Life is a journey. Parenting is a journey. We are all on this earth experiencing the journey, together. Wouldn’t it be more fulfilling if we were enjoying the journey, as well? It is possible. The key?  Love - acceptance; taking people as they are.

The Savior, Himself, set the example. He spent His life perfecting Himself, while accepting, loving, teaching, and serving others. If I am to follow His example, I need to work on my own attributes, drawing upon His powers and grace to perfect my individual life; with the rest of my life being spent learning to accept, love, teach, and give service to others. If He judged, He had the right to judge; He is the judge. I am not. But I can love.

Don’t we all want to be accepted and loved for who we are? I do! As I associate with good people who are trying harder, day by day, to improve their lives, my desire to improve my own life naturally increases. That’s the kind of self-motivating I enjoy; being around good people who want to be better! That’s me.

I don’t need to be lectured or reminded about my faults. There is no way that would motivate me. In fact, it would only depress and discourage me. I am very much aware of my faults. I am hard enough on myself. What I need is a support system; a cheerleading section. Someone who knows my faults and loves me anyway!

Wait! I’ll bet you that if that’s how I feel, that’s how my husband and children feel as well. You know what? It is! They’ve told me. They tell me every time my encouragement is taken as nagging, or I make a comment and their countenance changes to a sad or overwhelmed expression; they tell me every time they lower their head when I mention something they could have done better.

They, too, just want a cheerleading section. Someone to validate that life can be hard; someone that will love and accept them, in spite of their weaknesses or mistakes.

We can verbally tell them that we are on their side; we are here to help and support them. Then we can show it by serving them, being kind, and patient with them. Once they feel that support, they will find the strength inside to go on. They really don’t want someone to solve their problems. They just want the comfort of knowing they’re not alone as they go through their problems. Since we’re all in this together, why not be there for each other?

We return to chapter one, with the Relief Society whose sisters were struggling with their responsibilities as mothers, and to the Bishop of that ward. On a succeeding Sunday, the Relief Society President had arranged for a series of questions or concerns from these mothers to be answered by a leadership board consisting of the Bishop, his First Counselor, and the Relief Society Presidency.

Some interesting insight came from the brethren. The Counselor in the Bishopric, Bro. Erb, mentioned that at a very young age, the brain of a boy begins to change from that of a girl.

Little girls begin to develop a remarkable skill of multi-tasking, being able to do many things at the same time. This is vital in running a household of little children; mothers become teachers, nurses, psychiatrists, referees, taxi-drivers, cooks, not to mention keeping up on the laundry, the dishes, and all the rooms of the house.

Young boys develop the ability to focus intently on one thing.  Brother Erb mentioned that this focus is so strong, it is sometimes redefined as ‘ignoring’. This skill is used when he becomes a provider for his family, going to work - day after day for years; or when he defends and protects his family; he becomes driven and committed, almost with an attitude of “to the death” like little Josh. Men are problem solvers; they are fixers. When given a single task, they’re happy to serve. They feel like they’ve helped. What if giving them a list of many things sets them up to feel like they are failures? Could we be doing that to our husbands and sons without knowing it?

We are made differently for a reason. These differences need not be viewed as weaknesses. What power couples share because of their skills that are so different!

At the very end of the meeting, the Relief Society President turned the balance of the time over to Bishop Thacker to give some concluding thoughts. Sitting forward on his chair, he looked up from the ground. His face held a pleading expression as he slowly and thoughtfully said, “Sisters, just love us for who we are.”

He also expressed a difference between husbands and wives. When wives marry, they see so much potential, they get excited with the possibilities that they can’t wait for their husbands to change. On the other hand, the husbands choose their wives in hopes that they won’t change. They love them just the way they are and don’t want them to change. Isn’t that interesting?

I return to some counsel I received in a blessing from Bishop Cheney, who said, “the Lord would have you slow down and walk with your husband.” We have permission to slow down, walk with our spouses, and enjoy the journey, together. I truly hope you come to feel the peace and resolve of doing so.

I leave you my love and testimony, especially to my dear family: I hope you know how very much I love each one of you. There really are no words to express the love a mother feels for her husband and her children.

Kieth, I couldn’t have asked for a better companion. I have grown so much with you. I’ll love you through eternity. I’m so happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish together and look forward to many happy years with you.

Bry, Steve, Josh, and Jaclyn, I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I am with you’re choices and who you’re becoming. I love you so very much. Please know that anytime someone complemented me on my parenting, I always gave you the credit for who you were or how you acted and presented yourselves. (As you know I gave you the credit because I never would have taken the blame had your choice been a bad one! Ha Ha)

I want you to know that I viewed and respected you as the 2000 Wtrippling Warriors you are. You were born in these latter-days for a purpose. You have a mission as the Lord’s warrior in this final battle.  Your lives were designed to span the year 2000 A.D. for a reason, making you, literally, the 2000 Strippling Warriors of the last days!

Another thing you have in common with the Strippling Warriors in the Book of Mormon, is that you, too, had a mother who knew. Do not doubt it. I know the gospel is true. I know that God lives. I know He has a plan that is explained, understood, and lived in the teachings of the gospel. His gospel has everything we need to be successful, in any way, in this life. As you live it, you truly will be happy, empowered, and free.

Heavenly Father sent His Son to ensure our success. We have a mortal role model, our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, to whom we can look; just as the prophets of old were told to “Look!” He was sent to be our guide and personal escort, if we choose to return home. He has shown us how to be obedient; how to help each other; how to lift and empower each other; how to love and respect each other.

I bear my witness that Heavenly Father lives! He’s real! He cares! We are an intimate part of His eternal plan. He wants all of us home. Just as we have Heavenly parents who love us, I have earthly parents who love me and made me who I am.

Like Nephi, I, too, was born of goodly parents whom I love with all my heart. I am also grateful for them and my three wonderful brothers and wish them and their families nothing but success throughout their lives.

Always remember that we love you. We believe in you. We’re proud of you! We promise that you will come to know what’s best for your family, as you turn to your Father in Heaven. As the perfect Father, He will inspire you in your stewardship as a parent. Always remember, “Parenting can be Heaven on Earth” because of Him!  It happened to me. I know it can happen to you! May you enjoy your journey, together! You’ve sure made our journey wonderful!