In thinking about the Young Women lessons #4 and #5, my mind keeps turning to Sis. Beck. The lessons focus a lot on homemaking – which can unfortunately come across too secularly and just bland. But in recent years, I have been amazed and so impressed at how Sis. Beck can see mothering and homemaking in a way that fits scripture. She is well versed in scripture, doctrine, the temple, and the Abrahamic Covenant. She knows all this, and yet she still spends time talking about cleaning up a house! I am impressed. I see her oriented by something far more eternal, and therefore everything we do in this life is to that purpose. It all becomes consecrated for some purpose.
From “Mothers Who Know“:
Mothers who know are nurturers. This is their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness. To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes.
Homemaking is not something to avoid, use as a hobby, or something to fight over with a husband. Homemaking is simply something to take advantage of. Create a climate for growth – that might mean a spotless house for you, but for me it might mean keeping up just enough so nothing is in the way, and filling our home with a library of good books and good music playing in the background. Both are making a home. Create a climate for spiritual – and temporal – growth.
Mothers who know are leaders. In equal partnership with their husbands, they lead a great and eternal organization.
Nothing just slides by, just happens. We have the chance, if we take it, to sit in council with husbands and later with children to plan what we will do with this organization – as she says, an eternal one. In the heavens they plan how to save us – our ancient fathers and mothers sit in council, and we do the very same thing here over our covenant children.
Mothers who know are always teachers. Since they are not babysitters, they are never off duty.
I loved this line when I first heard it and I still love it now. We are not babysitters, and we are never off duty! But that means we can teach, whenever the opportunities arise – and they do! They usually come when I’m not looking for them, too. They come after a hurried trip to the store, and while I’m putting away groceries my son asks when we’re going to die and why we can’t just stay on earth. Then all the thinking and studying I’ve ever done is on this is called to my mind and my testimony can’t help but come out as I explain things simply and clearly. We are never off duty!
Now I’m going to end with Sis. Beck’s talk “A Mother’s Heart.”
I am going to copy her entire talk below, because I couldn’t find just one part to quote. It is fantastic, and parts of it dotted with several scriptures in each sentence! Thank you, Sis. Beck, for your faithful and intelligent approach to the gospel and motherhood.
“A Mother Heart” by Sis. Julie B. Beck, given when she was First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency
Her talk can also be found here.
I have often heard my father describe my mother as a woman with a “mother heart,” and that is true. Her mothering influence has been felt by many hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, and she has refined the role of nurturer to an art form. Her testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and strong sense of identity and purpose have guided her life.
She took longer than most women to find her husband, but during her single years she had devoted her life to progress. Though it was uncommon at the time, she was university educated and advancing in a career. Following her marriage, children arrived in quick succession; and in a short span of years, she was the mother of a large family. All the knowledge she had acquired, all her natural abilities and gifts, all her skills were channeled into an organization that had no earthly bounds. As a covenant-keeping daughter of God, she had prepared all her life for motherhood.
What is a mother heart and how is one acquired? We learn about some of those qualities in the scriptures. To paraphrase Proverbs: “Who can find a … woman [with a mother heart]? for her price is far above rubies. … She … worketh willingly with her hands. … With the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. … She stretcheth out her hand to the poor. … Strength and honour are her clothing. … She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness” (Prov. 31:10, 13, 16, 20, 25–27). A woman with a mother heart has a testimony of the restored gospel, and she teaches the principles of the gospel without equivocation. She is keeping sacred covenants made in holy temples. Her talents and skills are shared unselfishly. She gains as much education as her circumstances will allow, improving her mind and spirit with the desire to teach what she learns to the generations who follow her.
If she has children, she is a “goodly parent” (1 Ne. 1:1) who lives and teaches standards of behavior exactly in line with the teachings of living prophets. She teaches her “children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord” (D&C 68:28). Rather than listening to the voices and partial truths of the world, she knows that gospel standards are based on eternal, unchangeable truths. She believes that to be “primarily responsible for the nurture of [her] children” is a vital, dignified, and “sacred responsibilit[y]” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Oct. 1998, 24; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). To nurture and feed them physically is as much an honor as to nurture and feed them spiritually. She is “not weary in well-doing” and delights to serve her family, because she knows that “out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33).
Oh, that every girl and woman would have a testimony of her potential for eternal motherhood as she keeps her earthly covenants. “Each is a beloved … daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine … destiny” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”). As spirit daughters of God, women “received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth” (D&C 138:56) on the earth. They were among the “noble and great ones” (D&C 138:55) who “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7) at the creation of the earth because they would be given a physical body with the opportunity to be proven in a mortal sphere (see Abr. 3:25). They wished to work side by side with righteous men to accomplish eternal goals that neither can attain independently.
Female roles did not begin on earth, and they do not end here. A woman who treasures motherhood on earth will treasure motherhood in the world to come, and “where [her] treasure is, there will [her] heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). By developing a mother heart, each girl and woman prepares for her divine, eternal mission of motherhood. “Whatever principle of intelligence [she] attain[s] unto in this life, it will rise with [her] in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through [her] diligence and obedience than another, [she] will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (D&C 130:18–19).
In my experience I have seen that some of the truest mother hearts beat in the breasts of women who will not rear their own children in this life, but they know that “all things must come to pass in their time” and that they “are laying the foundation of a great work” (D&C 64:32–33). As they keep their covenants, they are investing in a grand, prestigious future because they know that “they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever” (Abr. 3:26).
I was recently at a park where I met a group of women with mother hearts. They were young, covenant-keeping women. They were bright and had obtained advanced degrees from respected universities. Now they were devoting their considerable gifts to planning dinner that evening and sharing housekeeping ideas. They were teaching two-year-olds to be kind to one another. They were soothing babies, kissing bruised knees, and wiping tears. I asked one of those mothers how it came about that she could transfer her talents so cheerfully into the role of motherhood. She replied, “I know who I am, and I know what I am supposed to do. The rest just follows.” That young mother will build faith and character in the next generation one family prayer at a time, one scripture study session, one book read aloud, one song, one family meal after another. She is involved in a great work. She knows that “children are an heritage of the Lord” and “happy is the [woman] that hath [a] quiver full of them” (Ps. 127:3, 5). She knows that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily mothering is far more lasting, far more powerful, far more influential than any earthly position or institution invented by man. She has the vision that, if worthy, she has the potential to be blessed as Rebekah of old to be “the mother of thousands of millions” (Gen. 24:60).
Covenant-keeping women with mother hearts know that whether motherhood comes early or late; whether they are blessed with a “quiver full” of children here in mortality or not; whether they are single, married, or left to carry the responsibility of parenthood alone—in holy temples they are “endowed with power from on high” (D&C 38:32), and with that endowment they received the promised blessings and are “persuaded of them, and embraced them” (Heb. 11:13).
Every girl and woman who makes and keeps sacred covenants can have a mother heart. There is no limit to what a woman with a mother heart can accomplish. Righteous women have changed the course of history and will continue to do so, and their influence will spread and grow exponentially throughout the eternities. How grateful I am to the Lord for trusting women with the divine mission of motherhood. Like Mother Eve I am “glad” (see Moses 5:11) to know these things. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.