Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother in Israel...Behind the Scenes

            Today, I want to dedicate this post to ALL mothers—regardless of whether we are married or single, whether we have given birth or not, we can all use our God-given gift to “mother” and bless many of God’s children. 
            Last fall, during the LDS General Woman’s Conference, a story about me and my little friend, Molly,  was shared in a short video.  Many people have been asking how the opportunity came about.  Here is the background of our story and the video. 

            Last summer, I received an email about a project for the Church requesting stories about women.  In the email was a quote from Sheri Dew about motherhood.  “Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women…we are all mothers…”  This quote has been a life-line for me. Even though I am not yet married and I don’t have children of my own, I have been blessed with many opportunities to “mother” children in my sphere of influence. 

            When I saw the email, I really wanted to share some experiences I have had being a mother.  During General Conference in April 2010, a majority of the talks were about marriage and parenthood.  There may have been others in my situation, who were not married or didn’t have children, that may have thought that they couldn’t relate with the talks, but for some reason, I felt the opposite.  I connected with the talks and the related themes and felt a strong urgency to do MY part and support existing marriages and prepare for my possible future marriage.  I had thoughts about my nieces and nephews and ways I could further reach out to them and other children or youth that were in my life. Many talks were about teaching children.  I felt a responsibility help God’s children return to Him.  (To anyone reading this post, I encourage you to revisit the talks from April 2010 General Conference—that has become my favorite session of all time!  It will bless you, and your
family, and those you love and it will inspire you with ways you can specifically reach out to God’s children).  After listening to these talks, I have actively sought out and created opportunities to nurture and “MOTHER.”
            One example of mothering began when I was asked to be a substitute teacher for a friend’s Primary class.  I have never had a calling to serve in Primary, but I love teaching and I love children.   In the Sunbeam class was a shy, blonde haired, blue-eyed girl named Molly.  One day, I looked across the congregation during Sacrament Meeting and made eye contact with her.  She waved at me and said to her mom, “There’s my teacher!”   I only taught her class a few times but she recognized me as her teacher.  From that Sunday on, I would scan the congregation, looking for Molly so we could wave at each other.  I admit, there were times I wasn’t 100% focused on the speaker—waving at Molly was much more entertaining. 
            Molly and I were friends for several months before I ever met her mom.  Since then, her mother has become a dear friend.  I also become friends with all of Molly’s siblings.  Her youngest brother couldn’t pronounce my name so he just called me Mulumalumaluma.  I “adopted” Molly and her siblings.  With her family, I have participated in Family Home Evening, gone on an overnight snowshoeing adventure in a yurt, been to birthday parties, went snowboarding, been invited to have “late nights,” made cookies, etc.
            One day Molly sat by me in sacrament meeting and asked me if I would write her a letter because she loved getting mail but never got any.  Of course, I thought!  I’m a terrible letter writer, but I knew it would make her day.  Since then, I have had a pen pal that lives a few blocks away.  Her letters are so sweet and it has been really fun for both of us.  That is the story about Molly and I.
            Now, more about the video…I also wanted to share about other children I have been blessed to  “mother.”
            In my ward, there was a 10 year old girl that started a book club called the BFF Book Club.  She named it this because she wanted to do a book club with her best friends and she told us  “Books are Friends Forever.”   She invited me to join the group.  I was very honored to be a member of the club, which consisted of about a half dozen 10 and 11 year old girls…and me.  We would meet monthly to discuss a previously designated book.  We even had treat assignments.
            I also have “mothered” my nieces and nephews.  After the April 2010 General Conference, I felt an obligation to teach my nieces and nephews and let them know that I know—that I am a “MotherWho Knows” (another favorite talk)I felt an urgency to spend time with them and make the time meaningful and memorable.  One of my sisters’ children really like it when I lay down by them at night and tell stories.  Because I don’t get the opportunity often to be with them, I wanted to maximize my time, so I would often tell stories about Jesus--Elder Anderson’s petitioned,"To fathers and mothers, to grandfathers and grandmothers, and to those without children of their own who lovingly nurture children and youth, my counsel  is to speak more frequently about Jesus Christ."  I also told them stories about Joseph Smith and miracles that have happened in my life.  I have also taught my nieces and nephews several scriptures using accents, rhymes and actions.  For many of them, the only scriptures they remember are the ones they memorized with me.  (I started to post some of these scriptures on YouTube—you can find them by looking up “Memorizing Scriptures with Mel.”
            The story I submitted about being a mother had to be succinct, so I chose to share the story about Molly and I.  About a month went by and I hadn’t heard anything, so I forgot about it until I got a phone call asking for more details about my story with Molly.  Then a few more phone calls and a date was scheduled for some filming.  Molly and her mom didn’t even know I shared our story until a few days before we filmed.  I didn’t know how/where the story would be shared until right before we filmed it was mentioned that the video had the potential to be used during the Woman’s Session of General Conference!  I was in shock!   I didn’t mean for this to happen--I just had a simple story of a little girl being loved and sharing that love and attention in return!  
             I was so humbled with the thought that it could be shown at the Broadcast and I felt a huge weight—knowing the impact our story could have on women of the Church.  I prayed and fasted to know the right things to say.  I prayed for the filming crew.  I prayed for Molly.  I prayed for the Women all over the world that would see the video.  I prayed for mothers who don’t have children of their own to know that God knows them personally and that this message was a message of love from Him.  I read and re-read Sister Dew’s talk, “We Are All Mothers.”  I re-read scriptures and I re-read many talks and my notes in the margins of my May 2010 General Conference Ensign.  I felt the Lord’s hand guiding us during the filming and letter writing and I had some really special moments where I felt God’ love for me and for His daughters.  
            Some people may have questioned if everything was staged in the video and if we were all actors doing a nice story.  Yes, I am an actress but the story in the video was real.  I was simply a substitute teacher for Molly’s Primary Class and we became buddies and then pen pals.  The girls in the BFF Book Club are featured in the film—they are mine!   The kids with me walking to the temple and at bedtime are some of MY nieces and nephews.   I love and have “mothered” all the children in the video. 
            After the video was produced, I found out that the title of the video was “Mother in Israel.”  I wept!  I have always desired to be a mother!  My efforts in mothering are valued and validated. 
            Rather than focusing on the fact that I am single and childless, I have tried to focus on being stalwart through steadfast gospel living, daily scripture study, prayer and by seeking out opportunities to serve.  I have strived to become one in purpose with God to help His children feel loved.  I truly feel that I can become one with Christ through service to others and as a woman, I can still be a mother and use my God-given gift to nurture His children. 
            Many people reached out to me after the video to tell me they had seen it.  I was so humbled to hear that our simple story had touched so many others.  Of all the feedback I received, the best compliment was from my missionary companion, Kelly.  I have become an “adopted aunt” to her children, as I have spent time with them through dinners, Family Home Evening, tried to support them in dance concerts and Eagle Court of Honors, school plays, etc.  I even took the kids snowshoeing when their mother was going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  Kelly said when she was watching the Broadcast with her daughters, her 12 year old daughter looked up to her mom and said, “Mom, she was talking about USWe are some of the “other children” that she loves!” 
            Through my relationship with Molly and other children, I not only felt Christ’s love for them, but I have also felt Christ’s love for me.  I would never have believed anyone if they told me I would reach my early forties and still not have a family of my own.  Even though life has not been what I expected and it has not always been easy I know I can rely on Christ and “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthenth me.” (Philippians 4:13)

             Below  is a picture and Molly and I at her recent baptism.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dream Come True

          I am in charge of the 14-15 year young women at church.  We started a tradition to kidnap the new girls in our class by ripping them out of their bed, placing a pillow case on their head so they could not see where we were going, and taking them to breakfast.  Last Sunday, was another kidnapping.  This birthday girl brought the total to six girls in my class.  My compact car only holds four passengers and since the other leader was hosting our breakfast event, I was responsible to picking up all the girls.  The solution to my problem was to borrow the YW President’s mini van. 
            Once we had at the girls in the car, including the kidnapee, we drove around the neighborhood—trying to confuse the victim as to our whereabouts—we even went backwards up a few streets—don’t tell their moms.  I LOVED having the car full of giggling girls. 

            Some woman swear (even though they are not swearing women) that they will NEVER get a mini-van.   I secretly have always wanted to own a mini-van-and drive it around full of kids.  I guess this kids thing is what I want most—more than the van, but I’d love to be the typical Mormon Mom in a Mini-van!  So that was my first dream come true.
            After breakfast, I received a call from my friend asking for a favor.  She was going to be attending Ward Conferences with another congregation (she is in the Stake Young Women’s Presidency) and her husband was sick, so she asked if I would sit by her four children during sacrament meeting.  Not only did I get to drive a mini-van to church, but, I also got to wrangle four of my favorite kids during sacrament meeting!  Yes, to many moms this entertainment would not be something sought for, but I loved it!  Good thing I had my Mary Poppins bag with me!  I helped the oldest boy find and mark some scriptures, gave them pass-a-long cards with a picture of Jesus to help them focus, and I even got a letter from the youngest daughter—she folded a “hat” for her young brother to wear to deliver it to me at the end of the bench—she had written on the hat “mail man” (this little girl is world famous for being my pen pal J).  Sitting in sacrament meeting, quieting children, sharing scriptures to mark, and snuggling kids I love, my second dream came true. 

            Although not permanent, on Sunday, some of my dreams came true. 

     "While it may be true in some instances that our promised blessings will be fulfilled only in the eternities, it is also true that as we search, pray, and believe, we will often recognize things working together for our good in this life.....
     I appreciate wonderful young women and Young Women leaders, mothers and fathers, and good friends who strengthen one another. You are the angels that help Heavenly Father’s promises to be fulfilled in the lives of His beloved children."

Friday, September 18, 2015


     The other day I attended a Mission Homecoming address in Sacrament Meeting for my friend's daughter.
     On the pew in front of me, there was a little girl named Molly.  I knew that was her name because she had a notebook with her name on it.  She made me think of a little buddy I have, named Molly.  The little girl sitting in front of me was probably about five years old.  Her hair was perfectly placed in darling pigtails.  She had a younger sister, about three years old, whose hair was also in perfect pigtails, and they both were wearing darling dresses.   They were sitting with their dad and a couple that appeared to be their grandparents--maybe their mother was home with a sick child or a new baby.        
     Anyway, I was very impressed with whom ever the beautician was that did their hair.  How did they get those little girls to sit still long enough to achieve Sunday hair perfection?  Whenever I try to do my nieces' hair, it always has lumps, is uneven, or there is wailing and gnashing of teeth and tears because I am apparently not soft enough.  I wish I could make little girls' hair look cute--either I don't have that talent or I have not had enough practice.  
     The little girls sitting in front of me also had an older brother--he was probably about eight years old.  His hair was slicked back and he was wearing a spiffy suit with a tie.
     I don't know why, but the thought came to me that I may never have the opportunity to "practice" doing little girls' hair for church.  I may never spend Sunday mornings searching for lost church shoes and slicking back little boys' hair.   The little girls were so sweet and I longed to have little girls of my own that I could put in matching dresses and homemade bows.  Out of no where, I felt like my heart would burst.  My deepest desire is to have my own babies and toddlers and teenagers.  Time is ticking.  I don't know how much longer my window for child bearing will be open.  Will I never have that blessing and privilege?  Not only do I want to have children of my own, I want to have the opportunity to take them to church and teach them about Jesus and God's love.  I want walk up the stairs in my mom's house with a carseat and a baby in it, as my sisters have.  I want to take my own children to the zoo and parades.  I want to have late night chats with my own daughter or son.   My bursting heart started to beat faster and my breathing became labored.  I don't know how to describe what I was feeling other than I felt like I was suffocating.  It was so intense I felt anxious and numb at the same time.  Perhaps it was like I sobbing inwardly, but tears didn't flow, as I would have expected.  
     Thankfully the feeling didn't last the entire day.  It didn't even last the rest of the meeting, but for a  brief period of time during that meeting, I felt like I was suffocating.   

     "Faithful daughters of God desire children. In the scriptures we read of Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, and Mary, who were foreordained to be mothers before children were born to them. Some women are not given the responsibility of bearing children in mortality, but just as Hannah of the Old Testament prayed fervently for her child, the value women place on motherhood in this life and the attributes of motherhood they attain here will rise with them in the Resurrection. Women who desire and work toward that blessing in this life are promised they will receive it for all eternity, and eternity is much, much longer than mortality. There is eternal influence and power in motherhood."

                 Sister Julie B. Beck
                  LDS General Conference October 2007

Monday, August 31, 2015

Red Carpet

     Last week was the first week of school for my students.  I have the funnest job in the world--I am the Theatre/Drama teacher for two elementary schools.  I teach all the students Kindergarten through 5th Grade.
     At one of my schools, there is a grand tradition for the first day of school.  As all the children enter the front doors, they enter on RED CARPET.  Music is playing, with the staff on the side lines cheering students on as the enter for another year of learning.  Each students receives a pencil and high fives.  The kids love it.  I overheard one girl say, "Yeah, last year, we were movie stars on the first day of school."  What a great way to start off the year!

     This year, the principal has added a theme of "Super Heroes." Staff members were encouraged to wear Super Hero attire at the welcoming ceremony.  I found my cape I made a few years ago and wore the attire of a true Super Hero:  a MOM!  (see my post  "When I Grow Up").  

      Because I taught at this school last year, I knew most of the student waltzing proudly and anxiously down the red carpet.  I admit, I got a little teary.  I LOVE these kids!  With the fun music (This is the Best Day of My Life) blaring, the anticipation in the air, the Super Heroes cheering and the red carpet, I was completely caught up in the moment.   What a great way to begin the school year and honor the students--they are the Super Heroes of the future!

"Isn’t that what we all desire: to be the heroes and heroines of our own stories; to triumph over adversity; to experience life in all its beauty; and, in the end, to live happily ever after?"   
           -Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Your Happily Ever After."   
           General Conference April 2010

Thursday, August 13, 2015


     Shopping.  I hate it.  Many women thrill at the thought of an evening out with a friend "shopping."  Not many more things make me feel like puking--well, maybe sea food.  
    One of the reasons I have such an aversion to the activity, is I've never really had an excess of money to frivolously spend--I have had to be more frugal.  My mom would only let us buy school clothes from the sale rack--she refused to pay full price for anything.  That habit has carried over.  I tend to live on the frugal side.  
    Another reason is, I am right between the largest of the kid section and the smallest of the adult section in clothing size.  It is super annoying.  Every time I find something "totally cute," they don't have it in my size--plenty of medium, large, and extra large, but the store just happens to be out of that "totally cute" item in small.  Or, the small is too big—and they don’t carry extra small.  Or, if the item DOES come in my size and it looks “darling” on the rack, in the dressing room, to my dismay and frustration, it looks weird on me.  I’m not a swearing woman, but I have come close in a department store dressing room.  After feeling like I have wasted way too much time and leaving the store disgruntled and empty handed, I vow to never go shopping again.   (OK, fine, a little DISCLAIMER: On a rare occasion I have been known to find something in the kid section that works...NOTE:  kid sizes are often less expensive!  Score!  But that is RARE, more frequently I leave fuming with frazzled hair).  Maybe those women who LOVE shopping have better luck in the department store than I have had.  Someday, maybe I will graduate from a training bra.  Just kidding...sort of.  
     I can’t think of a job I would hate more than working at a clothing store (well, maybe waitressing).  Ugh.  Hanging up clothes all day.  I’m lucky if I get that done at home with my own clothing, but hanging up unwanted clothes tried on by shoppers.  Ew!
     There is one thing however, that I do love shopping for:  BABY CLOTHES!  In an attempt to go “Back-to-School” shopping or find some shoes or a socks (I always need socks), I often find myself meandering past the Infant/Baby Section.  I LOVE BABY CLOTHES!  I think I often spend more time in the Baby Section than the adult (or kid section).  There are so many cute outfits for babies!  Some of them make me smile out loud (yes, I just said smile out loud).  I love to imagine sweet, precious babies made to look even cuter in infant clothes. 
    I love baby clothes so much, even if a friend has “registered” for diapers or a bathtub for a baby shower, I HAVE to buy baby clothes.   I love watching the mother-to-be open and hold up cute onesies or dresses or baby boy swim wear or pajamas from other friends. 



    A little while ago, I was in the Baby Section looking for a cute outfit for a baby shower.   Out of the blue, I started to tear up, thinking that I may never experience a baby shower.  I may never have my own babies to dress up in cute outfits.  I may never have my own baby to cuddle and coo at me.  I may never experience the joys and hardships of pregnancy.  Not being married yet, the chances of me giving birth to my own children are really slimming.  It makes me a little scared, anxious, and sad.  I’m not giving up hope, but I have to face the harsh reality that I may not bear and rear children in this life.  My heart aches and longs for this privilege.   
      I truly thrill and rejoice when people I love give birth or adopt newborns.  But that day in the Baby Section, I allowed my self to shed tears and recognize the reality of unfulfilled dreams. 
       In my heartache for motherhood, I cannot allow my circumstances to stop me from mothering.  I must find ways to mother others.  I am grateful for mothers who have allowed me to help mother their children.  Although I do not have children of my own, I hope to be known as someone who as a “Mother Heart.”

FYI:  Here is another rip off:  Every time I have seen a shirt or outfit that mentions the word “aunt,” it is always super plain and boring or even ugly.  “World’s Greatest Aunt” but ugliest ever outfit.  Note to clothing designers:  If you want to sell your product to proud aunts, create something cute and attractive for the auntie to buy.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


     Every time we visited my Grandma, we knew that on top of her fridge, she would have a plastic plate filled with Jolley Ranchers.  We knew that at sometime during the visit at Grandma's house, one of the kids would build up enough courage to ask if we could have one.  Of course we would get one (or two or more), but we had to ask to be polite.
     My Grandpa always had  a pack of Peppermint or Wintergreen Lifesavers in his pocket and he would pop the top one off with his thumb and give it to the grandkids.
     My mom loves to take her grandkids to McDonalds.  She was even nicknamed, "Grandma Donalds" by some of the kids.  One summer, three of my sisters all had baby boys--born June, July, and August.  I remember a picture with all of them in their car seats at McDonald's--she likes to start them young.
     When my oldest niece was not old enough to be talking yet, my dad would approach her, wrinkle his pocket so she could hear a wrapper and suddenly produce a package of fruit snacks.  Since then, he always has a package of fruit snacks in his pocket or his car for the grandkids.  He has been named by a few of them, "Grandpa Treat."  The kids love it.  He loves it!
      A few years ago, I went to visit my friend, Julie, and her children.  I just happened to have some Swedish Fish in my car and I passed them out to the kids.   The next time I visited her, one of the kids asked if I had any more Swedish Fish.  Since then, I have to come prepared...or I am in real trouble.  The first thing these kids ask me, is if I brought any Swedish Fish.  I have learned and I have an emergency stash in my car.  There are now seven kids in the family.  I LOVE these kids!   I kind of feel like they are adopted nieces and nephews.  The three year old was a late talker, but every time he would see me, he would say, "Ish? Ish?"  He knew:  my face equalled Swedish Fish.  In fact,  I think "Ish" was one of his first words.
     Now, I am not advocating for sugar or fast food, but sometimes Grandparents, aunts, and adoptive aunts need little treat traditions.  And you know what Willy Wonka would sing, "The Candy Man can cause he mixes it with LOVE and makes the world taste good."

"...traditions are formed over time as we repeat the same actions over and over again. As we are steady and unchanging in doing that which is good, our traditions become firmly rooted in righteousness."   
                                     -Sister Cheryl C. Lant,
                                     General Conference April 2008