Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mother's Day Talk 2015

*This is the talk I gave at Church a few weeks ago. There were a few people asking about it. So, here it is!

May 10, 2015

     Good morning brothers and sisters. I am so grateful for this opportunity to speak today. I have to commend the bishop on his speaking assignment. He not only gave me a quote along with the surprising topic of mothers for today, but he also gave me a reference of a wonderful talk to use. The quote was by ElRay L. Christiansen and it reads: “So far, no worthy substitute has been found for good mothers.  Without them, civilization is doomed to decay.”

     As soon as I read that I thought to myself, well, no duh – because trust me, if there were a substitute, I would have found it by now!

      A good friend of mine who writes a popular Mormon blog, reminded me of what we all are acutely aware of on this day: the fact that Mother’s Day can sometimes be seen as a day that mother’s avoid coming to church due to the inevitability of their feeling a sense of guilt or a sense of loss. He reminded me to emphasize that truly Mother’s day wasn’t created for those who ARE mothers, but rather for those who HAVE mothers! It is my prayer that as women we will try to think less about ourselves this day and more about the many mothers in our lives.

     There is a classic story that has been told and re-told many times in the circles of my family about my own mother. She is an amazing person who raised 11 children to become above average adults, by the way. She was a mother who always kept the house clean. I mean – not just ‘barely-manage-to-stay-off-the-TV-show-Hoarders’ clean, like me – but ‘honest-to-goodness-next-to-Godliness’ type of clean.  
     When she still had young children at home, and some in every other stage of life with all the chaos that brings, a lady once asked her very frankly “How do you do it all? Cook meals, play with the kids, and keep such a clean house?” To which she matter-of-factly replied “Oh – I don’t play with the kids”.

     We always get a good laugh out of this, but truth is, while she was always there for us when we needed her, she didn't need to spend a lot of time indulging us with play because there were ALWAYS other siblings around to play with. Just one of the benefits of having a large family.

      My mother always had a healthy snack waiting for us after school. She always had a smile on her face when we needed it. She always volunteered to help us, and always always always had a clean house.  I, on the other hand, tend to spend more time playing, watching, reading, talking in made up accents, and teasing my own kids, and not nearly enough time cleaning, cooking, or – what was that word again…ironing!
What I have learned to be true is the fact that there are definitely as many different parenting styles as there are parents, and that it is O.K.

    Two of the more popular styles of parenting that I have heard a lot about lately are seemingly contradictory to one another. They are known as “helicopter parenting” and “free-range parenting”. While the one seeks to be super involved, over-protected, and constantly ‘hovering’ over the child, the other is based on the notion “that we can give our children the same kind of freedom we had [as kids] without going nuts with worry and that when you let children out, good things happen as they gain self-confidence and self-sufficiency from doing things on their own.

     I personally tend to lean more towards free-range than helicopter as a parent, but I believe that it is important to have elements of both as we try to help our children navigate this crazy world that we are living in.  As I have thought about this, I had a thought penetrate my mind, and it has remained there strongly as I have been preparing for this talk, and preparing to send my children out into the world on their own. The thought is a beautiful combination of the two extremes in parenting, dependency and independence.  It is what I have named the new IDOHG method. It stands for “Independently Dependent On the Holy Ghost”.

       What I mean by this is that my end goal as a parent is to help each one of my children become independently dependent on the Holy Ghost. I want them to depend on the Spirit in every decision they make, the small things and the big ones.  I honestly could die happy tomorrow if I knew that my children could recognize the Spirit in their lives and would strive to have it with them always.

      Sometimes the following conversation comes up with friends or family: “What is your biggest fear as a parent?” or “Can you imagine losing a child?” Admittedly, my response to those questions was always somewhere along the lines of “Well, honestly, my biggest fear is that one of my children would leave the Church or that they would chose to not get married in the temple. My fear has never been physically losing a child, but rather spiritually losing a child.

         As I have learned and experienced more in life, I have changed my tune a little bit.  Instead of having ideals of “missionary service”, “temple marriage”, and “church activity” as an ‘end all’, I have decided irrefutably that the one and ONLY goal that I have for my children is for them to be dependent on the Holy Ghost. At all times. In all things. In all places.

      Why?  Because circumstances vary and life throws curve-balls to us all. Because we will each make mistakes and sometimes outright stupid decisions. Because the way is unchanging and we can ALWAYS come back to it at any point.  Only when we learn to depend on the influence of the Holy Ghost to guide us will we truly be successful in life, will be truly be driven of our own accord to follow the prophets, will we truly be happy.

       A parent can talk to their child about something over and over and over again, but at the very critical moment of decision, when the parent is not around, if they do not have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, then that is the very moment that the influence of the adversary will be able to infiltrate. And every single time that happens, then the Spirit is less and less with us.

      How then can we as parents instill in our children the ability to recognize the Holy Ghost and the desire to live worthy of his companionship at all times?  I believe that this will happen by simply returning to the very same steps we each went through to get the GIFT of the Holy Ghost in the first place.

     I am certain that the majority of this congregation could repeat the following article of faith along with me in their heads: “The first principles and ordinances of the gospel are: First, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, repentance. Third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. And fourth, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

       FIRST: FAITH!!!   As parents, as teachers, as influencers of the youth around us, we first and foremost need to demonstrate faith. We can do this as we show to our children that we have no need for fear. Faith is the very antithesis of fear. Giving way to worry, anxiety, and fear, even in seemingly merited situations, regarding the impending changes related to the second coming of the Lord will not help our children to prepare for it. Fear is the natural man’s reaction. Faith is the antidote for it. Two scriptures come to my mind on a near daily basis, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear” and “Perfect love casteth out ALL fear”. 

   Worried about what might happen to your child? Constantly thinking of “what ifs” or “worst case scenarios”? You may need to increase your recommended daily dosage of faith. Faith is increased as we read the scriptures and hear over and over and over again of how GOD ALWAYS WINS so that deep in our brains this becomes a solid fact and arms us with a constant recollection of whose side we are on, and who is on our side!

  “Perfect love casteth out all fear” is something that as tiny humans we all tend to experience. When we are scared, where do we turn? I, for one, remember several different occasions where I would be standing calmly at the foot of my parents’ bed whispering “Mom, Dad, I’m scared. Can I sleep with you?” To which their loving response was always to envelope me in their arms, and let me sleep in the middle of them. To this day, if I close my eyes, I can still recall the feeling of warmth, love, acceptance, and an INSTANT dissolving of any fear as I lay between them.  (Incidentally, I can also recall the feeling of confusion the next morning as I would wake up on the floor next to their bed.)

        It is precisely this instinct to turn to our mothers, to our parents in times of fear and doubt that Heavenly Father is relying on for us to remember and to turn to Him in prayer. I know that there is a real power in prayer, and that Heavenly Father hears each and every one of our prayers. 
      When I was 19 and getting ready to leave on my mission, I began to experience many trials. I knew that someone really did NOT want me to be going out and serving the Lord. First I was in a pretty bad bike accident. A week later, I was in a racquetball accident and lost several teeth. At this time in my life, my family was living in Hong Kong, and I was living at BYU. My roommate and I were driving down 1-15 in SLC on the way back to Provo.  All of a sudden we hit what must have been an invisible patch of black ice. The car began to spin and spin, doing several 360’s across all 5 lanes and facing oncoming traffic head on multiple times.  It was the strangest thing, because while we were spinning, I just knew that we were going to die. It wasn’t scary, I wasn’t screaming. I just said to my roommate matter-of-factly, “We are going to die”. Waiting to be hit head on by one of the many cars that were driving at 70 miles an hour right at us, it felt suddenly as if we were somehow lifted up. After what felt like minutes of sheer panic, the car stopped spinning and came to a stop facing the wrong direction in the emergency lane. Nothing had hit us. Both of us looked at each other in utter amazement and we instantly began to cry. We pulled off the exit ramp, and said a prayer of thanksgiving to Heavenly Father.  
      Later that night, when things had calmed down, I got a call from my father in Hong Kong. He was just calling to check on me to see how I was. He then proceeded to tell me of his experience that morning before he left for the office. My parents lived about 40 floors up in a high rise apartment in Hong Kong. Mom and Dad had already had their morning prayers together and prayed for each child by name, as is their habit.  He kissed her goodbye and headed out the door. In the elevator on the way down, he felt an impression to pray for his children. He thought it was silly, because that is precisely what he had just barely done. But the impression came again. So, he harkened the prompting, and after reaching the parking garage, he turned back. He said that he went all the way back up in the elevator, and back to his bedroom to again kneel before the Lord and pray for each child.  As he told me this story, and what time it had happened, I realized that although it was on the other side of the globe and across the International Date Line, his second prayer on bended knee occurred at the precise moment that our car was spinning on 1-15 in Utah.


     SECOND: REPENTANCE.  This is one of the most abundantly available yet severely underutilized resources known to mankind. Yes, I said resource. I believe that there lies in repentance and it’s equally vital counterpart, forgiveness, an actual source of power. A power so great that it has the capacity to change not only the lives of the forgiven, but also the lives of the forgiver. About 3 months ago, there was an occurrence that happened at home between me and Emerson. I lost my cool and snapped at him. Overcome with sadness at my own rash reaction, I asked him to please forgive me. He just looked at me and said, “Give you what?” I saw that he didn’t understand what forgiveness was, so I explained to him as simply as I could that when we do something that we shouldn’t have done, and we say sorry to a person, we ask them to forgive us and then if we forgive them we are telling them that it is ok, that we still love them.” Well, he must have really remembered that little lesson, because now he tells me several times a day that he forgives me, or asks for my forgiveness. We will be driving in the car and he unbuckles his seatbelt without my noticing, then as we make a turn and he tips over, he will say, “Mom, will you forgive me for undoing my seatbelt?” Or if he wants more chocolate milk when I have already said no, he will tell me: “I forgive you for not giving me the chocolate milk”. While it is sometimes humorous, I do hope that it is a word that will remain in his vocabulary and be used often as he forms relationships with others throughout his life.

 I recently heard a quote that struck me as something I really needed to implement in my life. It was 5 simple yet powerful words. “Forgive Everyone, Everything, Every time”.

      On my mission I was able to repeatedly teach others of the importance of baptism. I would explain to them the beautiful symbolism of baptism, of the burial of an old life and the resurrection to a new one.  I wish I could adequately describe to you the look of hope in their eyes as they pondered the idea that they could actually start anew, and then seeing the pure light in their eyes as they were brought forth from the waters of baptism, pure and clean.  As a child growing up in Argentina, I attended many convert baptisms.  At one point while I was in Young Women’s, the thought occurred to me that by me being born into the church, and thus baptized at a young age, I was denied this opportunity to feel what it was like to start a completely new life.  In my immaturity, I neglected to realize the fact that I wasn't denied anything. The truth of the matter is that each and every Sunday as I partake worthily of the sacrament, I can literally be reborn and start over.

  Taking the sacrament is the very reason why we are each here today, the very reason why we are commanded to ‘meet together oft’ and to renew our covenants. 
At the Last Supper, Jesus explained the ordinance of the sacrament as he ate with the Twelve Apostles:
·         "Jesus took bread, and blessed it; and he took the cup, and gave thanks."
·         "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life."

        If we ever let things such as schooling, vacationing, sports, hobbies, work, or even sleep become excuses to justify our missing the sacrament, no matter what location we are in on the Sabbath day, then we are sending a powerful message to our children through our actions that we do not really need the Savior’s atoning sacrifice that week.

        And once we begin to miss here and there, it becomes easier and easier to do. As we distance ourselves from weekly renewal of our sacred covenants, we are opening the door for the persuasions of the devil to enter into our hearts, to tell us that we are not good enough, not clean enough, and not worthy enough to partake of it.  It doesn't matter if you feel like you have had a particularly good week or a rather rough week, there are blessing to be had by humbling ourselves and partaking of the sacrament in a spirit of repentance. 

       The world may preach the need for us to take some ‘time out’ to ‘find ourselves’ to indulge in activities of ‘renewal’, but there is no activity, no exercise, no practice, no treatment that will provide the most essential RENEWAL that our souls need --- that of the frequent RENEWAL of our baptismal covenants.

     And FINALLY, FOURTH is the GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST. This is the end goal of steps one, two and three. This is what we need to be with us every day, yea, even every hour of every day.

       It would be foolish to think that just because we were baptized at any age and had received the gift of the Holy Ghost that we would be able to feel it at-will forever after. We need to live in a way that lets the Spirit guide us. In this last General Conference, Elder Eyring talked of how we need to always be ready to receive inspiration. Speaking to the priesthood he said:
“All of us must speak and act in the name of God in moments when our unaided judgment will not be enough without inspiration. Those moments can come upon us when there is not time to make preparation. That has happened to me often.”

A scripture in Deuteronomy states:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deut. 6:6-7).

       Truly, this is ultimately the only goal I have of my parenting: to guide my children to have testimonies of their own, to encourage them on their way so that they can develop a relationship with the Lord and a strong desire for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. This is how we can help our children to be INDEPENDENTLY DEPENDANT on the HOLY GHOST.

      To my own children, I want to take a moment to express to you my deep love for the Savior. I know that He lives. I know that only by Him and through Him will you ever find lasting happiness.  Maelynn and Landen, Seth, Sadie and Lane, Miles and Emerson, please, please, please, if you remember nothing else that I have ever told you or taught you, please remember this:  Live in a way to receive the influence and inspiration from the Holy Ghost and ALWAYS follow the promptings you receive.

      This is something that my own mother taught me. I know that she has a relationship with the Lord and a rich history of the Spirit blessing her life. I have seen it too many times to not know this.  I have heard her testimony verbally and have seen her live her testimony in a way that I know makes Heavenly Father proud of her. I hope to pass on this same strength of testimony as a legacy to my children.

      Being towards the tail end of my family, I have already lost all grandparents on both sides, as has Greg. In preparing for this talk, I asked my parents and my in-laws and also some other trusted friends whose parents have died:
“What do you miss the most about your mother?”
Every single response was essentially the same thing:

“I just miss her being there.”
“I miss her listening to me.”
“I miss hearing her voice”
“Just telling her about my joys and my struggles”
“I still want to call her up and talk to her and tell her about things in my life.”
“I want to tell her the sad or exciting events in my life”
“She was such a good listener”.
“Sure I miss the cooking and all that, but mostly I just miss having her THERE to talk to”.

     After feeling the emotion as each of these people I love spoke of their own mothers, I realized that just BEING THERE is what really really matters. I have been reminded that I don’t need to provide amazing trips, perfect meals, scheduled activities to fill every waking minute, gorgeous clothes, or the latest technologies and toys. What I need to do more of is to simply BE THERE.

          I would like to conclude with a beautiful tribute by Elder Holland from an address that he gave in General Conference of 1997, the year I first became a mother:

    “May I say to mothers collectively, in the name of the Lord, you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you. He knows that your giving birth to a child does not immediately propel you into the circle of the omniscient. If you and your husband will strive to love God and live the gospel yourselves; if you will plead for that guidance and comfort of the Holy Spirit promised to the faithful; if you will go to the temple to both make and claim the promises of the most sacred covenants a woman or man can make in this world; if you will show others, including your children, the same caring, compassionate, forgiving heart you want heaven to show you; if you try your best to be the best parent you can be, you will have done all that a human being can do and all that God expects you to do.”

      I likewise echo these sentiments and I know that God is our loving Father, and that His Son, Jesus Christ came to the Earth for us. He lived to show us the way, He died to provide us a way, and He will come again to take us the rest of the way.  In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

1 comment:

  1. You, my friend, nailed it. This is beautiful and perfectly articulates my feelings as well. I've sent it on to my children and asked them to read it. Well done sistah