31 August 2014

Chapter 3 - Jesus Christ Succors

In addition to giving the children of God an avenue to repent, the Atonement also offers comfort from the pains we all suffer. In the book of Alma, there's a great verse that talks about this further:
"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. - Alma 7:11-12"
Expanding on this scripture, Elder Henry B. Eyring said, "He could have known how to succor us simply by revelation, but He chose to learn by His own personal experience."

This doctrine has brought me great comfort in my life, and I love that the author starts out this third chapter with these verses from Alma, saying "From His suffering was born an infinite ability to succor." Then she points out that a mother's days and weeks are filled with opportunities to succor her children. Ms. Sorensen comments, "While both we and our children must depend on the Savior for the ultimate healing of physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual suffering, a mother's efforts to heal and comfort her children area  reflection of the Savior's ministry. 

As a mom, I know I can comfort my son; that often just a simple touch or hug can "fix" whatever's ailing; it amazes me sometimes, how much so. And I love that Ms. Sorensen pointed out the parallels between moms and Christ, in this way. This one's a fairly short chapter, and much of it is examples, with her own kids, when her being there could "make it better". 

"Much of this business of succoring is done quietly and privately. When children wake up vomiting in the middle of the night and you rub their back and provide them every comfort within your reach, it is a sacred secret between them and you. It often goes unnoticed even by your husband or other children. That is often how Christ succored. In the book of Matthew, we read the story of a leper who approached Jesus and worshiped him. He asked Jesus to heal him, "and immediately his leprosy was cleansed.' As the leper walked away, Jesus requested, "See thou tell no man; but go thy way."

A mother's role is to treat our children with kindness and love, as Christ treated all those around him. But it doesn't have to be limited just to our individual families. Elder Jeffery R. Holland urged us to be more caring of all people when he said:
"I ask you to be a healer, be a helper, be someone who joins in the work of Christ in lifting burdens, in making the load lighter, in making things better. As children, when we had a bump or a bruise, didn't we say to Mom or Dad, "Make it better"? Well, lots of people on your right hand and on your left are carrying bumps and bruises that they hope will be healed and made whole. Someone you know is carrying a spiritual or physical or emotional burden of some sort, or some other affliction drawn from life's catalog of a thousand kinds of sorrow. In the spirit of Christ's first invitation to his twelve Apostles, jump into this work. Help people... and try to make things better."

16 August 2014

Chapter 2 - Jesus Christ Teaches

Ok! Now that the move is over and gone and we're starting to fall back into a sort of normal routine, I'm back to continue my progress through Covenant Motherhood.

This chapter - Jesus Christ Teaches, seemed pretty straight forward; of course our jobs as parents is to teach. And that's pretty much what Ms. Sorensen was saying: teach all things; church is to just supplement what is taught at home.

Yep, I'm in total agreement with that. But she did find some really great quotes supporting that approach to parenting. Like this one from Elder Neil L. Andersen:
Our challenge as parents and teachers is not to create a spiritual core in their souls but rather to fan the flame of their spiritual core already aglow with the fires of their premortal faith ... The stories of Jesus shared over and over bring faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strength to the foundation of testimony.
Also, I liked this quote from Ms. Sorensen: " Our feeble efforts to teach may seem to go largely unnoticed and unheeded, but many scriptures and prophets and apostles bear witness of the potential for lasting influence." (like Enos, Alma the Younger and the stripling warriors)

And, along the same lines of worthwhile things seemingly having no effect, part of this chapter talks about how even Jesus Christ was weary at times:
After He learned about the death of John the Baptist, Jesus sought solitude. "When Jesus heard of it, He departed thence by ship into a desert place apart." (what mother hasn't felt like she needs a quiet moment but the clamor just follows?) The people still "followed him on foot out of the cities." Jesus "saw the great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, " and He taught them and healed them. After a while, the disciples tried to turn the crowd away, but Jesus said, "They need not depart."  When we make the same concessions with our own children, despite our weariness, the Savior will sustain us and send the Holy Ghost to consecrate our teachings for their good and for our strength.
Then the chapter moves into talking about important things that need to be taught and ways parents can teach them. She quotes some general authorities, and sums it all up by saying:
The Savior is a perfect example of teaching the right things at the right time. The study of His teachings arms us with the most important lessons our children will need to know. I once did a search throughout the New Testament using the phrase "Jesus said." It was fascinating to see what specific teachings came directly from His mouth, and it helped me focus more on communicating those same principles to my children. I also search the phrases "Jesus taught," "Jesus answered," "Jesus spoke," and "Jesus testified." I was really interested to discover that out of those four verbs, the action of answering was mentioned in the New Testament at least five times more frequently than the other three verbs. Than, in itself, teaches an important lesson: the Savior listened to and perceived people's questions and then taught them truth and doctrine through His answers. 

The chapter closes with a quote from Elder Jeffery R. Holland:
"No child in this Church should be left with uncertainty about his or her parents' devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ ... Live the gospel as conspicuously as you can. Keep the covenants your children know you have made. Give priesthood blessings. And bear your testimony! Don't just assume your children will somehow get the drift of your beliefs on their own."

29 March 2014

Chapter 1: Jesus Christ Creates

Jesus Christ was our perfect and best example. His role in creation, and in our lives today, is vast and far reaching, but at the same time He knows us, as individuals, and cares for each and everyone of us. How much more personal can it get?

Stephanie says, "Thought it's sometimes hard to recognize, we participate in making His amazing work more intimate as we fulfill our eternal role as mothers." Part of that, of course, is in a woman's ability to create life itself. However, all that creative potential notwithstanding, whether we have children in this lifetime or not, it is interesting to note that Eve was called "mother of all living" before she had any children; her title was reflective of her divine role and eternal nature.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, we are told to "establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God." In this chapter, Stephanie talks about how homes can be like temples. Like God and Jesus Christ worked together to create a world were we, His children, could grow and live and develop, "we have the opportunity to create homes that are sacred, safe and sanctified." She then compares women who spend time establishing their home to be a house of God, to temple matrons. I love that!

In this chapter, she also spends a while talking about "matter unorganized". Jesus Christ, from matter unorganized, created this world where we all live. I don't know about you, but I often look around and see, strewn throughout my home much matter unorganized. Bringing order from chaos is creating. One does not need to be a master scrapbooker or seamstress or artist to be creative. Sister Mary Ellen Smoot said:
"Have you ever coaxed a smile from a baby? Have you ever taught someone to forgive? Have you helped someone learn to read? Prepared a family home evening? Organized a family reunion? Possibly you were prompted to do something for a person you go visiting teaching or home teaching to that made a great difference in their lives. If you have done some of these things, you have been creative." 
One of my favorite quotes from this chapter is this:
Constant mothering, in slow motion, may appear ordinary. But we don't realize how truly powerful it is. Without appropriate eternal perspective, this slow-motion process can sometimes feel discouraging. President Spencer W. Kimball acknowledged, "Much is said about the drudgery and the confinement of the woman's role in the home. In the perspective of the gospel it is not so. There is divinity in each new life. There is challenge in creating the environment in which a child can grow and develop. There is partnership between the man and the women in building a family which can last throughout the eternities."
When we create, we grow closer to our Heavenly Parents; we "emulate Jesus Christ when we create" and in doing this we work to fulfill his mission through our everyday efforts in mothering.

09 March 2014

Covenant Motherhood

So, this post has been brewing in my mind since my sweet hubby got me this book for Christmas. I've been a long-time follower of the blog Diapers and Divinity. I like the focus - finding faith in motherhood.  I like the author, Stephanie Dibb Sorensen, and her wry humor and how she works in thought provoking ideas with her funny anecdotes. So, when I heard that she was putting out a book, shortly after I became a mom myself, I was interested and put it on my wish list.

Often, I feel like being a mom who stays home is a less than trendy choice. Motherhood is all sorts of things and I'm happy to be a stay-at-home mom; it's a choice I'd gladly make again, but it's still not always an easy one and I often struggle to keep the purpose for my choosing it in sharp focus in my mind.

What first got my attention about this book, Covenant Motherhood, was the main thesis. The introduction is, as all good intros are, basically a summary of the message she's hoping to portray with her book: Motherhood Testifies of Christ.

That got my attention, right off. So many times, in the church, I hear people say things like, "guys get the priesthood, girls get to be moms." Like it's some consolation prize or something. Like, Boom! You're a mom, now you've met your measure of creation, you're done. I find that a weak answer and highly unsatisfying; I don't believe that can possibly be all there is to it.

In my own private study, I've tried finding things to further help clarify it in my mind, and I've found things talking about the importance of family and kids having moms and dads. I know having kids is basically a commandment, so I know it's important and I believe it, but was hoping for more substance. Then I found this book and she's done a lot of the research I'd been trying to do, so I thought I'd dig in and give it a look.

Right off the bat, I'm loving it.

First, Stephanie talks about motherhood like it's a title, quoting Heber J. Grant saying, "Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind" (the italics are me). That idea definitely resonates with me. Motherhood is a job one takes on; a choice; and one I'm striving to understand so I can be the best mom I can be but, at the base of it all, I'm still the same self I was before.

In the introduction, she talks about how "motherhood is a messy symphony of joy and discouragement, satisfaction and guilt, determination and exhaustion, faith and fear," but in the hard moments, "when our senses are overwhelmed by the details, it can be so helpful to have a clear understanding of our role, our influence, and our commitment. Motherhood is one of the most important opportunities we have to become like Jesus Christ. The service we do for our children, even the simple things, is a symbol of the service Jesus Christ performs for us."

That is exactly what I'm looking for - a clear understanding of my role and my commitment, and I love the perspective that motherhood is an opportunity to become like Christ.

Repeatedly, over the last few months, I've struggled strongly with discouragement and other bleak feelings about motherhood overall. I have kept feeling prompted to read this book and, while I've started reading this book a couple times, I keep getting distracted long enough that I have to go back and reread things to remind me what they said.

Today, at church, the lesson talked about faith and how faith is basically trusting in Jesus Christ. Faith is belief strong enough to change one's actions, choices and behaviors. As we were talking about faith, the teacher had me read an excerpt from Matthew 8:26 - "Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?"

At first I thought that was pretty harsh, but as the teacher drew parallels from Peter's experience to our lives today, I began to feel like a lot of my difficulties (discouragements and other bleak feelings) about motherhood stem from fear. It really moved me. If I believe in the importance of motherhood, why do I let doubts take such strong hold in me?

No more. I'm moving to action. Belief is not enough, it needs action as well in order to be faith.

So! Here I am. I'm going to actually read the book ALL the way through and I'm going to use this blog to keep me honest.