These are the Top Ten lessons my Mother has taught me:
Lesson #1: Write thank-you notes. Mom, consider this my thank-you note for everything you have done for me. Along the same vein, she always taught me to give thanks to my Heavenly Father.
Lesson #2: Read from your scriptures daily. She led by sheer example on this one. I can recall her sitting in the living room with her scriptures open, deep in study. I love her letters because she often shares something that she learned from her personal study that day. One of the pivotal moments in my life was when I was 13. I was sick and mopey and she came into my room and asked me if I'd been reading my Book of Mormon. "No," I reluctantly answered. She then bore her testimony of the Word. I pulled out my scriptures and started to read that night.
Lesson #3: Never underestimate the power of fresh flowers. If I know my mother (and I think I do), there's probably a gorgeous arrangement of fresh flowers up there on the podium at this very moment thanks to her. Much like the Primary song, I can lovingly say, "Dear Mother, all flowers remind me of you."
Lesson #4: Be in nature as often as possible. I don't know if there is anybody that loves being outside in the sunshine as much as my Mom. She understands the immensity of the designs of a caring Creator. I can think of so many occasions where we would be driving somewhere and she would point out how beautiful everything was and then she'd tell us to take a picture in our minds.
Lesson #5: The greatest joy in life comes from serving others. The longer that I've been out on my mission and interact with families, the more I realize that the service and love of a mother most closely resembles the sacrifice of our Savior. My Mom once told me that the greatest thing she gained from her mission in Korea was that it helped her realize just how much she wanted a family someday so she could serve them. I can honestly say that this would be the lesson that has most closely resonated with me as I have been out. Some of the wisest words I have ever heard her say were, "I have never regretted being giving or kind."
Lesson #6: Learn how to play tennis so you can play it on dates. Yeah, this doesn't really have anything to do with missionary work, but it has always stuck out in my mind as one of those lessons that Mom tried to teach us kids. Fun fact about my Mom: She once came in 2nd place in a Silver City tennis tournament and even got her photo in the paper and everything. Well, on account of it being a small New Mexican town, there were actually only two people in the tournament.
Lesson #7: Make the temple a priority. Having just spent two-and-a-half weeks at the Vancouver Temple Open House, I can say that my testimony of the temple has grown at least a hundredfold. I'm so grateful to live in a world where the temple ordinances have been restored and we have access to them, not to mention in Utah where they are so plentiful. Mom is always telling me her plans to attend the temple and I love her for that. Like Elder Ballard said in his recent talk to mothers and daughters, "Make sure they know that keeping covenants is the safest road to eternal happiness. And if needed, teach them how to repent and how to remain pure and worthy" (M. Russell Ballard, Conference Report, "Mothers and Daughters," April 3, 2010).
Lesson #8: Do things that are good for your soul. Listen to uplifting music, read good literature, enjoy beautiful art. My Mom has instilled in me a love of learning that I wouldn't trade for the world. She believes in being happy and in finding the good around her. No wonder he favorite scripture is "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine" (Proverbs 17:22).
Lesson #9: Don't forget to go to bed. This was her constant reminder to me at college and now that my brother, Phillip, is home for the summer, I know he's going to hear it a time or two hundred.
Lesson #10: Gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. I have never once doubted that my Mom knows the Gospel to be true, and for that, I am eternally grateful. She wrote in my set of missionary scriptures a reference to Ether 12:41, which reads: "And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever." This is what my Mom has done for me—invited me to seek out our Savior and follow in His footsteps. I would invite each of you to do the same. Of course, I have to give my Dad credit as well, so Dad, thank you for marrying Mom and being sealed to her for time and all eternity. I love you all and will talk to you soon!
Pictures below: Gretchen in a flower garden, daffodils at the Vancouver Temple, Gretchen wearing the "tulip sweater" her mother sent her that was apparently a big hit (for laughs) among all the sister missionaries, and Grechen's angel mother!