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.