Brothers and Sisters, good morning and a very Happy Mother’s Day! What a blessing it is for me to speak today and give thanks and recognize the special women in my life. I am eternally grateful for my wife and for the way that she is a righteous mother to our children. I was driving around yesterday running errands, and I took the time to teach our daughters about Mother’s Day, and how we can show gratitude for our mothers. I asked our oldest daughter, Lara who is just three years old, why she loves her mother, and her response was, “I just love my mommy because she is soooo beautiful!” Smiling, I then asked, “What do you like to do with Mommy?” Lara replied, “I like to cook with her!” I then asked her what she likes to cook with Mommy, and she exclaimed with a huge smile on her face, “SHRIMP!” So, Valerie, my dear wife, I too love you because you are so beautiful, and because you make some awesome shrimp!
This is a great time of year to reflect on our Mothers and the women in our lives that make our journey on this Earth all that much better. Though we celebrate Mother’s Day only once a year, I hope that we share our appreciation for them daily! Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that, "While women live in homes under many different circumstances—married, single, widowed, or divorced, some with children and some without—all are beloved of God, and He has a plan for His righteous daughters to receive the highest blessings of eternity. There is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood.”
Two weeks ago I replaced the brakes on my car. Thanks to an instruction book I got from the library for car repair, I followed each step and finished the project. However, unlike a car, there is no step-by-step instruction booklet showing how to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “stay-at-home moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else.
Brethren, how can we each better support our wife, the mother of our children? Elder Ballard gives some wonderful instruction for us:
“First, show extra appreciation and give more validation for what your wife does every day. Notice things and say thank you—often. Schedule some evenings together, just the two of you.
Third, give your wife a “day away” now and then. Just take over the household and give your wife a break from her daily responsibilities. Taking over for a while will greatly enhance your appreciation of what your wife does. You may do a lot of lifting, twisting, and bending!
Last week as my wife shared her testimony during Fast and Testimony Meeting I was quite touched by the story that she shared. She shared a dream that she had dreamed the night before. She explained that in the dream she was here at Church, enjoying a ward activity with friends, and our ward family. Then at a certain point everyone ran outside and saw that the sky was dark and the wind had turned fierce. Suddenly she heard a voice say to her “Get everyone back inside the building.” A tornado was coming, and apparently everyone else heard the voice too as we all obeyed and hurried back into the Church building. Though the tornado came, we found safety and shelter within in the Lord’s house.
Brothers and Sisters, God truly does live. He loves us. Knowing this, we also know that “it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things…” Before this world was, “An angel of God [did fall] from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil… And because he [did fall] from heaven, and [did] become miserable forever, he [seeks] also the misery of all mankind.” (2 Nephi 2:11, 17-18) This storm of misery continues to rage all around us. The adversary knows to focus the storm constantly at the places that will do the most damage – in particular, the family unit.
In an article in the Ensign in May of 2006, Elder M. Russell Ballard said, QUOTE,
“When you stop and think about it from a diabolically tactical point of view, fighting the family makes sense. When Satan wants to disrupt the work of the Lord, he doesn’t poison the world’s peanut butter supply, thus bringing the Church’s missionary system to its collective knees. He doesn’t send a plague of laryngitis to afflict the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He doesn’t legislate against green Jell-O or casseroles. When Satan truly wants to disrupt the work of the Lord, he attempts to confuse gender and he attacks God’s plan for His children. He works to drive a wedge of disharmony between a father and a mother. He entices children to be disobedient to their parents. He makes family home evening and family prayer inconvenient. He suggests family scripture study is impractical. That’s all it takes, because Satan knows that the surest and most effective way to disrupt the Lord’s work is to diminish the effectiveness of the family and the sanctity of the home.
Look at what he accomplishes when he does that. Couples unhappy in their marriages tend not to give appropriate gospel instruction in the home. They are less likely to be committed to gospel principles in their own lives. Some drift from the Church. Apathy can overcome even active members, keeping them away from the temple and weakening their capacity to be effective leaders and teachers—thus leaving countless lives untouched and slowing the Lord’s work. And the Internet when not properly used is a vicious influence in the home. So we know, without question, Lucifer is the enemy of the family!” END QUOTE
Brothers and Sisters, is it any wonder that as a church we are more focused than ever in supporting and strengthening the family? We cannot afford to be caught in the storm that surrounds us. Let us never do anything that would open the door to the tempest.
In The Family: A Proclamation to the World we have been counseled that:
“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.”
“The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”
I have read and studied this proclamation many times, but never have I read “It is always the Mother’s responsibility to have dinner ready when the Father comes home from a long day of work.” Or, “If the Father has changed two diapers in a row, it is the Mother’s turn.” Rather, I have read that “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” While “mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children,” “On a day-to-day basis, fathers can and should help with the essential nurturing and bonding associated with feeding, playing, storytelling, loving, and all the rest of the activities that make up family life.”
After a long day of travel from Capernaum to the coasts of Judaea, and without a chance to rest, Christ was bid to teach the people. The Pharisees came to him, tempting him in an attempt, I believe, to catch him off guard, being weary from travel. Then after dealing with the Pharisees, the people “brought their young children to him, that he should touch them.” His disciples knew that He was tired and in need of rest, and I am sure that they had good intentions when they tried to send them away. “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:13-14) As husbands and fathers entrusted with the Holy Priesthood of God, we must strive to follow the Lord’s example and make time to teach and lead our families in love and righteousness.
Brothers and Sisters, in closing I’d like to refer again to a warning issued to us in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. “We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” May we treat the special women in our lives right. Let us remember that “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”). The scriptures and the teachings of the prophets and apostles help all family members to prepare together now to be together through all eternity. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.