Valentine's Day 2006 is now slowly coming to a close and I have been thinking. I don't have a Valentine at the moment - romantic love seems to be evading me for the time being, but I do have lots a wonderful women in my life who I love. Today I have been thinking a bit about them.
Grandma is now over 80 years old. The thought that her life is in the sunset years is sad. She is a simple woman of quiet modesty. She grew up in the depths of the depression, raised 13 children in relative poverty, and has pressed forward as a widow for over 20 years. I remember well being a nerdy little boy who liked to talk about books. Grandma listened, and told me about her books too. I've never heard her say an unkind or judgmental remark about anyone. I've never heard her complain about her pain. I've laughed with her when she hit the pinata at the family reunion last summer and I've been choked up when she talks about her love for her family. She is quick to laugh with that silent chuckle that brings a smile to everyone's face. The apostle Peter in addressing the women of the church said, "whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." Such a woman is Grandma. Those who know me well know that I have well-defined personal space boundaries. I'm not one to hug and kiss with your average friend on the street, but I kiss Grandma. I love her.
Mom is so strong, even though she doesn't see it. Mom has survived difficult family experiences and has risen above the cycles of anger and hostility shown to her to raise a good and happy family. She loves God and carries a simple faith. Her sensitive heart has taught me to be compassionate. Her generous nature has taught me the value of service. Who else in the world not only goes to her piano students' houses to teach them, but teaches them for FREE?! Mom puts her family first and is like a mother lion when anyone has tried to harm or criticize her children. She has faith in me and lets me know it, even when I struggle to have faith in myself. Like today, when she sent me a Valentine with a message of love and support. I always looked forward to Mom's letters every week during the mission. All mail was good, but there was something about letters from Mom. Her instruction and example has instilled within me a value for faith, diligence, love, music, cleanliness, and sociality to name a few. I wonder who I would be without her influence. I lover her.
Sister is amazing. I grew up thinking she was either a huge brat or the coolest person in the world, depending on the day. I always looked up to her and tried to follow her example. It was her example that prompted me to pray each night before bed. I was (am) more reserved and quiet than her, she was crazy and outgoing. Perhaps sensing this, she always helped me to make friends and feel comfortable. I have watched in amazement really, as she has developed from a ditzy and moody teenager into a wonderful wife and mother. I have seen how those sacred roles have changed her and made her so mature and beautiful. It is a remarkable thing to see how selfless and devoted she is to her husband and three boys. I have learned so much about the meaning and wonder of womanhood from watching her. I lover her.
My friends that are women are incredible. There are too many to identify each one, but they are all beautiful and dignified women, each with unique talents and gifts that I admire. They stand as valiant daughters of God who live passionately and righteously in a difficult world for women to live in. They honor and value the priesthood, they work to achieve their goals, and all the while they understand their divine nature. These friends help me see the bright side of life and induce laughter at every opportunity. Like many women today they struggle with the messages that bombard them and the challenges that confront them, but they demonstrate their faith by the graceful way in wich they consistently follow Truth. The light in their countenances and the joy in their eyes witness of God's love for them. They accept me despite my awkwardness and instill confidence in my own sense of being a man. They inspire me to be a better man, and to be worthy of a righteous woman, such as them. I love them.
"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies...Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come...Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised." (Proverbs 31)
So today, I praise each of you. Thank you! Never underestimate the power and influence of a righteous woman.