Discussion Questions to consider:
When was the last time I sincerely praised my companion, either alone or in the presence of our children?
When was the last time I thanked, expressed love for, or earnestly pleaded in faith for him or her in prayer?
When was the last time I stopped myself from saying something I knew could be hurtful?
When was the last time I apologized and humbly asked for forgiveness—without adding the words “but if only you had” or “but if only you hadn’t”?
When was the last time I chose to be happy rather than demanding to be “right”?
Sister Burton said:
“Now, if any of these questions lead you to squirm or feel a tinge of guilt, remember that Elder David A. Bednar has taught that “guilt is to our spirit what pain is to our body—a warning of danger and a protection from additional damage.”
“I invite each of us to heed Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s heartfelt plea: “Brothers and sisters, in this long eternal quest to be more like our Savior, may we try to be ‘perfect’ men and women in at least this one way now—by offending not in word, or more positively put, by speaking with a new tongue, the tongue of angels.”
Speaking about his wife, Donna, President Boyd K. Packer said, “Because of the office I hold, I have a solemn obligation to tell the truth: She’s perfect.”
“She is the sunshine of my life,” said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of his wife, Harriet.
President Henry B. Eyring, referring to his wife, Kathleen, said, “She [is] a person who has always made me want to be the very best that I can be.”
And President Thomas S. Monson, speaking of his beloved Frances, said, “She was the love of my life, my trusted confidant, and my closest friend. To say that I miss her does not begin to convey the depth of my feelings.”
My patriarchal blessing promised me both an eternal companion and motherhood, both of which seemed impossible at the time – and since – and yet those promises are being fulfilled, and it brigs me such joy I never knew before.
So often people say to us, to me and Nathan, that we are sappy because we are new, but that’s not true because so much has happened to us in such a little time. We have been blasted with trial and affliction just like we were warned at our sealing, but it is the enduring through this together that has kept us close, and it is serving each other through it all – this has kept us happy.
We are called as “mothers to Zion,” regardless of whether we have our own biological children or not. We need to mother the primary children, our nieces and nephews, children in the community, and even each other at different times.
President Benson said at a Parent fireside in February 1987:
No more sacred word exists in secular or holy writ than that of mother. There is no more noble work than that of a good and God-fearing mother.
He then quotes President McKay:
“This ability and willingness properly to rear children, the gift to love, and eagerness, yes, longing to express it in soul development, make motherhood the noblest office or calling in the world. … she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose influence will be felt through generations to come, . . . deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God.” (Gospel Ideals, pp. 453-54.)
President Bensen also said:
“In the eternal family, God established that fathers are to preside in the home. Fathers are to provide, to love, to teach, and to direct.
But a mother’s role is also God-ordained. Mothers are to conceive, to nourish, to love, and to train. So declare the revelations.”
In Section 132 of Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord states that the opportunity and responsibility of wives is:
“to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfill the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified” (D&C 132:62).
President Benson goes on to say that “with this divine injunction, husbands and wives, as co-creators, should eagerly and prayerfully invite children into their homes.
Nathan and I did this, even with each foster child, and again before each adoption, fasting and praying to see who could enter our home, and who got to stay.
“Then, as each child joins their family circle, they can gratefully exclaim, as did Hannah:
“For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: therefore also I have lent him to the Lord: as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:27-28).
Brigham Young emphasized:
“There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty?–To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 197).
While not true for everyone, in our case we feel our children match that description, in that because of circumstance (including the delay of my conversion and how those consequences played out), these spirits we agreed to parent had to be born to someone else. This means we also have a special connection to their families and those ancestors, as rescuing them was part of our covenant.
That’s a sacred thing, for another spirit to promise to bear your children for you. Regardless of the choices those biological parents have made in mortality, there is a connection we have with them that is eternal, a covenant we made that I can almost remember, sometimes more easily than others, and this bond is sacred. It is part of why, in our case, though we understand it is not true or possible for all adoptive families, but in our family, this is why we remain so connected to the biological families of our children. Another part of this is gathering the genealogical information for our children, so that we can do temple work for their ancestors also. This is part of keeping our premortal covenants, to do their temple work. We are very aware that is part of the covenant for our family, and we take it very seriously, and often feel the help of those spirits as we parent our children. It’s very sacred, and we take it very seriously.
President Benson goes on to say:
Yes, blessed is the husband and wife who have a family of children. The deepest joys and blessings in life are associated with family, parenthood, and sacrifice. To have those sweet spirits come into the home is worth practically any sacrifice.
Our deepest boys are associated with family, parenthood, and sacrifice.
We realize that some women, through no fault of their own, are not able to bear children. To these lovely sisters, every prophet of God has promised that they will be blessed with children in the eternities and that posterity will not be denied them.
We also read this in the Family Proclamation, which we have been studying, and it says:
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.
We must ever keep in mind that it is the design of Satan to thwart the plan of our Eternal Father. The plan of the adversary is to destroy the youth of the Church—the “rising generation,” as the Book of Mormon calls them (see Alma 5:49)—and to destroy the family unit.
He goes on to say:
Woman was given to man as an helpmeet. That complementary association is ideally portrayed in the eternal marriage of our first parents—Adam and Eve. They labored together; they had children together; they prayed together; and they taught their children the gospel together. This is the pattern God would have all righteous men and women imitate.
Even when there is individual adaptation, these things are to be done together: labor together, raise children together, pray together, and teach their children the gospel together. This is the pattern set for us, by a Father and a Mother.
President Benson goes on to declare:
Before the world was created, in heavenly councils the pattern and role of women were prescribed. You were elected by God to be wives and mothers in Zion. Exaltation in the celestial kingdom is predicated on faithfulness to that calling.
He follows that bold declaration with this:
Since the beginning, a woman’s first and most important role has been ushering into mortality spirit sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven.
Since the beginning, her role has been to teach her children eternal gospel principles. She is to provide for her children a haven of security and love—regardless of how modest her circumstances might be…
It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated….
Have daily family devotion in your home. You teach your children dependence on the Lord by your morning and evening family prayers. Reading scriptures in the home should be a habit…
Under your husband’s direction, have weekly family home evenings and regular scripture study, especially on the Sabbath day. Make the Sabbath a holy day by family scripture study, attendance at meetings, and other appropriate activities.
Promote only good literature and music in the home. Introduce your children to the best in art, music, literature, and entertainment.
Praise your children more than you correct them. Praise them for even their smallest achievement.
Give regular jobs to your children. Let them share in family projects, gardening, lawn care, and cleanup.
Let your home be the social and cultural center for your family. This includes picnics, home evenings, musicals, and backyard games. Make your home a place where your children want to be during their free time.
Encourage your children to come to you for counsel with their problems and questions by listening to them every day. Discuss with them such important matters as dating, sex, and other matters affecting their growth and development, and do it early enough so they will not obtain information from questionable sources.
Treat your children with respect and kindness—just as you would when guests are present. They are, after all, more meaningful to you than guests. Teach your children never to speak unkindly to others regarding members of the family. Be loyal to one another.
Implant within them a desire to serve others. Teach them to be thoughtful to the aged, the sick, and the lonely. Help them to plan early for a mission so they can bless others who do not have the gospel.
Guard against the temptations of seeking after material things; the constant craze to appear more youthful and worldly; the limiting of the size of your family when health of the mother or infant is not the concern; and personal selfishness which will deprive you of the joy of helping others. All these problems contribute to ingratitude, uncharitableness, and emotional instability.
Support, encourage, and strengthen your husband in his responsibility as patriarch in the home. You are partners with him. A woman’s role in a man’s life is to lift him, to help him uphold lofty standards, and to prepare through righteous living to be his queen for all eternity.
Home is love, understanding, trust, welcome, and a sense of belonging. If you, as wives, mothers, daughters, take proper care of yourselves, your families, and your homes, and keep close to each other as sisters in the Relief Society, many of the problems of the day troubling youth and parents will pass you by.
I know that the family is ordained of God, and that mothers and fathers are after the pattern of Heavenly Parents. I know that the priesthood has been restored, and that temple sealings are real and powerful. I know that nothing is more important than our families, and I share these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.