Note from April: A few months ago, I wrote a post called "Three Questions for Charting Your Course," where I shared how reading the scriptures while looking for answers to specific questions has helped to guide my life.
In the comments of that post, I invited anyone who wanted to know more about the "nuts and bolts" of scripture study with young children to email me, and I would send them additional information. I thought maybe one or two people would contact me, but I've now gotten to the point that I can't keep up with the emails.
So below, I've included the full text of a chapter I wrote on this subject back in 2006.
I was hesitant to put all of this on my blog for a couple of reasons. One, it's REALLY long, and blog posts are typically between 200 and 1000 words. Two, this blog works in partnership with the website I run, Power of Moms, which unites mothers of all backgrounds. We try to keep things as principle-based as possible, so it's rare for me to teach anything that is specific to my religion.
However, this morning I felt like this was something I needed to post on my blog, so I thought I would add a simple note of explanation, and I'm hopeful that the ideas I've included will be of help.
Cling to the Scriptures as Our Lifeline to the Savior
(Updated from a book chapter I wrote in 2006)
During my junior year of high school, I received a small chart from one of my teachers at church with a space to check off for each day of the year that I read my scriptures. I started January 1st and made it my goal to get every spot colored in—even if I could only read for a few minutes each day. Ten years have passed, and I have tried to continue the habit of reading daily, but something interesting happened to me once I became a mother.
Our first daughter was born when I was 21, and I stayed at home with our little baby while my husband went to work each day. The long hours alone in our apartment, completely opposite from the busy life I had led as a college student, drove me to study the scriptures as I never had before. It was no longer enough to just read for a few minutes and put a check in a box. I needed the scriptures because hearing the voice of the Lord was the only way for me to handle my transition to motherhood.
As more children came to our family, large chunks of uninterrupted time did not readily present themselves. Sleeping and showering became top priorities, and I wondered if I would ever be able to study my scriptures again without being needed by a child or dozing off before I could finish even one phrase. I often fall short, but with encouragement from my fellow mothers, a little bit of creativity, and a lot of help from the Lord, my scripture study has again become a time for spiritual rejuvenation.
I need to clarify that I am far from being a perfect scriptorian, but now instead of feeling inadequate with my meager abilities, I believe the Lord can teach me what I need to know in the time I am able to offer Him. He teaches us line upon line as we show Him He is the most important person in our lives and His voice is the one we are most interested in hearing.
Those of us who have grown up in religious families or as active members of a church have been reminded to read our scriptures more often than we can count. We all know it is important to do, but unless we have had experiences truly feasting on the scriptures, we may subconsciously leave the responsibility of deep gospel scholarship to those who do not balance their schedules around children.
If we want to be powerful mothers, we need to receive the scriptures as a precious gift from the Lord. This chapter offers five suggestions to help you get started or keep you moving as you increase your knowledge of the gospel and enjoy quality time learning from our Redeemer.
First, believe you can read your scriptures consistently. Second, be willing to read when the circumstances are not perfect. Third, involve your children in regular family study. Fourth, welcome experiences with the scriptures, and fifth, know the scriptures are talking to mothers.
Believe You Can Read Your Scriptures Consistently
Most of us probably would not say, “I don’t believe I can read my scriptures every day,” but we do seem to have a lot of excuses ready to go: “My children take all of my time.” Or “I just can’t focus on the scriptures when I’m tired, which is always.” Or “There is just so much to do—reading my scriptures is just another thing on a list that’s already too long.” Or “I’ll read the scriptures more when my children are out of the house.” Perhaps you’ve heard these before, or thought them like the rest of us, but the time has come for us to believe that we can feast on the scriptures every day.
Feasting is more than just looking briefly at a verse; we can take our time to study, ponder, learn from what we read, and actually feel something in the process. If you do not know how to feast, find someone in your neighborhood or social networks who does and ask for some training (my experience has taught me that most people who feast love to teach others to do the same). My mother refers to her study as “Divine Fellowship.” She prepares time each day to commune with the Lord and feel His love. Problems will most certainly arise that will make our study more difficult, but to put it simply, if we do not believe we can do it, we will not do it.
We may start with good intentions and then simply get distracted by something like an emergency trip to the doctor or the realization that we have just run out of milk and bread. Another challenge may be that we read each day because we are “supposed to,” but we miss the whole point of why we are studying in the first place.
The Lord does understand that our lives are sometimes hectic, but that is exactly why we need the scriptures. Even when our husbands have been working long hours and our children have been sick, we need the power of the scriptures as much as anyone else. Our callings as mothers and wives are important to the Lord, and the insights we receive as we study our scriptures can be just as powerful. He especially wants to speak to us, strengthen us, and support us when our child has the stomach flu or when we have been cooped up in a small apartment for days without relief.
We do not want to see scripture study as an optional activity that is relegated to the end of our “to do” list, but we also do not need to beat ourselves up if we do not perfectly reach our goals. The book Glimpses, about a woman I greatly admire named Marjorie Pay Hinckley, recorded a cute insight from one of her family letters. She said, “I have a new project, one chapter a day from each of the standard works. I have been on it for four days and am only three days behind. Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried” (p. 79).
A friend of mine who has an amazing love for the scriptures said it beautifully, “I used to feel disappointed with myself when I did not read my scriptures, but now when I don’t read, I just miss it. I know when I have the ability to read, I make that choice.” She knows that scripture study brings her closer to the Lord, but serving her children can also do that. I love her words, “When I have the ability to read, I make that choice.”
That is usually where most decisions hinge. When we get to the point where we can make a decision, what do we choose? The latest fiction novel? Social networks? TV? Chatting on the phone? We do not have to cut out all of our fun hobbies and activities, but we can be careful about what we choose to do first.
Believing that we can read the scriptures each day may also include the belief that we can read for an extended period of time. A few years ago, I accepted a challenge from a mother in my ward to study the scriptures for an hour each day. The adjustment was a bit difficult—okay, it was very difficult—but once I discovered the thrill of cross-referencing and the power of footnotes, the hour flew by. Every day has definitely not been perfect, but the impact it has had on my life has transformed my perception of who I am and who my Savior is.
A former president of our church named Howard W. Hunter taught this principle beautifully: “It would be ideal if an hour [of scripture study] could be spent each day; but if that much cannot be had, a half hour on a regular basis would result in substantial accomplishment. A quarter of an hour is little time, but it is surprising how much enlightenment and knowledge can be acquired in a subject so meaningful. The important thing is to allow nothing else to ever interfere with our study” (Howard W. Hunter, “Reading the Scriptures,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 64).
If we make our scripture study a priority each day, we will be ready to learn the mysteries of God and hear the voice of the Lord as He leads us through our individual challenges. The Spirit will help us to know what to do with our time, but we must believe we can read.
Be willing to read when the circumstances are not perfect
Can you visualize the following scenario? You have just had a wonderful night’s rest, and you woke up naturally at five o’clock, ready to curl up in front of your fireplace with your scriptures, church books, and marking pencils neatly laid before you. Your children are sleeping peacefully, and soft instrumental hymns play in the background while you take notes in your journal and receive new insights.
Doesn’t that sound lovely? I am not trying to mock this ideal because it has actually happened for me about three times in the past six years. However, if I were to wait for this perfect moment to come around, can you guess how often I would read my scriptures? Yep—once every two years.
In the talk quoted above by President Hunter, he suggests we have a regular time to read each day. Some mothers read for the first part of every nap time, others read while they are nursing their babies, and many mothers read at night (these are the ones who are good at keeping their eyes open). Mornings work the best for me because my brain has not yet had any threats of being turned to mush.
If your current schedule is lacking in predictability, here are a few ideas to get you thinking about how to incorporate the scriptures into your life. The Lord can help you to tailor these suggestions to your unique situation and make it possible for you to hear His voice each day.
First, keep multiple sets of scriptures around your home, so you will always have one handy if a quiet moment strikes (the inexpensive copies produced by our Church work beautifully). You may want one in the kitchen cupboard, so you can read while something is in the microwave or if your children get involved in a game. You could also keep one by your bed, one in the car, one in the living room, one in the linen closet, one by the CD player, and yes, one in the bathroom.
The bathroom does not sound like the ideal place to receive revelation, but if that is the only place you have a chance to open a book, the Lord will understand. If your children are content with and capable of playing in the bath for awhile, you can sit on the floor by the tub, shield yourself with a towel, and read until they are ready to be shampooed. If they have not yet discovered the acoustical delight of squealing in the tub, you could read aloud to them. The point is that if the scriptures are readily available, it is easy to seize the moments that open during your day.
If you prefer to read consistently out of the same book so you can consolidate your markings, just move your scriptures a couple of times during the day so they will be close. Moderation and personal discretion are definitely principles that apply here, but as you carry your scriptures or see them as you work around the house, you will remember they are a top priority.
Second, get creative in finding a private place and time to read. A close friend of mine lived in a studio apartment when she had her first child, and her little girl would not nap if her mother was in the same room. Each day at nap time, my friend sat in their bathroom and read her scriptures. She later told me that those hours contributed to one of her most spiritual times in life. Obviously, it was not just being in the bathroom that made her spiritual—it was investing a substantial amount of time reading her scriptures.
I promise I’ll stop talking about bathrooms, but I have to add this one last experience. When my husband finished graduate school, we moved into a tiny two-bedroom apartment while we shopped for a home. I had a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a one-year-old who were not very good at sleeping in the same room, so my little one-year-old, Ethan, slept in the living room.
I wanted desperately to wake up early each morning for my Divine Fellowship, but I didn’t know where to go without waking somebody. I thought back to the experience of my friend in her studio apartment, and I created a little study area on the floor in our bathroom. I brought my pillow, marking pencils, and scriptures in there, and the months in that apartment yielded some of my most treasured spiritual experiences.
Growing up, I remember frequently seeing my mother read her scriptures out in the car. She referred to our Civic wagon as her office, and she would sometimes leave the noise of the home to read and think there (we were old enough to care for ourselves at that point). If we ever could not find her in the house, we would peek out the front window to see if she was in the car, but we rarely interrupted her study (though she might remember things differently).
Every time I visualize my mother, I see scriptures on her lap. When I woke up for seminary (my early-morning gospel study class), she was on the couch studying her scriptures. If I popped in her room after school, she had her scriptures out on her bed, heavily annotated and highlighted. If I was going to be late coming from a drama rehearsal and needed her to wait in the car, she would say, “That’s okay. Take your time. I’ll have my scriptures with me.” It was such a blessing to know my mother loved the Lord and loved her scriptures.
Another idea that has worked is to establish a 7:00 rule in your home. That means that mom is on duty starting at 7:00. If the children wake up before then, they can look at books, play with toys, or watch cartoons, if you approve, but breakfast is served at 7:00. Of course, diapers sometimes cannot wait to be changed, and hungry babies need to be fed, but once children are old enough to wait, they can be taught to respect your morning study. From personal experience, the 7:00 rule works about 20 percent of the time—mainly because life doesn’t like to wait until 7.
One morning I got up at 6:30 to get a half hour of study in before my day started, but the moment I opened my scriptures, my Kindergartner appeared at my bedside to report that her ear infection was really hurting and her little sister had soaked the bed. That is when I go to Plan B and read during our quiet time (described below). I try to have Plans A-Z available so scripture study will happen no matter what.
Having a daily quiet time is helpful way to carve out time to read. Once children outgrow their morning naps, they may still need a little break during that time. Every morning after my children have eaten breakfast, gotten dressed, and have had an opportunity to play or read for awhile, they start whining and acting fussy. If I separate them and give them each a quiet place to play and a special container of toys, they will play quietly for the next 30-45 minutes. That way I can read my scriptures without using their sleep time (which is valued above gold).
Opportunities to read our scriptures come more frequently when we do everything we can to protect our time with them. If we are in a position to do so, we can limit our errands and busy work as much as possible so we are not constantly rushing out the door. If our lives get so busy that scripture study gets crowded out, we may have taken on too many things—some of which may be nonessential. The Lord wants us to be successful at reading our scriptures, but if we are signing up for fifteen activities each week, He will be squeezed out of our lives.
It is also easy to get sidetracked by all the media available to us. One darling woman I know had a hard time reading her scriptures every day, so she accepted our Sunday School teacher’s challenge to read for two weeks and then report her experience to the class. She explained to all of us that she was so busy reading the scriptures that she stopped reading the many popular magazines to which she had subscribed.
“Just put them in a pile for me to read later,” she told her husband. However, as the pile began to get a bit unwieldy, and as her devotion to studying the scriptures continued, she said, “Why don’t you just put those magazines in the trash?” Her decision confirmed the truth of the oft-quoted principle taught by President Ezra Taft Benson: "when we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives” (Ensign, May 1988, 4).
To some, this might sound like a whole lot of work. It is, but it is work that will not feel like work. As the blessings of the Lord come to you, your life will completely change for the better. Making the Lord our top priority is a way we can thank Him for making us His top priority.
Involve your children in regular family study
There are always days when a mother’s “alone time” is taken up with urgent family needs, pressing tasks, or sheer exhaustion. If early-morning study does not happen one day, and if necessary errands crowd out a morning quiet time, having a regular scripture study with our children can bring us at least one opportunity to read the scriptures. Involving our children can bring beautiful experiences and teach us the principles of the gospel in an entirely different way.
One way to involve children is to read on their level. The Gospel Art Kit or the illustrated scriptures are wonderful. Audio tapes are available, and the children honestly can’t get enough. Many families have discovered these tools and use them daily in their family scripture study.
In addition to reading on the children’s level, you can bring them up nearer to your level. One close friend of mine and her husband have been gospel teachers for years, and they have five boys under the age of ten. Each morning, they sit around the breakfast table with their scriptures and red pencils, and they learn to cross-reference, underline and find answers to doctrinal questions with the use of the Topical Guide and Bible Dictionary. I’m not quite to that point, and I do not know if I will ever be to that point, but it is a testimony that children can learn more than we sometimes give them credit for.
A couple of days each week, my little girls like to sit by me on the floor with their own copy of The Book of Mormon and their colored pencils (their set matches mine). They neatly underline random scriptures and sit quietly (sometimes only after a few reminders) while I read on my own. If they do not feel like reading or marking, I let them be my pencil monitors. I tell them which of the five colors I need, and they take turns handing them to me. This keeps me focused on the principles I am trying to find in the scriptures, and I am always amazed at how long they will sit holding the cup of pencils.
Invariably, the cup spills or a pencil has to be sharpened, and they are excited about being useful. My son, Ethan, would rather color on the walls with the scripture pencils, so I just try to keep him occupied with toys—I have not lost hope for him yet, though.
One cute thing you will notice is that your children will mark their scriptures the same way you do. My daughters put little circles around the verse numbers, underline with the same colors, and even annotate in the margins. When we started doing this, my daughter Alia only knew how to write two words, so in her margin is written “Alia Mom” over and over again. When my daughter Grace turned three, she brought her scriptures and pencils to me and asked me to tell her where it said “Jesus”. She carefully circled that word and then continued searching for familiar letters and numbers.
Recently, a friend of mine taught me how she studies the scriptures with her three-year-old son. They have a special study time each afternoon when she teaches him a five-step process: pray, read, ponder, write, thank. Her son has his own scripture journal to record what he is learning, and they memorize scriptures, sing primary songs, and do a hands-on activity each day. I saw the Liahona they made by spray-painting a gerbil ball gold and gluing a compass inside. I saw Nephi’s ship that was made out of craft sticks, and I saw dozens of journals they had filled with pictures and words describing truths of the restored gospel. Sometimes her little boy “writes” and then tells her what it says so she can translate it into legible letters.
She does not do these things because she feels obligated to do them. She does them because she loves the Lord and is excited about teaching her son what she knows. After visiting with her, I was excited to use plastic army men to act out Moroni’s battle with Amalickiah, and my children were thrilled to be a part of it. The Lord reminded his apostles, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not” (Luke 18:16). What better work can we do besides bring the little children to our Lord? One morning I said to Alia, “I hope that one day you’ll love the scriptures.” She looked at me very seriously and said, “But Mom, I already do.”
Welcome Experiences with the Scriptures
Until I became a mother, I didn’t know that there was a difference between reading the scriptures and having experiences with the scriptures. You may think I was a little clueless, but I had not learned that the scriptures literally speak to us, just as the Liahona gave written messages to Lehi’s family in the wilderness. Because of this discovery, I am excited to read the scriptures to hear what the Lord wants to say to me.
A time when I most felt the scriptural text speaking to me was a morning when I was routinely awakened at 4:30 a.m. by my one-year-old son, Ethan. He must have been teething or going through a growth spurt or something, but for about two months, he woke up every morning at 4:30 and could not go back to sleep.
I changed Ethan’s diaper, gave him his bottle, and then went into the next room to read my scriptures—always keeping out a listening ear so I could take him downstairs if his cries threatened to wake the girls in the adjoining room. I knelt to pray and asked the Lord to please help Ethan go back to sleep. Starting “Mom Duty” at 4:30 got me off to a grumpy start, but I knew that the Lord could help me make good use of those morning hours.
I got up and sat at our desk, opened my scriptures to the page marker, and read the first words in the top left-hand corner. They were the words of Isaiah: “Ye are weary, he waketh morning by morning” (2 Nephi 7:4). I felt perfectly understood by the Lord at that moment, and I felt the Lord remind me that He knew I was tired. He knew that Ethan was waking up every morning at a challenging hour, and He wanted me to have time to read my scriptures and feel close to Him. Ethan immediately fell back to sleep, and for the next 45 minutes, I read, studied, and felt closer to my Father than I had in months.
Another powerful experience happened when I was pregnant with my second child, Grace. I had had “one of those days” caring for a two-year-old while waddling around the apartment with my growing tummy. Alia was being a little rascal, and my patience supply could not keep up with the demand (I wish I could buy stock in patience). I sat down on the floor and handled the situation with all the maturity I could muster: I simply started to cry.
Alia came over to me and asked what she could do. I pointed to a Book of Mormon on the nearby bookshelf and asked her to bring it to me. I did not know where else to turn, so I opened the scriptures with the hope that the Lord would give me some kind of guidance.
After flipping a couple of pages, I came to King Benjamin’s address, and I felt impressed to read his testimony of the Savior and the prophecy that the Savior would carry all of our burdens and be crucified for our sake. “All right,” I thought. “The Lord wants to remind me that He suffered more than I can even comprehend. I don’t need to feel sorry for myself.” I continued reading through the next verse, and came to the phrase, “And His mother shall be called Mary.”
Tears welled up in my eyes, and I could feel the Savior teaching me that He, too, had a mother on earth. She was a woman who also went through pregnancy and discomfort, and the tender love the Savior has for His earthly mother is the same tender love He has for us, His younger sisters. The Lord did not scold me for being weak and tired—He just reminded me that He understands. I felt transformed by His power, and my outlook brightened in those few moments it took to read those verses.
One final experience I’ll share happened during a time I felt quite unimportant as a mother. I had just moved to a new neighborhood, and I was adjusting to our new church congregation and community. Because my children and I stayed home most of the time (to satisfy their napping and feeding needs), I felt out of place compared to all of the “minivan” moms around me who were heavily involved with school, sports and church activities for the youth (little did I know that those mothers wish they could spend as much time at home as I do).
I opened my scriptures one morning, asking the Lord to please help me to know that He hadn’t forgotten about me. As I read various scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants and followed the footnotes, I was led back to section 6, verse 34. These are the words that popped out to me: “Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.”
I immediately envisioned myself and my children as the Lord’s sheep, a little flock He holds close and leads by His loving voice. Warmth replaced the loneliness I felt, and I thanked the Lord for caring enough about my concerns to teach me these precious truths. I continued my study—looking in the Topical Guide, using the footnotes and reading words I’d previously highlighted. By the end of that hour, I knew I had just had a private tutoring session with my Father.
It is those kinds of experiences that keep bringing me back to the scriptures. I know I have only touched the surface of what is available to us, and that is why I am willing to do whatever it takes to read. If we pray for spiritual experiences and look for principles that apply to our lives, we will always receive them. The Lord will give us specific impressions, and though the verses we are reading may not necessarily be talking about our present situation, the Lord has the power to transform them into answers for us.
Know that the scriptures are talking to mothers
When I turned 12 years old, I was asked to give my first talk in Sacrament Meeting on Mother’s Day. I wanted to include a scripture in my talk, but besides the one about the striplingwarriors being taught by their mothers, and the accounts about Mary and Eve, I did not know any others that seemed appropriate. I finally decided to share the story of Ruth and Naomi (a mother-in-law), but I was a bit confused as to why the scriptures have so few references to mothers.
Now I will jump ahead 15 years…. In the July 2005 Ensign, Henry B. Eyring shared his method of reading and marking the scriptures. When he was called to be an apostle of our church, he purchased a new, inexpensive set of scriptures in which to mark and categorize each verse that pertained to what the Lord wanted him to learn and do in his calling as an apostle (p.23-24). After I read that article, I felt impressed to apply that process to my calling as a mother.
I got out a piece of paper and wrote down the top five things I felt the Lord wanted me to learn about motherhood, and then I assigned each a specific color. My dedication to this study jumped up a notch when, the very next month, the president of our church, Gordon B. Hinckley, invited all of us to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year.
This process has taught me that although the word “mother” is not frequently mentioned in the scriptures, we can apply the teachings of these sacred records to our callings as mothers. The parallels that have come out of the Book of Mormon have added a depth to my mothering that I did not know I was missing. There are limitless ways to study and mark the scriptures—I will just share two things I have learned through this process so you will get the idea (not that you are unable to figure this out yourself, but if someone had explained this to me five years ago, I would have been thrilled.).
One of the principles I felt the Lord wanted to teach me is that I must trust Him. I have been using the color orange to mark the verses that encourage me to do so. A few of those verses include, “Look to the great Mediator” (2 Nephi 2:28), “Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith” (Jacob 3:1), and Alma 15:10, where Alma shows his trust in God when he pleads on behalf of Zeezrom by saying, “O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.” One interesting thing is that my orange pencil is currently the very shortest of my five pencils—a visual reminder that the Lord wants me to trust Him every day.
A second principle I have focused on is that as a mother, I must share my testimony with my children and teach them about Jesus Christ. When I come across a principle that I want to teach my children, or when I find a scripture describing how the Lord will help me teach, I mark it in green. One of these scriptures is Helaman 5:18: “they had power and authority given unto them that they might speak, and they also had what they should speak given unto them.” This reminds me that when an opportunity opens in which I can teach the gospel to my children, the Lord will help me to know what to say, and I will be able to testify with power and authority.
Another scripture that demonstrates the power of a parent’s testimony is Alma36:17. Alma the younger says, “I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.” If I can live with the valiance of Alma, my children will one day remember the words I speak, and they will hopefully be willing to submit their lives to God.
Other scriptures I have marked teach the difference between spiritual and temporal death, describe the characteristics of stalwart disciples, or warn about the dangers of pride. Although my children will probably be reminded of these principles in Sunday School or Seminary, I want them to learn them in our home first. By specifically marking my scriptures for that purpose, I have a record of the teachings I do not want to forget to pass on. Teaching by the scriptures gives us more confidence in God and less fear of the adversary, and the Spirit of the Lord will bless our homes.
The biography of John Adams describes the feelings he had while traveling to Philadelphia in the summer of 1774 for the First Continental Congress, “We have not men fit for the times. We are deficient in genius, education, in travel, fortune—in everything. I feel unutterable anxiety” (p. 23). As our founding fathers prepared for the birth of a nation, they knew they needed the best the colonies had to offer. They needed men who were already prepared—not men who had been idling away their time and did not understand the demands of the day.
InAlma 49:8, we read about the Lamanites who came to battle against the Nephites and hoped to bring them into bondage. When they arrived at the city Ammonihah, they saw that captain Moroni had caused it to be uniquely fortified, and they were completely astonished. The Nephites, “were prepared for them, in a manner which never had been known among the children of Lehi.”
In our world today, we must be “fit for the times”—prepared to teach and strengthen our families, our friends, and our communities in a way that has “never been known among the children of [men]”. The battles that rage today are more treacherous than ever before, and they require men and women who are prepared with the armor of God. We must become better than we have been. We must cherish the scriptures and use them as the means to approach our Father and hear His voice.
Mothers, feasting upon the scriptures may not be simple, but the power of the Lord will be with us as we seek to hear Him and know Him. It is by His power that we are able to do all things, and drawing close to Jesus Christ is worth our best efforts. He will prepare us with His power if we will turn to Him and receive of His Word. I know this to be true, and my prayers are with you as you do this most beautiful and noble work of motherhood.