With twenty minutes left in a particularly trying sacrament meeting, I mentally consoled myself, “It’s OK, you don’t have a calling anymore. You can skip Sunday School and Relief Society today.”

No sooner had the thought flickered through my brain, when my little girl turned to me and said, “If you go home, I’m coming too!”

In a heartbeat, my youngest son added his plea,”Take me too!”

“I’m not going home,” I whispered across the bench, “we’re all staying.” I did stay, but I spent the next few hours wondering what expression or body language betrayed my thoughts to my little mind readers. And realizing, once again, the tremendous impact I have on their attitudes and actions.


Even the most novice chess player recognizes the most powerful piece in the game– not the king, nor the bishops, the leaping knights or the eager pawns– but the elegant, versatile queen. She moves powerfully across the board influencing the moves of every other piece.

My sister recently suggested Satan is working extra hard to discourage me because I am the queen of my household. Not the ‘dripping diamonds, bring me a cake’ sort of ruler, but the ‘my actions shape everyone else’ kind.

I’m a believer of the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other, perhaps not literally, but in theory. I do believe we are each tempted in unique ways. I consider myself relatively unimportant: I don’t make any money or have important connections, most days I talk to very few people outside my home. In church I’m leading activities for seven Cub Scouts and I’m pretty shy about even updating my Facebook page. Ask the world, and my influence score is shockingly low.

But for my children and the people around me, I DO matter. And I can’t be toppled by those minions whispering, “you’re worthless” “no one needs you here” “why even try?” In fact I’d very much like to be one of those women who when I get up in the morning the devil says, “Oh no! She’s awake again.”

We are all, each of us (mothers or wives or not) more powerful than we believe. I love the concept in Acts describing the Christian missionaries preaching to the ‘chief women’ of the community (17:4). These missionaries understood women as the spiritual barometer of their cities and towns. Yes, men may hold most of the leadership positions in ancient and modern churches but it’s women who sway families, groups of youth, communities. Think about it, you probably know several families where the mother still brings her children to church even when  spouse isn’t interested, but the reverse is extremely rare. Hmm, maybe that’s why men hold so many leadership positions– because we are needed on the benches!

My little chess mavens taught me the best way to defeat the queen is to distract her; create all kinds of chaos around her, then take her down. Our world could scarcely contain more distractions for women– beauty secrets, social networks, PTA, Pinterest– we are expected to hide our wrinkles, watch our weight, serve the community, maintain a career (at least a little something on the side), all while nurturing children, making dinner and cultivating a happy marriage.

For me, staying on my game means making choices, eliminating too much busyness and shutting out the voices of discouragement. I’m determined to ignore those minions whispering cruelties in my ear. I’m brushing them off, stomping on their little tails and sweeping them out my back door. I need to live boldly, happily and guide my children along with me. No influence?! Look at these people I’m sending out into the world– honest, smart, good and kind.

No one can take me down; I’m the queen.


March 9, 2012


  1. Sarita

    March 10, 2012

    I thought of this, from the last page of Eliot’s Middlemarch, when I read the first part of your post:

    “But we insignificant people with our daily words and acts are preparing the lives of many Dorotheas…”

    I think Dorothea is the best and most kind person in the book, and the author goes on to say this about her:

    “Her full nature…spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life…”

    This seems to be so much of what being the “queen” is all about–a lifetime of unhistoric acts that determine so much of the future. Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. jks

    March 10, 2012

    This is really true. I feel like I really matter and make a huge difference in the lives of all my family members and my close friends. I like that now in my life I have a little bit of energy to widen my sphere of influence in new ways to help a wider circle, often at the same time as helping my own family.
    It is a motivating part of my life to know that I make a difference. It is amazing whawt I can do knowing that my kids are watching and I want to be a good example.

  3. Chocolate on my Cranium

    March 10, 2012

    I. Love. This. Post! It is so true that women have influence – for good or for ill – it is up to us to determine what kind of an influence we will have on our family and community. Using the queen in a chess game is brilliant {for those that understand chess}, which is, of course, why I never thought of it before. 🙂

  4. Peyton

    March 10, 2012

    After yesterday, I really needed this this morning. Thank you.

  5. Jenny

    March 10, 2012

    No one can take me down.


  6. Stephanie

    March 10, 2012

    This is a fantastic post. I like your intro, too. I feel that way on Sunday mornings when I am lying in bed trying to decide if I really want to get all 5 kids ready and to church by myself. The only thing that makes me get out of bed is knowing that my children need to be there. This motherhood thing is a powerful motivator!

  7. Catherine A.

    March 10, 2012

    Michelle – I loved this when I read it first on your blog. It is so full of wisdom and truth. Ruth is a sage sister to have. And I see your influence on your children. It is so very powerful. You inspire me to stay on my game too, to prioritize, stay focused. I love you. And I’ll say it here again, “Long Live the Queen!” xo

  8. Kerri

    March 10, 2012

    It’s daunting, really, the power of a mother. Thank goodness we have the grace of Christ to make up what we lack.

    Loved this on your blog and here.

  9. Michelle

    March 10, 2012

    I’ll say it again.


  10. Michelle

    March 10, 2012

    And I’ll say something more…not to take away from the key message of your post. But you need to know that you have influence on others, too, outside of your family. You may not believe it, but I do. And one of the reasons that is the case is because you understand the power of motherhood, and people feel it, and it has an impact.

    And I love you for that. We need more voices like yours, Michelle.

  11. Dave

    March 11, 2012

    Out of the mouth’s of babes!

    They may be the wiser ones…

  12. KDA

    March 11, 2012

    I wish that I had this level of confidence right now. I’m not ruling the kingdom very effectively right now because I’m letting my detractors rob me of my inner peace. Thanks for demonstrating this stance. Maybe I can crawl towards it myself some day — soon.

  13. honey

    March 11, 2012

    Love this, it’s all true. I ended up as the King/Queen of my family of 6 children. Luckily the angel in my ear whispered “they won’t have a chance if you give up too” 30 yrs. later I’m really glad that is the angel I listened to, and things incrementally have improved enough to know I did the right thing. Women, especially in the church have all the power we need to change the world.

  14. dalene

    March 11, 2012

    Loved this. Thanks!

  15. Greg

    March 11, 2012

    “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” … Matthew 11:28 >> New International Version

    Why dont you consider another faith system or church that doesnt seem like a burden.

  16. Michelle L.

    March 11, 2012

    Ah, but Greg, my faith does ease my burdens. When I pay attention to my faith I know who I am; it’s when I listen to all the other voices in the world that I lose my footing.

  17. Common One

    March 12, 2012

    You have articulated powerful and meaningful concepts about the true nature of decisions we make and the influence they will exercise over an eternity on many who you will never even know. Keep the Queen in play.

  18. Emily U

    March 12, 2012

    I’ve needed this message. It’s possible for any person to feel some of these negative self-images. I have a job, I just got done teaching night school, I have two children, and I still sometimes feel like my life is unimportant and my impact on the world is less than it should be.

    I don’t hold others to the same impossible standards I apply to myself, so I’m trying to be more realistic and accepting of myself. I really liked your post, Michelle.

  19. Charity

    March 12, 2012

    Thank you. I needed this reminder. My kids are all in school now, and sometimes I wonder if I still matter to them. I know that I do, it’s just different now than when they needed me for EVERYTHING. It helps to be reminded of the influence I have on them and others.

    No one can take me down.

  20. amelia bedelia

    March 12, 2012

    I, as the queen of my family, was almost taken down last summer due to seemingly insurmountable challenges. Thank goodness I had an amazing counselor who didn’t try to solve my problems, but made it possible for me to put myself back together and remember who I am and my potential to influence my family. Knowing that my kids won’t have much of a chance if I give up is motivation enough. Thanks for the post/topic/thoughts.

  21. bonnieblythe

    March 13, 2012

    I LOVE that metaphor! I’ve been a single parent forever, first as a wife in the congregation to a spouse on the stand, and then as a single mom bringing kids alone as soon as he was released. I know the power of the queen but I hadn’t thought about just how flexible I am! I can move ANYWHERE! I can zoom across the board in more directions than any other piece and I can reach anyone in a heartbeat. I am the most dangerous person on the board if you’re out to get my people. I love that. I believe that. And I’ve watched what happens to families in which the queen gets taken down. No wonder we’ve been hearing for decades how important the force of women is in this era. We own the cultural board. Nice metaphor.

  22. Melody Newey

    March 25, 2012

    “If you go home, I’m coming too!” says it all. And yet, you expanded that image so beautifully. Thank you.

    And ditto what honey said– It took everything I had to raise my kids alone. I won.

    They won too.

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