Monday, October 31, 2011

All Hallows

Note: Although this post doesn’t have much to do with the scriptures, it does sort of talk about the Church Handbook of Instruction, so that’s how I am justifying posting it on this blog. And I think you’ll get a kick out of my kids, and maybe you want to hear all about Halloween 2011.

Our ward does a Trunk or Treat every year on Halloween.

This year posed a problem.
Halloween was on Monday night.

Why is that such a problem? you ask.

Here’s why:

Monday nights are reserved for family home evening throughout the Church. No Church activities, meetings, baptismal services, games, or practices should be held after 6:00 p.m. on Mondays. Other interruptions to family home evening should be avoided. An exception may be made when New Year’s Eve is on a Monday.

That’s straight from the Church Handbook of Instructions. No ward activities on Monday nights.

However, somehow our ward got special permission (from the Stake Pres? From President Monson?) to do the Halloween chili cook-off and Trunk or Treat on a Monday night! I think it helped that the entire partay is in the parking lot. And the fact that it’s probably one of the biggest non-member/less actives drawing event. Everyone in the neighborhood comes (and brings chili) – even people who never come to Church on Sundays (or any other day of the week). DSCN6104I also think that a lot of neighborhood kids who are in other wards come and start their trick or treating out in our church parking lot. It’s safe, fun, and you get a warm bowl of chili! Plus, we usually start at 6pm and it’s not quite dark yet.

Keeping with tradition, we were about 30 minutes late (last minute costuming, last minute chili preparations… you know, the usual).

Last year we made the mistake of taking the kids on our street after the Trunk or Treat. Duh – all the people at the houses were the same folks at the Trunk or Treat. So this year we got smart and went to the neighborhood on the other side of the main road. The kids made it up one side and down half of the other side of one street (probably about 1/8 of a mile – which is pretty good for little ones!)

Toward the end, J’s bucket got so heavy she couldn’t carry it anymore! And by the last few houses, Papai was carrying her. But she really enjoyed everyone doting on her and gushing over her costume. J the paper doll. A costume that cost under $1. Score.

We also had one of those scary car-almost-running-over-small-trick-or-treater experiences with V. They had just scored some candy at a house with a very big, but gentle, Mast-weiler (Mastiff/Rottweiler mix – one of the most beautiful dogs I have seen!) and we were headed back down his walkway to cross his driveway to the sidewalk when a chick comes ripping into the driveway. V was already making his way to the sidewalk. I don’t think she saw him, but we yelled at him, and he took off toward their garage, away from the car. We were all freaking out, but there were no injuries, and after some great big hugs, we were all fine.

When we got home and started getting ready for bed, I was asking J if she had fun trick or treating. Of course she had fun. Here is the rest of our conversation:

  Me: What did you say when you went to the houses?
J: Trick or treat!
Me: And what did you get?
J: Candy!
Me: And then what did you say? (expecting her to say “Thank you” – my favorite part about trick or treating is getting to practice manners!)
J: Strawberries!

Me: …

Okay. Well, we’ll work on that.

Without Delay

(find the talk here – Doing the Right Thing at the Right Time, without Delay)

When Elder José L. Alonso spoke of losing his young son in Mexico city, my heart pounded and tears welled up in my eyes. I don’t know if it was just the mother in me, but hearing of any parent losing a child, whether temporarily, or for this life, evokes a lot of emotion in me. We lost site of our then three year old once in a big box department store, and I can still remember how my heart raced as we ran around the clothing department calling his name. I remember being grateful for the store employees who calmly communicated on their radios the situation, and our son was quickly located.

I appreciated Elder Alonso’s comment that they did not need a planning meeting to go to the rescue of their son. They “simply acted, going out in search of the one who had been lost.” I think that I am often guilty of waiting for instruction to go to the rescue. We recently started attending a new ward, and I want to serve and help people, but I haven’t received a visiting teaching assignment yet. That has been my (quite lame) excuse for not helping or serving more. Why am I waiting to be instructed to go to the rescue? I am sure that I am quite capable of searching out and helping those in need, and I know the Lord will help me in that effort if I actually step forward and go to work. Elder Alonso reminded us that “Each day we have the opportunity to give help and service—doing the right thing at the right time, without delay.” Why do I delay when the opportunities are all around me?

Elder Alson began his talk with this statement, “In our day many people are living in the midst of sadness and great confusion. They are not finding answers to their questions and are unable to meet their needs.” This made me think about times in my life when I have been in the “midst of sadness and great confusion,” feeling lost, and not finding answers to my questions. Thankfully, I have frequently been rescued by the help of wise parents, loving teachers, good friends, and righteous priesthood leaders. In those times, though, feelings of despair often threatened to overcome me. The rescue that I found was not necessarily those good people in themselves – they rescued me by reminding me of the Savior, sharing their testimonies and urging me to rely on Him. Indeed, “true happiness is found in following the example and teachings of Christ.”

Have you been rescued at times in your life? How do you go to the rescue of others? Do you need to be instructed before you go to the rescue? Or do you search and rescue when it is needed, “without delay”?

Find more insight on this talk over at
Diapers and Divinity’s General Conference Book Club

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

To Think About Jesus – violin obligato

So our Primary Presidency asked me to play a violin obbligato with the primary for the primary program in a few weeks. First, they asked me to play something with If I Listen With My Heart. The conversation went something like this:

Primary Gal: Hey, Becca, could you play your violin with the primary for If I Listen with My Heart?
Me: Sure! (I never turn down an opportunity to play the violin. Love love love my violin!)
Primary Secretary: Great. So… do you need us to get you some music…?  (I knew where this was going)
Me: I could just make something up.
Primary  Secretary (voice dripping with relief): That is exactly what we wanted to hear! Thank you so much!

About a week later

Primary Secretary: Hey, Becca, so could you play with To Think About Jesus instead?
Me (thinking how great it is that I am a procrastinator and haven’t even pulled out my violin since she first asked): Sure! No problem.

So this morning I was frantically scratching out an obligato part on MuseScore (a fabulous free, open source music composition program) because we were supposed to have practice for the Primary program at 10am. Around ten o’clock I finally print off the finished product (thankful that we live around the block from the chapel), load my violin and my Sunbeam (V) into the car, and off we go. I get to the church parking lot and it is completely empty. Oh snap, practice isn’t until next weekend.

Well, at least now I am prepared a week in advance!

And I thought perhaps I would share my arrangement in case any one else wants to use it (either for this year’s program or for whatever – family home evening, you know, or something).

Please feel free to share a link to this page (please don’t copy and distribute the actual image on your own blog). And if you use the music, please print it in it’s entirety with the copyright tag in place.

To Think About Jesus - violin obligato

If you would like a PDF copy (better quality for printing) don’t hesitate to email me at mysouldelighteth (at) and I’ll send one right your way!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friendly Friday

Stephanie over at Diapers and Divinity asked her readers to fill out her little ‘Find a Friend Friday’ questionnaire and link it up on her blog, and since Heather at Women in the Scriptures hasn’t posted her Friday  Five linkup today, I thought I’d just go ahead and do Stephanie’s link up (and maybe link it up over on Heather’s blog – hear that, Heather? I missed your Friday Five today! It was like missing a regular phone call from an old friend!) So here goes…

My name is Becca (‘Rebecca’ to less familiar acquaintances), I am a 25 year old mother of two and wife to a soldier. We live in Utah right now, and we’ll probably be here for a while (my hub’s job is starting to look like the prospects for upward movement will be good, so we’ll probably just ride that wave for a while – but who knows what might come along). In our first 5 years of marriage we moved eight times (several of those moves were back and forth between different states) and lived in Utah, California, Arkansas, and Arizona (and at times some of us lived in one of those states while the others were living in another state – it was gruesome, but we made it!). We love living in new places (we don’t like temporary living – we prefer semi-permanence, like one to two years) and would love to live in other countries. Our oldest (V) is four and a boy (all boy), and our youngest is a two year old girl (J).

I was born and raised in the great Southern state of Arkansas. My mom grew up in Utah and my dad is Canadian. They lived in Utah for a few years (where my dad graduated in social work from BYU) and then lived in Canada for a few years before moving to Arkansas for my dad to attend a masters program where my mom’s brother-in-law was a professor. Apparently when you come to Arkansas for grad school you never leave… I tell you all this so you know more about where I come from – because we have absolutely no ties to Arkansas except that my dad came from grad school and never left.

I was the middle child, with two older brothers, a younger sister, and a younger brother. My sister and I are best friends and were really close growing up (and are still very close – she’s basically my favorite person in the world and I want to be just like her when I grow up!) I went to BYU and studied Math and Physics and finished my degree while 5 months pregnant, with at 18 month old, and with my husband gone to military training. I couldn’t have done it without my wonderful in-laws (and I know my dad is very grateful to them, since I got married my sophomore year and he really wanted me to finish my degree). I worked from a while during school as a math teacher and/or math tutor, as well as a director for an afterschool tutoring/academics program at a therapeutic boarding school. I quit working when my oldest was about 12 months old, and I haven’t looked back! I was still going to school at the time, though, so I wasn’t completely a stay-at-home mom. That happened when we moved to California a few months before our little girl was born. It has been an adjustment for me (I was always doing something or going somewhere when I was in school) but I have really enjoyed being home with my kids. I still take on a few tutoring students to keep my math skills sharp, and I tutor occasionally for an online tutoring company.

What’s your favorite part of motherhood?
My favorite parts of motherhood are the bonding moments – reading/singing to my children, childbirth (I know, right? weird), breastfeeding, those little conversations. Getting to know these little spirits and learning to love them and teaching them to love.

What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could?
Probably cleaning. Which I guess isn’t entirely a part of motherhood, just a part of being human – but I would rather spend time with my kiddos than spend time cleaning. Maybe when they are a little older and cleaning with them is actually enjoyable (instead of, “Here, this is the way to do it.” and then turning around and “redoing” it for them…. *sigh*) it will be something else. Mostly I just wish there were more hours in the day because I really don’t mind much about motherhood – just that there never seems to be enough time to do it all.

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at?
I don’t know about being good at it, but I love music (I play the piano, violin, and I sing) and I have studied music for basically my entire life. At one point in high school I was playing in four different orchestras – the State’s youth symphony, my high school symphony (best in the state – boo yah), a college symphony, and a community symphony. I loved it soooo much and I still play in a local community symphony here in Utah. My sister (who also plays the violin) and I recorded an album, Tutti, for our family for Christmas (we only made 5 copies and gave them to grandparents, etc) It was loads of fun and we’ve been thinking about recording another one just because it was fun. My whole family is really musical – my oldest brother sang in the BYU Men’s Chorus, and my mom is probably one of the best piano teachers in Arkansas (and I’m not just biased – she really is).

What are you loving lately?
Working in my garden. Mostly because it’s getting cold and cold weather = no weeds! Woohoo! I just finished planting all my bulbs so I can’t wait for the spring when all the beautiful tulips, crocuses and daffodils start blooming. I also planted Asiatic lilies, irises, and day lilies and hyacinth. I want to put more shrubbery in and some grasses or something – interesting stuff that sticks around in the winter. Most of what I planted was in the beds when we moved here, but the house had been vacant so the flower beds needed a lot of revamping. I can’t wait to see everything in bloom again! We had so many tulips last year it’s going to be fun to have more flowers. Oh, and I moved a 7’ hibiscus tree a few weeks ago. All by myself. It was a beast, but I did it, and I hope I didn’t kill it. We’ll see next spring. I also canned a bunch of tomatoes from my vegetable garden. I always feel like I am learning about godhood when I work in the garden – I feel so creative, in a very real sense of the word. I also love all the life lessons you can learn from a garden – reaping what you sow, tending and cultivating our testimonies, weeding out bad habits, patience (plant in the fall, flowers in the spring, etc).

Tell us some of your best mom-tricks  (things you’ve figured out that work well for you).
Remember that your children are God’s children, that they are innocent, and that they never have ulterior motives (they aren’t trying to make your lives harder). Also, remembering that my job as their parent is to teach them rather than to make them do right, I find that I am a much better mother, and they actually respond to my teaching. I am here to learn just as much as they are, and I try to think about them as my partners in learning in this life. The right attitude in parenting makes a huge difference in their response to my actions.

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?
That Heavenly Father loves me and that He is with me. I was promised that I would have this knowledge and that nothing outside of me could ever affect that knowledge – I have known this for a long time, and it’s true – nothing besides my own doubts and fears has ever affected it. Sometimes I have grown weak in my testimony of other things, but I have always known that Heavenly Father loves me and He is with me. (this knowledge has translated to a knowledge that He is with everyone who wants to be near Him, and that He loves everyone, which has helped me to love other people). It is the one thing that I wish everyone knew, too – because it changes your life so much when you know that Heavenly Father knows you and loves you.

Give your best advice to a newlywed or expectant mom.
The best advice I received when I was pregnant with my first is something my cousin said to me (which someone else had said to her). I looked up to this cousin in just about everything so when she spoke, I listened. Here’s what she said to me: “When people give you advice about pregnancy and childbirth and parenting, just nod your head politely and then do whatever feels right to you, regardless of what anyone says.” This has been so powerful for me, because people will give you so much advice and some of it is good, and some of it is, forgive my harsh language, but it’s just crap. The best advice you will ever get is personal revelation you receive from communing with Heavenly Father. Keep that line open and listen to and do whatever He tells you to do. When people ask me for advice I always tell them what I did, and follow up with a disclaimer “But every situation is different, and every child is unique, so you’ll have to find out what works best for you.”

What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it?
My oldest brother passed away last summer after a grueling nine month battle with an aggressive cancer. My brother and his wife (no kids) left the Church shortly after they were married (they didn’t get married in the temple – which I actually respect him for – when I asked him about it, he said they didn’t believe that Jesus Christ was their Savior, so they didn’t want to get married in the temple just because all my family wanted them to). When he passed away the normal comforts of “you are an eternal family, you’ll see him again” just weren’t as sweet. It was a really trying time for me, and I had to study a lot about the spirit life, judgment, and the kingdoms of heaven, but what really “fixed” everything for me was a visit to the temple where I received some profound understanding about the situation, and a few weeks later when I taught the relief society lesson on the spirit world. I am now very hopeful about my brother, and I continue to pray for him. I have such a better understanding of this life, the next, and my brother – my “silver lining” I guess.

Now head over to Stephanie's Blog
to meet some more Friday Friends!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sacrifices and Things that Matter

This past weekend I did something crazy, insane, and kind of awesome. I ran a Ragnar Relay. If you don’t know much about that – you take a team of twelve people and you run, eat, sleep, and then do it all over again, 3 times. Here is what my weekend looked like: Thursday evening, drive to Las Vegas; Friday morning at 3:30am, wake up, don my running clothes, drive with 5 of my teammates to Lake Meade; Friday 6:30am, cheer off our first runner at the start, then drive and support her and the other two runners; Friday 9:00am, run my first leg, 7.3 miles; Friday (10am-7pm, drive along the route, supporting runners, spending a few hours sleeping on the lawn at a resort outside of Henderson, then drive some more – meanwhile, eat bagels, bananas, peanut butter, and other protein/carb snacks); Friday 7pm, run my second leg, 3.1 miles; Friday 8pm-Saturday 5am, drive, support, drive, sleep in the parking lot at a hotel in Primm, eat, support some more runners; Saturday 6am, start my third leg, 6.8 miles along a dirt road; Saturday 7:30am-10am, support the rest of the runners in my van; Saturday 11am, head to our teammate’s parents’ house in Las Vegas for showers, sandwiches, and some sleep – wait for other van to finish running so we can run through the finish line together.

Sounds crazy, right? It was. And fun.

Despite the fun and craziness, there were a few significant things that I learned from this weekend.

First, nothing is as important as keeping the Sabbath day holy. When we left for the race, I thought that because our team would be finishing on Saturday afternoon, we would leave straight from the race and head home. On the way to Las Vegas on Thursday, our team captain informed me that we would be coming home on Sunday. I was practically in shock. If I had known this I probably wouldn’t have even agreed to the race. I was sure she had told me previous to me joining the team – but I couldn’t be sure. I called my husband and we decided to buy me a plane ticket home after I finished running so that I wouldn’t have to drive home on Sunday. I made it home and we went to our Regional Stake Conference on Sunday where we listened to Elder Bednar. The first thing out of his mouth was a story about how his son chose not to play in a football tournament that was going to be on Sunday. And then how his sons gave up attending a college basketball game they wanted to attend – because it was going to be on a Sunday. Can I tell you how relieved I felt that I wasn’t driving up from Las Vegas during his talk? I don’t even know what those stories had to do with the rest of his talk (wrestling a four year old and two year old during conference might have had something to do with that) so I almost felt like his words were so that I would feel as if the Lord noticed my decision and approved of it.

And of course, as usual on Sunday, we end up talking to our kids about what appropriate activities are for the Sabbath – can you imagine if we were trying to teach our kids what appropriate Sabbath day activities are after I got home from a long drive on the Sabbath? And of course, they wouldn’t understand that I only drove on the Sabbath – they would probably think the whole race happened on Sunday. Actions speak louder than words.

Second, there are bad sacrifices, and there are good sacrifices. Was this a good one or a bad one? I listened to General Conference on my two longer legs. One my first leg, the last talk I listened to was President Uchtdorf’s talk from the General Relief Society Broadcast, and I didn’t quite finish it, so I listened to the rest of it at the beginning of my last leg. I don’t remember if it was at the beginning of the second leg, or at the end of the first leg when he talked about the good sacrifices and foolish sacrifices.

An acceptable sacrifice is when we give up something good for something of far greater worth…

How can we tell the difference for our own situation? We can ask ourselves, “Am I committing my time and energies to the things that matter most?”

This hit me like a brick when I was running. What was I doing? I was sacrificing sleep and general health to run a race. Four out of the six women in our car had mild-moderate stomach issues this past weekend. One had serious knee issues, and our team captain didn’t sleep once the whole weekend. For what? When I thought about what we accomplished on this relay, I figured that we accomplished two things: 1.) built good friendships, and 2.) demonstrated physical fitness by reaching a goal. Then I thought “Did we have to sacrifice what we did for these things?” I thought about the friendships I have built at Young Women camps, at Relief Society retreats, and during girls’ nights out to the movies. Did I need to spend three days not eating or sleeping in order to build those friendships? No. I am sure there are better ways to build friendships that don’t require such a sacrifice. Then I thought about the physical fitness aspect. I ran 17.2 miles total over the weekend. A marathon is 26.2 miles. My leg was one of the longer ones, with the longest leg being around 22 miles. None of us even ran as far as a marathon, which is definitely an accepted demonstration of physical fitness, and we sacrificed our health to do it. It reminded me of this example President Uchtdorf gave, “Giving up a little sleep to help a child who is having a nightmare is a good sacrifice. We all know this. Staying up all night, jeopardizing our own health, to make the perfect accessory for a daughter’s Sunday outfit may not be such a good sacrifice.”

Third, I must be really strange for not listening to inappropriate songs when I run – and listening to conference instead. While we were driving between our legs, we mostly just had the radio on. There was a particular song that came on frequently (we probably heard it 5-6 times this weekend). The words of this song are obscene and mostly talk about sex. The first time it came on I voiced my distaste for the song, and all the other girls were like, “Really? I love this song.” “Yeah, it has a great beat for running.” I realized how strange I must be not to like a song simply because the lyrics are inappropriate. At the beginning of my first leg, I mentioned that I was going to be listening to the General Relief Society broadcast (which would be almost perfect length for my first run). My team was almost all LDS. I was surprised at the responses, “I heard it once, that’s good enough for me.” “I couldn’t run to General Conference, it would be too boring.” etc, etc. I’m not some saint – I don’t profess to be perfect (which, ironically, is why I listen to General Conference – because I’m not perfect and I would like to be, so listening to the words of our prophets and other inspired leaders sounds like the best way to learn how to be perfect) – in fact, I listened to a lot of great 80s dance music on my second leg (which was my shortest) so that I could keep up a fast pace.

In short, I feel like the sacrifices I made for this run this weekend were not worth the return. If I want to make friends, I am sure I can find something equally as team-building without sacrificing health. If I want to accomplish a physical test, I will train for and run a marathon – more miles, less health sacrificing. I don’t think I will be doing a relay like this ever again. It was fun and I really enjoyed myself – but I think (at least for me) it was a foolish sacrifice, and I don’t have time in this life to be making foolish sacrifices. I need to be making good sacrifices.

I hope that we can all evaluate the choices we make, and the sacrifices we make, and apply President Uchtdorf’s test, “Am I committing my time and energies to the things that matter most?”

Am I?

Have you ever made a sacrifice and later realized that it wasn’t as good of a sacrifice as you thought it might be? Have you ever been “weird” – even among your friends of the same faith? How have you tried to keep the Sabbath day holy?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Being With God

We had the privilege of listening to Elder David A. Bednar at our Regional Conference on Sunday at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. He spoke about a lot of things, but one of the things that stuck with me the most was his admonition to study the life and character of the Savior, because we need to receive His image in our countenance – and in order to become like the Savior, we need to know the Savior.

I thought it was interesting that Elder Bednar specifically mentioned studying the gospels and 3 Nephi, because during the Relief Society Broadcast I felt a distinct prompting to study those exact scriptures – to really study the life of the Savior so that I could become more like Him.

As I have been reading in Matthew (I have a goal to finish the book of Matthew by the end of October, but I’m only on chapter 5… I guess I have a lot of reading to do in the next few days!) I have been trying to be mindful of the footnotes, including the Joseph Smith Translation. Last week I got to Chapter 4 where Jesus fasts for forty days and Satan tempts him. The Joseph Smith Translation makes some really significant changes in our understanding of what happened.

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be with God.” The King James Version says that the spirit led the Savior up into the wilderness “to be tempted of the devil” which sounds really strange – because we know that it is foolish to put ourselves in the position of being tempted by Satan. He gets enough chances to tempt us as it is, so why would we give him more opportunity? And surely the Savior would want to stay as far away from Satan as possible. I don’t think He said “Let me go find Satan and let him tempt me so that I can show him how tough I am.” That the Savior went into the wilderness to be “with God” makes a lot more sense. It also teaches us about the character of Christ – He valued being away from the world for at least a time, so that He could commune with God.

Jesus-fasting-in-the-wilderness As mothers, could our “wilderness” be escaping from our responsibilities as wives and mothers for a few moments? How often to we go “into the wilderness” (away from home) to be tempted of the devil? I can’t think of times when I have wanted to get away from home and my kids so that I can pursue worldly interests – maybe a career, maybe simply shopping. An example that comes to mind is the race I ran this weekend (more about that tomorrow). How often do we go “into the wilderness to be with God”? I can think of once when I left the kids at home with my husband so I could go to the temple. That one-on-one time with God was so healing for me, and so peaceful. When I came back home I was a much better mother. I need to spend more time in the “wilderness” with God rather than with other things. My wilderness comes in the mornings, usually, and sometimes it is hard to use those early morning hours for communing with God rather than reading news articles, “liking” Facebook posts, or  commenting on blogs, and before I know it, the children are awake and the opportunity is lost.

“And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, and had communed with God, he was afterward an hungered, and was left to be tempted of the devil.” It is significant to me that the Savior communed with the Lord before he was left to be tempted. He had been with God first, which I am sure gave Him strength for when Satan came around. Do we commune with God often enough that we have strength for when Satan comes around to tempt us?

When the King James Version says “then the devil taketh him up” to the different places, the Joseph Smith Translation clarifies that it was actually the Spirit taking the Savior to the different places. This makes sense, of course, because the devil has not power over Christ. It is almost as if the Spirit was taking Christ away from Satan, and Satan just kept tagging along like a lost puppy.

Elder Bednar pointed out the translation of verse 11: “Then the devil leaveth him, and now Jesus knew that John was cast into prison, and he sent angels, and behold they came and ministered unto him (John).” This translation is significantly different than the Savior having angels minister to Him. The Lord knew that John was in prison, and he had just been fasting for forty days and forty nights and had been dealing with the father of lies, and instead of worrying about himself, the Savior sent angels to minister to John.

I am so grateful for the scriptures and the opportunity I have to seek the Lord and find Him and learn about Him. President Uchtdorf has said, “The truth is, those who diligently seek to learn of Christ eventually will come to know Him.” I hope that as I seek the Lord I can diligently seek Him and eventually, come to know Him.

How do you diligently seek the Lord? Have you studied the life of Christ? Do you study His life frequently? Have you found that you are coming to know Him? What gems from the Joseph Smith Translation have you found that have helped clarify the character of Christ for you?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Follow the Prophet

Note: I originally wrote this post on October 18, 2010 on my family blog. I have been thinking about it a lot lately, and have decided to publish it on My Soul Delighteth. I think it belongs here.

On Sunday, October 3, 2010, President Boyd K. Packer, whom members of the church sustain to be a “prophet, seer and revelator” gave this talk.

As a prophet, President Packer’s responsibility is to call the world to repentance – much like Noah did in his day as he built the ark, like Lehi in Jerusalem, and like many other prophets in the past.

Unfortunately, as they did with Noah and Lehi, the world has rejected the words of the prophets, and have even gone so far as to petition him to withdraw his statements. This is not a new thing. It has happened again and again throughout history, and God’s word has always remained unchanged. As President Packer so bluntly put it:

...there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature...There are both moral and physical laws “irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world” that cannot be changed...To legalize that which is basically wrong or evil will not prevent the pain and penalties that will follow as surely as night follows day.

I respect everyone’s right to an opinion. But I also believe in God’s word, and I firmly believe in God’s prophets who deliver His word to us – especially in these latter days.

Satan is stirring up the hearts of men. A war is waging. “Who’s on the Lord’s side, who? Now is the time to show...” This particular battle hits really close to home for me. I have had to make some really difficult decisions about some people who are very dear to me. All I can think about is how to “love one another” while still being devoted to righteousness, and not “look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” This article, a Q&A with Elder Oaks and a member of the 70, has been particularly helpful.

In response to the petition I mentioned earlier, the brethren had this to say:

Much of this was not new, but there were a lot of really great things said. A few of my favorites:

“As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman.”
“None of us is limited by our feelings or inclinations. Ultimately, we are free to act for ourselves.”
“The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand and behavior on the other. It’s not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation.”

I don’t believe that there is a different "type" of person that is homosexual or “gay” - to me, that would be like saying people with black skin are somehow "different" than people with whiter skin (if you've read The Help you might see where I am going with that). I know that people will disagree, and that is fine. I believe that people have same-gender, or homosexual, attractions, and that they can sometimes be very strong. But they are still just children of God to me. If they choose to participate in homosexual behaviors, or live a homosexual lifestyle, then that is what they are doing. I believe that there is nothing fundamentally different between someone who struggles with same-gender attraction, and the rest of God’s children who struggle with something else. We are all children of God experiencing trials and struggles on this earth with Satan tempting us and trying us. We inhabit imperfect bodies with imperfect emotions and chemical make ups. We all face trials. (read more about that here)

God made man and woman. He created them specifically different – to fulfill different purposes. From The Family: A Proclamation to the World, “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

As I write this, I realize that I am not writing it to an audience of people who don’t believe in Christ and the atonement. I am writing it in hopes that someone who feels unsure about the word of God on this issue can maybe read my testimony and perhaps feel the spirit and have a little better understanding of God’s word.

It is not easy to stay true to the Savior. Especially in today’s social and political climate. There is so much of the Adversary’s influence in our societies that we can be easily confused by the arguments out there.

Sometimes I get very discouraged because the world is getting more and more wicked – good is called evil, and evil is called good. But I know that there is hope and happiness available to those who live the gospel – for those who earnestly call on God in the name of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ and ask for a confirmation of that which is true. The Spirit will guide us. I know that because I beg the Lord for His Spirit to be with me as I raise my children and feel like I don’t know anything. And he grants His spirit to me.

If there is one thing I know is absolutely true, it is that God lives and loves us and has given us living prophets on the earth to help guide us when we become confused about how to live in the world and not be of the world.

And I hope and pray that you will try to get that testimony for yourself.

Recommended reading:
Cleansing the Inner Vessel by President Boyd K. Packer
The Q&A with Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman
The Response to the HRC Petition
Many of These Articles
This Proclamation
Another Good Article by Elder Oaks

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Time Shall Come

(find the talk here)

I have been reading a lot lately about prophesies and their fulfillment. Maybe I was motivated to study the fulfillment of prophesy because I have been reading in Matthew, and that gospel is basically an accounting of all the prophesies that were fulfilled by the life of Christ.

Elder L. Whitney Clayton’s talk pointed out the fulfillment of several prophesies concerning the growth of the Church. I have always loved this quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith, “You know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap… this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.” I can’t even imagine being among the members there at that meeting – and now, that prophesy has come true. This Church is indeed filling the world. It is incredible!

President Hinckley’s prophesy is just as amazing, though we have not completely seen if fulfilled at this time. He said, “We have scarcely scratched the surface. …Our work knows no boundaries. … Those nations now closed to us will someday be open.” It will be amazing to see nations opened for missionary work that are close to us today. The nation I am most excited for is China. Can you imagine what will happen when China is opened for missionary work? I can only imagine the rapid growth that will happen there.

I saw this video once in a Sunday School class years ago, and it was amazing to watch the growth of the Church happen right before your eyes.

“This work of the Lord is indeed great and marvelous, but it moves forward essentially unnoticed by many of mankind’s political, cultural, and academic leaders.” It is ironic that the growth of the Church has been so rapid, so world-encompassing, and yet people have hardly noticed. I loved that Elder Clayton pointed out “It progresses one heart and one family at a time,silently and unobtrusively, its sacred message blessing people everywhere.” This is probably the reason the growth goes unnoticed. There are not huge mass baptisms. Large groups of people don’t join the Church all at once. Conversion is a personal event, something that happens to one person’s heart. And as each person joins the Church and begins living the gospel, other hearts are touched. The Lord’s work progresses on an exceptionally personal level - “one heart and one family at a time.”

“Our most important message, which we are both divinely commissioned and commanded to take everywhere in the world, is that there is a Savior. He lived in the meridian of time. He atoned for our sins, was crucified, and was resurrected. That matchless message, which we proclaim with authority from God, is the real reason this Church grows as it does.” At our Regional Stake Conference yesterday, Elder David A. Bednar talked about this principle. We cannot be converted to programs, people, or policies. We are converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ – which is that He lives and that He atoned for our sins. Sometimes I think that we lose sight of the “most important message” of the Church. We need to remember that our message is of the Savior – and that is the message that we need to take to the world.

When we think about the gospel we need to remember that “this mighty latter-day work is not about [us]. It is the work of Almighty God and His Son, the Prince of Peace.” This work isn’t about the Prophet Joseph Smith – it isn’t about any of the prophets, it isn’t about us, it isn’t about our neighbors, our bishop, or anyone else – this work is about our Father and His Son. We are humble recipients of what they have to offer us, and their work will go forth regardless of our imperfections. Yesterday Elder Bednar testified that He alone does not have any of the capacity or ability to be an apostle – but that through the atonement of the Savior and through the power of the Holy Ghost, he is made to be more than he is. I loved Elder Bednar’s thoughts about that and I think they fit in with Elder Clayton’s testimony that this work is God’s work. We participate in God’s work as we allow the Savior to make us more than we are – and God does his work through us, but it is still God’s work. And we would do well to remember that.

In what ways have you seen prophesy fulfilled around you? In the world? Do you remember that this work is God’s work? Have you felt your abilities and capacities enlarged through the Lord?

Find more insight on this talk over at
Diapers and Divinity’s General Conference Book Club

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Sabbath Part V – Worthy and Holy Activities

(This is Part V of a five part series on The Sabbath)

Several months ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a recent convert to the Church. I mentioned something about not going to the pool on Sunday, and she said to me, “Wait, we can’t go to the pool on Sunday?” My friend was sincerely wanting to learn more about the Sabbath, and later when she and her boys moved in with us for a few weeks, we had an opportunity to talk more about the Sabbath.

The first thing that struck me when she asked, “Wait, we can’t go to the pool on Sunday?” was that word “can’t.” To me, it’s not as much about can’t  as it is about don’t. We don’t go to the pool (or participate in other recreational activities) on the Sabbath because we are too busy participating in “worthy and holy activities.” President Kimball said, “The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things.” Of course, that leaves us with the question “What is a worthy or holy activity?”

When the Church reorganized the meeting schedule to have only the three hour block of meetings on Sunday, they issued some instruction about what to do with all the time they would now have on the Sabbath. When before, families were attending meetings or traveling between meetings nearly all Sunday long, now they would attend their three hour block, then have the rest of the day to choose their activities. “Because the new schedule will give families time together on Sundays, parents will want to plan activities for the Sabbath that will spiritually strengthen the family.” So there is the key – worthy and holy activities will be those that spiritually strengthen families.

The Family Home Evening Manual has a really good “test” for Sabbath day activities. “To determine whether a specific activity is appropriate, ask, ‘Does it bring me closer to my Heavenly Father?’” This should be a pretty easy question to answer,  but the answer for this question might not be the same for every person. Each of us must ask this question about our own situation. Prayerfully ask this question, and you will probably be keeping the Sabbath day holy.

President Kimball had some suggestions for appropriate Sabbath day activities. “The Sabbath … is a day for consistent attendance at meetings for the worship of the Lord, drinking at the fountain of knowledge and instruction, enjoying the family, and finding uplift in music and song.” He also said that to observe the Sabbath day, “one will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, writing letters to missionaries, taking a nap, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day at which he is expected.”

The Church News listed some good suggestions as well.

[Families] may wish to spend some time with the family each Sunday in gospel discussion and instruction, under the direction of the head of the household. They may use the scriptures, the most recent general conference talks, family home evening manuals, Church publications, and other publications as a resource.

Other appropriate Sunday activities include (1) writing personal and family journals, (2) holding family councils, (3) establishing and maintaining family organizations for the immediate and extended family, (4) personal interviews between parents and children, (5) writing to relatives and missionaries, (6) genealogy, (7) visiting relatives and those who are ill or lonely, (8) missionary work, (9) reading stories to children, and (10)singing Church hymns.

As somewhat of an illustration of what is not appropriate for the Sabbath, President Kimball shared this story, “A seminary group planned a service in the mountains on Sunday. They felt justified in the have their meeting and enjoyed a spiritual hour together, but after that hour the day became a day for picnicking, games, hiking,and climbing, with no further thought of the Sabbath. The one hour of devotion did not make of that day a holy day.” We have to make sure that we don’t fall into the mindset of being able to whatever we want to on the Sabbath just because we spent a few hours meditating and studying the gospel.

Further, the Church News article stated, “Many activities are not appropriate on the Sabbath day, such as gardening, family parties, and household projects. Families may wish to plan family household and recreational activities for Saturday or other weekdays when parents are home with their children.” I thought it was interesting that they included “family parties” in this, because I know many people who use Sunday dinner as an excuse to get all the family together, but often that means getting together for a very labor-intensive meal, followed by chatting, games, movies, or other not-so-appropriate Sunday activities. It would be one thing if a mother and father had all their grown children over on the Sabbath for a light dinner (think sandwiches, or a crockpot soup prepared the night before, or a casserole or something prepared the night before) and followed their dinner with a gospel discussion, reading from the scriptures and the words of the prophets, or watching Church videos about Christ and the plan of salvation. But too often, “visiting family” on the Sabbath turns into a chance to “play” with your family, watch a movie together, and partaking in worldly activities.

Our situations are all different, and that is the beauty of personal revelation. The Lord can help us find, through revelation, the activities that are appropriate for the Sabbath and the things that will bring us closer to Him and help us worship Him on His holy day. Whether you are single, married with no children, a part member family, or a grandma and grandpa with many grown children, you can still put forth an effort to keep the Sabbath day holy, and the Lord will bless your efforts.

The prophet Isaiah taught

If thou turn away … from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways,nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

The Sabbath day isn’t a day to deprive us of “fun” things – it is a day for us to practice putting our will in line with the Lord’s will, finding the things that He would have us do, and growing closer to Him in the process.

What a blessing it is that the Lord would set aside an entire day so that we can devote all that time to growing closer to Him without having to worry about all our worldly cares!

So this Sunday, as you plan activities with your family, ask yourself, “Does it bring me closer to Heavenly Father?”

What kinds of activities do you participate in on the Sabbath? Do you have specific struggles that make Sabbath day observance a challenge?

Part IV

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Fragments


I am running the Las Vegas Ragnar Relay this weekend! (I am actually writing this post on Thursday, and our run start time is at 6:00am, so I am probably either already running, or getting ready to run my first leg! 7.3 miles downhill, whoa!) I am running with my mother-in-law and a bunch of her friends, and a friend of mine from our ward who we roped into it at the last minute because we ran out of substitutes and too many of our runners got injured in other races… bummer!2

I attended a beautiful wedding last weekend of a dear childhood friend. We have  known each other since we were in primary, and in fact, our last primary teacher (our teacher when we were all turning 12 and going into Young Women’s) was at the wedding! It was so nice to see her. She made a profound impact on all of our lives. She was young and single and ended up getting engaged and married while she was our teacher. She only taught us for about 9 DSCN6070months, but I think that she was by far one of the most significant teachers in my life. I have had so many good teacher who have truly loved me and cared for me it is incredible! I am trying to learn to have more love for people, like these great teachers have shown me.

The wedding was beautiful, and they had a bishop marry them (my friend has been less active since college, and her new husband is not a member). It was a really nice ceremony, and the bishop did a great job. I am so happy for my friend and her new husband, and I am grateful that I was able to be there for that special time for her. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding, nearly six(!) years ago.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Because the wedding was in my home state (Arkansas) last weekend, I flew there (all by myself! No kids!) and stayed with my brother and sister-in-law one night, my dear cousin the next night, and then my mom and dad the last night I was there. It was a whirlwind trip, but I loved getting to see everyone. The first morning I was there up at my brother’s house I went for a run in the morning before I had to leave for the wedding. I got up, ate breakfast, laced up my running shoes and as I was doing it I felt strange. I didn’t figure out exactly what it was until I was running and thinking about things (I feel like I am close to Heavenly Father when I run – just me, my feet methodically striking the pavement, and this particular time, listening to General Conference talks). I felt like something was missing, and I realized that I didn’t have any responsibilities here, away from my home. I didn’t have children to tend, dishes to wash, or laundry to do – and instead of feeling liberating, it felt scary. I am a mother and wife, first and foremost – so how do I live if I am not living for my family? It was the first time that I realized how much I truly love being home, taking care of my children, my husband, and my home. I don’t like being away from home and away from my family. I thought I would like it. Love it, even. For months leading up to the wedding weekend I was sure that I was going to be so glad to spend a weekend away from it all – the screaming, the crying, the potty accidents, the dishes, the picky eaters. But instead I missed it. I missed having to arrange for someone to tend the kids while I ran. I missed having to wash the dishes and start a load of laundry before I could get out the door. I didn’t like being able to do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it.

I wanted to be a mother – with everything that encompasses. And I missed it this past weekend. I am leaving again this weekend for that Ragnar Relay, and I realized that I don’t want to go away again! I want to stay home! I want to take care of my kids and my house and my family.  4 DSCN6060 DSCN6061
I am making a Reverence Book for the kids for Church. This is just the “reverent child” page. The thought bubble is going to have a flip book of pictures of Jesus that my four-year-old picked out at the distribution center. I had searched and searched for a Quiet Book I could make for the kids that would help them participate in Sacrament meeting, rather than distract them from Sacrament meeting. When I finish the book (sometime next week, hopefully) I will post pictures of the finished book and a post about teaching children to worship in Sacrament meeting. I am really excited about this Reverence Book, even though it has been a lot of work (I had to make up the pattern myself…) 


If you won a picture from my giveaway and you are wondering where your print is, I promise I will send them. They are sitting on top of my desk with addresses attached, waiting to be mailed. I have been so busy going out of town and such, and it’s been kind of a rough month, so I will probably mail them out the first of November. No promises, though. I will try my best to get them to you by Christmas. Ha ha.

Meet some other crazy folk over at Heather’s Friday Five linkup.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Personal Revelation and Testimony

(find the talk here)

My very favorite quote from this talk, and something that has been on my mind since General Conference, was the quote from Eliza R. Snow, “Let them seek for wisdom instead of power and they will have all the power they have wisdom to exercise.” I have felt this principle in my life – as I seek for wisdom, as I study the scriptures and listen to the prophets and ask the Lord for revelation, I feel as if there is a power within me to do the right thing, to know what and how to teach my children, to know how to talk to my husband, and how to act in many other relationships in my life. I have a really hard time when I do not know what I should do in a situation, or when I do what seems like it would be the right thing, and it ends up hurting people or causing more trouble than there originally was. A few years ago, when my son was a toddler, I would get exasperated when he would cry endlessly and furiously and I could not figure out what the problem was. I would shut myself in my bedroom and pour out my heart to the Lord,  begging Him to reveal to me what I should do as a mother. I did, and still do, have faith that the Lord blesses my efforts as a mother, and that as I come to Him in faith, with an open mind and an open heart, He will reveal His will for me as a mother. And I testify that He has.

The story that Sister Barbara Thompson told of Nephi and his brothers, and their trouble receiving revelation, is a very good description of those who don’t seek revelation, and an illustration of the principles to follow in order to receive revelation. When his brothers did not know that what Lehi (their father) had taught them was true, Nephi asked them, “Have ye inquired of the Lord?” The brothers’ excuse for not asking was a little contradictory. They told Nephi, “We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.” Obviously the Lord would not make anything known to them if they hadn’t asked yet. The Lord tells us “ask, and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” We can’t expect God to just come down and tell us what we should do if we don’t even ask first.

In another talk in October General Conference, Elder J. Devn Cornish mentioned that “But because He will not infringe upon our agency, we must ask for His help.” Of course, revelation and testimony fall under the same principle. The Lord does not usually reveal things to people who do not ask sincerely for revelation. Some notable exceptions are Alma the Younger (whose father, and many members of the Church prayed for Alma to be “brought to a knowledge of the truth” – however, the choice to repent was still Alma’s), and Saul of Tarsus who saw Christ while he was running around persecuting Christians (who in the end had a choice whether or not to follow the Savior). And, of course, even Nephi’s brothers, Laman and Lemuel, had seen angels and miracles – and yet they still did not believe in the things their father was teaching them. Because in the end, it was their choice – whether to believe or not.

Revelation can come in a lot of different ways. Sister Thompson highlighted several of those. Sometimes, we don’t feel the spirit or receive revelation in just one way. When I received my patriarchal blessing, I was told that there was a principle of the gospel that I would know for sure and I would feel it was true by a burning in my bosom. For a long time, I thought that was how the Spirit would always speak to me. But as I have grown in the gospel, I have experienced the Spirit speaking to me in nearly all of the ways Sister Thompson pointed out. Specifically, I have heard a voice, clearly speaking to me. Other times revelation has come as a thought to my mind – recalling a scripture, or a quote, or something I had thought before. I have seen visions in my mind (which could probably also be classified under “thoughts”). Revelation and inspiration frequently comes to be when I listen to music – through the words of the songs I listen to.

Sister Thompson said, “Our testimonies fortify us and strengthen us as we face challenges in our daily lives.” I can’t tell you how true this is! This year has been full of many trials for me, serious challenges that have at times crushed my heart. But as I remember my testimony, I am given strength to bear my trials, and often I am given inspiration and revelation how to deal with those trials, and frequently how to make them easier to bear, or solve those trials that can be resolved. I echo Sister Hedwig Biereichal’s testimony as she said, “I didn’t keep a testimony through those times—the testimony kept me.”

Have you asked sincerely for revelation and received it? How have you obtained a testimony? How does the Spirit speak to you? Does your testimony keep you in hard times? How do you strengthen and preserve your tes

Find more insight on this talk over at
Diapers and Divinity’s General Conference Book Club

Some other good blog posts about Sister Thompson’s talk:
Whisperings of the Spirit
Living a Big Story

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Their Mother

One of my favorite articles of all time is titled Washing, Weeding, and Worshipping. It is more or less a tribute to a mother who “wove gospel teachings into everyday activities.”

As I re-read this article a few months ago (the first time I read it it was before I had children of my own – I think it was even before I was married or even engaged) I thought “This is how I want my children to think of me when they are older.” And that got me thinking about the kinds of things I want my children to say about me when they are grown. I decided that I would write down a “tribute” to myself written from the eyes of my grown children. I know that sounds a little self-absorbed, but I think of it as writing down a goal of what I want to be. If I can imagine what my children will say about me when they are grown, I will have something to live up to – expectations to live up to.

This past General Conference, as Sister Barbara Thompson spoke about cleaving to covenants, I was gently reminded by the Spirit about this idea to write down what I want my grown children to say about me.

And so here I write what I want my children to say about me when they are grown. This is not a description how I see myself right now – but it is how I would like to be…

what I want my children to say about me when they are grown

All through my life there have been a few things I know for sure. One of those things is that my mother loves me, and another is that she has a testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

When I would make a mistake, or go down a wrong path, my mother would gently show me the way to go, and hold my hand until I got back on the right path. She taught me how to repent, and she taught me that repentance is not scary, but the joyful way we come back to the Lord when we have made a mistake. I watched her repent. When she would make a mistake, she would admit it, and I could tell that her heart would break a little. But then I would watch her pray to Heavenly Father and I could see her trying to do better afterwards, and the joy you could see on her face was indescribable. She had a way of teaching by example.

She taught me to be a missionary, and to share my testimony. She was always posting videos from the Church on her social networking pages, and always blogging about the gospel and the scriptures. She was fearless in declaring her beliefs, but was respectful of the beliefs of others at the same time. She studied the gospel every day and memorized scriptures. She would always be quoting some scripture or other that applied to our life circumstances at the moment. She truly sought first to obtain the word.

She also had a song for every occasion. More often than not, those songs came from the hymns or from the Children’s Songbook. She was always singing. We loved to sit with her around the piano and sing the hymns. She never pressured us to live the gospel – only invited us. And she made it look like so much fun that we couldn’t help accepting her invitation!

She adored our father. She was always doing nice things for him, and always had something nice to say about him to her friends. She never spoke negatively about father, and as far as we could tell, never though negatively about him either. He was her first priority. Our interjections of “Mamãe!” we frequently met with “I’m talking to your father right now, you’ll have to wait.” She enjoyed being with him and would drop whatever she was doing to greet him when he came in the room, or to listen to what he had to say.

She made life fun. She always had something for us to do, and it was always something fun – even if it was a “chore” – she made it fun for us. She always praised us for a job well done, even if we hadn’t done the job perfectly. She rarely criticized our actions, and was rarely disappointed in us. Whenever we fell short of her expectations for us, she would simply spend more time teaching us, walking beside us, and caring for us as we tried to live the gospel as she taught us.

She taught us how to love others. We learned from her that everyone is a child of God. She wouldn’t let us speak ill of any person, and she herself never spoke ill of anyone. She always found a positive light for every person, every situation, and every action. She taught us not to judge people for their actions, because we can never completely know their heart. She taught us how to serve and take care of those in need. Our home was open to anyone who needed a warm bed, a hearty meal, or simply a family to love them. My mother especially loved children. Any child was as precious as us to her, and she would do anything in her power to help every child have the opportunity to succeed.

She taught us to obey the commandments. Especially the law of the Sabbath and the law of the tithe. But instead of seeing commandments as a chore, mother made them seem exciting to live. We loved finding new ways to worship the Lord each Sunday, and mother let us help choose ways to worship.

Mother taught us to “seek ... out of the best books wisdom.” She always made sure we had books, and would read to us consistently. We loved to gather around mother as she would read to us from the scriptures and from other good books. When we left home, we each had our own collection of good books to take with us. Mother made sure of it.

Mother taught us to be like the Savior because she was like the Savior.

What kinds of things do you want your children to say about you when they are grown? Will they know the Savior better because they saw Him in you? Will they “not doubt their mothers knew” the gospel was true?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Being Mormon – the Priesthood in the Family

(read the handbook of instruction here)

One of perhaps the most misunderstood principles of the Gospel (both outside and inside the LDS Church) is that of the priesthood and patriarchal leadership. I have to admit, until I attended a class at BYU Campus Education Week back in August, I didn’t really completely understand it either.

We believe that the father (hopefully a Melchizedek Priesthood holder) “presides in righteousness and love, serving as the family’s spiritual leader. He leads the family in regular prayer, scripture study, and family home evening.” We call this the “patriarchal order” and some people have a hard time with it.

First, let me talk about the priesthood. When a young man turns 12, he is ordained to the Aaronic (or “preparatory”) priesthood. Basically this priesthood is teaching young men how to be worthy Melchizedek priesthood holders. As a young man grows up, and as his knowledge increases, and as he remains worthy, he is ordained to each additional office of the Aaronic priesthood – a teacher, at fourteen; and a priest, at sixteen. When he turns eighteen, with plans of serving a full time mission, his ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood in the office of an Elder – now ready to preach the gospel to the world, and to ordain others to the priesthood (as authorized by Church leaders).

One of the biggest hang ups that some people have about men holding the Priesthood is just that – it’s men who hold the Priesthood. Many people (inside and outside the Church) assume that means that the LDS Church is a chauvinistic, man-run organization. That men get to tell the women what’s up, and that women are somehow inferior to men.

Not so.

First let me quote from The Family: A Proclamation to the World: “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” (emphasis added) So, if men and woman are “equal partners” then why don’t women have the priesthood? The short answer is that they do have the priesthood (or at least all the power of the priesthood). By the Holy Ghost, which is received at baptism, women have all the power of the priesthood within them that men have. (see D&C 84: 64-68)

Many gospel principles come in pairs, and if you take them out of their pairs, they get all messed up. Take faith and works – by faith we are saved through the grace of Jesus Christ, but faith without works is dead. We need both. Again, justice and mercy – we don’t need mercy if there wasn’t justice that needed to be satisfied, and we couldn’t satisfy justice without mercy (and still return to Heavenly Father) because we are all so imperfect. When we look at gospel principles as a whole, things make so much more sense.

So, we have the doctrine of patriarchal order in the Church – the Priesthood holder (a man) is the spiritual leader (notice I said spiritual – and it pretty well stops there). But we also have a very important doctrine that men and women are complete equals as well. President Howard W. Hunter said, “A man who holds the priesthood accepts his wife as a partner in the leadership of the home and family with full knowledge of and full participation in all decisions relating thereto.” Women have full participation in all the decisions a man could make when it comes to the leadership of the home. The way our instructor at Education Week described it was the husband and wife are co-presidents, rather than the man “president” of the home and the wife “vice-president” – they are co-presidents, each holding equal veto power for all decisions, and making all decisions together. Being a little more stern, President Hunter continued, “For a man to operate independent of or without regard to the feelings and counsel of his wife in governing the family is to exercise unrighteous dominion.” So this principle of equality between man and woman is actually very significant and important. A husband is not the “head” of the family – he presides over the family – and it is a spiritual presiding.

What does that mean? What does it mean to preside spiritually over something?

Let’s look to the life of the Savior. The Savior is the spiritual leader of everything. He’s basically the end-all,  be-all of spiritual leadership – and rightly so, since it is His Church. But how did the Savior lead? He blessed children, He healed people, He washed His disciples feet. “

He led by serving.

And so it is with the priesthood. There is something significant about the priesthood, and that is the priesthood can never be used for personal benefit. A man who holds priesthood cannot give himself a blessing – he has to ask another priesthood holder for that blessing. And another significant principle of the priesthood is that every woman on the earth has available to her every blessing of the priesthood. What’s that you say? Every blessing. There is nothing a man can receive that a woman cannot receive – including blessings of the priesthood. In the same talk, President Howard W. Hunter said, “Of necessity there must be in the Church and in the home a presiding officer.” That presiding officer comes from the priesthood – but remember, the presiding officer is really the serving officer. Basically, then, a man is given the priesthood of God so that he will serve. Serve his family, serve the Church, serve God, serve others.

So the priesthood calling and authority is really just a calling to serve – and women have that same calling and authority, just no formal ordination to the priesthood – however, we are entitled to the power and blessings of the priesthood. There is nothing keeping us from anything the priesthood has to offer. President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “While the sisters have not been given the Priesthood, that does not mean that the Lord has not given unto them authority.  Authority and Priesthood are two different things.  A person may have authority given to him, or a sister to her, to do certain things in the Church that are binding and absolutely necessary for our salvation, such as the work that our sisters do in the House of the Lord.”

To better understand this concept – that no blessing or power of the priesthood is withheld from women – I recommend an article written by Heather at Women in the Scriptures about the history of Relief Society sisters blessing each other. It is a really interesting article, and very enlightening. I want to share part of a scripture that she quoted.

"Therefore, as I said unto my apostles I say unto you again, that every soul who beleiveth on your words, and is baptized by water for the remission of sins, shall receive the Holy Ghost. And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name they shall do many wonderful works; In my name they shall cast out devils; In my name they shall heal the sick...." (D&C 84: 64-68)

From Heather’s post, she said “The gift to heal is a gift given to all the followers of Christ, male and female. Women in the early days of the church often participated in healing as demonstrations of faith… Women who gave blessings never claimed priesthood power but always closed their blessings in the name of Jesus Christ.” And that “Joseph Smith clarified that women had the gift to heal and administer because of their faith and not because of their priesthood authority.” Women are eligible for every single blessing of the priesthood, because those blessings only come through the Holy Ghost, which is bestowed by the priesthood. Women can and do receive all the blessings of the priesthood.

In the Church Handbook of Instructions, the section I am reading today has a heading “Use of Priesthood Authority.” In this section, there is instruction given on delegating priesthood authority. If you still aren’t convinced that women can have ever blessing of the priesthood, let me tell you that they are also organized under priesthood authority and are given authority to preside in the Church. When the prophet Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society, he told them “This organization is divinely made, divinely authorized, divinely instituted, divinely ordained of God to minister for the salvation of the souls of women and of men.” (Daughters in My Kingdom, p.7) The Handbook of Instruction says that “Priesthood leaders can delegate authority by assigning others to assist them in fulfilling a calling.” By delegating responsibilities to Relief Society presidencies, Young Women presidencies, and Primary presidencies, and other callings, women have, by delegation, authority over their callings, under the direction of their priesthood leaders.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The ultimate illustration of the participation of women in the priesthood is that the priesthood needs woman for exaltation (to live with God and receive all that He has), and woman needs the priesthood for exaltation. A man holding the priesthood cannot be exalted without a woman, and a woman cannot be exalted without a man holding the priesthood. The full blessings of the priesthood can only be obtained with a man and a woman enter into the new and everlasting covenant of the priesthood – that of eternal marriage.

Do you feel that men and women are equal? Do you understand your priesthood privileges? How do you experience the blessings of the priesthood in your life? How do you bless others because of the priesthood?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book of Mormon Blog Hop

Scripture Power

This is V’s favorite song these days. He hadn’t heard it before we started attending our English speaking ward. The first day he heard it he came home from Church singing “Scripture Power is the power to win!” and pumping his fist in the air like some crazy activist. But the words are true, and the tune is catchy, so it’s perfect for him.

Yesterday we read Elder Scott’s talk from October General Conference for GCBC, The Power of Scripture. There is definitely power in the scriptures. We have been trying to teach our children the stories of the scriptures.

Each day I try to have the kids pick a picture from the Gospel Art Book and then I read to them the story (direct from the scriptures), and ask them questions about what is going on in the book. Usually we do this at meal time – either breakfast or lunch. I find that my children are more attentive when they are sitting still (and eating helps them sit still). We have read the story of David and Goliath, the story of Captain Moroni, and the story of Jesus calming the sea. There are pictures to so many of the scripture stories in this book, I am excited to share them all with my children.

Our children also watch the Church’s Scripture Story videos. They are produced by the Church and are simply still motion videos of the Scripture Story books also produced by the Church. I love these books because they are a very simple introduction to the stories of the scriptures. Of course, they do not replace reading the actual words of the scriptures, but the nice thing about the books is that they include the scripture reference for each picture, so if you want, you can read the actual text from the scripture to go along with the pictures. We often do that for our family scripture study.

I am always excited to share the scriptures with my children, and it is a blessing to have all these materials made available by the Church to help us teach them about the scriptures. I need to be more consistent in sharing the scriptures with my children so that they will develop a testimony of the power of the scriptures in their lives.

How do you teach your children about the scriptures? Do you read to them? Do you show them pictures? Do you have a schedule? Are you consistent? What resources do you use?

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Power of Scripture

(find the talk here)

I love the scriptures. Just last night my husband and I were talking and reading to each other from the scriptures and I got excited over them! It felt like when I was in college and I would understand a new physics or math concept and I just got all warm and fuzzy inside, knowing that I had just learned something amazing. The feeling I get from reading the Book of Mormon is usually more like an old friend, hearing the plan of salvation explained the way it is over and over again in the Book of Mormon makes my heart leap for joy. But in the same moment, I get the excitement of learning something new, as I did in college when I was learning so many new things.

Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk at October General Conference resonated deeply with me. As you can tell from the title of this blog, My Soul Delighteth, I love the scriptures. I always have. My favorite part about Seminary as a youth was memorizing the scripture mastery verses. Unfortunately, as I graduated and moved on from Seminary, I didn’t keep all of those scriptures memorized – I didn’t refer to them as I should have, and I didn’t add to my “collection” of memorized scriptures. They have faded away, like an old friend we loose touch with.

Elder Scott’s talk inspired me to re-memorize those scripture mastery verses, as well as add new scriptures to my arsenal of memorized scriptures - “packets of light.”

The scriptures are incredibly important in our lives. They are one of the tools Heavenly Father has provided for us to “be successful in our mortal probation.” The scriptures are “a type of handbook.” If you wish God had written a handbook about life, He did – it is the scriptures. If you wish God had written a handbook for parenting, He did – it is the scriptures. The scriptures can enlighten our minds and help us find solutions to all of life’s difficult challenges. Elder Scott said that scriptures “can become the key to open the channel to communion with our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.” If you are wondering how to communicate with Heavenly Father, the answer is to read the scriptures. Through the scriptures you can find answers to your problems, and they will open the door to personal revelation and inspiration from Heavenly Father.

“Learning, pondering, searching, and memorizing scriptures is like filling a filing cabinet with friends, values, and truths that can be called upon anytime, anywhere in the world.” Over and over again as Elder Scott spoke of the scriptures, I felt inspired to memorize scriptures. Scriptures that I have memorized have come to my mind at important times in my life, and have been those “friends” that I have needed. I was intrigued by Elder Scott’s declaration that “Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior. They can accelerate physical healing.” I knew the first part, sure – that scriptures can help us overcome the challenges of life. However, when he spoke of the scriptures healing emotional challenges and accelerating physical healing, my curiosity was piqued. Really? I have been enduring so many emotional challenges lately, and I desperately need healing. Perhaps as I immerse myself in the scriptures I will receive a more powerful healing.

The interesting thing about life is that our perspective changes every day – nearly every minute. The more we live, the more our perspective changes, just because we are having more experiences. “A scripture that we may have read many times can take on nuances of meaning that are refreshing and insightful when we face a new challenge in life.” Just last night I experienced this as I read the story of Amalickiah and the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon. I was reminded of Governor Bogg’s extermination order in Missouri. I was reminded of Hitler’s attempted extermination of the Jews in Europe, and the brave people who helped Jews hide and escape. And then I gained new insight about the way Satan works to carefully lead us down to @#!*% . I have read this story before, but as I have grown in the gospel, my perspective has changed and my understanding has increased.

One of the scriptures that Elder Scott quoted struck me today. He quoted Samuel who said, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel  15:22) Last night my husband and I were talking about how interesting it was the the descendents of Lehi and Ishamael had the fullness of the gospel on the American continents (even though they still obeyed the Law of Moses) while in the middle east, the children of Israel could barely even keep the Law of Moses. We compared Laman and Lemuel to the children of Israel who saw miracles, and yet continued to harden their hearts. And then, I read the scripture in Samuel which Elder Scott quoted. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” That is part of the fulfillment of the Mosaic law – the sacrifices that the Jews performed under the Mosaic law were symbols of obedience and of the atonement of the Savior. But the actual obedience was the most important part – and that was the part the children of Israel had a hard time with. But it wasn’t a completely unknown truth. I imagine the prophets tried to get the Israelites to live God’s law more fully, and I wonder how heartbroken they were when they realized that the children of Israel were often not even willing to keep the Law of Moses.

Elder Scott said, “the Book of Mormon teaches truth with unique clarity and power.” I also believe that to be true. There is a feeling that I get when I read the Book of Mormon that I don’t really get anywhere else. However, I am realizing that I need to expand my study of the scriptures and search out truth in all of the Standard works. Elder Scott asked, “Do you use all of the standard works, including the Old Testament?” To be honest, I use mostly the Book of Mormon in my study of the scriptures. One of the goals I took away from Elder Scott’s talk was to read all of the standard works. I am going to try to complete the entire standard works before next General Conference. That might be a little ambitious, and I won’t be completely sad if I don’t make it, but I want to make the effort, and I want to read all of the scriptures. I am going to make sure I pick out some verses to memorize from the Old Testament. There is a lot of really good truth in the Old Testament, and I want to make it a bigger part of my life.

My final goal came from listening to Elder Scott talk about his wife, Jeanene. I have a feeling he will probably mention her at least once in every conference talk he gives from now on. How he loved his wife. I admire her a lot, just from the way Elder Scott speaks about her. This talk was no different. “My precious wife, Jeanene, loved the Book of Mormon. In her youth, as a teenager, it became the foundation of her life.” I am not a teenager any more, although the Book of Mormon was a large part of my life when I was a teenager – but it is not too late to make the Book of Mormon the foundation of my life. “For I don’t know how many years, as the end of the year approached, I would see her sitting quietly, carefully finishing the entire Book of Mormon yet another time before year’s end.” This was my final goal from Elder Scott’s talk. To read the Book of Mormon at least once all the way through each year.

I purchase an economy copy of the Book of Mormon each time I read it, so that it is a fresh slate and I can mark it up new again and write in the margins. I put the start date and the finish date. So far in the past several years I have only used two copies (I am almost finished with copy #2). At the end of this year, though, when I finish the Book of Mormon again, I am going to read the Book of Mormon once each year. If I start new in January with a new economy copy, I will be able to judge my progress as the year goes by. I am really excited to start reading the Book of Mormon each year. My husband, who speaks several languages, is going to read the Book of Mormon in a new language each year and I get to surprise him with the language.

In summary, the goals I came away with from Elder Scott’s talk are:
1.) Memorize the scripture mastery verses from Seminary, and add other scriptures, including scriptures from the Old Testament
2.) Read the entire Standard Works (including the Old Testament)
3.) Read the Book of Mormon once every year

How do you study the scriptures? How do you memorize scriptures? Do you keep your memorized scriptures around like an old friend? How often do you read the Book of Mormon? Do you read the Old Testament and the other standard works? What goals have you made concerning the scriptures?

Find more insight on this talk over at
Diapers and Divinity’s General Conference Book Club

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