Thursday, October 10, 2013

When I Am Baptized Clarinet/Flute/Violin Obligato

A clarinet obbligato I arranged for our ward primary program. Please feel free to use at will for personal or church us. Please do not remove my name from the arrangement, and don't sell my arrangement.

Below you will find links to PDF copies of sheet music for both the clarinet version and the flute/violin/other C instrument version.

Update 1/3/2014: Sorry for the delay in getting the PDFs up! They are up and accessible now!

When I Am Baptized - C Instrument Obligato (for flute or violin)

When I Am Baptized - Clarinet Obligato (for Bb Clarinet)

Other instruments available upon request.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Can Ye Feel So Now?

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of personal inspiration for me. After going through a time in my life when I felt cut off from God, when I wondered where He was hiding from me (and why) this has felt a little like the spring snow melt rushing down the rivers from the mountains, cleansing the rivers from the stagnant waters of the summer and winter months.

It started a few weeks ago when I started attending an institute class. The title of the class is "Receiving and Understanding Personal Revelation. I am going to admit that I didn't get much out of the first class. I felt like a zombie during the class - I hadn't slept at all the two nights before that, and had just started teaching school two days before. But the second week I was more rested, and ready to learn - and what I learned changed my life. Very quickly.

Brother Casaday, our instructor, led a fantastic discussion about the different parts of testimony. We read Doctrine and Covenants section 8 verse 2 which talks about how the Holy Ghost affects us in our minds and in our hearts and came up with three aspects of testimony - KNOW, FEEL, DO.

As I sat in class, pondering this concept, I thought about my own status in each of the aspects.

Do I know the Church is true? Absolutely. Always have, probably always will. I just know. I think it is one of my spiritual gifts. ("To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world." D&C 46:13) I definitely claim it as a gift, because I don't think that I did anything to deserve this knowledge, and I don't think I have been more pious than others who perhaps don't have this knowledge. I simply know. Like I know I exist. It's that clear to me, and no one could ever convince me that it isn't true.

Do I DO? Do I live the gospel? Yes! Not perfectly, but I consider myself someone who actively lives the gospel - I serve others, I keep my covenants, I rely on the atonement for repentance when I mess up, and to heal me when I am wounded. And when I fall short (because I do) I understand that tomorrow is a new day and I can try again. I consider that living the gospel.

Do I feel the Holy Ghost? Rather than being discouraged that the answer was "No" I actually almost jumped out of my chair. I figured it out! The reason I have been feeling so separated from God is because I don't feel it anymore! I know the gospel is true and I live it, but for some reason I couldn't feel it anymore.

But then came the hard part. How do I feel again? I shared my dilemma with a few friends who know what my personal situation has been for the past several years. Sometimes you just need outside eyes to tell you something that might be hard to see from the inside. One friend said:
When you've experienced a lot of spiritual trauma, there is a period of time needed for your spirit to heal. I liken it to the period of recovery time needed after every long run you take in preparation for a marathon.
My sense from what I know of you and what you've shown of your testimony is that what you've been dealing with the past few years has stretched and broken you down and that you're now in that "recovery" period where you are rebuilding your spiritual and emotional muscles again, stronger than they were before.
As I read this friend's words I realized what she was saying was absolutely true. In the past few years of spiritual trauma I have been working so hard to shut down my emotions and feelings to protect myself form a lot of hurt I experienced. I unintentionally made myself numb not only to the pain, but also to the joy of the gospel.

And so I figured I should start on a journey to feel again.

I started praying more fervently, studying the Book of Mormon more purposefully, and trying to figure out how to un-numb myself. I figured it was going to be a long process, and I didn't expect to be fully back to feeling for months, maybe even years.

Then last week a call came from my bishop, saying the Stake President would like to meet with me. I was a little surprised, I wasn't aware he knew my situation, although thinking about it now it's obvious that the bishop would have informed him. But mostly I was excited and a little nervous. But when President Edwards and one of the counselors in our bishopric walked into my home that Wednesday evening (four days ago now) I just felt peace. After a brief visit, President Edwards said he felt prompted to ask me when the last time was that I had a priesthood blessing. I couldn't even tell him when the last time had been. I told him I would love for him to give me a blessing, and he did. There was a lot in that blessing, but the part that is relevant to this post was the feeling of warmth that washed over me and seemed to melt the block of ice I had placed around my heart. The sensation of emotion coming back to me was immediate and overwhelming, and I couldn't stop the sobs that came from my body. For the first time in years, the sobbing was not from pain or hurt or anguish, but rather from joy and peace and comfort.

Since that night my life has been different. My spirit is rejuvenated, my testimony is strong, I feel peace and joy and hope every day - feel it, not just know it!

I know not everyone who perhaps struggles with a loss of feeling will have the same experience I had - perhaps for you it will be more gradual. But it is possible to have that feeling back - I believe it. I know it. The atonement of Jesus Christ covers all pain.

If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now? (Alma 5:26)

Monday, May 20, 2013

I Was One of Them - Ephraim's Rescue

I just got back from a screening of Ephraim's Rescue. I tell you what - wow. I don't remember a movie that was so well made and so touching since Legacy and The Testaments. Honestly, I was a little skeptical because I had watched 17 Miracles a few weeks ago and I didn't have the best experience. That's not to say the stories weren't incredible (my husband's ancestor, Ann Jewel, was in the film), but the film was hard to follow because of all the individual stories with no real common thread tying them all together. I wondered if Ephraim's Rescue would be similar.

I was pleasantly surprised with the film. I laughed, cried, pondered, believed. The music was fantastic, and the script was clever. There are two separate story lines, but they end up converging at the end in a glorious finish.

My favorite thing about this film is that it shows how two ordinary men with great human weaknesses become great tools in the hand of the Lord. Of course, He has told us that he will "show forth [his] wisdom through the weak things of the earth." The story of Ephraim Hanks is an amazing example of that promise from the Lord.

There is a line at the end of the movie where Ephraim comments that there were many on those plains that needed rescuing, and, he says, "I was one of them."

Today, after watching that movie, I felt like I was one of them, too.

Indeed, I think I was rescued, too.

The film comes out in theaters on May 31. It's definitely worth seeing. The people who worked on the film are great people and media like this definitely deserves our support.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Heavenly Mother at Real Intent

Anath sepulchral stela, Encyclopaedia Britannica
Have you ever wondered about Heavenly Mother?

Well, head on over to my post today at Real Intent and join our discussion about her. It's been lively so far, and very enlightening.

If you have questions about how to separate culture and doctrine submit a question here or over at Real Intent and we'll try to do a little research to get you started finding answers.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

GCBC Week 6: "This is my Work and my Glory"

Image Credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video
A lot of thoughts came to me as I read through Elder Ballard's talk. I love talks about the Priesthood power. That power is very significant in my life and my spirituality. I have a lot of thoughts tossing around now, but I think they deserve a little more thought and study and then their own blog post. I am also excited to watch and study the new worldwide leadership training video Elder Ballard referenced in his talk (you can view or download it here)

What were your thoughts about Elder Ballard's talk?

“This Is My Work and Glory”Elder M. Russell Ballard

If you are new to General Conference Book Club, click here to find out more. The basic idea is to study one General Conference talk each week between April conference and October conference, and to chat about the talk here in the comment section. You can also link up (using the linky tool below) to your own blog post about this talk. The link up will be open until I post the next week's talk, but if you study this talk later and missed the link up, feel free to post your link in the comment section.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Delighting in Film

Image Credit: gailf548
Earlier this week I posted about the launch event for T.C. Christensen's new movie, Eprhaim's Rescue (in theaters May 31). The first person who spoke to us was Authur Van Wagenen, the product director for Excel Entertainment and Deseret Book. He said something I found really interesting. He talked about movies and movie theater, and the way we connect with other people in a movie theater. He also said something about the movie theater being the most sacred place for his family, after the temple and the chapel.

While the thought of wasting two hours of my life watching a movie usually makes me create a laundry list in my head of all the things I go do in two hours, I do love a good movie. I'm very picky about the movies I watch - if I am going to spend two hours of my precious time watching a movie it has to be a lot of things. First of all, it must be meaningful. I have to come away from the moving wanting to be a better person, wanting to change something in myself and the world in a very real way. But a movie can't just be meaningful for me - ideally it will also be a well made movie, with good acting, a great script (that should usually have at least a little bit of comic relief, if it is a more serious film), enjoyable cinematography, and hopefully poignant music that helps the viewer connect with the images on the screen.

Some movies and documentaries that fit this bill for me are Fireproof, Courageous, Slumdog Millionaire, Waiting for Superman, Admission, and Rise of the Guardians, just to name a few I have seen recently.

At the Ephraim's Rescue launch event, I was given a copy of 17 Miracles (which I hadn't seen). The movie was definitely inspiring - in fact, it made me want to tell pioneer stories to my children. My mother used to tell us stories of our pioneer ancestors all the time. One of the stories in 17 Miracles is actually of my husband's great-great grandmother, Ann Jewel Rowley. The story of the hard sea biscuits that she prayer over and turned into enough food to feed their family that night. The experiences of the Saints who traveled the plains were truly miracles.

In complete honesty, 17 Miracles was not the best movie I had seen. The story line seemed a little fragmented and sometimes I had a hard time following who were were talking about, but because T.C. was trying to tell all 17 stories as accurately as possible. Rather than creating a fictional family to whom all the miracles happen (which would be a pretty unbelievable story) we had to jump around to the different families who were experiencing these things. But the music was excellent, and the script was pretty well written, and the acting was really superb. So in all, the movie was great.

Which gives me high expectations for Ephraim's Rescue.

What films have you found meaningful, or have inspired you?

"Life doesn't come with a manual. It comes with a mother."

For those of you don't really care for Mothers Day, I offer this post by Cheryl at Real Intent: Learning to be Okay with (and Maybe Love) Mothers Day

Mothers' day was always a great day when I was growing up. I loved waking up early with my dad to make my mom breakfast in bed. I loved working with my siblings to make or buy my mom the perfect gift.

My mom is a great lady. I think the thing that impresses me the most about my mom now is how much she keeps learning. My mom is always learning something new. I remember when she asked me once how to copy and paste on our new computer (no more F keys - remember those old IBMs and Word Perfect on a blue screen?). Now my mom is a pretty proficient web designer. She knows how to build a website, which is crazy awesome. To give you a little taste of what my mom has been up to, you can check out our family history website that she has done an amazing job with:

Now that I am a mother, Mothers' Day has a little more meaning for me. Unfortunately, my husband was out of the country last year on Mothers' Day, and he is gone this Mothers' Day, too. But he makes every day feel like Mothers' Day for me. He is always appreciating the job that I do as a mother, and that helps me feel good about the job I am doing.

And it is a tough job.

These videos have been floating around on the internet for the past few days, and I thought I would share them here if you haven't seen them yet.

So, happy Mothers' Day to all of you Mothers out there. And every woman is a mother, in my opinion.

How are you appreciating the mothers in your life this year?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Today I attended a launch event at Deseret Book for a new film, Ephraim's Rescue. It is the true story of Ephraim Hanks, one of the first on the scene to rescue the Martin and Willie handcart companies.

I just got back from grocery shopping after a ridiculously long day, so I won't write a whole lot about it right now. But I will share the trailer, because this movie is awesome. I do have lots to say about the event and the movie, and all the people involved, I'm just too tired to do much tonight.

Without further ado, I give you the trailer for Ephraim's Rescue, coming May 31! Watch for it at a theater near you!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

GCBC Week 5: "The Savior Wants to Forgive"

I am grateful that the Savior wants to forgive. I am also grateful for the knowledge we have of a merciful, forgiving God. Isn't that a much better thought than someone who wants to make us pay for every sin we have committed? Isn't is a beautiful thought that a man loved us so much that He gave himself as an offering for our sins? He offered himself to satisfy the demands of justice, allowing God to be merciful and forgive us.

Can we even imagine the love He must feel for us?

What were your thoughts about Elder Cardon's talk?

The Savior Wants to Forgive - Elder Craig A. Cardon

If you are new to General Conference Book Club, click here to find out more. The basic idea is to study one General Conference talk each week between April conference and October conference, and to chat about the talk here in the comment section. You can also link up (using the linky tool below) to your own blog post about this talk. The link up will be open until I post the next week's talk, but if you study this talk later and missed the link up, feel free to post your link in the comment section.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

GCBC Week 4: "We Are Daughters of our Heavenly Father"

This is a picture of me and my sister, Christy, when we were young (5 and 7?) When I turned twelve and entered the Young Women program at Church I couldn't wait for my sister to join me. I remember helping her memorize the Young Women theme and the excitement I felt that she was going to learn all the things I had been learning - which obviously wasn't much in just two years.

I knew of my divinity as a daughter of God long before I entered the Young Women program, but the fellowship of the other young women in the ward and my leaders helped solidify that knowledge.

I know a lot of young women were sad to see Sister Dalton go - probably similarly to when Sister Beck was released last year. I'm not sure how Sister Dalton got through her talk, knowing she would be released in the next session.

What were your thoughts about Sister Dalton's talk?

We are Daughters of our Heavenly Father - Sister Elaine S. Dalton

If you are new to General Conference Book Club, click here to find out more. The basic idea is to study one General Conference talk each week between April conference and October conference, and to chat about the talk here in the comment section. You can also link up (using the linky tool below) to your own blog post about this talk. The link up will be open until I post the next week's talk, but if you study this talk later and missed the link up, feel free to post your link in the comment section.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I Never Would Have Known

I have written before about feminist topics, and it's no secret that while I feel compassion for the women who have suffered because of the ignorance of men (and women) in the Church, I have been completely unimpressed and sometimes annoyed by the Mormon feminist movement.

Today, my feelings changed.

I have never been particularly concerned about what it meant to be a woman. I loved the Young Women's organization but was excited to be a member of the Relief Society where I could mingle with woman of all ages and learn from their wisdom. I knew that I had a lot to learn from such amazing women, women I wanted to be like - but if you had asked me what it meant to be a woman I wouldn't have been able to tell you. I may have said something involving service and motherhood and Relief Society, but I doubt I would have said anything about the priesthood, and I probably wouldn't have said anything about Heavenly Mother (although I was firmly convinced of her existence and love for me - as a lover of the hymns, my favorite lines of "O, My Father" are the ones that mention her - "Truth is reason, truth, eternal, tells me I've a mother there" and "Father, Mother, may I meet you in your royal courts on high?").

Then the Relief Society published the book Daughters in My Kingdom. At first I didn't read it. In fact, I  only briefly leafed through the pages. I was a busy mother of small children, and reading a book about the Relief Society didn't really interest me at the time.

But then something stirred in me.

Image Credit:
I think it was around the time of the General Relief Society broadcast in September 2011, although my heart was being prepared during perhaps the year before that as I talked to my sister about starting a blog for LDS women, with authors in all walks of life - young women, young wives with children, young wives without children, those who had adopted, those who were infertile, older women, working moms, stay at home moms, retired mom, older women who had never married or had children. I envisioned a Zion for women.

Then I started searching for blogs for LDS Women. I eventually found and fell in love with Heather's blog, Women in the Scriptures, among others, but in my searching I also stumbled across some not-quite-what-I-was-looking for blogs. Like Feminist Mormon Housewives, and Mormon Mommy Wars, to name a few. As I read what other women were writing I realized that there were women who didn't understand what it meant to be a woman in the Church, and I found myself wondering if I really knew what it meant.

That was when something stirred in me.

I wanted to know, really know, what it meant to be a woman, a daughter of God. I knew what it meant to be a mother - I had been preparing for that my entire life. But I wasn't sure I knew what it meant to be a woman.

About the same time I was going through this quest for an understanding of womanhood, the Mormon feminist movement gained momentum. I am pretty sure a large part of that was fueled by questions about Mormonism surrounding the United States presidential primaries, since one of the most likely candidates was a Mormon. But every time I turned around, people were talking to women like Joanna Brooks - disillusioned, non-practicing Mormon women who had been hurt and oppressed by unrighteous men in their lives, and were taking out their frustration and anger on the Church. I became increasingly frustrated and annoyed with their presence in the media and their criticism of Church leaders. Where were the women like me?

Over the past few years I have learned a lot about what it means to be a woman. Most of my new understand has come, ironically, through discussion and articles prompted by the Mormon feminist movement. Today I realized that most of the things that I have learned and the perspectives I have gained I can attribute directly to the Mormon feminist movement - either because something they said prompted my own fierce studying of a topic, or because of the responses of other women who understand what it means to be a woman.

So, in hindsight, I am grateful for all the feminist commotion because of the things I never would have known.

Have you learned things because of something that originally annoyed or frustrated you? Has someone else's questions or concerns about the gospel prompted you to study the gospel more fervently, and resulted in a greater understanding?

Monday, April 22, 2013

GCBC Week 3: "A Sure Foundation"

I have never been in an earthquake - minor or major - and don't wish to ever have that experience. But I have seen my fair share of spiritual and emotional earthquakes, and I can testify that I have endured them much better when my foundation has been strong.

An earthquake can definitely help you realize when you are missing something.

What were your thoughts about Bishop Davies' talk?

A Sure Foundation - Bishop Dean M. Davies

If you are new to General Conference Book Club, click here to find out more. The basic idea is to study one General Conference talk each week between April conference and October conference, and to chat about the talk here in the comment section. You can also link up (using the linky tool below) to your own blog post about this talk. The link up will be open until I post the next week's talk, but if you study this talk later and missed the link up, feel free to post your link in the comment section.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pra Ech Da (Pray Each Day)

My six year old son has a great testimony of prayer. He is not afraid to ask Heavenly Father for the things he wants and needs. The personal nature of my son's prayers never cease to amaze me (and sometimes make me chuckle - like the other day when he said, "Please bless that we will get another Xbox controller tomorrow." That kid). His faith is incredible.

Yesterday during the sacrament I had him write down the ways he will keep his baptismal covenants.

Now I realize that my six year old hasn't actually made covenants, but it is never to early to teach them how to keep the covenants that he will one day have the opportunity to make.

Here is what he wrote:

"I will pra(pray) ech(each) da(day).

"I will doo(do) va(the) Lods(Lord's) kame(commandments)."

I admit I had to ask him about the second sentence. I didn't prompt him what to write, I simply asked the question about keeping promises we make when we take the sacrament. I was touched by his awesome understanding of the gospel - at the tender age of six years old.

Of course, this was after he complained about going to Church, this morning "If I go to Church I am just staying in the car!" I tell you this so you know that even my kids sometimes protest going to Church. I don't believe in forcing our children to believe, but I also don't believe in letting my six year old stay home alone for 4+ hours. So I told him that when he is eight he can decide to stay home. I figure if I am going to let my eight year old decide whether or not to be baptized he can certainly decide whether or not to go to church. Hopefully by then he will have had enough meaningful experiences at church that he will want to go.

Like today he had a meaningful experience - he bore his testimony in sacrament meeting, which he hasn't done for a while. Probably because I haven't either. I almost fixed that today, especially when he asked me to go with him, but I was just not feeling it.

Later in the evening we were visiting with my in-laws and my sister-in-law mentioned that her two year old doesn't like church very much and my six year old asked why and she explained that he doesn't really understand why he has to sit still in sacrament meeting. I quipped that my son didn't really like church today either, and he turned to me, "Except, now I do! I liked church today!" I have a feeling that it had something to do with the way he felt when he bore his testimony.

The kid looked like a sunbeam when he came down from the stand.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

GCBC Week 2: "These Things I Know"

This is the first week of General Conference Book Club! I am excited to get started. I listened to this talk after conference because I wasn't able to watch the Saturday morning session. I really enjoyed hearing all the updated versions of his poem.

Also, Stephanie has created a General Conference Mastery for April 2013 General Conference to fit in with studying a conference talk each week. I think it is a fabulous idea, because I like quotes and I like memorizing things. This week's GC Mastery that she came up with was this quote:
We are free to choose what we will and to pick and choose our acts, but we are not free to choose the consequences.
I was mentioning to my sister the other day that it seems like each Apostle has his favorite thing to talk about. Agency seems to be a topic President Packer likes to preach about.

Did any quotes stick out to you in President Packer's talk? 

These Things I Know - by President Boyd K. Packer

If you are new to General Conference Book Club, click here to find out more. The basic idea is to study one General Conference talk each week between April conference and October conference, and to chat about the talk here in the comment section. You can also link up (using the linky tool below) to your own blog post about this talk. The link up will be open until I post the next week's talk, but if you study this talk later and missed the link up, feel free to post your link in the comment section.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mine Angels Will Encircle Thee

Some days are First Vision days, and some days are Liberty Jail days.

Today was more like a Liberty Jail day. You know, where you wonder where God is hiding, and you just want Him to come and save you.

Thankfully I live in an awesome ward, and several wonderful ladies came to my aid - came to save me.

And the awesome truth is that God will never hide from us.
"So hold on thy way,
For I shall be with thee.
And mine angels shall encircle thee.
Doubt not what thou knowest,
Fear not man,
for he Cannot hurt thee."
If you need a reminder (like I did) this song is a great one:

What are your favorite reminders that God is never hiding?

Monday, April 8, 2013

All Work and No Progress

Have you ever ridden a stationary bike? You can pedal as hard and fast as you can, but you will never get anywhere at all.

Lately I have been feeling like that in a particular relationship. I feel as if I have been putting everything I can into this relationship, but I have nothing to show for it. I feel like I am riding a stationary bike in this relationship, working hard but not getting anywhere.

A particular talk this weekend at General Conference helped me feel better and worse about this relationship. Worse because it pointed out all the things my relationship doesn't have, and that was frustrating. But at the same time, I was comforted and reminded that if I do my part I will receive every blessing Heavenly Father has promised me, even if it isn't in this life. 

What do you do when you feel like you are riding a stationary bike in regards to some aspect of the gospel? How do you keep pedaling when it feels as if you are going nowhere? Don't you get tired? Don't you just want to get off the bike and give up?

General Conference Book Club!

It is a sad day in the blogging world.

Stephanie at Diapers and Divinity, the long time (since 2009!!) host of General Conference Book Club is retiring (from GCBC, not from blogging - as far as I know). I asked her if she would mind if I kept the online tradition alive here at My Soul Delighteth, and she gave me the OK!

She also has a post today about how to start up your own General Conference Book Club. You can start a General Conference Book Club community at home, or online, via email, whatever floats your boat. Stephanie gives you some great tips. And check out Jocelyn's blog for an example of an "in real life" GCBC. If you do one in real life, make sure food is involved. If you feed them, they will come. Just sayin'

Well, if you are excited to get on with Week 1 of General Conference Online Book Club, then here is the place! Give us some comments on your favorite General Conference talk, what stuck out to you, what you felt prompted to do (if it isn't too personal).

Also, we'll be having some great discussion over at Real Intent this week, so make sure to join that discussion if you don't find this satisfying enough.

I will be adding a linky tool to each GCBC post so that you can write an entire blog post about the talk and link up at General Conference Book Club.

If you are new to General Conference Book Club, we read one talk each week and then come here to discuss and write about the talk, or link up your writing from your own blog. You can also find more information on the About GCBC page here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

General Conference 101

Note: This is a repost. I originally published this post in October, 2012, but I will probably keep reposting it each conference so you can get a little Conference 101. I enjoyed Tweeting General Conference the past two times I have done it, and look forward to joinging #TwitterStake again this year. Tweeting conference led to some really neat conversations in Oct 2012 because of the election - people were really interested in what we had to say. I hope to have some great conversations again this year prompted by tweeting conference. If you want to join in, simply post your thoughts from conference with the hashtag #LDSConf. Kathryn Skaggs from A Well Behaved Mormon Woman is usually at Conference tweeting live from the Conference Center's media room. It's a really neat experience. Hope to see you there!

I wrote up this series in the Spring to help people who are unfamiliar with General Conference get a little background, and to give you a few ideas for getting the most out of conference. In preparation for General Conference this October, Stephanie at Diapers and Divinity is doing a little series about the 14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet. She asked me if I wanted to join in with some pre-conference posts, and I was excited, but kind of dropped the ball the past few days. I was going to try to make a whole week out of it. You will at least get a few posts. I’m kind of excited about some of the post ideas for this week. And I plan on making a bigger deal out of General Conference in the Spring.

Without further ado, here are links to my General Conference 101 posts, to help you get ready for conference -

-What is General Conference? – a little intro to General Conference, with some brief factoids and links to the available methods of viewing/listening/etc
-Preparing for the Feast – how to prepare for General Conference
-Conference with Kids – how to survive 8 hours of prophetic counsel with children. Yikes.
-note taking and conference – how I take notes at General Conference, and some tips
-What to do when it’s over – well, it’s just that – suggestions for keeping the conference message at the forefront of your spiritual life for the next six months

For your further entertainment, here is the General Conference info graphic the Church published recently and has been sharing all over social media. If you missed it, here it is:

Stay tuned this week for more General Conference fun!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Living Among the Dead

Easter Sunday is tomorrow. Honestly I haven't done much to prepare. I blame it on the fact that I have been constantly nursing and sleeping (what else can you do with a newborn baby?). I should be better about studying the gospel when I am nursing, instead of wasting time on Facebook (did I actually just admit to that?) but I have been having a hard time studying the gospel lately. I told my husband that I feel like I am constantly in "input" mode, and rarely in "output" mode. That is, I feel like I am absorbing all sorts of information, but I am never actually putting that information to use in changing my behavior, or actually doing something. It's like my brain is one big pinterest board - you know, full of really awesome ideas that you will probably never actually do.

I need to focus more on creating. Especially creating things with my family, specifically my children. I don't know when I got distracted from that important task, but it was easy to feel like all of my studying was important.

Many years ago at an EFY (Especially For Youth) summer camp, one of the instructors told us not to write down what we hear him say, but rather to write down what we are going to do because of what we heard.

I think that in all my studying of the gospel and other truths I have been too focused on the information and not focused enough on what I am going to do because of the information I am absorbing and the insight I am gaining.

I have been thinking about the question posed by the angel at the tomb, "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" I want to make sure that I am actually living. I want to live the things I read, the things I learn. It's as if I have been seeking life by reading and studying. Not that reading and studying is bad, but all of this knowledge is dead without action. Reminds me of that scripture - "Faith without works is dead."

So, first off, I am going to actually go and talk with my children about Easter. We're going to talk about the Savior and the purpose of His life and death and resurrection. Then we're going to do something about it. In order to really drive home the idea that Christ gave His life for us, I think we will each decide an act of service to do for each member of our family, and then we'll spend time today doing those acts of service - giving of ourselves to our family members.

I don't think I have ever been so excited to shut the computer down and spend time with my family! I think it is refreshing to be in "output" mode. Why learn things if you aren't going to use them, right?

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Stumbling Block of Revelation

One of the key doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that of continuing revelation. This has been a great blessing in our fast changing world and society, allowing us to receive revelation and guidance directly from our Father in Heaven, specifically concerning issues and situations we find ourselves in today.

Unfortunately, this doctrine of continuing revelation can sometimes be a stumbling block for our testimonies.

Why a stumbling block?

Let's have a little history lesson.

Prior to 1978, the priesthood was restricted to men not of African descent. I won't go into specifics, because they aren't relevant to this post - but just know it was a complicated and strange policy, and many people didn't understand it. Even today, the best explanation we have (officially) is this statement from the Church:
“The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.”
 In 1978, the Church issued an official declaration, based on revelation, extending the priesthood to all worthy male members of the Church.

Recently I have been hearing members of the Church say that they hope that the Church will eventually embrace same-sex marriage because, after all, the Church was "wrong" once (referring to the priesthood ban). They seem to be viewing the 1978 revelation as a sort of apologetic "Whoops, we were wrong, we're sorry" admission.

Honestly, it's hard not to see it that way, especially given all the personal statements and opinions that were offered as explanations for the priesthood ban, most of which were abhorrent, even in the early and mid 1900s when they were originally offered.

If so many apostles, prophets, and other Church leaders could be so misguided and racist, then might not our Church leaders today be bigots and homophobs? It isn't a completely illogical leap.

Except for one small principle which might help us sort out this whole issue.

At General Conference in April 2012, Elder Christofferson taught:

…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.
While any number of racist sounding explanations for the priesthood ban can be readily produced by any proficient Googler, I think you would be hard pressed to find any of these comments listed in proclamation format, signed by all fifteen living apostles at the time of the statement's utterance, and good luck finding teachings by every single apostle since quoting the statements. In fact, most of the apostles either said nothing about the subject of the ban, and few quoted the misguided (in my opinion) statements of their brethren. We must always remember that prophets are still just men. Moses, arguably one of the greatest prophets, was scolded by God Himself. Even Joseph Smith had issues, admitting his youthful indiscretions and at times failing to be content with God's answers to his prayers and requests.

On the other hand, The Family: A Proclamation to the World is a document affirming the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and testifying that gender is an eternal characteristic. This document was signed by every one of the fifteen apostles of Jesus Christ living when it was written, and it has been quoted by every newly called apostle since. I think it is safe to consider the document, and its call to "responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society" as being "official [and] binding for the whole Church".

It can definitely be hard to recognize what is revelation and what isn't, what is scripture, and what are the philosophies of man. Again, we can go back to our fundamental belief in revelation - not just continuing revelation through prophets and apostles, but personal revelation. Each and every one of us is entitled to receive our own revelation - as Levar Burton says "But you don't have to take my word for it."

More reading about revelation:
Becoming a False Prophet to Ourselves

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Thoughts

This is me timidly dipping my toes back in the water of blog-world. I really should be sleeping as my little bundle of amazing babyness sleeps next to me in his bassinet.

I haven't been taking time to ponder and meditate lately. I think I am a little afraid of the spirit lately. It's almost as if I don't want to receive instruction and revelation, because I don't want to follow it. I make up all sorts of excuses. I'm too busy, I have three children who take up my time, I'm too tired, etc. But the real reason is that it is hard. Living the gospel is hard. And sometimes it can be very lonely.

I don't like being lonely.

But then, Christ was lonely. I am sure He felt alone a lot.

I am sure my loneliness doesn't even compare. But you know, if I truly believe in the atonement (and I do) then I should believe that the Savior knows my heart. He knows how lonely I feel, and because He felt it too, he will "know ... how to succor [me] according to [my] infirmities". 

This weekend is Easter weekend. The great atonement, crucifixion, and resurrection are remembered this weekend in homes and hearts around the world. I wish that I remembered those sacred events more often.

This dipping my toes feels really good.

Maybe I am back?

I am definitely back to pondering. I will do this more often. Much more often.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gospel Art by Little People

My five year old son is becoming quite the artist. His favorite medium is crayons (I think because of the range of colors). His favorite subject lately has been super heroes (specifically the Avengers). He also enjoys drawing planets and space ships and space wars, etc.

Today during sacrament meeting he blew me out of the water with this excellent depiction of Captain Moroni.

It melted my heart. This kid is a sweetheart. (I won't tell you what song he was humming while he drew this picture in the middle of sacrament meeting... It's a song I am ashamed to say he was exposed to at a friends' house. We've got to be a little more vigilant about keeping our kids safe from questionable movies and music *sigh* it can be so hard sometimes!)

When I picked him up from Primary, he had a new masterpiece to share! Joseph Smith in the sacred grove:

I think his teacher helped him with Joseph kneeling, and I was mildly disappointed that the picture didn't include the First Vision with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, but honestly, the fact that my kid is drawing gospel art is just really touching.

Along the lines of the exposure discussion, he wouldn't be drawing pictures of scripture stories and scripture heroes if he hasn't been exposed to them. We try to expose them to gospel art a lot - from the posters on their bedroom walls to using the gospel art book for FHE to visiting the Church History museum and more.

It's always nice to see fruits from your labors.

Do you expose your children to gospel art and pictures of the scripture stories?How do you use gospel art in your daily life with your kids and in your study of the gospel?
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Prolonged Absence

I am still alive, I promise!!

I have a few pieces going up at Real Intent here in the next little while, so keep an eye out for those. If you are itching for a good and faithful discussion, please please head over there and check out some of the great posts recently.

Some highlights -

Why I think We’re Having the Wrong Conversation

Bonnie writes, “And what did President Hinckley’s newly formed Church administration affirm? Eternal verities that have not ceased to cause contention and division within the church on cultural issues we keep bringing in from the world in the nearly two decades since. “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” The words grate if you don’t want to hear them. Until we hear them peaceably as a Church, it’s unlikely more will come.”

Good, Better, Best is great, but what do you do with Best, Best, Best?

MSKeller writes, “I find that I have so many things that are pressing and all very important to different aspects of my life, there  simply isn’t enough time in the day / week/ year to accomplish them. If I leave out ALL of my want- to- dos even, there still isn’t enough time. How do you approach this trying dilemma?”

Integrating Young Women into Relief Society

Emily writes, “A few months ago, I was talking to a Young Women president about how the 17/18-year-old young women viewed their upcoming transitioning into Relief Society. I was shocked when she said not one of them wants to go, and they’ve all asked if somehow they could please just stay in Young Women!”

And if you want to read some more of me, keep checking in over there. I should have a post or two up soon. And I will return here to My Soul Delighteth in the near future as well.

Have you had any great online gospel discussion lately? Found any great blog posts? Feel free to share!

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