Sunday, April 29, 2012

GCBC Week 5: “Sacrifice”

Sorry I have been MIA this week on the blog. My husband got home from a three week long assignment overseas (which he left for a few days after he came home from a two week assignment… so we’ve been apart for just about 5 weeks!). His parents took our kids for a few days, so we “escaped” into the land of reconnected couples. It was absolutely wonderful. We stayed in Salt Lake City and went to the temple and went shooting and went out to eat and basically just had a great time being a couple again. Because it was kind of last minute I didn’t have much set up for the blog, but I’ll try to be better this week – he’s going back to his regular 9-5 schedule, so I won’t have anything to do during the day… except take care of my two kiddos. Ha ha. Like that is “nothing”.

Without further rambling from your host, here is GCBC Week 5:

Sacrifice – by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

I will speak of these mortal sacrifices our Savior asks us to make. This will not include sacrifices we are compelled to make or actions that may be motivated by personal advantage rather than service or sacrifice.

I appreciated that Elder Oaks differentiated between the two types of sacrifices, because I think that I frequently think I have sacrificed more because of the sacrifices that I am compelled to make, or those sacrifices I make that are motivated by personal advantage.

This talk also reminded me of President Uchtdorf’s talk (Forget Me Not) when he spoke about the difference between good and foolish sacrifices. If you haven’t had a chance to read that talk, I recommend it – especially that part about sacrifices.

What parts of Elder Oaks’ talk stood out to you? How has the principle of sacrifice played a role in your life?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spiritually Minded

Book of Mormon Papers - a series of posts
containing papers I wrote for a
BYU Religion class my freshman year of college.

(Note: This paper reminded me of the first time I used an economy Book of Mormon for my daily reading of the Book of Mormon. I kept a little slip of paper as my book mark, and I kept a list of principles and words that were used to describe “eternal life”. I had a great little list, but I don’t know where it went, which is really sad. I guess I will just have to go through the Book of Mormon looking for eternal life again.)

Before Nephi died, he instructed Jacob to carry on the tradition of scripture writing, and instructed him to write the words of Isaiah for the benefit of the Nephites. Jacob proceeded to write the words of Isaiah and instruct the people how to live the words of Isaiah. In teaching the Nephites how to live righteously, Jacob admonished them that “to be spiritually minded is life eternal.” (2 Nephi 9:39) What does it mean to be “spiritually minded?” Being spiritually minded is about learning and living of God. Man is spiritually minded when he puts off the natural man and when he comes to know God and Jesus Christ.

Jacob stated that life eternal is to be spiritually minded. Christ also described life eternal in His great intercessory prayer. He stated “and this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) Therefore to be spiritually minded is to come to know God and Jesus Christ. The first step in this process is to have faith in Jesus Christ. (AoF 1:4) Alma taught that “if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (Alma 32:21) In the writings of Isaiah quoted by Jacob, Isaiah prophesied that the children of Israel who would “wait for [Christ]” (2 Nephi 6:7) would not be ashamed and would know that He is the Lord. Waiting and hoping are synonymous; therefore to have faith is to grow closer to a knowledge of the character of God and Christ.

In coming to know the character of God and the Savior, one must also live according to that knowledge. As Jacob admonished the Nephites to live righteously, he asked them “Would I harrow up your souls if your minds were pure?” (2 Nephi 9:47) Jacob taught that those who are righteous love the words of truth. (2 Nephi 9:40) Because the way of the Lord is righteousness, those who are righteous will love the Lord, because all truth is of Him. Jacob directed the people of Nephi “do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy.” (2 Nephi 9:31) Jacob was teaching the people to seek for that which is eternal, or life eternal. He was advising them to become spiritually minded by working for “treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20) and spending their time and efforts on things of eternal significance. Jacob counseled them to “wait for Christ” and believe in Him, feasting on the words of Christ. The words of Christ are eternal and constant, and feasting upon them is one of the most profitable ways to learn of His character.

Learning to live righteously by feasting on the words of Christ and following His commandments allow mankind to grow closer to God and Christ and allow them to come to know the character of God. Hoping for and living for Christ will bring a man closer to Him and will aid in the purpose of becoming spiritually minded. Then, man may attain “life eternal,” or exaltation to know God and Jesus Christ for eternity, for being spiritually minded is life eternal.

What does it mean to you to be “spiritually minded”?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

GCBC Week 4: “He Truly Loves Us” & “Faith, Fortitude, Fulfillment: A Message to Single Parents”

Welcome to GCBC Week 4! I have an apology to make – last week I was going to pair Sis. Esplin’s talk with Elder Baxter’s talk (this week’s talk – the message to single parents). For some reason (probably because I was thinking only about going chronologically) I paired her talk with Elder Hallstrom’s instead. That’s why the pairing seemed to be kind of random…

I’ll be getting my reading glasses this week so hopefully that will prevent me from being completely clueless in the future… improving your eyesight improves your brain function, too, right?

He Truly Loves Us – by Elder Paul E. Koelliker

“How can we help each individual develop a desire to know more about Heavenly Father? How do we help them feel His Spirit? How can we help them know that we love them?”

Closely tied to helping others remember is the way we personally live the gospel and apply it in our lives. When we actually live the gospel in the pattern taught by the Lord Jesus Christ, our ability to help others increases.

I really appreciated Elder Koelliker’s talk for this point that he made about helping others develop a desire to know more about Heavenly Father. As a parent, my greatest desire is to help my children desire to know Heavenly Father. I felt like Elder Koelliker’s talk gave some great instruction on how to do that.

Faith, Fortitude, Fulfillment: A Message to Single Parents – by Elder David S. Baxter

Please never feel that you are in some kind of second-tier subcategory of Church membership, somehow less entitled to the Lord’s blessings than others. In the kingdom of God there are no second-class citizens.

Members and leaders, is there more that you could do to support single-parent families without passing judgment or casting aspersions? Might you mentor young people in these families, especially providing for young men examples of what good men do and how good men live? In the absence of fathers, are you providing role models worthy of emulation?

We have a good friend who is divorced. She has two boys, and her ex-husband is not a very good example to his children of Priesthood leadership. I admire my husband a lot as he has developed a relationship with these boys when we have the opportunity to spend time with them. I am grateful that my husband is willing to be an example to any boy who needs one to follow.

What are your thoughts after studying these talks? Please share in the comments, and come back throughout the week to engage in the conversation!


To anyone who is checking out GCBC for the first time, the goal is to read one General Conference talk a week and discuss it together as an on-line “book club.”  If you want more information about how it works, go here.  And then join us.


Also, I have teamed up with Dave from Downright Dave to coordinate our GCBC schedule with his Weekly #ldsconf Chat. It happens on Twitter on Wednesdays from 8-9pm MST. So if you are itching for some more “real time” discussion format, I encourage you to head over to Twitter. Not sure how to participate in a “chat” on Twitter? Head over to this post from Dave’s website for more information. He gives some pretty good instructions after the schedule.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pay it Forward

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart,
so let him give;
not grudgingly, or of necessity:
for God loveth a cheerful giver.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you;
that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things,
may abound to every good work:

2 Corinthians 9:7-8

I’ve been thinking a lot about the seasons of womanhood and motherhood, and it got me thinking about a certain friend of mine who always seems to be helping me out, but who never seems to need my help.

I thought back to when my second child was born, and I was suddenly the mother of a barely 2-year-old and a brand new baby. I didn't do much of anything. I barely cleaned the house, and I mostly just sat around reading books, nursing, and sitting with my kids on the trampoline while V jumped around merrily, and J nursed merrily. There were a lot of days when my friend would have V over for a play date so I could stay home and rest with J (one particular time was when I had a nasty infection, and I just needed to sleep and nurse).

I remember thinking about how badly I wanted to repay my friend, but it never seemed like she needed anything from me (she still seems that way to me - we are still very good friends, and it always seems like she takes care of me more than I take care of her).

Image Credit: WPW

After several months of this friend helping me with absolutely no way to "pay her back" I realized that this life is not about "getting even" with people who help us. It's about using our resources to help those we can help, and accepting help from those with resources to help us. As the scripture I quoted above says, God will make “all grace abound toward” us (send us people to help us out) so that we will have sufficient for our needs, and we will be able to help others and do good things. He doesn’t say “that ye will be able to serve them that have served you in the same capacity in which they have served you.”

And so I decided that I was going to "pay it forward" and help anyone I had resources to help.

I have since had many experiences where a friend has said the same thing to me. "I feel like you help me so much, but I have nothing to give in return!" And I gently explain to them, "You don't need to feel like you need to repay me for the things I do to help you. Some day you will be in a position to help someone, so just help them.

I am at a period in my life when I am able to help a lot of people while not needing much help myself. I am in a relatively emotionally stable state, my children are a little older, and my husband has a really good, stable job. I have lots that I can give, emotionally, spiritually, and temporally. But I know that my life won’t always be that way, and there will be times when I will have to accept help, emotionally, spiritually, and temporally.

Have you ever felt like you needed to “pay back” someone who had helped you, but realized that they didn’t have any needs you could fill? How do you “pay it forward” when you are shown grace and kindness by others?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

GCBC Week 3: “Teaching Our Children to Understand” & “Converted to His Gospel through His Church”

This week we are going to study two talks – both amazing talks – even though these two aren’t completely related. We’re doing this so we can fit in some talks from Priesthood and the YW broadcast. You could always read one in the next few days, and then study the other one later in the week, since they are both shorter talks.

Also, be sure to read the bottom of this post for information about how to engage in a General Conference chat in “real time”.

"Teaching our Children to Understand" - Sister Cheryl A. Esplin

“This divine privilege of raising our children is a much greater responsibility than we can do alone, without the Lord’s help. He knows exactly what our children need to know, what they need to do, and what they need to be to come back into His presence. He gives mothers and fathers specific instruction and guidance through the scriptures, His prophets, and the Holy Ghost…

Our role as parents is to do all we can to create an atmosphere where our children can feel the influence of the Spirit and then help them recognize what they are feeling.”

Sister Esplin’s talk was a great parenting mini-class. A lot of her thoughts were reminiscent of Elder David A. Bednar’s conference talk in April 2010: Watching with All Perserverence. He talked about bearing testimony spontaneously, and being aware of daily teaching moments to help invite the Spirit.

If there was one way I would sum up this talk it would be this: “The Spirit is the true teacher. Help your children feel the Spirit so that you and they can be instructed together by the Spirit.”

"Converted to His Gospel through His Church" - Elder Donald L. Hallstrom

“Some have come to think of activity in the Church as the ultimate goal. Therein lies a danger. It is possible to be active in the Church and less active in the gospel. Let me stress: activity in the Church is a highly desirable goal; however, it is insufficient.”

I think Elder Hallstrom’s talk was one of the most popular talks from General Conference. I loved the distinction he helped us make between the gospel and the Church – while noting emphatically that we, indeed, need both.

As I reread the talk I was reminded of the purpose of the Church as pointed out in the Church Handbook of Instructions (I think I have shared this beforeprobably multiple times):

“The Church provides the organization and means for teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to all of God’s children. It provides the priesthood authority to administer the ordinances of salvation and exaltation to all who are worthy and willing to accept them.”

One part of Elder Hallstrom’s talk that I remembered from Twitter Stake, but did not remember it came from this talk was when he said, “Many of us are not being regularly changed by [the sacrament’s] cleansing power because of our lack of reverence for this holy ordinance.” I remember people tweeting about having more reverence for the sacrament, but I didn’t remember that it came from Elder Hallstrom’s talk. I had a personal experience about the cleansing and changing power of the sacrament last week. “How meaningful are the ordinances in our lives? How focused are we on our covenants?” I wish I could say that every week was a good as last week, but it isn’t always. I, for one, need to be more deeply converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What are your thoughts after studying these talks? Please share in the comments, and come back throughout the week to engage in the conversation!


To anyone who is checking out GCBC for the first time, the goal is to read one General Conference talk a week and discuss it together as an on-line “book club.”  If you want more information about how it works, go here.  And then join us.


I have been forgetting to mention – I have teamed up with Dave from Downright Dave to coordinate our GCBC schedule with his Weekly #ldsconf Chat. Basically between 8-9pm MST each Wednesday, folks are getting on Twitter to “chat” about the talks from General Conference, and Dave and I have coordinated so that the talks each week are the same. That is, the talk I announce on Sunday will be the talks that they discuss on the Twitter chat on Wednesdays. So if you are itching for some more “real time” discussion format, I encourage you to head over to Twitter. Not sure how to participate in a “chat” on Twitter? Head over to this post from Dave’s website for more information. He gives some pretty good instructions after the schedule.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Seasons of Womanhood

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

Ecclesiastes 3:1-7

I was originally going to title this post "seasons of motherhood" but then I realized that since all women are (or at least can be) mothers, even if they do not bear their own children biologically, the title I chose is more descriptive of this post - especially because women experience more seasons than just the seasons of motherhood.

A friend of mine is staying with us with her two children (ages 3 years and 5 months) while her husband is out of the country. My husband is also back and forth, in the country, out of the country, for the next several months, which was part of the reason we offered our home to her and her kids - so that we can provide companionship for one another while our husbands are away. It's been working out really well - she and I are very similar, and we HPIM2212are both really easy going. We get to have a lot of great gospel discussions, and we talk constantly about raising our kids and our struggles as mothers.

Recently my friend was chatting with her husband online and she was telling him about all the things that I do - I am pretty involved in the community with my children and I get to do a lot of things for "me" as well. My kids are 5 and 3. After my friend finished telling her husband about all the things I do he asked, "What do you do all day?" When she related this story to me, at the time where she quoted her husband's question I said emphatically, "You take care of a baby - that is a full time job in an of itself. My kids are older, they can take care of themselves." And then I commented, "When I have another baby, I am going to have to scale back dramatically."

As I said it, the full weight of that statement seemed to fall on me. I am going to have to scale back dramatically. If you know me, you know that this is not easy for me. Probably the hardest part about motherhood for me is the newborn stage when I do almost nothing other than keeping up on the necessary laundry and dishes and nurse and nap and change diapers.

I will admit it, I am one of those peoples who thinks naps (in general) are a waste of time.

Image Credit: fdecomite

As I was thinking about how I would need to scale back when another baby comes, I was reminded of Stephanie at Diapers and Divinity who recently asked me to host her General Conference Book Club while she added another ball to her juggling act - she handed me one of her many balls so that she could keep juggling all the other balls - especially the most important ball: her family. I am grateful for her example.

Several years ago, when I was pregnant with my second child, I attended a Relief Society retreat in the mountains in Utah. Our key note speaker at the retreat was Janice Kapp Perry, a notable LDS songwriter who has written many of the most well-loved songs in the children's songbook (A Child's Prayer, I Love to See the Temple, I'm Trying to Be like Jesus, Love is Spoken Here, We'll Bring the World His Truth, as well as As Sisters in Zion from the LDS Hymnbook). Sister Perry talked to us about times in her life when she had small children, but felt disappointed because she didn't have the time to write music and perform music like she wanted to.2011-09-22 20.02.00 Then she was reminded that there would be a time in her life, a season, for writing and performing music, but the season she was in at that moment was a season of motherhood to small children. When she realized that the season of having small children would not last forever, it was easier for her to enjoy that season.

I have tried to apply this principle in my own life - there are seasons for me to spend most of my time at home, cuddling a newborn, and there are seasons in my life when I can take my kids and show them the world (or at least our community). There are seasons in my life during which I will be making all sorts of new friends and meeting new people, and there are seasons in my life that will be spent enjoying old friends, and basking in the simplicity of life.

Just like the seasons of our earth - Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter - we may have our "favorite" season of our lives. My favorite season of the earth is Spring - when all the flowers are blooming and there are new things in my garden every day. I get out of the house almost every day, work in the yard, play outside with the kids, and just enjoy the earth. For me, this season would be the season of young children. They are so inquisitive and so eager to do things, and they are learning so much every day. We can be involved in many things in our community, learning new things and meeting new people nearly every day. We learn together about the world around us. I love basically everything about this time period, and the only thing that puts a damper on my mood is the occasional rainy day.

My least favorite season of the year is Summer. It is so hot it's almost unbearable. I end up staying inside too much and I get a little stir crazy. But my favorite part about summer is plunging into a nice cold swimming pool. For me, this would be like the newborn season of womanhood. Taking care of a newborn is really stressful, and like the heat of summer, it can be unbearable at times. I end up staying inside too much, and I get stir crazy. But my favorite part about taking care of a newborn is the rush I feel when a baby coos or smiles at me, or when my baby snuggles me. That is like that rush you get when you plunge into a cold pool, and the heat of the summer seems worth it, at least for a little while.

And my favorite seasons will probably change as I experience more seasons. I haven't yet experienced the season of teen children, or grown children, or grandchildren.

As I have been thinking about how my life will change when I have another baby, I have been preparing myself to enjoy that time when a baby comes, rather than lament the changes I will have to make in my lifestyle. The season I will be in will just be a different season - but there are beautiful things in every season. We just have to remember to look for them - and enjoy them.

How have you experienced seasons in your life? Have you struggled with some seasons more than others? What is your favorite season that you have experienced in your life? How do you adjust to new seasons?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Delight in the Scriptures

Book of Mormon Papers - a series of posts
containing papers I wrote for a
BYU Religion class my freshman year of college.

(Note: So this isn’t one of my best papers, but I was not surprised to find that I chose to write about delighting in the scriptures. Since, you know, that’s kind of my “theme” scripture for my life. I am so grateful for the influence of the scriptures in my life. I want my children to develop the same love for the scriptures that I have developed. I hope I am setting a good example for them – in real life, not just on this blog)

Image credit: LDS Media Library

After Lehi gave his blessings to all of his children, Nephi wrote the “things of his soul” and told of how his people separated themselves from his wicked brethren. In Chapter 4, Nephi recorded the reason for him including many scriptures, especially the writings of Isaiah, in his record. Nephi’s reason is that his soul “delighteth in the scriptures.” Earlier Nephi had stated that on the plates he would write “the things of [his] soul.” From these two statements, one can conclude that Nephi had made the scriptures, even the writings and the words of the prophets, a part of his soul. What does it mean to make the words of God “things of [one’s] soul?” Nephi gave a reasonable outline when he stated that “my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.” In order to make the word of God a thing of one’s soul, one must delight in the scriptures, ponder them, and wish to teach the words to others. (2 Nephi 4:15-16)

Nephi’s delight of the scriptures comes from a more general feeling that his “soul delighteth in the things of the Lord…” As the scriptures come from the Lord, it would follow that Nephi would also delight in them. The dictionary describes delight as “to take great pleasure or joy.” Nephi must have understood the doctrine that men are on this earth to have joy. (2 Nephi 2:25) Nephi also understood what things bring men joy on this earth.

It is obvious from Nephi’s writings that he pondered the scriptures often. Many of his writings quote Isaiah and expound on Isaiah’s writings. The dictionary defines ponder as “To reflect or consider with thoroughness and care.” Surely in all Nephi’s writings and also through his actions which were consistent with the teachings of the prophets, it is made clear that Nephi pondered the words of God in great depth.

Before Nephi quoted the words of Isaiah for the first time, he stated, “that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did … liken all scriptures unto us that it might be for our profit and learning.” (1 Nephi 19:23) Nephi showed great care and concern for his family, and he showed this by teaching them of the words of the Lord. Countless times did Nephi rehearse the scriptures to his brethren, showing them the examples of their fathers and praying that his brothers would do likewise.

Nephi showed that he loved the words of God by delighting in the scriptures, pondering them, and sharing them with his family and others. Because Nephi understood the importance of the scriptures, he was able to internalize them and make them “things of [his] soul.”

Have you made the scriptures a part of your soul? Do you delight in scripture? Do you ponder them? Do you read them, study them, and teach them to your family members and others around you?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pleasing Unto God

My post yesterday was only the first part of a two part story.

I did struggle for a few days with that scripture - 2 Nephi 5:21. In fact, I kept rereading it every night for a few nights thinking that by really paying attention I might come to understand what was going on there. After a few nights I finally gave up, sort of.

I just pressed on.

It didn't get better, in fact it just got worse, talking about the Lamanites being a scourge to the Nephites (of course, that prophesy is fulfilled over and over again in the Book of Mormon).

But then, quite abruptly, the talk about the cursed Lamanites stops, and suddenly Nephi feels it is pertinent to include here that he is making this record by the commandment of God, and that he is trying to write things that are pleasing to Him.

Then Nephi writes, "And if my people are pleased with the things of God they will be pleased with mine engravings which are upon these plates."

And suddenly, that knot left in my stomach by 2 Nephi 5:21 unwound itself, and I felt peace.


Because I am pleased with the things of God (most of the time). And so, I can be pleased with (or my soul can delight in) that controversial verse in 2 Nephi chapter 5 in the Book of Mormon. Especially after writing out all my thoughts in the previous post (a post which I thought about writing when I first read the verse, but the thoughts weren't complete yet) I now feel comfortable, even happy, with that verse.

God doesn't make bad things happen, but He knows bad things will happen, and He also knows how to protect us from the potentially spiritually damaging side effects of those bad things - but we have to obey Him, and come unto Him, and be saved by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ whom He sent.

What examples can you think of where the Lord has protected good people from the effects of wickedness? What about times when He has allowed wicked men to affect the wicked? How can we protect ourselves (and our families) from the wickedness in the world?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Race and the Book of Mormon

me and my best friend since childhood

First off, let me say that I know this verse is not talking about African Americans. How do I know this? Because this verse is talking about he descendants of Laman and Lemuel (i.e. Native Americans). So this isn't a post about blacks and the Priesthood or anything like that. This is just one woman's struggle with words in the scriptures and how to understand them. After all, my soul delights in the scriptures, and I would like to be able to delight in all the scriptures, not just the "comfortable" ones.

The part that bothered me was not the fact that the people had been cursed with a "skin of blackness" (and who really knows what that means anyway? If you know any Native Americans you know that they are not really "black", but this post is not about discussing varying shades of skin color, either). Rather, the part that bothered me (bothered - that is, made me stop uncomfortably and think) was the Lord's reasoning, "that they might not be enticing unto my people."

Was God just using human weakness (racism, specifically) to curse Laman and Lemuel and their descendants? Perhaps in the same way the Lord allowed the Lamanites to subject the Nephites to slavery when they (the Nephites) were being wicked. I am sure that God is not racist, but I am sure that He knew that human beings would be racist.

I had to think, also, of those Lamanites who converted and joined themselves with the Nephites (I am sure there were some, even before the mass conversions due to the efforts of Ammon and his brethren). Surely those Nephites who married and had children with converted Lamanites were not sinning or going against what God wanted to happen. But can't you see those interracial couples being judged by other Nephites? I imagine it was a lot like the racism prevalent in the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - oh, we love you because you are a child of God, but we shouldn't marry you because you are cursed. Sorry. This is not the racism of the world "You aren't worth as much as me." but I think in some ways it was even more convoluted thinking than that of the world.

But, I digress. This is not really a post about the racial climate of the Church today, but rather about a more basic, fundamental question.

This question - are human beings "naturally" racist?

That is - does racism stem from nurture (being taught to be racist) or from nature (perhaps some part of our biological makeup causes us to seek out a mate that resembles us?)? Obviously racism is wrong - but is it wrong because it is part of the "natural man" - like anger? Or is it wrong because it is a "false tradition" that is handed down from our fathers? Or perhaps a combination of the two?

What do you think?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, April 9, 2012

Washed Clean

I was sitting in sacrament meeting at the organ - which meant that someone else had my kids and I could ponder during the sacrament. My thoughts drifted to the events of the previous day, Saturday.

One of the perks of playing the piano is being asked to play at baptisms. Saturday was one of those occasions for me. The member of the bishopric who was presiding told the young woman who was baptized that she had been washed clean and that it she would continue to repent and be worthy to partake of the sacrament she could be washed clean each Sunday as she partook of the sacrament.

I knew this doctrine before and I have always believed it, but that day as I took the tiny cup of water and felt the cool liquid wash down my throat, I actually felt clean. I felt as if in that moment I was as perfect and clean as I was after my baptism.

Recently I have been thinking (and writing) about repentance and the atonement, and I feel like as this has been a focus in my personal study, I have been applying the principles of repentance more effectively.

It is this application of the atonement that has made the difference. In order for the sacrament to cleanse us, we must be repentant.

I know that I am clean - perfectly clean - after repenting and partaking of the sacrament. I know that as I strive to live the gospel and repent when I fall short and rely on Christ, I can partake of the sacrament and be cleansed as if by the waters of baptism.

Do you feel clean when you take the sacrament? How do you feel as you apply the principles of the atonement in your life?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, April 8, 2012

GCBC Week 2: “And a Little Child Shall Lead Them” by President Boyd K. Packer

First off, a big thank you to those who came and participated in GCBC Week 1 last week. I imagine I should have expected all the participation, but I didn’t. My humble little blog has always been just that – humble. I didn’t have any big plans for it. I really just wanted a place to write down all the stuff I didn’t get to say in Gospel Doctrine class and in Relief Society.

Also, Happy Easter! I hope all of you have been able to enjoy this Easter Sunday and ponder on the meaning of the Savior’s atonement, death, and resurrection for all of us, and for you personally. If you haven’t discovered the Bible Videos from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you should – you can find them here. Last night I watched the videos that portray the Savior’s final week to get me in the mood for Easter Sunday. They were really powerful.

The general consensus for the order in which to proceed with GCBC is to go through the talks in chronological order. So we will more or less go in chronological order. I have doubled up some of the shorter talks so that we can also study the talks from the Priesthood session (since that was the only time Elder Bednar spoke, and I really love his talks) and possibly President Monson’s talk from the Young Women’s broadcast. I have posted a tentative schedule here, so let me know what you think.

“And a Little Child Shall Lead Them” - President Boyd K. Packer

“The creation of life is a great responsibility for a married couple. It is the challenge of mortality to be a worthy and responsible parent. Neither man nor woman can bear children alone. It was meant that children have two parents—both a father and a mother. No other pattern or process can replace this one…

The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to see a husband and his wife and their children happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood. Husbands and wives should understand that their first calling—from which they will never be released—is to one another and then to their children.”

A friend of mine from the BYU married student ward we attended eons (read: about 5 years) ago wrote this while they were going through adoption training:

Here's a question for you, are a worthy husband and wife entitled to have children? I kind of thought so, and I know Nick did because when we were asked this at training he said yes out loud! Well, it's not a crazy thought: if people live righteously and are married in the right place, they should be able to have children right? Wrong! The only place the word entitled is mentioned in any church document is in the Proclamation on the Family where it says "Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity." The entire reason the church offers this program and seriously subsidizes the cost of adoption is for the children, and their rights to be in a good family, not because the parents have any right at all to having children.

As a fertile, child-bearing woman this changed my perspective probably as much as it did hers. I suddenly saw that these children in my home were entitled (what a powerful word!) to “birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” I have a solemn responsibility to be a righteous mother to my children, because they are entitled to have righteous parents.

What were some truths about families and children that struck you in this talk?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Anger Can Lead to Sin

Recently my husband and I have been discussing anger. Anger is a secondary emotion. That is, anger is not an emotion we usually feel just because we are "angry". Think about the last time you were angry. Why were you angry? Did someone do something that hurt you? Were you embarrassed? Were you afraid of something?

Think of a father who is angry with his son or daughter for breaking curfew. There are a few "primary" emotions he might be feeling. One is fear - he is afraid of what might happen to his child if he or she stays out past curfew.
Another is hurt - he may be hurt that his child disobeyed the house rules. This hurt can be a prideful hurt ("I'm the dad, I make the rules and you are going to follow them!") or it can be a humble hurt ("I know the spiritual consequences of disobedience and I thought she knew them, too.")

In 2 Nephi 5:2, Nephi explains that the anger his brothers felt "did increase against me, insomuch that they did seek to take away my life."

We have to be careful how we deal with our emotions. Anger is almost never the right method of dealing with our emotions. Laman and Lemuel were likely hurt because their brother was more righteous than they were and therefore had more authority than they did. But rather than dealing with their hurt feelings (which were actually caused by pride, rather than by genuine concern for Nephi) constructively, they allowed anger to grow in their hearts until they wanted to kill Nephi.

Now, I am not saying that letting yourself get angry is going to lead you to commit murder, but how many times have you let your anger with your children lead you to yelling or spanking or "unrighteous dominion"? (I only ask because I am very guilty of this)

Also, how often do you see a child get angry and hit or bite or yell or push, etc? I am not saying these children are sinning, because children are innocent until the age of accountability, however, chances are that child is not really angry. The child is most likely hurt, or confused, or hungry, or tired, or afraid. Little children don't always understand how to deal with those emotions; and so they become "angry". It is our job as their parents to teach them how to deal with hard emotions.

And we all know the best teaching tool is our own example.

How do you effectively deal with your primary emotions? Has anger ever led you to sin? What primary emotion most often leads to anger for you?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, April 5, 2012

“Humor Helps Revelation”

If you watched LDS General Conference this past weekend you know that Elder Scott said “A good sense of humor helps revelation”. I guess Stephanie at Diapers and Divinity must get a lot of revelation because she is so funny and has a great sense of humor.

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Her video at Deseret Book’s Pretty Darn Funny contest proves it. Most people would never share a story like this, but Stephanie does – and she does it really well. My dad, who is a long time member of Toastmasters International (a public speaking club) thought she had the best delivery of any of the videos he watched on the site (and he watched quite a few – and he’s got a lot of experience in story telling and humor). Not that you care who my dad is, but I would say that if my dad thinks a video is worth watching, it is worth watching.

I would just post the video here, but I want you to click over to the Pretty Darn Funny website to watch it so that you can vote for her, too! Once you’ve watched the video, click on the little orange “thumbs up” icon just below the video. You can vote every day if you want, and if Stephanie wins the contest she gets a cruise. And I am sure that if she wins the cruise she will post fabulous pictures on her blog and mail a postcard from the Caribbean to every person who voted for her. (Right, Stephanie?)

Seriously, though. Even if you don’t care about the cruise part – go watch the video. It is really funny and you won’t regret it. And it’s less than 2 minutes long.

What are you waiting for? Go watch it!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Righteous and Articulate Women

President Spencer W. Kimball once said,

“Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.”

Sister Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society General President has referred to this quote multiple times. I would say that of all the women of the Church today, she is by far the most articulate. I commented on another blog the other day that Sister Beck was as close to a prophetess as we have probably come in this day. She testifies of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and the divine role of women with such power and conviction as we hear mostly in the testimonies of the apostles. I have always wanted to be like her, since I was a 16 year old Young Woman when she was called to the Young Women’s presidency.

It is so important for us to become righteous and articulate women. It is the call of the Relief Society sisters to be students of the gospel, strong public speakers, and most important, unflinchingly dedicated to the strengthening of home and family, seeking out and helping those in need, and increasing our own faith and personal righteousness.

I the book Daughters in My Kingdom on page 49 there is a section titled “Articulating Beliefs”. This passage contains this description of Sister Eliza R. Snow,

“She was knowledgeable, organized, faithful, untiring, unflinching, wise, and articulate, and she followed the promptings of the Spirit as she helped build the Lord’s kingdom. She frequently shared her knowledge and her testimony, and she encouraged Latter-day Saint women to do the same in Relief Society meetings – not to depend on others to always teach them.” (emphasis added)

I added the emphasis to the words “unflinching” and “articulate” because I think these qualities are often overlooked in our Relief Societies as we strive to develop ourselves into the women God wants us to become. However, these are qualities which are needed now more than ever in this worldwide Church. We must be unwavering and unflinching, especially as Satan and his followers increase their efforts to thwart the work of God (an effort in which they will never succeed). We cannot afford to be unsure about the gospel and doctrines of Christ. We need to study them – the basic doctrines of the gospel – and we need to understand them. How do we understand the gospel doctrines? We do not need a PhD in religion. We do not even need a high school education. The Holy Ghost can enlighten our understanding. (see here)

Once we have an adequate understanding of the gospel principles and doctrines in our own lives we have a solemn obligation to share those truths. This obligation does not begin and end with full time missionary services. Women with children are not alone in their responsibility. All women of the Relief Society, and therefore of the Church, regardless of their individual circumstance are equally obligated to share the gospel. As disciples of Christ we are all called to be gospel teachers – to our families, to our children, to our neighbors, to all who do not have the fullness of the gospel.

In the same section in Daughters in My Kingdom, the following story is shared:

Emily S. Richards said the Sister Snow helped her learn to speak in public: “The first time [she] asked me to speak in meeting, I could not, and she said, ‘Never mind, but when you are asked to speak again, try and have something to say,’ and I did.” Sister Richards continued to improve in her ability as a public speaker, and in 1889 she spoke at the National Woman Suffrage Association convention in Washington, D.C.

I think that some LDS women who have taken to blogging are doing a great job of being articulate in their beliefs. Sister Beck addressed the opportunity blogging gives us to share the gospel in a recent Mormon Channel interview and stressed the importance of women being articulate in the gospel (she actually shared the quote from President Kimball. I think she likes that quote.)

I would like to become more articulate in my beliefs – mostly more articulate in speech. I may just be flattering myself, but I think that I am pretty articulate when it comes to writing, but my speech is, well, lacking (which is probably why I write out my sacrament meeting talks word for word… and they usually sound better than my Relief Society lessons in which I stumble over my words and can’t figure out what to say next).

This year I would like to learn to be more articulate in my speech – especially when speaking about the most important things in my life – Jesus Christ, the gospel, and family.

How do you become more articulate? How have you learned to be articulate? Are you unflinching in your testimony of the gospel? Do you share it boldly?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Teach the Plan

I realized the other day that it has been a while since I posted anything scripture related - and, well, since the title of this blog is "My Soul Delighteth in the scriptures" I thought I should probably write about the scriptures.

I feel like there has been a theme in the things I have been reading and studying and feeling over the past few weeks. It has not been a theme I picked out for myself, but I believe Heavenly Father needs me to learn something about this.

Julie commented on a post the other day saying she had been inspired to "Teach repentance." I have felt a similar prompting. It seems like every thing that I pick up to read or study has this theme - teach the atonement and repentance. I listened to the General Sunday School board testify of the importance of teaching the plan of redemption. I read about it in Teaching, No Greater Call. I was impressed to write a post about teaching our children about repentance and the atonement, and then tonight I sat down to read the Book of Mormon with the intent to find something in the scriptures to post about on this blog and I discovered that the next passage of scripture in my read-through of the Book of Mormon is 2 Nephi 2. If you aren't very familiar with that chapter I would suggest you go read it. It's one of the best sermons on the plan of salvation. Right up there with Alma 32 and Mosiah 4.

In verse 5 Lehi says that "men are instructed sufficiently that they may know good from evil" and then he testifies "how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth." In order to fully exercise our agency, we must be "instructed sufficiently" so that we can know good from evil.

Remember that post I wrote a while ago about the connection between knowledge and agency?

In order to choose eternal life, men must be instructed sufficiently to be able to discern right from wrong, and they must be aware of what the choices are. Freja wrote an excellent post on the same topic on Faithful Freja, and I recommend her post (and her blog).

How to you learn and teach repentance and the plan of salvation? Do you feel more free to choose as you learn about the Father's plan? How does having a knowledge and understanding of the plan of salvation help you properly use your agency?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, April 2, 2012

Can I justify reading instead of doing the dishes?

You’ll have to listen to Sister Beck’s Q&A on the Mormon channel to get the answer.

My kids love reading. I love reading. Sister Beck loves reading.

If you have been struggling with knowing how to do “leisure time” I would really suggest listening to the Relief Society Mormon Channel episode 15 in the Q&A’s with Sister Beck.

Knowing what it even means to have “leisure time” has been a hard concept for me to figure out, so this episode has really been amazing.

I especially liked how she mentioned “chasing the trends” in reading rather than reading literature that will uplift and elevate us. She even talked about reading to increase her vocabulary. I love that “side effect” of reading good literature.

She also talks a lot about blogging and said that Abish would have been a blogger. It made me think about why I blog. I think that I blog for the right reasons. She also mentioned making sure we have the right tone on our blog. And the quote from President Benson reminded me of that post by Emily Matchar about how she can’t stop reading Mormon Mommy Blogs.

Now that I have told you enough about the episode, you know you can’t wait to listen to it. Here’s another snippet, but you’ll have to go to Mormon Channel to get the whole episode.

What Mormon Channel programs have you been enjoying?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

General Conference Book Club: Week 1

Well, that’s it! What a great conference!

Image Credit: opencontent

The 182nd Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has come to a close. I feel so inspired! Sometime I wish it could go on and on. It’s a great excuse to be able to neglect all your worldly responsibilities and bask in the Spirit for 8 hours almost consecutively. I get that feeling sometimes when I am in the temple – you know, that “I almost wish I didn’t have kids at home who needed to be fed so I could just stay in the temple all day long.(but I do love my kids and I am grateful for them!)

But hey, that’s what General Conference Book Club is here for!

If this is your first time checking out General Conference Book Club, the goal is to read one General Conference talk (sometimes two) each week and then discuss the talk in an online book club format here on this blog.

A new talk will be posted each week on Sunday, but for this first week we’ll just share our general impressions of conference – your favorite talks, stories, music. We’ll start next week diving into the talks once they are posted online later this week.

For those of you who have been around GCBC for a while, do you prefer that we do the talks chronologically, or would you like to do them randomly, vote on the next one each week, etc? Include any preferences you have in the comments so I can see if there is a general consensus as to how we proceed with order.

I had the opportunity to “tweet” General Conference with A Well Behaved Mormon Woman (LDSNana aka Kathryn Skaggs) and others in the #TwitterStake. It was a really great opportunity. I was skeptical at first because I like taking traditional notes, but I found that I was more alert through conference and I paid attention more (and I didn’t fall asleep at all! Which is big – I always doze during at least one or two speakers… I know, shame on me…) and I felt like I thought more about what was going on. I also had the opportunity to respond to a few people asking questions about the Church! All in all it was a great experience (although clearly not everyone’s cup o’ cocoa!).

How did you take notes during General Conference? How are you going to share the messages you heard from living prophets?

A few things to get us talking this session:

1.) What were the “themes” that stood out to you this conference? (even though there are not “official” themes) What topics or principles or doctrines were repeated throughout the sessions of conference?

2.) What was your favorite talk? What principles of the talk stood out to you? Were there favorite quotes or stories?

3.) What was your favorite hymn sung? (either congregational or from a choir)

Share your comments below (be sure to use the “reply” feature to reply to each other! Let’s really make this a discussion!)

Thanks for participating in GCBC Week 1!!

Don’t forget to grab the GCBC button on the About GCBC page.

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