My Mom and sisters and I had a little breakfast together a while back.

We sat around a table bathed in light form a huge window, relishing in the opportunity to have each other close. 

How grateful I am for those women.

As we finished eating and came to the close of our customary detailed discussion reviewing our food choices (we’re nerdy about good food), my Mom pulled out a “chapter” of a book someone had asked her to edit/review.  She told us she wanted to read it to us, and, with her velvety reading voice that always brings me back to my childhood, she began to unfold some rich motherhood beauty.

I want to share what she read because it is strong. 

Because my dear Mother could scarcely finish the ending through her tears. 

And because as she read, each of us blinked at each other with our own wet cheeks, more in awe than ever that we get to be Mothers (my little sister Charity not yet, but I’ll be honest, she mothers our children right along with us).  In awe of the sacredness that comes with loving and caring for those children entrusted into our care.  In awe of the sheer beauty of the chaos mixed in with the holiness of it all. 

Because of that chapter read that day, this painting has become one of my favorites. 
2008-06-02 house ideas 73470It speaks to me.

And it hangs next to my closet, reminding me of the beauty motherhood brings every day (thanks to my sister Saydi, who sent it to each of us for Christmas).

Here is the chapter (sorry in advance that it is cut and pasted in a little gappy):
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“What other career could claim as its end-product the elevation of a human soul?  Not just the enlightening of a mind or the development of a body, but the improvement of every aspect of a vibrant child of God?”

Oh I especially love that last part. 

I love the imagery of that strong mother in the painting concentrating with all her heart on that baby who is so oblivious to the magnitude of her love. 

And I love that I get to be one of those mothers, concentration high, love unending, teaching my own little human souls to fly.
So this is a single chapter in a book that was recently published.

It’s called Choosing Motherhood: Stories of Successful Women Who Put Family First and you can read more about it here

I get to give one copy away.

Just in time for Mother’s Day.

My disclaimer is that I have not read the rest of the book yet, so I can’t promise the rest of the chapters will shine as brightly as this one.  But it is so intriguing because each of the sixteen chapters are written by young mothers who studied or supported husbands who studied at Yale University.  Can’t wait to snuggle down and read it all.

So enter a comment for a chance to win your own copy.

I’ll announce the winner on Saturday morning.

Love, Shawni

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  1. I'd love to win a copy, as a young mom of 3 kids who's husband is in his medical residency. I may really relate to these other women. 🙂

  2. Oh how I loved this, every last word! Any idea where I can get that picture your sister gave to you? I'd love to hang one in my room too. It would be such a great help to me on the really hard days.

  3. What a beautifully written interpretation of motherhood. It is a career no other woman could learn to appreciate until she has clocked in herself and worked the laboriously long hours. This sounds like a wonderful book.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing. My talents do not lie in eloquently putting to words what I do all day. I loved the perspective the author shared.

  5. "What other career could claim as its end-product the elevation of a human soul?" Beautifully said, what an honor it is to get to be a mother.

  6. Wow. Thank you- this was so great…I had been feeling a little overwhelmed with some of the "drudgery" of motherhood and the perfect lift I needed! I love being a mother!

  7. Love. 🙂 Thank you for always sharing such uplifting and perspective changing thoughts on motherhood. I know I'm not alone in gleaning a grander view of my role as a mother when I come to your blog. Not only do YOU have inspiring thoughts, but you open doors and windows to other people/ideas to partake from. Thank you! As always, I'd love a copy of the book you shared!

  8. This is simply beautiful and just what I needed this morning. Sometimes I lose perspective of why the work I am doing is such an important work. Thank you for sharing. What is the name of the book, by the way?

  9. i need this today. even if i don't win this giveaway, i will be forever grateful that i read your blog this morning. thank you.

  10. My husband is in school right now and some days are really hard with my two little ones. I would love to gain more inspiration from these women! Thank you for sharing this!

  11. Your post reminded me about Elder Oaks talk in October Conference. As a mother of 8- 5 biological and 3 adopted my life is full of every day chaos mixed with trying to heal the souls of children wounded by the harsh realities of this world. My goal is to somehow teach all 8 of them how much their Heavenly Father loves them and that will give their souls what they need to fly. I would love to read the rest of this book. We moms need to strengthen and help each other in this most important work.

  12. Thank you so much for posting this! A wonderful way to think of all the things that we do each day, for others!
    Love your column, your beautiful family, and your wisdom!

  13. this was just what i needed today. we are having our third and for the last few weeks i've been worried about being enough, being the one that was the glue to us all…this definitely helped today…thanks for sharing!

  14. This is what I love about your blog and your desire to share your life. It helps. It truly helps! As I sat on the couch after putting my three ladies to sleep, I felt overwhelmed and drained. I needed to seriously regroup and find peace. I am trying unsuccessfully to teach my four year old how to do her chores, my six year old is going to all day school next year and it is breaking my heart, and my two year old is absolutely adorable, but am I giving her enough time and attention?? Plus another little lady will be entering our family at the end of the summer. I felt so inadequate but so determined to do better….but so TIRED!! Thank you for this post. That picture lifted my spirits and the thoughts shared were just what I needed today to add to my well. I have more to draw from now and I just wanted to thank you. Thank you for knowing how important this motherhood gig is and how hard it is, but most of all thank you for sharing you perfection and imperfection with all of us on the interweb. :)You are a rock star.

  15. Hi! This comes from the book Choosing Motherhood: Stories of Successful Women Who Put Family First. Good luck with the give-away!

  16. This post was a perfect read for me on the heels of my learning circle discussion last night about embracing the individual strengths we each bring to the table as mothers to our own unique families. I too got teary eyed reading that chapter. I would love a copy of the book! 🙂

  17. Thank you for sharing this. As the wife of a husband in medical school, and a stay-at-home mother, I would love to hear the advice of other women who have experienced similar things. (I love reading your blog!)

  18. I KNOW I am not alone in my feelings on motherhood, but this would be a GREAT reminder to me DAILY to not take for granted this sacred gift and responsibility.

    I am gonna go right now (get off the computer) and go hug and cuddle my baby.

  19. Love your blog and the positive message that you have on motherhood. You always capture what I am feeling, and always find the greatest quotes from others! Thank you for the chance to win this amazing copy!

  20. I LOVE this explanation of the painting and motherhood. I recently became a new mom and know that it is surprising to many of my friends that my career choice is staying at home with my baby. I can truly say I have never worked so hard for such an important cause. Thank you for sharing this uplifting message. I needed it today.

  21. I had two children while my husband went to dental school.
    I loved this post and would love to read the rest of the book!

  22. Oh my, that is so beautiful! I will carry those images and words with me always!! Thanks for the opportunity to win the whole book!

  23. This sounds so unbelievably good, I know I won't be able to get it out of my mind until I read the whole book. Thank you for sharing this chapter.

  24. My fifth and last child will enter kindergarten next year and I am beginning to see how we mothers need to always remember why we are mothers. And I love reading real-life stories of others who have gone through it.

  25. I actually already have a copy of the book. It was given to me by my sister-in-law who is one of the authors of this wonderful book. And it truly is uplifting and inspiring. Every word, every chapter. Thank you for featuring it!

  26. I have been reading your blog for a while now, but have only commented once a long time ago. I am actually related to you (your dad is my mom's cousin) and I love reading your blog. I love the renewed perspective that it gives me of motherhood. I am a young mom (I have 2 boys – a 3 1/2 year old and a 14 month old.) I really enjoyed reading this chapter and I would love to read the rest of the book.

  27. I would love to win a copy of this book. We put motherhood first while we both finished college, and then sent my husband to law school. We are expecting baby #6 the same month we celebrate our 10 year anniversary later this year. It probably sounds hard to others, but it has been the best thing for us, and the tender mercies are abundant.

  28. I'd love to win a copy–and I especially loved that last sentiment, who wouldn't want to be mother and teach these souls to fly?

  29. Joy school was my introduction to a joy filled life and joyful mothering. Your inspirational ideas learned from your parents continue to inspire as I now am a grandmother encouraging my children with their own families.
    Thank you for sharing.

  30. How beautiful and uplifting. I just had my 3rd baby boy and that tells my feelings so much better then I could ever put into words.

  31. This was written by a "woman who knows". I'd love to read the rest of the book. I love your blog and read it almost every day. This is the first time I have ever left a comment on the internet and I hope it works. I love your perspective as a fellow mommy. I also love photography, so you inspire there too. I finally have a great DSLR! My kids love Elle's videos. Thanks for sharing your family with us!

  32. Love a copy to pass along to my sister for her very first Mother's Day (after trying to have kids for 10+ years and finally succeeding)

  33. That is just what I needed to read today. Thanks for sharing Shawni! I too was tearing up before the end. I would love to have a copy of the book for myself!

  34. I have been thinking about this a lot recently. My children are close to flying on their own. The lowering of the potential mission age left me feeling robbed of precious time I needed to prepare them for the world. It has been humbling and faith affirming to have to turn to my Heavenly Father and ask him to make up the difference. I thought I was praying for him to make up for my weakness, but instead I have seen him make my children stronger. It has been a most painful challenge as a mother, but a joy as well. I would love this book.

  35. After been given 3 children by 3 wonderful birth mothers and putting my life on the line for the next 2 I don't take motherhood lightly. It is a blessing and a miracle to be a mother.

  36. I would love this book for my 15 year old daugher who says she doesn't want to have children. Breaking my heart to hear that. Maybe this would inspire her to keep her mind open.
    Also, do you know where to purchase the painting?

  37. Love this. I often stop when people ask why I want so many children, or how I manage them. I never know what to say. This week my oldest lost his first tooth, and it was amazing to see the delight on his face!

  38. Oh, I would love to read that book. Motherhood is a difficult business to be in, with not a lot of support or understanding. I would love to read that book.

  39. This was a beautiful chaper to read, and quite timely. My husband is leaving the country for two months for a job. I will stay here with our three children with no family or friends to help and will then fly with them to meet him in two months time. I've been feeling a bit anxious and ill prepared for this experience, but reading this has helped and given me a boost of confidence.

  40. I would love to have a copy! I am a mother of twin baby girls as of January and I would love to start off my motherhood on a strong foot!

  41. Wow that was beautiful! I hate when people ask me what I "do" as a mother, and this makes me feel so blessed to hold that title! Thank you for sharing!

  42. The previous commenter (Katie Richins) is my baby sister, and I want so much for her to win this book. I have never known anyone to try as hard as she does to be truly GREAT mom.

  43. That was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. <3 The title of the book intrigues me. They call these amazing mothers successful, it reads that they chose motherhood and family over other righteous desires. This is something I've always struggled with, unfortunately. When I look into the future, I see myself impacting lives, and nations. But I know motherhood is more important than that, I just have trouble accepting that. I'd love to read this and have a reaffirming testimony that even if I don't impact nations, or save lives, I did the right thing by being a mother. That work is more important. <3

  44. I would love to be entered to win this book, as I live in CT and I am surrounded by Yale! I would love to read the stories of other mothers who put their families first in a fast living "career first" environment.

  45. I keep looking at that painting today and trying to decide what I think of it's message. I am in the thick of it all right now, so this book sounds LOVELY. Thanks!

  46. What an intriguing book! Having just sent my youngest to Kindergarten this year, I've been amazed by the impact I've felt of comments I receive from others combined with my own self-doubts. This book sounds perfect for my stage of life! Thanks for the chance to win!

  47. Currently raising 2 little girls (2 yrs old and a 9 month old). Motherhood is the most challenging and amazing job/gift I have!! Would love to read this book!

  48. Wow, I recently became a mother and this touches my soul. I recently struggled with whether or not to go back to work. The ending of the chapter, reminding me yet again that the most important work I can do is at home, is like God whispering in my ear. Thanks for posting this!

  49. Motherhood is the hardest job I'll ever do but I do it proudly. The road has been a winding one, taking me places I never imagined, yet each day teaches me a little more about myself and about the world. I am blessed.

  50. need to put some of these keeper quotes around me as beautifully articulated reminders…and then i'm going to go "elevate a few human souls"! while all the while they seem "oblivious to what their mother did for [them]". yes. i'd love both the book AND the painting!

  51. Wow that little article is inspiring. I have read it several times in the last 24 hours. Hope the rest of the book is just as uplifting!

  52. Beautiful, Shawni. Thank you for sharing this chapter with us. I think about what a sweet experience it was for your Mom to share this with you and your sisters. She has come full circle from teaching her children to fly and I am sure it was a few sacred moments for her to share with all of you that day.

  53. Thank you for sharing. Even if I don't win that book is on my list. I have been on a quest lately, a quest for happiness. I know that it comes from the Savior and from being a wife and mother, but finding concrete things has been troubling me. This book seems like one of those that will shed some light on my troubled soul. Hope to read it soon.

  54. It's always refreshing to hear from other mothers who love motherhood instead of wanting to escape it. Thanks for letting us share this this with you! I'd love to read more!

  55. I love how at first she can't give an answer. I'd love to read those stories, especially as I'm in my own mothering adventure while my husband completes his graduate education. -Ariana

  56. What a wonderful post leading into Mother's Day. My husband accepted a principal position this past year and I stay home with our 5 year old daughter and 2.5 year old boy/girl twins. Neither of us were prepared for the long hours and almost every night and weekend commitments he would have. As this first year comes to a close, we both have a new appreciation for my role as stay-at-home parent. I was so blessed to be the kid's constant this transition year and to make sure their lives were filled with love, learning, faith, and fun each day. It wasn't sunshine and rainbows everyday, but excerpts like this remind me that even on the hard days, my role as mother and teacher is the MOST important "job" I will ever have.

  57. I wish I could write like this author. I feel the same way, but don't have the gift of words that she does to share my tender feelings and firm & unrelenting belief in motherhood. Thanks for sharing.

  58. I've never seen that painting so thank you for sharing! I absolutely love reading about your passion for motherhood! i crave reading your words…. especially when my love of motherhood isnt always there and especially as passionatly as yours.I also love reading it monthly because it reminds me to find that passion…pray for that passion. so thank you…for your words of passion on motherhood! oh how i would love to be a fly on the walls you and your mother and sisters surround yourself in… i wish i had those talks with my loved ones…until then i'll keep reading yours… so thank you!

  59. Thanks for posting this. I used to be the sister in this story. I would watch moms with kids clawing their hair, and clothes and wonder how I could ever be happy doing that with my life…Then I met and married my sweetheart and two and half kids later, I understand what the mom in this book knows. I'll shamefully admit, I still have my moments of exasperation where I revert back to my 'sister' mentality, but over all I know that I'm where I'm supposed to be, and doing what I was born to do. It is a noble calling, and thanks for sharing the thick and thin of things to help us all feel like we have some company on our crazy days! I appreciate it! =)(and I'd love to read the rest of this book!)

  60. wow! I don't know that any single book (other than scripture) has touched my heart as this chapter has. Just I needed to read today – thank you! I'd love a chance to read the rest of it 🙂

  61. The last 2 weeks I've been wondering the exact same thing that the sister in the story did…"WHY am I a mother? Is there nothing more than cleaning up spills, breaking up fights, teaching a whining child how to ride a scooter, trying my hardest not to yell (and then yelling anyway), etc. etc. etc."

    I finally am starting to see the light, and the light is more clearly visible again after reading this blog post. I know I have known the purpose of motherhood before, and somewhere in the last while, it's become obscured to me. But I'm ready and needing to become alive in that purpose once more.

    Thanks for this very thoughtful post. It is wonderful.

  62. Thank you so much for sharing this!!! I feel like this post was directly written for me. Been struggling with the "why's" of motherhood :/. Off to order my copy.

  63. Whether or not I win this, I think I need to hear what this book has to say. I'm a mom to a 18 month old and haven't been converted to the greatness of motherhood. The past 2 months I have finally had my eyes open to the realization that I need to change my perspective and work on enjoying motherhood. I've been reading a lot and slowly my eyes are opening and my heart softening. I need to keep reading more encouragement like this. Thank you.

  64. Beautiful!! Wiping my own tears away now. 🙂 Has definitely renewed my sense of urgency and devotion to the cause of mothering my 3 little ones! Thank you for sharing! I'd love a copy of the book, of course! "Who WOULDN'T?"! ~Sarah (using my husband's account)

  65. I'd love a copy of that book. I'm going through a bit of a mothering struggle, and the chapter you shared helped me see thing differently.

  66. I would love to read the rest of the book! So inspiring! I too have asked my friends "why is it worth it to be a mother" and their responses were much the same. I feel very scared to be a mother but I know it will be worth the hard work!

  67. i would love to win this book. i can't wait to be a mother someday. my husband and i have been married for 2 years and i am sooo ready to be a mom. it is the greatest calling on earth besides being a wife. that picture is so beautiful and i loved how that woman described motherhood so eloquently!

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