Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Just Like Today

I was reading a post at Middle-aged Mormon Man discussing the prevalence of war in the Book of Mormon and then I as flipping through this month's Ensign where I saw an article that talked about the same idea.

And then I had a thought: although our world is somewhat frightening today (I would say more frightening than it has ever been) I almost feel like I was expecting it to be this way. I am definitely not saying that I like the fact that there are wars and terrorism and all sorts of scary people doing scary things all over the world. I am just saying that it comes as no surprise.

Every time I read the Book of Mormon I see our day being played out before my eyes. The wars are almost identical. The terrorism is exactly the same. The only thing that is different is that the conflict today is on a global scale, whereas in the Book of Mormon the conflict was mostly confined to certain regions.

But the principles are all the same.

And the fact that our day is identical (almost) to the Book of Mormon days makes the conflicts of our day come as no surprise to someone who has studied the Book of Mormon.

I am excited to study the article from the Ensign - How Disciples of Christ Live in Times of War and Violence. I also recommend reading MMM's post. It was excellent. As his posts usually are.

Have the conditions of our time surprised you? Or do you expect them, given the conditions we read about in the Book of Mormon, and knowing that that book was written specifically for our day?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, August 26, 2012

GCBC Week 22: “The Power of Deliverance”

The Power of DeliveranceBy Elder L. Tom Perry

My favorite part of Elder Perry’s talk was his story of the boy at the beginning.

“Are you a Mormon?”


“Well, you should be. It is a great religion. Have you read the Book of Mormon?”


“Well, you should. It’s a great book.”

What did you think about Elder Perry’s talk?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

GCBC Week 21–super late, my apologies

I completely dropped the ball with GCBC this week! We were traveling and I’m pregnant. Those are my excuses and I’m sticking to them!

Please head over to the post (I backdated it to Sunday) and comment and join the discussion!!

GCBC Week 21 – The Race of Life

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Entertaining Angels Unawares

Note: This post was originally published on December 6, 2010. We went thought all the licensing work (classes, training, background checks, home studies, etc) but ended up housing others who needed a place to live - first a disabled vet and her kids for a few months, and then my sister and brother-in-law for a few weeks while they transitioned to the East coast, and then a young family who was also in transition - albeit a bit longer one. Our house is finally empty again, but we're expecting baby #3 in the spring and felt like we wouldn't be able to give our best parenting to a teen in foster care while we're adjusting to a new baby. We still have extra room, so we're applying to be a host family for international students at the local community college. We just can't help ourselves! We love to "entertain strangers" - and who knows, maybe we'll entertain some angels unawares.

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Heb. 13:2.)

My husband and I are applying for a license to provide foster care. We specifically want to foster children who will be available for adoption, although we know that it won’t always be the case.

I’ve been reading Gene R. Cook’s Raising Up a Family to the Lord, and then searched on for some articles about foster care. I read a few good stories from other saints who have cared for other children in their home, and the scripture above from Hebrews stuck out to me.


Since I was a young child myself, I have had a desire to be a mother – and not just a mother to my own children. I want to be a mother to any child who needs a good mother. In the case of foster care, it may not be permanent, but I know that if I will make myself available, the Lord will bless these children through my efforts, and will also bless me through these little angels.

Every child deserves a chance to see what a good, functional family unit looks like.

This is what I want to accomplish as a foster parent:

We may have these children in our lives for only a brief time before they go back to their own families. They may not return to ideal situations, but the children go home knowing a little more about how a family unit should function. Later, when they become adults and parents, examples from good foster parents can influence the choices they make in life.

If I can just be an example that will influence their lives, sending them back to their parents will be a joy for me, instead of a loss.

Do you have a desire to influence other children for good? What have you done lately to nurture a child other than your own?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Eve: The Mother of All Living

Note: This post was originally published on July 12, 2010. I'm still on vacation, but we'll be home today and I'll be back blogging tomorrow, hopefully. If I'm not too worn out from our vacation - you know you usually need a vacation from your vacation. I hope you've enjoyed reading and discussing some of my older posts. Make sure you stick around - we'll be having another giveaway soon!

I have felt inspired to study the mothers of the scriptures. I feel a sacred responsibility to be a good mother, and especially to be a mother to more than just my own biologically borne children. I don’t want to be just a half-rate mother, though – I want to be a great mother who has great compassion and charity and patience for children (and people in general) and who can teach with kindness and gentleness.

The first mother I want to study (and how appropriate) is Eve.

I want to name one of my daughters Eve. I love the name, and I especially love the symbolism – our first parents were Adam and Eve, and Adam called her Eve because she was the “mother of all living.”

In the Garden, when the Lord created Eve, he said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be on flesh.” (Gen. 2:24) I think Eve was a great example of a mother’s first priority – her husband. The relationship between husband and wife is always a greater priority than the relationship between mother and children. I’m not trying to put down the relationship and role of mother, but I feel that if a woman is being a good wife, she will probably end up being a good mother. Not only does she have to practice patience and humility with her husband, but by cultivating the relationship with her spouse, she will also have a champion and helper when it comes to teaching and having patience with those children.

I know in my own life when I feel more like “one flesh” with my husband, and I am a better mother. When we are “one flesh,” our parenting styles do not clash – our methods actually compliment one another.

Our children are very young (3 and under), and we are only barely forming our parenting styles. Sometimes it is difficult, because we both were raised differently. But then when we’re talking about it, we realize that we both want the same things for our kids. The only place we differ is in how to get our kids there. But when we really think about it, and pray and fast about it, we realize that if we have the gospel of Jesus Christ at the heart of our parenting – if we parent with the atonement and the doctrine of salvation in our hearts – we end up parenting much the same way.

We do what feels right – we parent the way that feels confirmed by the Holy Spirit. And there is no way to feel that Holy Spirit – in any aspect of our family life – without being “one flesh.”

Being unified with my husband is the first step in becoming a good mother.


Eve Part II

In the Pearl of Great Price, it says “And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and daughters.” (Moses 5:12)

Eve taught her children everything. I think she focused on the principles of the gospel. She taught them everything she knew about God and Heaven and angels and the Savior. And I like that “she made all things known” unto them. It doesn’t say she sat over them while they read book after book after book and did worksheet after worksheet after worksheet. She simply “made all things known unto them.” I like to think that while they were out working in their gardens, tilling the earth, she talked with her children about how faith is like a little seed, and how when we study the words of the Lord and we pray, our faith can grow until it becomes a beautiful tree and bears fruit. That fruit is the works of our spirit, because faith without works is dead.

I like to imagine the conversations Eve had with her children while they were washing their clothes in the stream, when she told them about the Savior that would come and redeem mankind. She probably mentioned how the river washing their clothes was like repentance washing away their sins.

When they sacrificed the first born of their flocks at the alter, I imagine her gently whispering to her children how this was symbolic of the sacrifice the Savior would make to save us from our sins, and further symbolic of the sacrifice we would have of a broken heart and a contrite spirit for our sins.

I imagine that when Eve held her little ones in her lap as she rocked them to sleep, she told them about our Father in Heaven who loves them, and knows them by name, and is watching over them. I imagine that after she rocked them, she knelt with them in prayer, guiding their words to help them speak to our Father in Heaven.

I am going to study more about Eve this week, but I think I am going to focus on making “all things known unto [my] sons and [my] daughters.” I will tell them all about the gospel of Jesus Christ, because I want them to know what I know.

What things about being a mother have you learned from Eve? How to you make things known to your children (about the gospel, every day life, etc)? How do you and your husband deal with conflicting parenting styles?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

GCBC Week 21: “The Race of Life”

I totally dropped the ball this week… I blame a volatile combination of pregnancy hormones and vacation. But never fear, GCBC is here (if less than 24 hours before Week 22 – it’s here at least! And if you’re keeping up on your own with the schedule, then you shouldn’t be too far behind!)

I am back dating this post to Sunday, just for the sake of organization, but I’ll put up a little redirect post that will hopefully get you here.

The Race of Life- by President Thomas S. Monson

President Monson’s wisdom is always a welcome breath of fresh air, especially in this world that is, as he put it, “in a hurry”, and focused on things of no eternal significance.

In this fast-paced life, do we ever pause for moments of meditation—even thoughts of timeless truths?

A great question for all of us.

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.” Actually, the prize belongs to him or her who endures to the end.

What stood out to you in President Monson’s talk?

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Note: This post was originally published on August 29, 2010, about 15 days after my brother passed away. It was a really hard time for me. I am feeling more "anxiously engaged" in good causes these days, and I'm grateful for the insight I gained from writing this post.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists these three definitions:

1 : characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency

2 : characterized by, resulting from, or causing anxiety

3 : ardently or earnestly wishing

Doctrine & Covenants 58:27 reads, “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;”

This summer for me has been fraught with a lot of anxiety. Mostly the first two definitions. I think that the meaning used in the Doctrine and Covenants is the third – the ardently or earnestly wishing part.

I have been apart from my husband this summer  - it’s been nearly 4.5 months so far. I have been anxious about his military training and the possibility of it being extended, and the possibility of us being apart for a longer period of time, postponing our future indefinitely.

My brother passed away a few weeks ago, which has thrown kinks in just about all my other summer plans.

I have most definitely forgotten all about being anxiously engaged in a good cause. Which is probably what has been causing all the anxiety I have been feeling this summer.

It’s interesting – my lack of anxiety for good causes has increased my anxiety about all the contingencies of this summer. Who would have thought not being anxious would make me anxious.

In an attempt to rectify the situation and overcome some of my anxiety caused by my lack of anxiety (how’s that for logic...) I need to find a way to begin being anxiously engaged in a good cause.

Now, it’s hard to think about good causes that aren’t big projects, taking lots of time and energy (two things I’m running short on this summer – time, and energy). But instead of focusing on the long-term, or the broad picture, I am going to start concentrating on a “good cause” each day in which I can be “anxiously engaged.” Hopefully this will help me ease the anxiety I am feeling about this summer, as well as help me draw nearer to the Savior and to Heavenly Father as I follow the commandment to do many good things of my own free will.

I need to be anxiously engaged in a good cause, but it doesn’t need to be some big project. I don’t need to start a soup kitchen or volunteer at the hospital or cook meals for every person under the sun.

They can be small things, like reading to my children. Now that is a good cause, and one I can certainly be anxiously engaged in. And if I take it one day at a time, I won’t be judging myself or expecting things of myself. All I will expect is that I find a good cause each day to be anxiously engaged in  - and then I have to actually be anxiously engaged in that cause.

Have you ever had a time when your “anxious waiting” for something made it hard to remember to be “anxiously engaged” in something good? How did you overcome the bad anxiety and replace it with the “good” anxiety? What kinds of  “good causes” are you able to find each day in which to be anxiously engaged?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Follow the Prophet

Note: This blog post was originally posted on our private family blog on October 18, 2010. I first reposted it on this blog on March 23, 2011 so that I could refer to it in another post. I am reposting it today because I want to get some more feedback on these thoughts. How do you sustain our prophets when others seem to attack them from every side - and sometimes might even seem to have rational arguments for doing so?

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. I also read something Joseph Smith said in one of the first Relief Society meetings. He said, "God does not look on sin with allowance, but when men have sin'd there must be allowance made for them." We still need to be caring and compassionate - no matter the circumstance.

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 believe that people have same-gender, or homosexual, attractions, and that they can sometimes be very strong. But those people are still just children of God to me. 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 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 - often I feel like I don’t know anything.

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why We Write

Note: This post was originally published on September 17, 2010. I'm reposting it because I'm on vacation! And because it was one of the first posts I wrote on this blog, before people actually read this blog - by the way, shout out to my readers - you guys are awesome, and not just because you read my blog, but for the awesome insights you share. That's what I want this blog to be about anyway - about sharing our thoughts about the scriptures. I love to learn from others and hear/read their perspectives, especially about the scriptures. So please! Keep sharing! I love your thoughts!

One of my favorite scriptures lately has been 2 Nephi 25:26:

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (emphasis added)

As a mother I am always striving to find ways to teach my children the gospel. More than anything, I want my children to know “to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” Christ is our Savior, our Redeemer – He has taken upon Himself the sins of the world and has conquered death. It is to Him that we must teach our children to look.

We Talk of Christ

In General Conference back in April, Elder David A. Bednar of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

Parents should be vigilant and spiritually attentive to spontaneously occurring opportunities to bear testimony to their children. Such occasions need not be programmed, scheduled, or scripted. In fact, the less regimented such testimony sharing is, the greater the likelihood for edification and lasting impact. “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man” (D&C 84:85).

Elder Bednar’s talk about “bearing testimony spontaneously” really hit home to me. Growing up my parents didn’t really talk about the gospel outside of family home evenings, and maybe when “special” events came up, such as when my oldest brother was endowed. But there were people in my life who did talk about the gospel outside of those times, and now I find that even more.

When we are in the car, I try to talk to my children about all the things Heavenly Father created, and bear testimony of His love for us, and His love of variety and good things. The world is such a manifestation of God’s love for us.

Now that my oldest is developing a more active imagination, I have the opportunity to bear testimony to him of the power of the Holy Ghost to bring comfort to us when we are scared. I also have the opportunity to bear testimony to him of the power of prayer, and that God hears and answer him – even a little child.

These moments are not scripted – I simply talk to him about how to calm his fears. “You know, V, if you are scared, you can pray to Heavenly Father and He will send the Holy Ghost to help you sleep and have good dreams.” Even though I didn’t start out with “I’d like to bear you my testimony...” that is my testimony – loud and clear.

We Rejoice in Christ

In order for me to have something about Christ to share with my children, I have to be having experiences with Christ myself. I need to be rejoicing in Christ every day, gaining a testimony that I can share with my children.

“When we are on the path our Savior has taught us to follow, additional gifts from our Lord will be manifest in our lives, both in blessings upon us and in the blessings that we share with others through service. Charity will motivate us, and we will have reason to rejoice in Christ, ... I have had opportunities to see this truth verified over and over, in many different areas of the Church.” (here)

And this:

“Rejoice in the power you have within you from Christ to be a nucleus of love, forgiveness, and compassion.” (here)

We can rejoice in Christ by having charity, being forgiving, serving others – there are so many ways to “rejoice in Christ” and receive that testimony.

We Preach of Christ

The definitions of preach in the Merriam-Webster dictionary are: 1. to deliver a sermon, 2. to urge acceptance or abandonment of an idea or course of action, 3. to set forth in a sermon, 4. to advocate earnestly, 5. to deliver (as a sermon) publicly, 6. to bring, put, or affect by preaching.

I made bold the definitions I like the best. Preaching of Christ, to me, is urging our children to accept Him as their Savior. As the Savior is our advocate with the Father, I imagine that we are something like His advocate with our children. There is a “public” feeling to the definitions of “preach” – whereas “talking of Christ” has a more private connotation. So not only should we be talking of Christ in our homes with our children, but we must preach of Christ – around us, to our friends, to our neighbors, to the world. As our children see us unabashedly declare the divinity and mission of our Savior Jesus Christ, they will come to understand that divinity and mission themselves.

We Prophesy of Christ

Joseph Smith wrote in the articles of faith that “We believe in the gift of ... prophecy.” Prophecy is not just limited to the President of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson, and Christ’s apostles. We can prophesy of Christ in our own lives. The dictionary says that to prophesy is “to utter by or as if by divine inspiration.”

In Revelations 10:10, we learn that “...the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” So, if we have a testimony of Jesus, then we can prophecy of Him by bearing testimony.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “’We prophesy of Christ’ means that we express our testimony of Him by the power of the Spirit... As those who anciently prophesied of His first advent, we also confirm in word and deed the prophecies of His Second Coming.”

So we prophesy of Christ by echoing in testimony the prophesies of the Bible, of the Book of Mormon, and of Latter Day prophets.

We Write According to Our Prophecies

My children are young right now, almost four and almost two, and they do not understand (nor would they appreciate) some of the trials that I face in my life, and my testimony that guides my approach to these trials, and grows in the aftermath of the trials.

In order to preserve these experiences for my children, and for my posterity, I write in a journal, and I write on my blogs. Some day I will read to them from my journal, or allow them to read from my journal, and I as we publish our blogs into books, they will be able to read those at their leisure as well.

President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“What could you do better for your children and your children’s children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved? Some of what you write may be humdrum dates and places, but there will also be rich passages that will be quoted by your posterity.”

I am working on writing more of the “rich passages” that my posterity might quote, and talking about my “triumphs over adversity, [my] recovery after a fall, [my] progress when all seemed black, [and my] rejoicing when [I] had finally achieved.”

It doesn’t do to be negative or belittling of your life in your journal. “The truth should be told, but we should not emphasize the negative. Even a long life full of inspiring experiences can be brought to the dust by one ugly story.” (Pres. Kimball) It also doesn’t need to be made to seem more glamorous than it really is. “Your journal should contain your true self rather than a picture of you when you are ‘made up’ for a public performance.” (Pres. Kimball)

I don’t think I have a problem with painting a more glamorous picture of myself, but occasionally I do dwell on the negative, without talking about how I overcame the negative trial. My goal for my journal writing from now on will be recording those things President Kimball talked about – the triumphs, recoveries, progress, and rejoicing.


I testify that as we talk of Christ, preach of Christ, testify of Christ, prophesy of Christ, and write according to our prophesies, our children will come to know to “what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” I have seen it in my own life as I testify to my children, and I know you will see it in your life with your children.

In what ways to you bear spontanteous testimony, as Elder Bednar counseled? Do you keep a personal journal? What kinds of things do you write about? How do you rejoice in Christ? Have you seen your children look to Christ because of your living this scripture?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

GCBC Week 20: The Doctrine of Christ

(Don't forget to enter the Katherine Nelson CD giveaway! The giveaway closes tomorrow at midnight, so make sure you go get your entry in! I'll have another CD giveaway up tomorrow as well, so come by tomorrow, too. The Katherine Nelson CD is amazing, so you really don't want to miss out. What are you waiting for? Go ENTER!!)

Well, General Conference Book Club participation has definitely been slow this summer - and I will blame it on just that - summer. Hopefully with school getting back in session you will all come back out and participate! I love General Conference, I love GCBC, and I love all of you who come and participate! The discussion is always fantastic. It's like Teachings for our Times every week. And with the ease of the internet. And unlimited participation time. And if you don't want to listen to someone yak on and on about what they think, you can just skip past that comment!

Why wouldn't you want to join us!?

The Doctrine of Christ - by Elder D. Todd Christofferson

I loved this talk. I always love talks that focus on the basics. That's the most important part of the gospel anyway - the basics. And Elder Christrofferson does a pretty good job of being clear about it.
“This is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me. 
“And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. 
“And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. 
“… And whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost. … 
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them” . 
This is our message, the rock upon which we build, the foundation of everything else in the Church. Like all that comes from God, this doctrine is pure, it is clear, it is easy to understand—even for a child. With glad hearts, we invite all to receive it.
Isn't that perfectly put. Definitely simple enough for a child to understand. And the greatest thing is - that's it. The gospel really is that simple. Everything else is, as the prophet Joseph Smith said, an appendage to the fundamental doctrine of the plan of salvation - the atonement of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

As far as understanding what else is doctrine, Elder Christofferson gives us a little bit of a guideline -
At the same time it should be remembered that not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. It is commonly understood in the Church that a statement made by one leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, not meant to be official or binding for the whole Church.
A friend of mine put it this way - if one of the General Authorities or the Apostles says something, or makes an isolated comment, you can take it as good counsel, personal opinion, whatever you want to. If most or all of the apostles have taught the same thing on the subject, it is probably a good bet that that is actual doctrine. An example that comes to mind is teachings about Heavenly Mother. In a recent BYU Studies paper that was published, the authors combed through several hundred teachings by apostles and prophets about Heavenly Mother. Most of the apostles and prophets taught openly about Her, and taught many really inspiring things. There have only been a handful of apostles and prophets who have said we shouldn't talk about her, or that she had no role in our creation or that she's isn't important.

I think that principle - that not everything a prophet or apostles says is doctrine is an important one to understand and keep in mind. A lot of judging goes on in the Church because of people who think they know what the doctrine is, but are really just taking one man's statement and turning it into their own false doctrine (anything that isn't truly doctrine is false doctrine). We should be careful to focus on the true doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we do that, we will never go wrong.

What did you get out of Elder Christofferson's talk?

New to General Conference Book Club? Check it out - About GCBC

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Title of Liberty and the Anti-Nephi-Lehis

Note: This post was originally published on November 18, 2010. I was reminded of some thoughts I had in this post when Paul at A Latter-day Voice wrote about the Anti-Nephi-Lehis. I forgot that I had written about it on this blog until I was looking through some of my first posts on this blog and I found this one. I think the story of the ANL's is one worth discussing in depth, and I enjoyed Paul's insights. If you're itching to read something after you read this, head over and check out his post. It was very good.

I was reading in the Book of Mormon last night (and honestly I’ve been in the same chapter for about 5 nights, because I’ve been so tired it’s been all I could do to read just one verse). I’ve been reading about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies(ANLs) and last night I got to the part where the Lamanites came against the ANLs in war, and the ANLs “prostrated themselves before [the Lamanites] to the earth, and began to call on the name of the Lord...” A few verses later we read that “the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those who had been slain were righteous people ... there was not a wicked man slain among them; but there were more than a thousand brought to the knowledge of the truth; thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people.” We also learn that the people who were converted were “actual descendents of Laman and Lemuel” and not other “mixed breeds” of Lamanites (Amalekites or Amulonites or those after the order of the Nehors).

This time reading the story of the ANLs, I was impressed with the statement that more people joined the ranks of God than were slain, and the only people that were slain were righteous people.

Should we all just lay down our weapons of war and let the wicked kill us?

The first thing I thought of when that question popped into my mind was of Captain Moroni raising the title of liberty.

In the Book of Mormon, Moroni is described this way: “Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.”

He is the one who “rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.”

So obviously, Moroni was a righteous man. So righteous that if every man was like Moroni, Satan would have no power over our hearts. Now there’s righteousness if I ever saw it.

But I had just thought the same thing about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies! So how can both laying down your weapons of war and taking up your weapons of war be righteous actions? Doesn’t that seem contradictory? We should either lay down our weapons of war to be righteous or take them up to be righteous.

How do we decide whether to fight, or whether to lay down our lives?

My next thought was that perhaps it isn’t the fighting for your lives that is bad, but just that the ANLs had chosen their weapons of war, and bloodshed, to be their chosen sign for their covenant of conversion with Heavenly Father. What if instead they had chosen to never take the Lords name in vain again, or if they had covenanted that they would always pray two times a day? What if they hadn’t covenanted to lay down their weapons of war? Well, think of all the thousand people who were converted because the ANLs did lay down their weapons of war. Those people probably would have been killed in their wickedness (because the ANLs were pretty fierce warriors, it seems like). That makes me never want any LDS member of the military anywhere to fight and kill.

But didn’t Captain Moroni and his fellow captains and soldier kill many wicked men in their wickedness?

I guess I just want to know that the ANLs were doing what was right, letting the Lamanites attack and kill them, but also that Captain Moroni was right in fighting for his family and children. And what about Nephi killing Laban? Sometimes wicked people are spared, and sometimes they are killed.

In my search for truth I found a neat article about this subject by Eugene England, a Mormon scholar and former professor at BYU.

He says this: “Like Moroni, Mormon refused to let the long, desperate fighting lead him to bloodthirstiness; instead, as the Lord directed him, he resigned his command to stand by ‘as an idle witness’ when their wickedness led them to fight in a spirit of vengeance.”

Perhaps because the ANLs had been so bloodthirsty before their conversion (killing just for the sake of killing), they chose their weapons of war and bloodshed for the sign of their covenant with Heavenly Father. Kind of like a recovering alcoholic who never takes another drink – even a sip – for fear it will turn them back to their alcoholic ways.

This probably speaks about the righteousness of captain Moroni – that he didn’t let all the warfare and bloodshed make him bloodthirsty, and when his soldiers became wicked and fought for vengeance instead of for freedom,  he stood idly by instead of fighting with them. Perhaps the ANLs were worried that if they ever fought again for their own lives and the lives of their families, once that righteous desire was obtained, they would want to avenge the deaths of their brethren.

My husband and I talk about the seeming paradox between the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” and Nephi killing Laban, and captain Moroni leading his men into battle. However, there is no paradox. Commandments (especially Mosaic law) are God’s way of keeping us out of trouble. Because we should not kill people, but God may use us as instruments to save others, or in the case of Nephi, to save a nation. Even when God gave the commandment “thou shalt not kill,” he still later led His people into battle, or instructed them to wipe out entire peoples. I think God also wants us to understand the grave responsibility of taking another person’s life. Two of the three most abominable sins have to do with life – wrongfully using our power to create life, and wrongfully using our power to take life. Human life is so important to Heavenly Father.

So I think that as long as we have not made a covenant with God not to take up arms, and as long as we are not bloodthirsty, and are not killing for revenge (for “vengeance is mine, Saith the Lord”), it is absolutely righteous for us to take up arms and go to war “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children”.

What do you think about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies and captain Moroni and other righteous people who waged war in defense of their families, freedoms, and religion? Do you think there is a hard and fast rule to when we should lay down our weapons and when we should take them up?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Myth of Equality in the Church

I read a great article today from the 2012 FAIR Conference this past weekend (I did not attend, and this was the only article I read). This particular presentation was given by Neylan McBaine, the founder of The Mormon Women Project. I first came across the presentation on a forum I participate in where the presentation was linked to with the following quote:

I don’t think gender tensions in Mormonism are due to inequality in the religion, but due to invisibility of that equality. The equality is embedded, inherent in Mormon theology, history, texts, structures. Gender equality is built into the blueprints of Mormonism, but obscured in the elaborations.

This was actually a quote from Maxine Hanks, a member of the September Six who was excommunicated in the 80s and re-baptized just last year. Ironically, the main argument of the presentation by Neylan McBaine actually supports the idea that there is not gender equality in the Church structure, or even in the doctrine. She says,

[I]n the outside world, when you say men and women have equal leadership opportunities, you mean — at least ideally — that men and women have the same cleared path to advance to the same positions of influence and authority…

Is there gender discrimination in the Church? If discrimination means separation according to gender, yes. If it means delineation of opportunities based solely on gender, yes. Many argue that different opportunities based on gender is unfair, adverse, and/or abusive by definition. The Church does not satisfy secular gender-related egalitarian ideals, period; and our institutional behavior fits that definition of gender discrimination in several inescapable ways. We shrink away from accurately representing how we work, thinking it condemns us as a church. And in the eyes of the world it might. But the Church does not, and should not, operate according to secular concepts of power, status, etc.; and if we attempt to justify ourselves in this paradigm we will not only fail, but betray our own ideals.

McBaine’s argument here seems to be that there is inherently not gender equality in the Church – not in the way the world would like to define it, anyway – and that the Church should not try to pretend it fits into the world’s definition of “equality”. I tend to agree. A few months ago I shared with you a lot of my thoughts about gender and equality, and how the whole argument seems to be a little messed up and misdirected. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I felt – I had only just recently started thinking seriously about gender roles and equality – and the doctrine we are taught about it. When I read McBaine’s presentation it finally made sense – there is not gender equality in the Church, the way the world defines it, and there shouldn’t be.

In society, the world calls that “separate but equal” – and so far it seems that the Church has tried to go along with that – which gets us into problems, because the last time “separate but equal” was used it ended up before the Supreme Court and eventually in the Senate, where judges and lawmakers in the United States ruled that separate is inherently not equal. Which is true. Separate is not equal. We shouldn’t pretend it is.

Equality Where it Matters

There are fundamental doctrines of equality in the gospel of Jesus Christ. All are invited to come unto Christ, and he denies none.

he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. (2 Nephi 26:33)

We are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father, and as such have infinite worth.

we are the offspring of God (Acts 17:29)

Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; (D&C 18:10)

The atonement of the Savior was for all men.

For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; (D&C 19:16)

Men and women are to work together as equal partners

In these sacred responsibilities, [men and women] are obligated to help one another as equal partners. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)

It’s clear to see that there are definitely facets of equality in the gospel of Jesus Christ – and in my opinion, they occur where the equality needs to be. Women are not more valuable than men, neither are men more valuable than women. This doctrine is clearly illustrated in the highest ordinance possible in the gospel of Jesus Christ – the sealing ordinance. This ordinance can only be obtained by a man and a woman together. No woman can obtain exaltation alone, and no man can obtain it alone. We are “all alike unto God”.

Embracing ‘Inequality’

But what about the inequality? It certainly exists. Men are ordained to offices in the priesthood, and preside over the Church, and women preside over organizations in the Church, but will never preside over the Church itself. One interesting note to make (that doesn’t make it less unequal, but is important to understand that the equality of gender importance extends to these types of inequality) is that a man who is not married will never be ordained to the highest priesthood offices. Any man who serves in an authority position in the Church is married to a woman.

McBaine discussed a Washington Post article in which Michael Otterson, the Public Affairs director for the Church, had a hard time getting across what equality really looks like in the Church (which is to say, equality in the Church really looks like inequality). She said,

The prompt suggests women do not hold leadership positions, therefore women are inferior. I suggest we argue it is true that Mormon women do not hold an equal number of global leadership positions as men, but that is not because they are of lesser value. It is because we believe we are working in an eternal paradigm in which roles and responsibilities are divided up cooperatively rather than hierarchically. Mormonism is a lay church so the members are the ministers, and this is a completely different organizational structure than traditional Christian priesthood or ministry, which is defined as an exclusive or trained clergy…

The prompt’s logic doesn’t adequately leave room for our organization’s cooperative structure of service, where no one person is paid for his or her ministry or deemed of greater value than another and where each brings unique resources to his or her responsibilities…

[I]n a cooperative structure where people are rotating positions every few years and no one is materialistically rewarded over another person, that hierarchy is a flimsy currency on which to base one’s value.

Nowhere does the Lord intimate that various callings and responsibilities are intended to give one person power over another. In fact, the words “lead” and “leader” appear nowhere in this section, and similarly, the word “leader” appears no where in the Book of Mormon. Even that book’s most admirable leaders, like Captain Moroni, are described as “servant[s]” and “righteous follower[s] of Christ.” This emphasis on organizational stability, on the specific roles and responsibilities of various parties to act as facilitators within the larger community, is, we believe, of divine origin and eternal value.

Lastly, the world calculates in terms of top-down power; God’s calculations are exactly opposite. In the divine kingdom the servant holds the highest status, and in the Church every position is a service position. Given the obvious parallels between the Church’s administrative channels and a business organization, it’s easy to mistakenly assess the Church as a ladder-climbing corporation with God in a corner office at the top; but in this line of thinking we only reveal our shoddy human understanding of power.

I loved this break down of what power and authority really mean in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think that McBaine explained it better than I have ever heard it put – and she was very concise. I feel that her explanation of what she calls a “cooperative paradigm” perfectly illustrates what our prophets and leaders have stressed for centuries – that men and women work as equal partners, that the sisters “provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor” (Joseph Smith in Minutes of Relief Society Meetings), and that presiding officers should ask for and seek out the council of sisters in the ward (here).

What Women Really Do in the Church

In a post I wrote about women the priesthood, I mentioned a BYU Devotional by Sister Julie B. Beck in which she discussed how Relief Societies are basically priesthood quorums for women. The devotional is very good, and I encourage an in depth study of her words to help you understand what it means to be a woman in the Church, and what the Relief Society is really about.

McBaine mentioned this in her presentation. She said,

An appendage is “a thing that is added or attached to something larger or more important.” Are not the offices of elder or bishop or teacher or deacon appendages to the priesthood, and not the priesthood itself? Are these so different from the female organizations, which we routinely call “auxiliaries”?

According to Sister Beck, our Relief Societies, or “auxiliaries” are indeed not very different from the “appendages” that are priesthood quorums. And as women, we need to understand that – and when we do understand that position of the Relief Society we will be able to fully unleash the power that President Kimball promised was available to us when he said, “There is a power in this organization that has not yet been fully exercised… nor will it until both the sisters and [the brethren] catch the vision of Relief Society.”

Embracing the Inequality

McBaine concluded her presentation with suggestions ward leaders could implement (which are in keeping with current policies of the Church) to help women catch that vision. Some of my favorites were having Young Women assigned as companions to Visiting Teachers, as Young Men are assigned as home teaching companions. Or at least encourage adult women to bring Young Women along with them on visiting teaching assignments. Having more visibility of women in ward and stake leadership positions. My personal favorite – addressing Presidents of organizations as such “President Johns” rather than “Sister Johns” for the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary presidents (and I would add the Quorum presidents in the ward priesthood organization).

And for heaven’s sake, let’s teach our children the real doctrine about the priesthood and prophets. I was shocked at how McBaine seemed surprised to hear that her great-great-grandmother was referred to in her patriarchal blessing as a “prophetess and revelator”.

Can you imagine using such language of empowerment to describe the female leaders in your wards? If we grew accustomed to hearing our women leaders speak as authorities, as prophetesses and revelators, and referred to them that way ourselves, perhaps there would be fewer among us who feel the need for a soda or bathroom break when the female speaker comes on the screen during General Conference.

Why, yes I can, Sister McBaine. I have thought of my mother (and myself, and my aunts and my cousins, and the Relief Society and Young Women’s presidencies) as prophetesses since I knew what a prophet really was. It’s probably the reason why I don’t have a problem with men being ordained to priesthood offices. I’m sure it has something to do with the reason why I have always enjoyed hearing the General Young Women’s, Primary, and Relief Society presidencies speak. And I know it’s the reason why I am so confident that there is nothing in this gospel that I can’t have and a man can. The only things I can’t get on my own are things that a man can’t get on his own either.

Have you ever tried to “explain away” the inequality in the Church? How do you feel about embracing it? Do you believe that, in the ways of the world, there truly is an inherent inequality between men and women in the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is it really inequality in God’s plan? Do we need to abolish all differences between men and women in order to truly be “equal”?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

But why?

Note: This post was originally published on April 16, 2010. I'm reposting it this week because I am on vacation! And because it was an awesome post from the very beginning days of this blog, and deserves to be republished!

Little children love to ask questions.

Why? What is that? What are you doing?

A constant stream of inquiry comes from their precious lips, and behind that is a genuine interest and need to know.

My freshman year of college, my religion teacher taught us to ask questions as we read the scriptures. Each day before class we were supposed to write a one page paper on our reading assignment for that day. Our teacher never gave us guidelines on margins or font sizes. It was simply to be one page. There was one requirement though – that we ask, and answer, a question about the reading.

That semester was probably some of the most productive scripture study of my life. I felt myself digging into the scriptures, asking questions, wanting to know more – and most important were the answers that I received to those questions.

“Ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you…”

I haven’t been asking questions lately in my reading, but tonight, as I was studying Alma chapter 7, where Alma is teaching of the prophesies of Christ, and the events that will be His life, I found myself in a dialogue with the scriptures.

“And he will take upon him death…”

Why? My three year old knows this simple truth – that Jesus died for us. What does it meant that He died “for us”?

“…that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people;…”

Jesus died so that we can live again. His death was so significant because He had to die to be resurrected. He had to die so that He could live, and if He can live again, so can we. Thus, the bands of death are loosed.

“…he will take upon him their infirmities…”

Why? Why would He, in His glorious perfection, take up our burdens, our feelings of grief and pain and guilt because of our weaknesses?

“…that his bowels may be filled with mercy…that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:12)

So Jesus suffered for us so that He could know how to LOVE us better! Do I think of suffering for others in this way? When I take upon myself the burdens of others (as I covenanted to do at baptism) do I learn “how to succor” those people? Is that what I am learning? Do I complain about the pain, or do I rejoice in my increased ability to LOVE others?

I feel increased in my gospel understanding. I feel renewed in my commitment to live the gospel and be more Christ-like.

When I engage in dialogue with the scriptures, instead of simply reading, I feel as if God’s word has distilled “upon [my] soul as the dews from heaven.” (D&C 121:45)

Do you ask questions when you read the scriptures? Do you feel like you find the answers? Have you ever felt like you had a dialogue with the words in the scriptures?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Needed Break

My husband travels a lot for his job. All around the world. It isn’t too bad, he’s usually only gone for a few weeks at a time, but that means that when he’s home all he wants to do is… be home. So we haven’t really been on a vacation as a family in… well, forever it seems.

Last week we got news that his most recent assignment that was going to start on Monday and would last two months fell through and he wouldn’t be going anywhere – except when he goes to Germany in September. I had already made plans to drive across the country to visit my home town and my parents for a few weeks after he left for his two month assignment, so instead of canceling my trip, we just added another traveler!

I don’t know how much time I’ll have for blogging while I’m driving across the country and catching up with friends – don’t worry, the giveaway is still on, and there will be another one next week! But I was going back through some of my old posts that I wrote when I first started this blog, and some of them were pretty good, if I do say so myself! And so I’ll be reposting a lot of those older posts, because I just can’t stand all these posts in hiding with no comments and no views! Blame it on my pride.

Also, just to show you that I am a little bit humble and I don’t think I’m the only one with good things to say, I would love to have some guest posts on the blog while I’m away. So email them to me at mysouldelighteth (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll put them up in the next few weeks while I’m gone.

And guess what!? General Conference is only two months away!! Can you believe it!? I’m a Conference junkie… seriously. I just can’t get enough. It’s like Christmas comes twice a year! Who else is excited!? If you haven’t been participating in General Conference Book Club, you should really come check it out. I will definitely be keeping up on General Conference Book Club. Don’t you worry about that!

I am really excited for the next few weeks on this blog. I hope we can have some great discussions about the scriptures and the gospel – and I hope you all enjoy the giveaways planned! Two CD giveaways, and at the beginning of September I will have another book review with a giveaway – and I’m really excited about that one because it is a collaboration with my husband – I always love working with that hunk of handsomeness.

(can you tell I’m in a really good mood!? Vacations are really good for me!)

What have you been doing this summer? Are you vacationing? Getting ready for back-to-school? How do you keep up on your gospel study while you’re vacationing?

*photo credit: breahn

Monday, August 6, 2012

We Are All BORN BRAVE {CD Giveaway!!}

The last time I did a giveaway on this blog was almost a year ago(!) in celebration of me writing the 100th blog post for this blog. Since then I have written nearly 200 more posts and the readership of the blog has grown at about the same rate! I’d say it’s definitely time for a giveaway, and thanks to, I’ve got a couple of great CDs to give away this month.
YourLDSRadio is an online streaming radio station that provides constant uplifting music, mostly from LDS composers and artists, although I was just listening and they played I Hope You Dance by LeAnn Womack, so it looks like they throw in some other stuff every now and then. If you’re looking for some nice background music you know is safe to listen to with the kids around, this would probably be it.

If there’s one thing you should know about me it is that I love music. Now, I am not your average music lover. I love music. I get emotional when I am listening to music – just about any music. Seriously, The Itsy Bitsy Spider can get me choked up. I don’t know what it is, but music speaks to me in a way that nothing else ever has or probably ever will. It may be the reason why I end up being the choir director in every ward I attend. I am passionate about music. I believe that music is a very spiritual thing – and can be used to uplift, or to tear down.

When YourLDSRadio contacted me and asked if I would like to review a few CDs for them, and give a few away on the blog, I jumped at the chance.

The first CD I listened to was Katherine Nelson’s new CD, Born Brave. I popped it into my CD player and pressed play. At first I almost cringed. Country? I’m not a huge country fan. A few of my favorite songs these days are a little more country, but I’m still not all about the country music. But it didn’t take long for the catchy tunes, pick-me-up beat, and uplifting words of Katherine’s songs to get me moving. Her album is officially my first country album, and it’s probably my favorite album (of all of them).
The feel of Katherine’s music reminds me a little bit of Kelly Clarkson’s the “girl power” songs. But much less angry. Each song I listen to on this album makes me feel more empowered. I feel like she really gets what it means to be a woman – and that there are so many different faces of women who need to feel empowered.

You know how you listen to an album and you usually have one or two favorites from the album? Not so with Katherine. I love every single one of her songs. The ones that move me the most (remember, I cry when I hear music) are “Good for Me” and “What’s Mine is Yours”.

The lyrics for the chorus of “Good for Me” are especially poignant for me. I studied math and physics in college. I always thought I would be an engineer. Or maybe an accountant or businesswoman. Some days I thought about going to law school after my undergraduate studies. I would have been a “courageous woman out there in shiny shoes and business suits.” But there was something else I needed to do – which doesn’t mean that there aren’t women out there who should be out there in the world. Good for them. But there is a significant work to be done in homes, and if people think that a woman who “gives up” a career in order to raise a family is “doing it all wrong”, my house isn’t a place to do it – I’m doing it all right. And good for me.
“Here’s to courageous women out there in shiny shoes and business suits
Good for you
But hats off to the women in the kitchen who run the world
Raising boys and girls.”
The story behind, and in, “What’s Mine is Yours” is about infertility, pregnancy and infant loss, and giving up children for adoption. I’ve never personally been in that situation, and I honestly don’t know if I would be able to survive such a trial. My heart feels like breaking when I hear of the heartache of others who lose children, and I just can’t imagine going through it myself. I am positive I would die of a broken heart.
However, the chorus of this song seems to go beyond that for me. It is about giving up what we think we want for what God really wants for us.
“What’s mine is yours
It’s always been
What slips through my hands has your fingerprints on it
I’m letting go
Though Heaven’s doors feel shut they’re wide open
What’s mine is yours”
I think about Emma Smith and how everything she had she gave to the Lord – what’s hers was his, and she understood that. I want to have faith to be able to truly say to God “What’s mine is yours”. That is definitely a brave thing to do.

Speaking of Emma Smith, one of the songs on this album is about Emma, who was probably the bravest woman who ever lived, except maybe Mary, the mother of Christ. I had actually heard this song on The Nashville Tribute Band’s CD “Joseph: A Nashville Tribute to the Prophet” that I won in a giveaway last summer, and it quickly became my favorite song – especially because I was going through a particularly hard time in my life when I felt like I “couldn’t let the world see [me] cry”, and “Every time your life turned a page, It seemed like your heart might break.” Now I don’t want to compare my trials to those of Emma, but we all have times in our lives when that is true – when each turn of life’s pages seems like it brings more heartache and sorrow, and we wonder, when will be our joy?
The line of Emma’s song that really does a number on me says, “And I’m sure your heart breaks When some people still say Somewhere down the line you lost your faith.”

It’s a really powerful song, and is one I’ll listen to on repeat for hours (okay, maybe not that long, but you get the idea). I actually like the Nashville Tribute version better, sung by Mindy Gledhill, but perhaps that’s just because it was the first one I heard. I think it has more to do with the instrumentals than with the vocals (the Nashville Tribute’s instrumentals are more robust than Katherine’s). But the song is just as powerful – and almost more powerful because it’s coupled with all the other songs on this amazing CD.

(random interesting tidbit – I wanted to listen to Katherine’s CD while I wrote this review, so I typed in “Katherine Nelson” on iTunes so it would bring up her album. Who would’ve known, she also sang two of my very favorite EFY songs from my EFY days! I love it when I find out amazing people wrote or sang my favorite songs.)

Want a chance to win this amazing CD? Well, here’s your chance, thanks to Your LDS Radio. I’ve got one copy of Katherine’s new CD to give away – so you can rock out to some uplifting “girl power” music!

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post telling me about a time when you or another woman you know showed that they were BORN BRAVE.

The giveaway will end on Monday August 13, 2012 at 11:59pm. The winner will be chosen by a random number generator at I will post the winner on Tuesday, August 14 so check back then to see if you have won!

This giveaway is closed.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

GCBC Week 19: The Vision of Prophets Regarding Relief Society

I know I wasn’t the only one who knew in the back of my mind that the Relief Society presidency was going to be reorganized at April General Conference. I’m positive I was the only one who had to choke back tears when I lifted my hand to thank Sister Julie B. Beck for her service as General Relief Society President. Sister Beck was called to the General Young Women’s presidency shortly before I graduated high school, and I remember feeling a kind of connection with her when she spoke. I am sure that Sister Beck’s calling to the Relief Society presidency was divinely inspired, and that God’s timing was perfect.

So when I heard that Sister Beck was going to be speaking anyway in General Conference I almost cheered. One more talk from this elect lady! I was ecstatic.

And then I readied my pen and my ear. Whatever she had to say I was sure would be profound. And I had long begun my journey to find out what it really meant to be a woman – a journey I felt guided on by Sister Beck herself.

I am thrilled to discuss this talk with you! So, ladies (and gentlemen, if there are any lurking out there), let’s get to it.

I appreciated Sister Beck’s comment that “Just as the Lord’s prophets have continually taught elders and high priests their purposes and duties, they have shared their vision for the sisters of the Relief Society.” Too often we whine and complain about how little the prophets give the sisters direction – that usually they just pat us on the head and tell us we’re amazing. I agree with Sister Beck – there is a lot more direction and instruction that we realize, and I think we’d be better off actually searching for that direction rather than whining about how little exists.

Not to mention that whenever our leaders discuss fulfilling priesthood responsibilities, they are talking to sisters as well. Not being ordained to the priesthood does not exempt us from our priesthood responsibilities. The Relief Society was organized after the pattern of the priesthood. Sister Beck has taught us that the Relief Society is our equivalent of a priesthood quorum, and we should treat it as such.

The amount of teachings about Relief Society and our purpose and responsibilities as women has surprised me as I have sought out those teachings from prophets and leaders. I am anxious to learn more about Relief Society and really understand what it is, and what I should be doing as a member of Relief Society.

Sister Beck reminded us that, “Relief Society is not a program.” And it isn’t. It’s a priesthood organization to which women belong, and we have sacred responsibilities as members of that organization.

What stood out to you in Sister Beck’s talk?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Beginning of Better Days {Book Review}

The first thing I thought of when I slid this book out of its envelope was “But it’s so small!” I was a little disappointed – the book that was supposed to contain Joseph Smith’s divine instruction to women was barely over 100 pages. Imagine my further surprise when I flipped through and saw that the first 80 pages or so were actually essays about his sermons by Virginia H. Pearce and Sheri Dew. I guess I just didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into.

However, my excitement at being able to read the minutes from the first Relief Society meetings overpowered my surprise at their brevity, and so I started reading. I was enjoying Sister Pearce’s essay when I thought to myself “I should go read the minutes first.” So I skipped to the back and read the minutes from Joseph Smith’s talks. In my haste to finish the book for this review, I didn’t take the chance to study the minutes in depth, but I plan on keeping this book close by over the next several months to study those minutes. Chances are it will find a permanent home next to my copy of Daughters in My Kingdom.

Our Stake Relief Society presidency has challenged the sisters in our stake to read the entire Daughters in My Kingdom book by the General Relief Society Broadcast in September. I think adding these minutes to my course of study in preparation for that meeting will yield some great spiritual results.

After I finished the minutes themselves I turned back to Sister Pearce’s essay to read what she had to say. I found myself really enjoying her essay. Sister Pearce had done a lot of study of the history of the Church to give some context to the instruction from the prophet Joseph Smith, and I appreciated the background. I always like to know the historical context in which divine instruction is given – I feel like it helps me understand how to apply it to my life. My favorite companions to my scripture study are often the Seminary and Institute manuals for that reason – they give a lot of historical context, but social history and Church history. Sister Pearce’s essay was pretty personal – she mostly talked about the things she learned from the minutes, and what effect they had on her personally. In fact, her essay reminded me a lot of this blog – just an LDS woman trying to figure out her place in this world, her place in the gospel, and her place in God’s eyes, and recording that journey for all the world to see.

Sister Pearce also included several great quotes from modern General Authorities – and a particularly good one from President Eyring.

Sister Sheri Dew’s essay was about twice as long as Sister Pearce’s essay, and a little preachy. I would read one sentence from Sister Dew’s essay that I was a little uncomfortable with, or disagreed with, and then the next sentence I would want to shout “Amen!” or underline. It was a little strange, finding so much I loved among so much that I didn’t quite agree with.

I did appreciate that Sister Dew addressed nearly every concern women in the Church could have – and she addressed them all head on. In response to possible criticism that it took 12 years for Joseph Smith to organize the women “after the pattern of the priesthood” she pointed out that “it took nearly fifty years from the organization of the Church for all the saving ordinances for the dead to be implemented”, referring specifically to the fact that the temple endowment was not performed vicariously until 1877 in the St. George Temple.

It was Sister Dew’s comments about the priesthood that made me a little uncomfortable. While I don’t think she was preaching any false doctrine I was a little taken aback with the finality of a lot of her statements about women not holding the priesthood of God. I liked Virginia Pearce’s observations on the priesthood better than Sister Dew’s, but like I said, she didn’t say anything wrong. She just seemed to be narrow in her interpretation. But I guess it is a fair juxtaposition to Sister Pearce’s essay. More perspectives are better than fewer.

My favorite part about Sister Dew’s essay was how she referenced several scripture passages that she had studied, without really telling us everything she learned from those passages – which I took as an invitation to study those passages myself, something I plan on doing in the near future. She lists several sections in the Doctrine and Covenants that she studied to learn more about the priesthood, and included other lists of sections which she studied to understand the temple. Both of these are areas where I have room to understand more (don’t we all?) and so I plan on following her example and studying the sections she listed in her essay.

After I finished reading The Beginning of Better Days, I went online to the Joseph Smith Papers project and looked up the Relief Society minute book. The book in its entirety online is 153 pages. Obviously not all of that is instruction from the Prophet Joseph Smith, but I imagine there is a lot of gold in the minute book, and I plan to find all of it.

I am glad to have the words of Joseph Smith extracted from the minutes in this book, The Beginning of Better Days and I plan on studying his words in depth, along with the essays from Sister Pearce and Sister Dew. I can’t believe that these instructions have been here all along (I’m pretty sure the minutes have been available since the 1980s) and I am just barely learning about them. And I always enjoy reading other people’s insights about the gospel – it’s why I read blogs, after all!

This book is something I have been looking for – people talking specifically about women in the Church, doctrines in the Church about women, and teachings of the prophets specifically about women. I have been devouring any book, talk, article, or other resource I can find that addresses women and the gospel – specifically women’s roles, and the priesthood as it relates to women. This book does a lot of what I was hoping for – including address (albeit it briefly) a lot of those “hard” topics. I thought Sheri Dew did a pretty good job of taking those topics head on, even if I didn’t always like how she said things. But more perspectives are always better than a few (or none). Reading this book felt like I was lapping up drops of water falling off a leaf in the rain forest.

In a recent trip to Deseret Book I scoured the shelves, looking for something, anything that could help me better understand what it means to be a woman. The closest thing I found was a small pamphlet about Eve by Camille Fronk. The pamphlet was nice, but what I was looking for was this book, The Beginning of Better Days.

I was just a few months early, but I am glad I found those drops of fresh water.

What I am really looking for is a fresh spring, but parched as I am, I’ll take the drops of water from the rain forest leaves any day.

The Beginning of Better Days was released on August 2, 2012 and is available for purchase through Deseret Book.

{Disclaimer: I was provided an advanced reader’s edition of the book The Beginning of Better Days by Deseret Book for review purposes. This review is my own honest opinions about the book and my opinions are in no way affected by the company providing the book.}

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Some Time Each Day

Several months ago I was listening to one of Sister Julie B. Beck’s Q&As on the Mormon Channel and she said something I have heard her say before, but this time it really hit me.


As a busy mother of small children it’s easy to skip scripture study, or not do it because I feel like if I don’t have a whole hour to devote to some serious study of the gospel I might as well scrap it all. But Sister Beck’s counsel is wise. While it is nice to be able to spend hours on end in gospel study that kind of study isn’t always realistic – especially from mothers of small children who seem to need something at all hours of the day and night.

But “some” is a very loose term, and at different times in our lives “some” time might be simply reading our favorite verse, or a familiar chapter. There may be other seasons where “some” time means we get to read page or two before bed. Even other times in our lives we may have the opportunity for “some” time to mean we get to study a passage, experience, or story from the scriptures in some depth and detail, cross referencing with the footnotes, looking up other resources online or from other materials we may have.

For me, right now, spending “some” time in the scriptures each day is reading my Book of Mormon each night – whether it be one verse or two pages. I have been slacking lately because I have let myself be convinced by the lie that it isn’t worth it unless I can really study what I am reading.

But even one verse of the scriptures can work miracles with our souls. By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

What does “some time” each day look like in your life? How has the amount of time you’ve been able to spend in the scriptures changed as you have gone through the seasons of life? How do you make the most of the “some” time you spend in the scriptures each day?

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