I want to share some of personal memories and reflections of my dear beloved mother, Frances Mae Harmon Brown (24 September 1937 – 12 June 1997), who was indeed the best and most positive influence for good in my life. She was my first and best school teacher in the school of life. I love her and miss her very much. She passed away after a battle with breast cancer while I was still on active duty in the United States Navy serving in the far away country of Iceland. The subtitle of my remarks is “The Debt of Love I Owe.”
Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.
I would like to personalize the latter part of verse 48 and use as my subject for this treatise, “My Mother Knew It”.
David O. McKay, 9th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the “Mormon” Church by the media and others), said,
My mother was a very special person to me. Not only was she my mother, but she was also a very dear and true friend. For 38 and a half wonderful years we shared a very special and unique relationship as mother and son. We shared joy and laughter, heartaches and tears, good times, and bad times. We talked about and shared our dreams and hopes for brighter tomorrows. Together we enjoyed the blessings of life.
On 12 June 1997 just before the noon day hour, my family and I bid farewell to my mother for a season. It is hard to believe that 16 years have now come and gone. Those years have come and gone, but the memories of her unfailing love still linger near. There is rarely a day that goes by that I do not think of her.
My mother played many significant roles in my life. She was my doctor and nurse when I was ill. She was my lawyer when I found myself in difficult situations, always defending me to the end. She was my counselor, always offering words of advice and comfort. She was my first Sunday school teacher. At an early age she taught me to have a deep and sincere love, appreciation, and respect for the Word of God. She was the first to teach me of the love that my Savior has for me and that I should show my love for Him by being obedient to His commandments.
There were always several copies of the Bible in our home and my mother enjoyed reading the Scriptures on a daily basis. The last gift that I ever gave her was a study Bible that she asked for while we were shopping in a Christian bookstore. She read and studied from that Bible daily and took it to Church with her when she was able to attend. I now have that Bible and several of the other Bibles that my mother read and studied from in my library at home, complete with all of her handwritten notes and bookmarks just as she had left them. When she was too sick or weak to read the Scriptures for herself, she would have my younger sister read the Scriptures to her or listen to them on cassette tape or CD. For her, there was never a reason for not including the scriptures as a part of her daily life.
It was President Abraham Lincoln who once said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” I am inclined to agree with him. Mothers are indeed remarkable people and they have more of an influence on their children’s lives then they may ever realize. They are truly the heartbeat of the home. I am eternally grateful for the influence that my mother had on my life. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Men are what their mothers made them.” If that is true, and I believe it is, than I owe a sincere debt of gratitude to my loving mother who was instrumental in molding and shaping me into the person that I am today. She was my very first school teacher in the school of life. There are so many things that she taught me, some of which I no doubt took for granted when I was growing up , but now as an adult, I can look back and understand more fully the things that she was trying to teach me and with a heart full of love I can say, “Thank you mom for everything.”
I would like to take just a few moments to share with you seven life lessons that my mother taught me. These are in no particular order.
Lesson #1: Seek ye first the kingdom of God
In Matthew 6:33 – 34 we read these words,
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for tomorrow, for the morrow shall take thoughts for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Throughout her humble life my mother never owned a lot of worldly possessions. She realized that true happiness was not based on the abundance of “things” that a person possesses. She realized that the richest people on earth are not necessarily those with expensive houses, fancy cars, or bank accounts that are large enough to afford them the opportunity to have almost anything that they desire. But rather, the richest people on earth are those who fix their focus on the goal of some day returning to their Father in Heaven to hear Him say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” My mother realized that the richest people on earth are the ones whose treasures are laid up for them in Heaven. She realized that if she kept her focus towards Heaven, one day she would have more than she could have ever desired here on earth. I believe that she fully understood the words that we read in Matthew 6:19 – 21,
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Lesson #2: In everything give thanks
My mother was not a complainer. She learned to be content in whatever situation she found herself in and would often make mention of the fact that things could be worse. Even during her illness she never complained, but rather took time each day to thank our Heavenly Father for allowing her to see one more day. She realized that no matter how bad we may think our situations or circumstances in life are, there is always someone, somewhere, who is a lot worse off than we are. She believed that instead of complaining about every little thing, we should take more time to thank our Heavenly Father for the many blessings that He has bestowed upon us. She also realized, and taught her four children well, that we should not only be thankful for the large blessings that we obtain, but we should also be thankful for the small ones as well—in everything give thanks.
Lesson #3: Ye are the light of the world
I can remember my mother saying on many occasions, “First impressions make lasting impressions.” She taught her children that most of the time the way that someone perceives you when they first meet you is the image that will stick with them. We tell a lot about ourselves by the way that we present ourselves. If the first impression that someone gets about us is that we are egotistical and self-centered, they may have a tendency to want to avoid us. If on the other hand, the first impression that someone gets about us is that we are genuine, friendly and “down to earth”, they will tend to want to be friends with us and take an interest in the things that we do.
My mother found this to be especially true in her own daily life and always made an effort to make a good lasting impression on all whom she met. In fact, because of the life that she lived and because of the example that she set, even her co-workers would lovingly refer to her as “Mom” whenever they would see her. In her humble efforts to live a life that was pleasing unto the Lord, she understood that she might have been the only Scriptures that some people would ever read. And so her desire was to paint a loving portrait of the Savior through the life that she lived. She fully understood the words of Matthew 5:14-16,
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
It is because of my mother’s loving example that I make an effort in my daily life to let my “light so shine before men” that they may see the light of Christ through me.
Lesson #4: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
Throughout her humble life my mother always tried to give everyone that she would come in contact with the respect that she felt was due to them. Her genuine love for people was not based on such seemingly important things as age, color of skin, religious beliefs, culture, or national origin. As far as she was concerned each individual was a person of worth – a special son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. She always had a kind word to say to everyone she met. She truly understood the meaning behind the words of 1 John 4:11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” Even if someone would hurt her in some way either through words or deeds, she would always continue to love that person or persons all the same. I can never recall a time when my mother ever said that she hated someone for the things that they had done. She believed that if you do not want people to hate you, then you must not hate them. If you want people to love you, then you must show love and kindness towards them. We should treat others the same way that we would like them to treat us. If we would but adhere to this important lesson and take it to heart, we would find that our relationships with our fellowman would be more joyous, peaceful, and harmonious.
Lesson #5: Lean not unto your own understanding
In the highly technological society in which we live, it sometimes becomes extremely easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day routine of things that we lose focus of what is really important and what is not. Everyone seems to be tremendously busy these days. There is always a plane to catch, a class to get to, a report to finish, another meeting to attend, and on and on our “To Do” lists continue to grow. Before long, if we are not careful, our “To Do” lists begin to control us instead of us controlling them. As a result we often times become frustrated and can not understand why we never seem to accomplish all of the things that we want to accomplish.
I personally believe that the reason we become so frustrated is because our priorities are not in order. Those things that we should focus on the most, we focus on the least. We attempt to solve all of our own problems, our own way, only to find that our way is not necessarily the best way. I know in my own personal live that whenever I try to do things my way and according to my agenda, I often miss the mark. I lose focus of the big picture.
We are taught in Proverbs 3:5-6 to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” I have learned that whenever I align my priorities with the teachings of the Scriptures and learn to do things God’s way instead of my own way, I am able to accomplish more, and usually in less time. I have also learned that I don’t need to understand the “why” behind everything that happens in life. All I need to do is trust in the Lord and acknowledge Him in all things and He will direct my footsteps along life’s pathways.
Lesson #6: Do justly and love mercy
My mother taught her children that they should always show kindness toward everyone that they meet. She also taught them to have just and fair dealings with all men. We are never to take advantage of people for our own personal gain, but we are to treat everyone with fairness and equality. Along those same lines, she taught them to have love and compassion for their fellowman. We are to be willing to help those in need. We are never to be judgmental of other people, but rather we should try “walking a mile in their shoes” before making any rash decisions about their character. She taught her children to always be merciful and understanding just as our Father in Heaven is merciful and understanding toward us.
Lesson #7: Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord
One final lesson that I wish to share that my mother taught her children is to never think more highly of yourself than you ought. We should never become boastful or proud. We should remember the words found in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” We should never place ourselves on a pedestal thinking that we are better than others. Nor should be brag about our accomplishments and achievements in life but rather, we should always be mindful of the words we read in Proverbs 27:2, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” And above all, we are to remember to “Humble yourslves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10).
My mother’s favorite Bible verses were Psalm 37:1-9. These verses put all seven of these life lessons into one nice neat little package.
In closing, may I give a few words of counsel to all sons and daughters, both young and old. Honor your mothers, cherish them, respect them, protect them, and LOVE them. Do not take them for granted. Your mother is a choice daughter of our Heavenly Father and as such, she deserves all the honor and respect that is due her. Do not be ashamed or embarrassed to be seen with her. When asked by anyone who she is, she is your mother, the very one who gave you life. Do not use your mother as the subject of your cruel, unkind jokes or remarks. Do not allow your friends or associates to speak disparagingly about her either. Always remember that mothers are an eternal blessing from the Lord. Don’t ever forget that important truth. I can boldly testify to you that there is not one single person in the entire world exactly like your dear mother. Therefore, I say again, honor them, cherish them, respect them, protect them, and most of all LOVE them.
To all the mothers of the world, it is my sincere heartfelt prayer that the Lord will bless you and sustain you. May our Heavenly Father’s choicest blessings always be yours, and May each of your days be blessed with the love and joy that you are so deserving of. May He grant you the wisdom and discernment that you need today and in the days ahead to be the mother that He has called you to be. And, it is also my prayer, that your sons and daughters may now and forevermore arise to call you blessed.