Monday, July 26, 2010

holiness in motherhood

I keep thinking about a session in the Motherhood Retreat I went to clear back here.

It was titled "Holiness in Motherhood."

I'll admit right here and now, although I was well aware that was a topic I could definitely benefit from, I was a little more excited for the sessions about how to deal with your "difficult child" or how the heck to be more organized.

But I'll also tell you right here and now that that "Holiness in Motherhood" session was a gem that has changed my mothering.

Really.

So I have to share my notes and thoughts, because I figure other mothers could use this stuff too. (My mom and I also wrote an article about it for some publication a while back, so some of the following is from that.)

Jen Eyring, (who is a role model of a mother and has seven (!) kids) led the discussion. She pointed out that "Holiness" is a "constant remembrance of the Savior" (according to one of our church leaders, Elder Christofferson). And I have to say that when I do remember the Savior in my mothering, I am a much better mother.

“No one wakes up in the morning and says, ‘I want to be unholy today’ Jen said,” but the path of least resistance can certainly take us there. We must make holiness a conscious choice.”

We can all agree that there are quite a few days as a mother that just don’t seem exactly "holy." When we’re coping with a three-year-old whiner, a nine-year-old procrastinator or a teenager who may not speak altogether kindly to us, motherhood may seem more like a test of endurance than enduring holiness.

At some point in a mothering career almost every mother says, “I just wish I were more spiritual. I feel guilty because I don’t read the scriptures as often as I should. I am so exhausted that I often fall asleep during my prayers. Sometimes I just feel that there’s no time to be holy!”

But if we change our mindset we will realize that the whole concept of Motherhood IS holy. Holiness can be found in things as small as preparing a family dinner, things as mundane as continual loads of laundry waiting endlessly to be done, and in things as simple as a two-minute discussion with a child on the way to soccer practice. Holiness can be found in all that we do as mothers as we let the Savior into our lives.

The part of the session that hit me the most was this:

In preparation before the retreat Jen contacted a few other mothers who were coming and asked them to choose one thing that they could do to generate more holiness in their mothering and put it into practice. They were to report on their findings at the retreat. When things got tough she suggested that they ask themselves, “How would a holy woman handle this?”

One mother chose getting her children out the door in the morning with a spirit of calmness. One chose to express her love as she buckled four kids into their car seats in the car. (I loved her report as she talked about how she took time, even just the one or two seconds it took to buckle each of them in, to look in each one of their eyes and tell them that she loved them.) Another mother chose to create more holiness at bedtime. The result of just keeping a focus on holiness during those stressful times was sweet and clear: each mother discovered that "holiness in motherhood" is not only about reading the scriptures and having family prayer. It is about time and focus and slowing down and patience and all the other good things that come along with the details of Motherhood.

So I took all this to heart after the retreat and sought to find more holiness in what I do. As I did, I realized I found the holiness in the moments. Just like that mom who trained herself to relish those moments as she buckled her children in their car seats, I noticed more how my children beam when I praise them for sharing or for figuring out a new thing on their own. I stepped back and relished the fact I got to read to them each night and that if I tried, I really could find a minute the midst of the busy afternoon rush when they got home from school to just sit down and look into their eyes and listen to them.

Yes, the holiness is in the moments where I take a minute to step back and see things as God may see them. And I realized it comes with training myself to see it, and remembering to look for it amidst all the mundane, regular things we do. Because holiness is really part of them all.

May we all take the time to rejoice a little more in our “holy calling of Motherhood.” Because man alive, even through the chaos and the spilled milk and the stinky diapers and the whining we really are so lucky to get to be here. Right here, right now.

34 comments:

  1. I didn't really have the time to read this post. It's been a "very full morning" and we've been running and running and are now at home preparing for round too of running that starts in 20 minutes.
    Thank you for this post. I am feeling frazzled and I can tell it is affecting the children. Thank you for reminding to take small moments, even a few seconds, to find holiness.
    What a great post.

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  2. What a great post at just the right time!
    I just found your blog a few couple weeks ago and I just have to say you have the most beautiful family!
    I am not Mormon, in fact I am catholic, but I love to hear about your faith and how that plays in your life! I also have always been curious about other religions and love learning about others!
    You are an inspiration!

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  3. Lovely thoughts Shawni. I catch myself (frequently unfortunately) having to rethink the answers I give or how I respond to things that my children ask for or want me to do.
    I have to say I've never thought of "holiness in motherhood", but it does put things in the proper perspective for me.
    Thank you for sharing this.

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  4. Thanks for the reminder. Your post caused me to have several thought...it does not matter how young or how old your children are...they may even be out of the house on their own...on a mission...in the military...etc. But, mother is always the safety net...mother is where children run in times of need and in times of happiness...mother is always love. The act of mothering a child, is holy in itself. It is tender and sweet and sometimes it seems that the craziness of the world stops and time stands still when we enjoy "moments" with our children. Holiness is found in everyday life, in everyday living and in everyday mothers. We just forget or get so crazy busy that we do not remember that we are devine, we are the Lords hands, and that in itself, opens the door too holiness. I was helping my high school age son fill out job applications. As I watched him carefully reading and writing on his applications...he himself being somewhere between a boy and young man, their was love, devotion, trust, and the quiet holiness that comes from just being mother and son. It was priceless.

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  5. Loved this post. Definitely something that I need to work on.

    I saw on your mom's blog about your MFME and she mentioned completing some questions which reflected on your life. Just wondering if you would be willing to share what those questions are??

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  6. Thanks for sharing this, Shawni! I love love love Jen Eyring, and can just picture her lovely presentation. She is always inspiring to me and so are you. I hope your week is a lovely, holy one!

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  7. Reminds me of our Primary sharing time yesterday...Christ's example teaches us how to live!

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  8. Thank you for challenging me to find the holiness in my daily life. I need to step back more and let holiness envelope me. Thank you for the reminder!

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  9. Thank you, Shawni for sharing your wonderful thoughts & ideas...your notes & beautiful pictures of you & your beautiful family. I also come from a large family & cherrish all my wonderful memories of growing up with three sisters & three brothers. I am a mother to four sweet girls & each with their own unique personality. I have enjoyed reading each of everyone of your posts & go to it everyday to check for a new post. :) I also go to it for all your great & inspiring ideas. Thank you again, you touch more than you know.
    henage.k@gmail.com

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  10. Wow...thank you SO much for this today! I just had baby #5..3 months ago. He was 7 weeks early, spent 6 weeks in the NICU and has some special needs. I have had health problems since the baby...needless to say life has been more than crazy. I have not been the stellar mother recently. This helped change me. Today instead of yelling at my 5 year old when he screamed in the babies face and made him cry I chose to remain calm and sent him out to jump on the trampoline to get some much needed energy out. He came back in and we made a fort together. My goal for the day is to see these little moments with my 3 little ones at home as holy for they will never happen again.

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  11. I stumbled into your blog awhile ago and have enjoyed your insights. This one, particularly, touched me today. Sometimes, because we don't have a lot of time to do these important things, we think we can't do them at all. A snippet of time here and there for a moment of holiness or a moment of silent prayer or a quick read of a scripture that is taped to a cabinet or mirror, really do make a difference.

    Too often I get into an all or nothing cycle where if I can't devote long minutes to something spiritual or holy, I don't devote anything.

    Awesome post.

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  12. If you haven't already a good read to add to your "books to read" in regards to this similar topic is, "The Holy Secret" Awesome!

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  13. I just have to say that I really hope you never decide to stop blogging because I read your blog every day and I love it. You are truely amazing and you inspire me to be a better mother.

    Thanks for sharing that today.

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  14. Thank you for taking the time to share this post! What a beautiful reminder and something I am going to work on this week. Good way to start of the week!

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  15. Hi Shawni... I just wanted to leave you a comment to say, I have been reading your blog like a NOVEL for the past few days (I THINK I clicked here thru another photographer's blog, but I couldn't even tell you for sure!). Needless to say, your blog is wonderful for so many reasons ... as I read each of your posts, especially on faith and mothering, it truly gives me this little spark of excitement & hope as I learn to best parent our 2 year old son. I am taking SO MUCH from your lessons and words. I am not Mormon, but wow, I have just loved reading about your devotion to your faith. It's INSPIRING. It gives me the kick in the butt I need to make great choices NOW, in order to mold our little family. Your kids are crazy beautiful, oh that Lucy! I get the biggest kick out of her, grumpy expressions and all! Thanks for putting your heart & thoughts out there for all of us to learn from & enjoy reading! :)

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  16. oh that is so true! we had a person come to our church last year to talk about mothering and the message was similar. We are holy through the little things we do for our family like cooking dinner and taking care of them and being there for them.

    It was like a revelation to me, I just went oh yes....you get so caught up in the rush of the day to realise that we are showing our children love throughout the day and that is an act of holiness!

    I also only listen to the christian music station in the car so that whenever I'm driving everyone around I have some time to reflect and pray in the car! been the best way to fit some prayer into my day too

    Corrie:)

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  17. THANK YOU for sharing this on a frazzled-mommy-Monday! :)

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  18. I've been following your blog for a couple of months now and I look forward to EVERY post! I always leave here feeling uplifted. I'm in the last weeks of my 4th pregnancy and feeling a little overwhelmed most of the time. I've been reading the Conference Talks and really pondering how I can do better at teaching the Gospel of Christ to my children... your post today was my breakthrough moment. Thank you so much. I need to teach with love while I'm buckling the car seats, while I'm cooking dinner, and when I'm reminding them AGAIN to brush their teeth. It's really in the daily moments that are already there and not so much in the moments that I need to create. I hope that makes sense. Anyway, thank you so much for blogging your heart out for us!

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  19. Thank you so much for sharing this! It was exactly what I needed after a difficult evening!

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  20. Beautiful post...thank you. As a mother of 5 boys, I definitely needed this reminder!
    emily
    helpemilylose.blogspot.com

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  21. I absolutely LOVE this post! It is one I will print out and reread again and again. I have been trying to do this more lately because I LOVE those little moments; they're what mothering is all about (I call them my "paychecks"):) It also reminds me of my favorite quote I have on my fridge: "Dear God, help me not to get caught up in the mundane chores of life. Nudge me to take my child's hand, and let her lead me into her world." cuz we don't always have to pay bills and clean, right? :) Thank you!

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  22. Thank you for this post. I needed it today especially! I hope you don't mind but I made a link to it from my blog so my friends can be inspired too. Thank you!

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  23. oh my word how I love this timely post. i'm sharing it with all my friends. thank you for sharing it with us!

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  24. I need the "more holiness at bedtime" juice especially. Thanks for the post. I will put it into practice. Thanks for always inspiring us to be be more.

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  25. Wow, I'm really going to try and challenge myself to really slow down when things are whirling about around me. I find it easy to do with my newborn, but I need to make an effort to connect more with the other 4. thanks so much for posting this.

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  26. Thanks i needed to read this today...

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  27. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Very uplifting to me!

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  28. Beautiful, articulate and well-timed. Thanks for taking the time to share your insights with us. It's so helpful to be reminded of just how sacred our job as mothers really is. Wonderful post.

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  29. Being a good mother IS about all those little moments. It's where the real battles are lost and won; it's where the joy is; it's where the epiphanies alight; it's where beauty is found and where we grow and renew our purpose and determination. If we don't take notice of the moments--it can quickly become too overwhelming. Loved this post and your thoughts, and couldn't agree more.

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  30. Shawni, thanks so much for this post. It's so very true, even though it can be so very difficult! I'm new to your blog, but feel I know your family because I've read your Mom's book, A Joyful Mother of Children. It's such a simple principle really, the idea that this mothering that we do can be joyful and holy, but I think a lot of mothers struggle to grasp it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and inspiring others.

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  31. I love this - it's all about the moments, but I like the idea of taking the time to create those holy moments.

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  32. my friend posted this link on her blog and i want you to know that this post is exactly what i need RIGHT now. i am a mother of three small children and i am constantly exhausted. i have been praying and praying for a way to fit it all in and a way to feel closer to heavenly father in the midst of chaos. thank you for providing one of the answers to my prayer.

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  33. Thank you very much for your inspired words. My friend referred me to this post and I am very grateful that she did. It is a good reminder to me to make the small moments count and to seek for holiness in my efforts as a mother.

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  34. I just commented but just read a little more on your blog buttons and wanted to say one more thing!:) I just today signed up for the joy school program along with the values-parenting membership. I have been reading a lot about it all for the past couple of months. I think it is such a strange coincidence that I came across your blog this evening (I rarely ever surf around and read blogs that I don't know!) I live in a small town and recently got 5 other local moms on board to do the program. It is a pretty diverse group of moms but we are all very excited about it all. Thanks to your parents and to you for all you are doing to promote good values in families!

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