and other practical concerns guide our decisions? Can we be good parents to many children, or are children in small families better off? Of course each family is unique, and these decisions ultimately are between husband and wife, hopefully with the influence of the Lord. But in general, what do we believe? Who is correct, President Kimball, “It is an act of supreme selfishness for a married couple to refuse to have children when they are able to do so,” or writer Erica Gies, “I’m not having kids because I can’t in good conscience contribute to the rapid diminishment of our world?”

How do the following teachings apply today? “Be ye fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein,” (Genesis 9:7.) “Lo, children are an heritage of the lord. . . Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them” (Psalms 127:3-5.) “For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare” (D&C 104:17.) “We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force,” (Family Proclamation.)

Clearly, large families are not in fashion in society, and there are many considerations to take into account. But as I see it, motherhood is central to our purpose in life. We are born through a mother so that we can be born again through Christ. Mothers are quite literally Christ’s partners in exaltation. Motherhood is grand beyond description, and popular or not, I’m afraid that as far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier!

Link to video:

http://www.amazon.com/Be-Fruitful-Multiply-Yentel/dp/B009PISQZO/ref=sr_sp-btf_title_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1387695559&sr=8-6&keywords=be+fruitful+and+multiply

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Loss of Femininity

Loss of Femininity

~by lisa collett

A topic that struck me this week was something Elder Chirstofferson said in his last conference address. He mentioned three specific things as a warning and caution to women. His third warning goes as follows: “A third area of concern (warning) comes from those who, in the name of equality, want to erase all the differences between the masculine and the feminine. Often this takes the form of pushing women to adopt more masculine traits – be more aggressive, tough and confrontational. It is now common in movies and video games to see women in terribly violent roles, leaving dead bodies and mayhem in their wake. It is soul-numbing to see men in such roles and certainly no less so when women are the ones perpetrating and suffering the violence.”

I’ve been very aware of this trend in the movies, as I’m sure we all have. Women are now often portrayed as the protector and physically “strong” over the men in a lot of our entertainment.

Here’s a quote from a conf talk years ago that is fitting: “The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined…”

Our entire nation, as a whole, seems to have lost its sense of civility and decency. For example, I can’t tolerate watching national news stations anymore, because it is now expected and the norm for the commentators to talk over each other and argue like unruly children. Refinement and discretion are all but lost.

We don’t need to lose our femininity to play sports, pursue education or excel professionally. I’ve seen these things done successfully over and over. A little phrase I used as a correction when I was raising my daughters was, “That’s not becoming.” There’s so much in the world that is not becoming of us, as women. My hope would be that we would embrace and joyfully cultivate our natural femininity in ourselves and encourage our daughters and the young girls and children w/whom we interact to do the same. We have the world to push against, but we can do it. As the world continues to degenerate, each of us can be a strong and immovable force for good.