Mother’s Day Talk from 2011by Jim

11
May/14
11:05 pm
0

The pain is still too close to write something about my mom today.  Even still, I wanted to share something, so I thought I would post this talk that I gave in church three years ago on Mother’s Day.  I’d like to dedicate these words to the remarkable woman I call Mom.

Mother’s Day Talk    May 8, 2011

Good afternoon, brothers and sisters.  I’m honored to be speaking to you today.  As a bishopric, we typically spend some time each week talking about our upcoming sacrament meeting topics and speakers.  Under these circumstances, you’d think that I would have been part of the conversation deciding today’s speaking assignments.  I’m sure many of you are familiar with the feeling of surprise I felt when Bishop looked over to me during a recent bishopric meeting and said, “We’d like you to speak in sacrament meeting on Mother’s day.”  In all seriousness, I’m grateful for the opportunity to share with you today some of my thoughts and more importantly to give honor and respect to some of the most important people in our lives: women, sisters, daughters, and mothers.

President Hinckley said,

Woman is God’s supreme creation. Only after the earth had been formed, after the day had been separated from the night, after the waters had been divided from the land, after vegetation and animal life had been created, and after man had been placed on the earth, was woman created; and only then was the work pronounced complete and good.

Of all the creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth.

Sisters, you have been blessed with special characteristics that make you who you are.  President Hinckley also said,

God planted within women something divine.”  That something is the gift and the gifts of motherhood.  But motherhood is more than just bearing children.  In Genesis, we read that Adam called his wife Eve because she was the mother of all living, though she had yet to birth a child.  Elder Matthew Cowley taught that “men have to have something given to them [in this life] to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women.  [They] are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls … and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children.”  Sheri Dew said, “Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination.  It was the most ennobling endowment he could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate.

Speaking to the young women of the church, President James E. Faust said,

I wonder if you sisters fully understand the greatness of your gifts and talents and how all of you can achieve the “highest place of honor” in the Church and in the world. One of your unique, precious, and sublime gifts is your femininity, with its natural grace, goodness, and divinity. Femininity is not just lipstick, stylish hairdos, and trendy clothes. It is the divine adornment of humanity. It finds expression in your qualities of your capacity to love, your spirituality, delicacy, radiance, sensitivity, creativity, charm, graciousness, gentleness, dignity, and quiet strength. It is manifest differently in each girl or woman, but each of you possesses it. Femininity is part of your inner beauty.

One of your particular gifts is your feminine intuition. Do not limit yourselves. As you seek to know the will of our Heavenly Father in your life and become more spiritual, you will be far more attractive, even irresistible. You can use your smiling loveliness to bless those you love and all you meet, and spread great joy. Femininity is part of the God-given divinity within each of you. It is your incomparable power and influence to do good. You can, through your supernal gifts, bless the lives of children, women, and men. Be proud of your womanhood. Enhance it. Use it to serve others.

Young women, you have great potential for influencing others.  These gifts you have are real.  Elder Quentin L. Cook in the most recent General Conference shared this story about one influential young woman:

When I was recently assigned to a conference in the Mission Viejo California Stake, I was touched by an account of their four-stake New Year’s Eve youth dance. Following the dance, a purse was found with no outside identification. I share with you part of what Sister Monica Sedgwick, the Young Women president in the Laguna Niguel stake, recorded: “We didn’t want to pry; this was someone’s personal stuff! So we gingerly opened it and grabbed the first thing that was on top—hopefully, it would identify her. It did, but in another way—it was a For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. Wow! This told us something about her. Then we reached in for the next item, a little notebook. Surely this would give us answers, but not the kind we were expecting. The first page was a list of favorite scriptures. There were five more pages of carefully written scriptures and personal notes.”

The sisters immediately wanted to meet this stalwart young woman. They returned to that purse to identify its owner. They pulled out some breath mints, soap, lotion, and a brush. I loved their comments: “Oh, good things come out of her mouth; she has clean and soft hands; and she takes care of herself.”

They eagerly awaited the next treasure. Out came a clever little homemade coin purse made from a cardboard juice carton, and there was some money in a zippered pocket. They exclaimed, “Ahh, she’s creative and prepared!” They felt like little children on Christmas morning. What they pulled out next surprised them even more: a recipe for Black Forest chocolate cake and a note to make the cake for a friend’s birthday. They almost screamed, “She’s a HOMEMAKER! Thoughtful and service minded.” Then, yes, finally some identification. The youth leaders said they felt greatly blessed “to observe the quiet example of a young lady living the gospel.”

We as leaders have an obligation to help and encourage young women, like the one this story, to find and develop the attributes of womanhood.  I love the words of Elder Russell M. Nelson on this subject:

A worthy woman personifies the truly noble and worthwhile attributes of life. A faithful woman can become a devoted daughter of God—more concerned with being righteous than with being selfish, more anxious to exercise compassion than to exercise dominion, more committed to integrity than to notoriety. And she knows of her own infinite worth.

As brethren and holders of the Priesthood, it is our responsibility to show the proper respect to women.  All of us here today, with no exception, are here today because of the sacrifice of a woman.  I believe the reason there is a special bond between a mother and a child is because of the great sacrifice a woman goes through to bring a child into this world.  We sacrifice for those we love and we love those for whom we sacrifice.  If we look to He who sacrificed the most for all of us, we will also find He who loves us more than any other.  Our Savior endured pain and ridicule and paid the ultimate price because of His love for each of us.

All the primary children know how much I like stories, especially from the scriptures.  I would like to share a few stories with you today; the first from the scriptures.  Like for so many things, the Savior provides us with an example of showing respect to the woman who gave Him life.  Persecuted, ridiculed, scourged, crowned with thorns, the Savior hung on the cross while the soldiers cast lots for his coat.  Under these entirely undeserved circumstances, the Savior’s heart went out to His mother.

26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

It astounds me that while suffering, which caused the greatest of all to shrink, He still sought to honor and protect His mother.  What an example of love and respect.  Some of the very last words the Savior spoke as a mortal man were words seeking the well-being of His mother.

This is not the only example the Savior gave us of respecting and honoring women.  Jesus taught some of His most important doctrines to women.  It was to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well that he first acknowledged Himself to be the Messiah.  He taught her of the living water and said, “I … am he.”  To Martha he said “I am the resurrection, and the life. … And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”  On the third day after his death, the Savior found Mary weeping outside the sepulcher.

15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

It is no surprise to me that Jesus first appeared to a woman.  I believe it was Mary’s great faith and love for the Savior that qualified her to have this sacred experience.  It was also she who was entrusted to deliver the first glorious and divine message of His resurrection.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson shared a story a few years back about how his father showed love and respect to his mother.

Years ago, when my brothers and I were boys, our mother had radical cancer surgery. She came very close to death. Much of the tissue in her neck and shoulder had to be removed, and for a long time it was very painful for her to use her right arm.

One morning about a year after the surgery, my father took Mother to an appliance store and asked the manager to show her how to use a machine he had for ironing clothes. The machine was called an Ironrite. It was operated from a chair by pressing pedals with one’s knees to lower a padded roller against a heated metal surface and turn the roller, feeding in shirts, pants, dresses, and other articles. You can see that this would make ironing (of which there was a great deal in our family of five boys) much easier, especially for a woman with limited use of her arm. Mother was shocked when Dad told the manager they would buy the machine and then paid cash for it. Despite my father’s good income as a veterinarian, Mother’s surgery and medications had left them in a difficult financial situation.

On the way home, my mother was upset: “How can we afford it? Where did the money come from? How will we get along now?” Finally Dad told her that he had gone without lunches for nearly a year to save enough money. “Now when you iron,” he said, “you won’t have to stop and go into the bedroom and cry until the pain in your arm stops.” She didn’t know he knew about that. I was not aware of my father’s sacrifice and act of love for my mother at the time, but now that I know, I say to myself, “There is a man.”

Women have the potential to have such a powerful and significant influence in all our lives.  Mothers, sisters, daughters, friends; all these relationships with womankind have the potential to touch lives in a way men simply cannot.  The gifts you sisters possess and the power you wield is real.  I was touched as I read this story retold by Elder Nelson:

The influence of your mother will bless you throughout life, especially when you serve as a missionary. Long years ago, Elder Frank Croft was serving in the state of Alabama. While preaching to the people, he was forcefully abducted by a vicious gang, to be whipped and lashed across his bare back. Elder Croft was ordered to remove his coat and shirt before he was tied to a tree. As he did so, a letter he had recently received from his mother fell to the ground. The vile leader of the gang picked up the letter. Elder Croft closed his eyes and uttered a silent prayer. The attacker read the letter from Elder Croft’s mother. From a copy of that letter, I quote:

“My beloved son, … remember the words of the Savior when He said, … ‘Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name’s sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for you will have your reward in Heaven for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.’ Also remember the Savior upon the cross suffering from the sins of the world when He had uttered these immortal words, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ Surely, my boy, they who are mistreating you … know not what they do or they would not do it. Sometime, somewhere, they will understand and then they will regret their action and they will honor you for the glorious work you are doing. So be patient, my son, love those who mistreat you and say all manner of evil against you and the Lord will bless you and magnify you. … Remember also, my son, that day and night, your mother is praying for you.”

Elder Croft watched the hateful man as he studied the letter. He would read a line or two, then sit and ponder. He arose to approach his captive. The man said: “Feller, you must have a wonderful mother. You see, I once had one, too.” Then, addressing the mob, he said: “Men, after reading this Mormon’s mother’s letter, I just can’t go ahead with the job. Maybe we had better let him go.” Elder Croft was released without harm.

We are deeply grateful for the faithful mothers and fathers of our wonderful missionaries. The love they bear for their children is sublime.

As I try to find the words to express my gratitude for the women in my life, I am humbled by the love shown and sacrifices made on my behalf.  I consider myself blessed beyond description.  Brethren, I implore you to take time to tell the women in your lives how much you appreciate and love them.  Tell them by word and perhaps more importantly by how you treat them.  Sisters, cultivate the gifts God has given you so you may find the joys of motherhood: yours is a divine gift and calling.  This is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

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Servicesby Jim

26
Mar/14
10:03 am
0

Funeral services for my mother, Kathy Ann Packard Hoffman, will be held on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. The services are at 6 PM at the Newnan LDS Meetinghouse at 821 Old Atlanta Highway, Newnan, Georgia.

The burial will be on Friday, April 4, 2014 at the Harmony Grove Cemetery located at 11455 East Locke Rd, Lockeford, California. We will be holding a memorial service in the Harmony Grove Church (adjacent to the cemetery) from 1-2 PM. The grave will be dedicated following the service.

Following the burial, we will gather for visiting and a catered meal at the Heritage Oak Winery (a property that has been in the Hoffman family for generations). The address of the property is 10112 East Woodbridge Rd, Acampo, California. If you would like to attend, please RSVP Roger before Wednesday, April 2.

If you are unable to attend, but would still like to honor Kathy, please visit her online memory tree and submit a memory to share with her family. The address is http://memory-tree.jigawot.net You may also enjoy reading the other memories friends and family have written.

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A Journey’s Endby Jim

25
Mar/14
8:03 am
11

About half past midnight, our beloved wife and mother, Kathy Ann Packard Hoffman, peacefully passed away surrounded by her loving family. Her breathing slowed and weakened for a few minutes giving us enough time to gather the family and then she reached the end of her journey. She battled Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease for more than six months, and she fought valiantly until the end. She led an exemplary life and blessed all those who were fortunate enough to know her. The impact she had on countless lives can never be measured. You are an inspiration and a strength to all of us, Mom. We love you.

mom_and_dad

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A Rare Findby Jim

24
Mar/14
10:03 pm
0

Mom hasn’t been able to close her eyes the last few nights, which seems to make sleeping difficult. We gave her a little muscle relaxant last night to help her be drowsy enough to get some sleep, which helped for about eight hours. The hospice nurse told us that she may sleep with her eyes open and that that is pretty normal. Mom’s breathing has continued to be fast but even. She still sounds congested, but she hasn’t been coughing — though, I don’t believe she could cough now if she needed to. It’s been days since she’s had any significant amount to drink, but the nurse assured us that when the body is shutting down, desires for food and water also fade and that, from what she can tell, Mom is as content and as comfortable as she can be.

Dad and Becka spent some time cleaning Mom’s office today and they found the original film of a special experience from Mom’s childhood. Her father, David, was deployed to Korea while her mother, Vera, was pregnant. When Mom was six weeks old, Vera had the rare opportunity to be featured on a TV spot that supported the war by filming messages from family members and sending the film to their loved ones in the military (as well as airing the spots on television as a promotional item). After receiving it, David had to travel quite a ways to be able to watch it. That film has been a treasured family heirloom that Mom watched many times while growing up. They had made a digital copy a few years ago, so Dad found the DVD and played it in the living room for Mom. As soon as it started playing, Mom’s eyes shifted to look at the screen. She looked very intent, and it was the closest expression to a smile that we’ve seen in a few days. Her attention span was short, and she was soon looking away in a sort of daze once more, but Becka and Angie both felt that it was an authentic response to that familiar footage.

This afternoon we received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Dad’s cousin, Bob and Joyce. It was very sweet of them to send. Thank you for your kindness.

Later this afternoon Jon and I went out shopping and I realized that it has been nearly a week since I’ve even l stepped outside the house. The strange thing was that it didn’t really feel like it had been very long. I guess I don’t go stir crazy very easily, especially when I’m busy doing something I think is important.

Angie’s been doing a great job taking care of Mom’s house plants and today she brought in some of the lemon blossoms that have opened and we put them with the peach blossoms from yesterday. Angie also brought a pot of Mom’s African violets into the living room so she could see it blooming.

Rebecca has been very diligent in helping Mom be comfortable by swabbing Mom’s mouth out frequently to keep it moist. Mom had a hard time when Becka sponged with just water, so now she’s using some thickener the hospice provided, so it’s less likely to drip down the wrong pipe and make her cough. Rebecca read online that keeping Mom’s mouth wet is the best thing to do to relieve any discomfort she may have from being dehydrated. I’m sure it helps her feel better to have her mouth kept clean this way.

For our Family Home Evening tonight, we did another lesson on family history. Dad read a presentation he did for a community family history conference recently and then we watched a video about the Granite Mountain in Utah where billions of records are kept and preserved. It was very fascinating. For dessert we had some brownies made by Becka topped with jam that I made. We watched “Smile for Life” (which Becka said got the best response out of Mom since watching her baby movie) and then we sang hymns for a bit, had prayers, and said goodnight.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. We feel a special strength and spirit in this home as we serve our mother. I know that comes from you.

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Sunday Happeningsby Jim

23
Mar/14
7:03 pm
0

Today was another quiet day. This morning, Rebecca pulled out a sign that was made for Mom on her 60th birthday five days shy of two years ago. For her 60th birthday, we all surprised her by showing up at my brother’s house in Portland. We spent the evening together and Mom wrote in her journal that day that it was the best birthday of her life. She loved the occasion so much that she put together a scrapbook just about that weekend. Rebecca read to her from that book and showed her the pictures.

We watched music & the spoken word this morning, which was especially meaningful to us today. They sang Rebecca’s favorite song, which was very beautiful. She told us that David Warner wrote the words, which makes it even more poignant.

One of the things we’ve been doing is going through some of Mom’s old journals. We found one from when she was a young mom and my sisters have been happy to see that Mom struggled with the same things they struggle with. It gave them hope knowing that Mom had the same difficulties they have and that she still turned out as wonderfully as she did. One thing that Rebecca also commented on was that one thing she really admired in Mom was that she never stopped improving herself. That, too, gives her hope.

This afternoon, we sang a hymn and administered the sacrament. It was a special experience to do that service for Mom. Afterwards, we had a little testimony meeting, kind of like we used to have when we were kids. It was good to share a few words with each other about our gratitude for Mom and our testimonies that she helped to instill in us.

We were imagining what it will be like when Mom gets to the other side and is greeted by all those Hungarian ancestors that she’s done temple work for and how they’ll all want to give her a hug. We then wondered what the Hungarian word for “hug”, so Angie went and grabbed Mom’s Hungarian dictionary. She said, “Hungarians must be a very loving people, because they have 4 words for different kinds of hugs!” I’m sure she’ll get all 4 kinds when she is greeted.

Rebecca went out and cut a small branch from the peach tree to show Mom and let her smell the blossoms. It was very beautiful, so we put it in a little vase next to her bed.

Louise (one of Mom’s life-long friends) sent Dad a letter that Mom had sent to her about five years ago. Dad read it to us; it was about the role of mother and Mom’s decision to be a Mom instead of pursuing a career. She was told by a high school teacher that she was throwing away her career by choosing to go to BYU instead of a place like Stanford. She knew she wanted to go to a place that put as much emphasis on gospel learning as it did secular learning. She also knew she wanted to learn all she could so that she could be a better mother. She said in the letter that she firmly believes that the best contribution anyone can make to this world is not a successful career or big paycheck, but raising a new and strong generation. She dedicated her life to doing just that: raising a righteous family.

Mom’s breathing gets a little weaker each day. She’s starting to sound a little congested. Jason is going to join us by taking a watch tonight and stay up with her.

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A Scripture Storyby Jim

23
Mar/14
6:03 pm
0

Yesterday morning, I reminded Mom of a scripture story that she had shared with me while I was on my mission and that had had a profound impact on me at that time: Right after Christ heard that his cousin, John, had been killed, he left on a boat to be alone. The people heard of his departure and followed him. Even though he was grieving, he looked on them and had compassion on them and healed their sick and then taught them. When it became evening, the disciples told the Lord that He should send the people away, but He commanded his disciples to feed the multitude. They had only five loaves and two fish, certainly an insufficient amount for five thousand people. Jesus told them to bring what they had and He blessed it and they proceeded to feed the throng. When all were filled, they gathered up what remained and had twelve baskets full. This miracle is familiar to all Christianity, but the profound idea that Mom shared with me over 10 years ago was the practical application to our lives. The Lord requires a lot of us: we are even commanded to be perfect — certainly an impossible task. But, just as he said to his disciples, if we bring Him what we have and let the Lord bless it, it will be more than enough to accomplish the task He’s given us. And, when we are done, we will have more than we started with. So it is with what we do. If we dedicate ourselves to Christ-like service and let the Lord bless our efforts, we can become better than when we started. Mom exemplified this principle. She dedicated her life to serving others and it has made her magnificent.

Filed under: Mom, Posts by Jim

A Sacred Placeby Jim

22
Mar/14
7:03 pm
0

It has been hard to be here and see what is happening to Mom, but this home has become such a sacred place that I feel a strength carrying us along. I know that is also from the many prayers and manifestations of love everyone has been sending our way. Thank you for helping us through these times.

Early this morning, Rachel left to catch an early flight back to Boston. Thank you, Rachel, for your sweet spirit and all the help you’ve provided during your stay. You will be missed.

Later this morning, Mom’s neighbor and gardening friend, Marian, brought some beautiful daffodils from her own garden to brighten our home. She had a big red macaw sitting on her shoulder, who goes on walks with her around the neighborhood regularly. The bird would have been frightened if Marian had come into the house, so she chatted with Dad for a minute at the door about how Mom is doing before going on her way.

Rebecca and Angie were singing this morning to Mom and after one song, Mom took a deep breath and then didn’t breathe for a few seconds. We were all a little worried, but Mom started back up, so Becka just said her singing must have just “taken her breath away.”

We received a beautiful hand painted card from Mom’s brother Tim and his wife Sally. Thank you for your kind words and your beautiful gift.

Betty, the weekend hospice nurse, came to visit us today. Mom’s heart rate and temperature are still above normal, but are down from yesterday. Her blood pressure was significantly lower. We sat at the kitchen table to chat a bit and she went over some things we’ll need to know in the coming days. She asked if we needed any chaplain services. Dad’s reply confused her, I think. “No thanks, we’re all chaplains here,” he said. At her surprise, he explained, “We belong to a church with a lay ministry, so we all can minister.” That led to a sweet family discussion after she left about what it means to minister to one another.

Mom’s breathing has been mostly relaxed and even. It is weak, but consistent. Mom was pretty unresponsive most of the day, but this afternoon Rebecca got out Mom’s digital picture frame and she followed it with her eyes. We took this as an indication that she wanted to watch it, so Rebecca sat next to Mom and reminisced with her as the pictures scrolled by.

We got phone calls from a few people today. Rebecca’s Hawai’ian bishop called with a very cheerful, “Aloha!” which I’m sure Mom loved. He remembered Mom from her many visits to the Carlson’s ward, and sweetly called to express his love and encouragement. Courtney also called to chat for a bit, which was really nice. Mom seems to still respond well to phone calls, even though she can’t say anything.

We’ll be doing our nightly vigil again tonight, taking turns watching over Mom. Though it may be hard, as it is with much of what we are doing here, this is time that we cherish and will remember with fondness for years to come.

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