Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Daughter Who Knows

A once-in-a-lifetime family event happened a week ago: our only daughter was married. It was a wonderful day, made that way because of a lifetime of good choices made by a wonderful girl.

May I pay tribute to this wonderful woman, my daughter Rachell?

Nearly a year ago, Julie B. Back, now General President of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a powerful address entitled "Mothers Who Know." As I have reflected on the qualities of such women Sister Beck described, I've realized that my daughter epitomizes them, young as she is. Using a few of Sister Beck's points, I'll tell you what I mean.

"Mothers who know desire to bear children." Not only have marriage and children long been a desire for Rachell, she has prepared herself for those opportunities. Unafraid of the challenges the world throws our way that would discourage successful marriages and families, Rachell understands that "children--not possessions, not position, not prestige--are our greatest jewels."

"Mothers who know honor sacred ordinances and covenants." Rachell has always honored these holy things, dressing carefully for Church meetings; sacrificing to attend the temple; and faithfully fulfilling Church callings.

"Mothers who know are nurturers. . . . . Another word for nurturing is homemaking . . . including cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home." Once when Rachell was still in grade school, I left for a day of shopping with a grandma and cousin. Rachell was not invited along. Instead of moping, she went to work, and when I got home, she had cleaned the entire house, done laundry, and fixed meals for her brothers and dad. At the time not even 12, she still values and practices that kind of nurturing.

"Mother who know are leaders." Sometimes leaders have to stand alone, and Rachell did that, not without some anxiety and tears, but always faithfully, through her teenaged years. Rachell led out in keeping Gospel standards, including dating standards, scripture study, modesty in dress and behavior.

"Mothers who know are teachers." Shortly after the return of our most recently-returned missionary son, our family was discussing the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Rachell taught some profound insights about the Atonement. Her brother asked, "Where did you learn that?" She said, "In my personal scripture study." He was amazed--he hadn't learned it until halfway through his mission, and his little sister four years younger than he had gleaned it on her own and was now teaching it to others.

"Latter-day Saint women should be the very best in the world at upholding, nurturing, and protecting families." Rachell will do, in fact is doing, this very thing. Even though I am her mother, I am humbled and grateful to follow her example.

I love her very much.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


As Mormons, we are counseled by our church leaders to read the scriptures daily. As Mormon parents, we are counseled to read not only personally, but with our children. We are especially encouraged to make family study of the Book of Mormon a daily and lifelong pursuit.

Wanting to be obedient, we tried hard to follow that counsel but getting a routine going was tough. We'd just feel like we were on a roll when something would happen to upset the schedule applecart: school would start, or school would end; new baby would arrive, or the chain-reaction childhood illnesses would begin and make their month-long runs through six kids. It was tough.

Then our oldest kids hit the Dreary Wasteland of tween-age hood, the end of innocence. Sibling bickering increased. After-school sports and activities ballooned the family calendar. Tension over doing homework--not to mention handing in said homework--escalated. Things got tougher.

And then we were reminded of this prophetic promise:

"I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness" (Elder Marion G. Romney)

We bought inexpensive copies of the Book of Mormon, kept the stack next to the dining room table, and tried again. Breakfast time became scripture reading time. And this go around, it stuck. We first finished the Book of Mormon as a family in 1990, and in the next 17 years finished it eight more times, just reading a few minutes each day. Sure enough, the promises of prophets came to pass. Mutual respect and consideration grew; the spirit of contention departed; loving counsel and responsiveness to that counsel increased--just like Elder Romney said it would.

At the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior gave this great measure by which we can judge the goodness of anyone, anything:

"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit" (Matthew 7:16-18)

The Book of Mormon is a true and good tree. Our family knows this, because the fruits are good.
Anyone who will give it an honest try will taste the same fruit.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Testing, Testing

Bruce C. Hafen, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy for the Mormon Church, shared the following:

“[Several years ago I watched] a close friend my age decline physically from multiple sclerosis. I had seen him gradually lose his ability to walk, to stand, and then to sit. During the stage when he was fully bedridden, his wife passed away from cancer. His family wheeled him into her funeral on a mobile bed. . . . ("Reason, Faith, and the Things of Eternity,“ Elder Bruce C. Hafen, Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute Speech, March 21, 2008.)"

In bumping along the roadway of mortality, I‘ve learned that every one of us struggles with trials and tests, some of them physical and just as dramatic and sobering as the above.

For others, the trials fall under the categories of marriage; children; finances; living with the consequences of our sins; the death of a loved one; or being in the world but not of the world. The category of heartache may vary, but the reality of difficulties is certain.

What do we do with our inevitable trials? I don’t know the detailed answers for each of you. But I know One who does.

Remember John the Baptist? His mission was unique and awesome: prepare the way for the Messiah, making a people ready to receive the Son of God. John taught with power and baptized many.

In the face of John’s valiant efforts, an account in Matthew 11 is a little perplexing. The Baptist had spent a year imprisoned by King Herod, whom John had publicly criticized for his unlawful marriage.

“Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,

“And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:

“The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:2-5).

What’s going on? Why would John, the great Preparer of the Way, send two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he were the promised Messiah? After all, this was a man who had been filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb. Was his testimony slipping, or was he jealous of Christ’s growing ministry and his own waning one?


The imprisoned prophet hoped this encounter with Christ would persuade his followers to forsake him and follow Jesus. John knew what a personal experience with the Savior could do.

Allow me to point you to Christ. Why? For the same reason John sent the people to Christ: seeing the Master and hearing his teachings lead us to the greater light we all desperately need, whether we are enduring the daily dullness of life or battling through excruciating periods of personal adversity

Where will we find this Christ we must all seek? In the scriptures. In the words of Latter-day prophets. In the promptings of the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost which come as answers to prayers. Christ will be found there. I know that, because I find Him there, and with the finding, my burdens become easier to bear.

Go find him.