Sunday, February 22, 2009

Life's Master's Program

Yesterday in church I went from one lesson to the next and in each I felt like I had earned or was in the process of earning a Master's degree from the University of Life in aspects brought out during the lesson. 

The first lesson was on baptism. This is one of the first things we learn about as we learn about the church. It is basic doctrine and I could easily at any time during my adult life have given most of the answers to any of the questions asked during the lesson. But there is quite a difference between knowing the book answers to questions and knowing the answers from the Master's Program of Life Experience.

During the lesson, one of the class members who is just starting to learn about our church asked what means to "mourn with those that mourn" or to "bear one another's burdens." This is one of the things we promise to do when we are baptized. Her question made me realize how much deeper an understanding I have of this principle than any other principle in the lesson. 

I have always known the "book" answer and could have answered that question. But know, have had such a burden of sorrow and grief placed on me and having been the recipient of the love of others known and unknown who have truly "mourned with those who mourn," I know like never before what it is to fulfill that promise. 

I don't think I could really know that not having been the recipient of the love and only having been the giver. I am sure I have given this love to others in the past. But, it is in receiving it when it has been so desperately needed that I have truly come to know how much these prayers and love and support help those who mourn. 

As much as I can, I wish I could give to each of you the knowledge I have gained through this experience. Please know how much it helps to have others feel with me a tiny fraction of this experience. The prayers, the love, and the support each of you give are examples of what it means to mourn with those that mourn. And your doing that helps me bear this burden and it makes each of you more like our Savior. For truly He has born all our burdens and mourns with us in perfection every time we mourn. I am reminded Him and His support each time I feel or hear of the love and support from any of you. Thank you.

The second class was on the subject of homemaking and a mother's work in the home. This was the lesson to the young women. I remember being their age. I had not yet realized that my mother was a real "person." To me she was just "mom." Her whole life revolved around me and my siblings. We were her whole purpose for being right? It wasn't until I was about 17 or 18 that I realized that my mom was a person just like me. I was kinda slow in learning this one.

In yesterday's lesson we talked about how important it is to appreciate your mother and father and to express that appreciation. I commented that this was the only real pay any mother ever gets from her job. So I encouraged the girls to pay up and tell their moms they love them and appreciate all they do for them. Then I called my mom on the way home in the car and told her I loved her and appreciated her. 

This morning I got a big pay day myself. I was woken up, dressed, had my hair combed and was brought downstairs for a surprise. The girls had all secretly worked together to make a "present" for Jonathan and me. They had a gift bag with lots of drawings and notes in it and a homemade "book" (pages in sheet protectors all tied together with yarn) to us. The book and most of the other drawings expressed their love for us and how we were the best parents a girl could ever have. Talk about a nice payday.

Motherhood has, of course, been a master's class on this subject to me. It is a program in which I am continuing to progress. I have yet to begin the courses on teenagers and hormones. I hope those courses will have their own paydays as well.


kathryn_m said...

As your own experience demonstrates, the teenage-hormonal years have a delayed payday but one that is every bit as rewarding.

In my experience, the work we do when they are younger makes the teenage years a lot less bumpy.

Yesterday, I was looking at pictures of them when they were preschoolers -- all bundled up and playing in the snow. For a moment, my mind wandered back to those days and I wished I was there again. Then I came across their proms pics and felt the same. Yet I look at them as they are today and feel such pride and hope as they embark on adult life.

I think this is why God gave us memories - our very own photo album - where we can revisit our youngsters throughout their many stages of development.

love 'n hugs,

bills said...

hmmm parental paydays... I've spent a little time thinking about the rewards I'll get as a mother, or better, the rewards I'm due. This is what happened:

During a hard week or month, I don't remember which, I was wondering when my kids would ever appreciate all that I do for them. I was asking Heavenly Father why it was I wanted to be like him when it seems the majority of his children treat him badly, mock his name, and blame him for their problems. I get enough of that now from my three kids and I was having a hard time understanding why I would want that in the eternities.

In the middle of this thought (it carried on for days...still comes and goes actually) I helped out a friend by watching her two autistic children while she took her newborn to the pediatrician. I did the same things for them that I do for my own kids, push them on the swing, giggle and laugh, play games, and tease. During my joy in service I started to think about my friend and how she will probably NEVER hear her kids say I love you or thank you or all of the wonderful things a mother wants to hear to validate her efforts. It caused me to think what AM I doing all this for? To receive praise and thanks, recognition and appreciation? If that never comes, will it all be for nothing? I may end up being one disappointed girl.

I realized that if my sole motivation to being a good mom is so that I can receive accolades, I should probably start looking for a backup plan. I can't control the minds and hearts of my children. I can't make them love me...that is someone else's plan. I'm still learning, everday, but I'm happy to say that I've learned to stretch my buck in case my payday is delayed.

Thanks for the reminder

Sue said...

I agree with Kathryn. You spend your children's early years building up a reservoir of good feeling from which to draw in the teenage years.

We weathered some pretty trying times drawing upon that reservoir!

Jennie said...

This was such a sweet post! It is so nice to hear that those prayers of those who mourn with you are being felt. What great insight you had from these lessons. Thanks for sharing it. said...

I have to just tell you how lucky you are to have daughters. my sisters and I always used to plan "special" things to help my mom or show her we loved her. boys don't do that. it is one thing that is hard for me. they are not too good at showing their appreciation. your girls are so cute! said...

think is that they are because of you, because of your example. Your eternal family is beautiful, and has taught me more than you will ever know. Camille is the reason I never let a day go without telling my family how much I love them. I celebrate the little things in life, just in case it's their last. It's because of both yours and jonathans love for each other, love for your children and the love of the gospel that you have an eternal family that cannot be ruin by the means of death. I admire your faith. It's beautiful, your eternal family is beautiful.

As i read your blog I am amazed. I love reading such a astonishing blog. Your blog helps people realize how fragile life is. The comments on your blog are just as amazing as your blog.

Lastly, Thank you all of you for sharing your story. I learn just as much from you as I do Stephanie.

Sending my love from Utah

Court and Britt J. said...

Stephanie your testimony and your blog have touched me so much. I know that we are strangers, but reading your blog has helped lift me in some of my darkest days. I am so very grateful to you for sharring your beautiful testimony with all of us.

I was wondering if you might be able to post a prayer request on your blog. We have some family that right now their precious baby girl is the hospital and they are unsure if their sweet daughter will live. Sweet Graice was born with a heart defect and has over come all odds, she is SUCH a miracle. Yesterday Gracie was given the gift of a heart transplant, things we looking very positive at the start of the day, but sadly once the transplant was complete things took a turn for the worst. The new heart she has been given is not working properly, the Doctors are doing everything that they can, but what Gracie REALLY needs is another miracle. I know that you have a lot of followers on your blog, so if you don't mind asking for prayers in Gracie's behalf it would be so appreciated.

You can read all about amazing little Gracie @

I have such a strong testimony of PRAYER and I know that all of our prayers combined together can help uplift this family during their darkest hour!!


Stina said...

I love Sundays like that and I love the advice you gave your Young Women. While it is certainly not my only reason for being a mother, it is definitely appreciated when I get my own 'payday' it a smile, a hug, something they say, or just a simple 'I love you' makes any challenges melt away for a while.

Katie Jo said...

I don't think I ever fully appreciated my mother and all she does for me, until I had a baby. I just had my first baby, and within a few weeks I was calling my mom to tell her thank you for EVERYTHING that she does for me, because I had no idea that you could love 1 person so much and want the world for them. Mother's are amazing, and you are one of those that amaze me.

Bridget said...

I like your Life Master's Program idea. There are so many things to learn on such a deeper level than the initial outlook would indicate.

sherrie said...


As you shared your gratitude for your readers who mourn with you, I felt that I had to share back with you. I have only commented once or twice, but I have been reading your blog for months, and every time your readers support you, the love they share also support those of us who just read -- it spreads. I've had my moments, but I'm not currently mourning anything, yet I still feel that as this group of women come together in support of you, EVERYONE who reads receives support and love. I feel uplifted, and I think the spirit blesses and unites all who read and/or share, and that it is much larger than we might imagine.

In one sense, I'm SO sorry that it has come at the price of your grief, but on the other hand, I don't think it could have happened unless someone was mourning.

I have no idea if I've been able to express myself properly, but it has been a beautiful thing to experience. I feel like I really love the women who have come together through your blog to share your experience, whether they comment or not.

Loving you and your readers,