Wednesday, May 15, 2013

preparing for motherhood {one day}.

so i was asked to give a talk in church on mother’s day.
{in the mormon religion each sunday different members of the congregation are asked to give a speech, if you will, regarding different gospel principles and life values}
you know, to enlighten the congregation on my expert mothering tips?
you can laugh, that was a joke.
i was absolutely surprised when asked.
i think it went well.
i hope it did.
preparing for it was nothing short of a humbling experience, i can tell ya that much.

i have been asked by several different people who were in the congregation and others who have heard about it via friends and family to post it on the blog.
i usually shy away from religion on this because it is not up for discussion nor debate.
being a mormon is something so sweet and dear and sacred and personal to me.
i believe what i believe and i am incredibly happy in it.
so this post is like opening up the deepest layer of who i am to the entire world.
the talk is long {i was asked to do 12-15 minutes} and may not be word for word what i actually said on sunday, because i don’t really write down my talks, but rather just a list of points i want to get across.
below are probably thee most honest words i have ever spoken.
so here they are, from my heart to yours...

i love movies. i love watching them and reading about them and the idea of telling a story through the medium of film. in one of my favorite movies of all time, the main heroine is trying to write a great novel.  she has written a few, but nothing that has stuck with people.  upon receiving advice from a dear friend he tells her you must write what you know, and you will find success.  in going along with this advice, today i have written and now speak only on what i know.  this mother’s day talk will come from quite a different perspective than you are used to hearing and perhaps expecting, seeing as i was just as surprised as you might be that i am the one up here today.  what i know personally is not of actual mothering, but the preparation and anticipation of it.

a dear friend posted an article this week titled, what it’s like to not be a mother on mother’s day.  in it, the author says:

i wouldn’t mind it, though, if women weren’t categorized by those who have children, and those who do not.  because where would i belong?  i do not have my very own children, but i have mothered.  we all have.  we all at one point or more have been a strong and permanent influence on another’s life.

i love how clearly she states that the natural feeling of being divided on this day is irrelevant, because every woman has had the opportunity to be a great influence on another’s life.  as oprah {who you know to be my favorite; i think she is so smart} once said, biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.  i look back on the women in my life who have helped me prepare for motherhood, including my actual mother and a strong group of mother figures around me, and these are all women who know.  in a 1997 general conference talk, Sister Julie Beck said, the responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance. more than anytime in history, we need mothers who know.  so here are four things i have been taught to prepare for my own motherhood, by women who know…

one: sacrifice.
the dear women of my life have taught me the value of sacrifice and that through determined faith, great blessings come from this principle.  my favorite song to sing in church is praise to the man.  it’s a dear hymn to me because of my days in Scotland.  chances are if i am playing the piano for a congregation you are sitting in, you are singing this song!  my favorite lyric of the song is, sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.  in a talk given by Elder Robert K. Dellenback in the 2002 general conference, he states:

sacrifice comes in many forms and may not always be convenient. latter-day saints make a covenant with the lord to sacrifice.  by doing so, we surrender our will to His, dedicating our lives to building up His kingdom and serving His children.

women who know understand this.  they live it.  even when it seems stale, even when it seems after countless hours of prayer and faith nothing will ever come, even when it is less than convenient, women who know understand the importance of sacrifice.

two: blessings of the temple.
continuing through her talk, Sister Beck elaborates,

mothers who know honor sacred ordinances and covenants.  these mothers know they are going to sacrament meeting, where covenants are renewed [and dress their families accordingly].  these mothers have made and honor temple covenants.  they know that if they are not pointing their children toward the temple, they are not pointing them toward desired eternal goals.  these mothers have influence and power.

one of the greatest lessons i have learned in my life on the value of the temple is from my own dear mother. one of the lovely things about living and working in Scotland was that the Scottish people would much rather play than work.  seeing as i only worked tuesday-thursday, i had my long weekends to roam free and explore.  being an English major, this was a dream come true as i was in the land where authors of past wrote some of their greatest masterpieces.  while over there, my mother kept gently reminding me of the temple a few hours away in preston, england.  finally, as my internship was coming to an end, i decided i would make the trek out to the temple that coming friday.  i called them up to see when the baptismal font opened and what i needed to bring.  the kind lady on the other end informed me that they usually don’t do baptisms on fridays, but she would gladly make arrangements for me to come in on that day.  friday came and i woke up at 4:30am to be ready and on my train by 5:30am.  i arrived at the chorley train station and boarded a bus that dropped me off at the “preston” stop…aka: the middle of nowhere.  i walked along a dirt road until i came to a parking lot that had the lds stake center on one end and a garden path down the other. the path was lined with wooden benches and centered by arches of greenery and flowers...jane austen fans, please swoon with me in unison.  i mean, i was half way expecting mr. darcy to appear right there.  clearly…i am still waiting.  once the path opened up the temple sat on a beautiful hill overlooking pastures of sheep and tiny cottages.  it was without a doubt the most beautiful thing i had ever seen.  i walked into the temple and introduced myself and the lady told me the temple president requested to meet me.  he came out with open arms and said, sister!  we have had a great miracle this morning!  a father and son called from your great providence of philidelphia and wanted to know if they could do baptisms at the last minute.  normally, we wouldn't be ready for them but because of your call earlier this week we are.  even more, they need a sister to help with the female names and i said, 'well brethren, you are in luck.'  my dear girl, the Lord always provides.  and as i was sitting in the baptistery waiting, i realized the truth in what the temple president told me…the Lord ALWAYS provides.  the Lord is so aware of our individual needs and leads us to having those needs fulfilled.  i needed that experience.  i needed to fully understand the miracles that can occur through the blessings of temple attendance.  if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, the Lord will always provide.  and i thank my sweet mother for instigating that lesson into my life.

three: the power and great importance of the atonement.
one thing people are often quite surprised to hear about me, given my girly outfits and the high heels; the lipstick and the hair, is that i love hockey.  jameson is the true hockey aficionado in our family, but i started watching it years ago to find some common ground for us to relate on and ended up falling in love with it more than i should have.  i love the anaheim ducks, but my favorite team is the chicago blackhawks (and yes, i loved them before they were winners).  now the blackhawks had a pretty incredible season, and as they wrapped the normal season up they went on a fun winning streak.  on the night they were set to record their 12th straight win, they were also set to continue on their way to winning the president’s cup, an award given to the #1 team in the NHL.  with 2 minutes left on the game clock, the hawks were down by one.  the face off started and to our great luck the puck went to marian hossa.  if you don't know hossa, just know he is the guy you want to get the puck when your team is a point down.  as he sped down the ice the captain of the blackhawks, jonathan toews, broke away from the pack.  now, i might be a titch biased, but toews is without a doubt one of the best players in the NHL.  in terms of getting the puck to the back of the net, you are a guaranteed go with these two working together.  the announcers were as excited as ever, basically just calling how the puck would be scored, rather than if.  now the boys raced down the ice as the time dropped, but toews’ skate crossed the blue line before hossa did with the puck and the ref blew the whistle for an off-sides call.  in hockey, if you get an off-sides call the clock is stopped, puck possession is taken away from you and you are called to face off in your defending zone, all the way on the other side of the ice.  the clock started again with the face off, but the hawks weren't quick enough and they lost the game.  that night i was talking to jameson about the game and rambling on and on about the off sides call...how could toews get an off sides?  he is supposed to be the best in the business?  he knows better than to let his skates cross the blue line before the puck?  that is the EASIEST rule in hockey to follow!  he shouldn’t be making such a silly mistake like that.  and of course, jameson came back with his normal defense telling me i am WAY too hard on hockey players.  but later that night i got to thinking, clearly still not over my beloved team’s loss, and i realized how many times we are off sides in life, and how easy it is to get there.  as members of the church, or as people investigating further into the church, we know the rules that Heavenly Father asks us to abide by.  they are not hard rules to follow, rather quite simple.  yet, how many times in life, whether knowingly or unknowingly, do we get caught off sides?  it is an easy call to get.  but thankfully, through the power of the atonement Heavenly Father has given us a solution for those times.  in his April 2007 Ensign article titled, the point of safe return, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said,

the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the gift of God to His children to correct and overcome the consequences of sin.  God loves all of His children and He will never cease to love and to hope for us. the plan of our Heavenly Father is clear and His promises are great.

as an extreme perfectionist to my core, mistakes are never easy for me to get over.  but through the great influence of my mother and other women in my life, i have been taught that being perfect is far less important than understanding the value and real power of the atonement of Christ.  that when we get caught off-sides, the game does not simply end.  rather we can start over again.  it is never too late, hope is never too far gone, and as i learned in the temple that day in the middle of England, the Lord will always provide.

four: patience.
i am sure any mother can give you daily, sometimes even hourly, examples of having to exercise great patience with her children.  although an adult, i am still a child of two wonderful people who continue to have to exercise patience on my behalf and the decisions i make.  in terms of my personal preparation for motherhood, patience has become the most important principle of all for me to learn, as so many of my deepest and most sincere desires are yet to come.  my favorite scripture is in the doctrine & covenants, 98: 1-4, where it reads,

verily i say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks.  waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament - the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted.  therefore, He giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to My name's glory, saith the Lord.

Elder Holland gave a talk not too long ago in which he reminded us, some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven, but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ…they come.  i was raised by a mother who taught me to dream as big as my heart desired, and thus i have grown into a woman with big dreams.  i dream of living in new york city and working for the NHL.  i dream of traveling the world and being in a position where i can make a sincere difference.  but at the end of the day, when i am on my knees in a conversation solely with my Father in Heaven, He knows of the even deeper and more important desires of my heart…a temple marriage, the opportunity to be a kind, opinionated {haha}, but good wife, the dream of being a mother to my own children and raising an eternal family in the gospel.  and although right now in my life i am merely in the stages of preparing for these blessings, i know they will come.  as Elder Holland so lovingly put it, in this life or the next, they. will. come.

i can't pretend that at times it seems life would be so much easier to go "off-sides" and find a way to get exactly what i want right now.  but i know the path Heavenly Father has planned for me is far greater than one i would carve out for myself.  and with faith, patience and persistence it will all fall into place so perfectly.  i am forever indebted to the women in my life, many of whom are sitting in this chapel, who have taught me the lessons i need to learn to be ready for that great day.

brothers and sisters {and now my dear readers} no one has an easy life, and no one knows everything about what has happened nor what is to come.  life is full of questions, some of which will never be answered.  i hope for things in life that many people already have.  this doesn't mean that their lives aren't laced with troubled times and heavy burdens.  but one thing i know to be absolutely certain is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true.  i have questioned it and yet my Father in Heaven has always provided a way to re-affirm what i already knew to be true, which is...that God lives.  He loves us so dearly.  He has given us a sure plan to be able to return to Him.  The Book of Mormon is true and it has the power to become our greatest guide through good times and bad.  i know that Thomas S. Monson is a modern day prophet of God, who leads and guides us with love and devotion for our well being.  i am grateful for my family.  for parents who raised my brothers and i in a home centered on love and acceptance and truth.  just because they did an incredible job with the three of us does not mean we were easy to handle at times...they have great patience.  but above all, i have a testimony of the atonement of Christ.  it was and forever will be the single greatest act of love on this earth.  through that sacrifice we are all equal.  through that sacrifice we always have someone who understands our frustrations and our happiness.  through that great sacrifice we have the ability to return to Him.  i am grateful.  i am incredibly blessed.  in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

{photo via pinterest}

5 comments:

  1. Possibly one of my favorite posts. Thanks for sharing jess.

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  2. Thanks Jess! this was perfect and so needed. and I think maybe I will cross stitch that DVF quote for my cubicle :)

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  3. thanks for sharing! you are amazing!

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  4. Thank you for sharing Jessica. It was what I needed to hear. You are wonderful.

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  5. Jess - tonight I miss my mom more than usual. I am so glad I came upon this talk again. Tonight I read it slower. Not only did it uplift me, but I felt mom. And it gave me answer to recent heartfelt personal prayer.Thank you so much.

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