Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sundays with Two Little Boys

Having you husband work on Sundays and then taking the children to church by yourself for three hours is really hard. Maybe it'd be easier if the children were older or if it wasn't during nap time or if we didn't have Sacrament meeting last. But it's really difficult. Luckily, I at least had the umbrella stroller for Child #2 (1 yr old). So during the second half of Sunday School, I walked the halls with him and he fell asleep right before Sacrament meeting. Then Child #1 (2 yrs) sat pretty still and played and ate. Until about the passing of the Sacrament. So I gave him my phone. I know, I know. I'm not supposed to give them technology. They could learn patience or creativity by being bored or whatever. But it's rough being by yourself. Anyways, then Child #2 woke up. He was good for awhile. and then he wasn't. So the last 10 minutes we spent in the foyer. Which was ROUGH. Child #1 kept running one way or another or outside. and Child #2 was crying. But we lasted until the end!

So church wasn't actually all that bad. I felt good with how it went. But then we got home. and Child #1 would not get out of the car. I was holding #2, but #1 wouldn't get out. But I couldn't put #2 down because, hello, snow everywhere and he's wearing socks. So that wasn't going to work. It seriously took 15 minutes to wrestle #1 out of the car, put his shoe back on, chase him through the parking lot (heart attack), and pull/carry him up the stairs. This is all with #2 in my arms! It was so so so so so stressful getting the boys (ahem, Child #1) inside.

Then he threw a tantrum and won't take a nap. So, whatever. He's watching Sesame Street. He's not crying. He's counting and saying numbers. Meanwhile his brother is taking a nap. At least that much right? and I even ate a filling lunch (taco soup leftovers). ME. I ate a filling lunch. That almost never, ever happens anymore. Because you know, two children who want to eat everything I have. Dorks.

I do love them.

I love Sundays.

I love going to church.

I'm glad my husband is providing for us.

It's rough, difficult and hard sometimes though.


I'm teaching my children the importance of Sunday. That we're going to church. That we need to sit quietly and play quietly during the Sacrament meetings. That partaking of the Sacrament is very important. I even studied for the lessons even if I didn't get to participate as much as I'd have liked.

So go me and my mom skills.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6.

Friday, January 1, 2016

What to Bring for Labor

In just a few weeks, I should be holding my second baby boy in my arms. As such, the whole idea that I'm actually giving birth again has officially sunk in and likes to freak me out. To manage the concept of being a mother to two boys under the age of two, I've been making lists and over-preparing and in general, making my husband worry more than me.

I've been thinking of my last labor, delivery, and recovery hospital visit and came up with a more in depth list as to what I need to bring and why. Hopefully, this will be helpful to some of you.

Camera. Make sure you bring one and make sure it's charged before you go. Bring the charger too as you'll probably take so many photos of your new little one, the battery life will be short. Doesn't matter much in my opinion if it's a phone camera or a more professional one, just make sure you bring one.
My Baby Boy and I

Comfy Bedding for Husband. We own a memory foam mattress topper for a twin bed. It's hardly ever used at the moment, but we brought it with us to the hospital along with sheets, cover, and pillow, and my sweet husband was able to comfortably sleep on the chair beds the hospital provided. Granted, he only slept when I was asleep, but he was able to actually get sleep. Mom's need husbands who have had a good night's rest.

Toiletries. Shampoo, conditioner, hairbrush, hair ties, makeup, face wash, body wash, razor, etc. You will be able to take a shower after giving birth. Having these toiletries makes you feel human again after going through an incredible feat. Plus, you can then look nice for pictures and feel nicer even when you are sore everywhere.

Adult Disposable Underwear/Diapers. Sounds weird. I know. But they save you. You just had the most insane period ever. You will be recovering for a while. The hospital usually will provide huge giant pads, but this way you don't have to worry about leaking so much. Plus, they can better hold cooling pads. Better to heal with especially if you had stitches. Just bring some.

Comfy Clothing. You are not required to wear the hospital gown while recovering. Bring a couple of comfy shirts you can nurse in (button-up PJ shirt or nursing shirt) and loose, comfy bottoms that you could have worn in your 2nd trimester. You won't go back to your former size immediately after giving birth, so don't pack skinny jeans. You could also bring a robe to wear. Bring some slippers or sandals too, you might be more swollen after giving birth than before due to pushing a child out of you, so walking the halls to a nice, wonderful jacuzzi tub would be easier in sandals.

Nursing Supplies. For women who plan to nurse, bring nursing bras, nursing breast pads, and your nursing pillow. Nursing can be kinda hard to get a handle on. It helps to have everything you need to make it easier. Took my first child and me about 3 weeks to figure it all out, so I'd also recommend bringing an electric breast pump and bottles. They aren't necessary, but when you're really struggling with the latching and feeding, you can at least pump to encourage milk supply and feed your child the 'liquid gold' that's only there at the beginning of your child's life. I'd really invest in an electric pump, not a hand pump. My hands about fell off with how much hand pumping I needed to do. Bring lanolin cream for your breasts as well, they'll be sore.

Baby Hand Mittens
For Baby. Of course, bring the cute outfit for going home in, but bring them in a couple of different sizes: pre-term, newborn, 0-3 month. My son was born 9 lbs, so he only fit in the newborn size for about 2 weeks before he outgrow them. You're never sure how big he'll be until he's arrived. Bring some baby blankets too. I'd also highly recommend to bring baby hand mittens and baby fingernail clippers. Your child will be born with fingernails. They will accidentally scratch themselves unless their hands are swaddled in blankets. It also will help prevent your baby getting sick from people playing with his hands and then having your child put that hand into his mouth. Bring your child's baby book! You can ask the nurses to help get the baby's hand and foot prints. Make sure you bring the infant carseat. You will not be allowed to take your child home unless you have one.

Entertainment. Bring your laptop, a book, card game, or something. You'll be recovering for a couple of days and have some downtime.

Snacks. I was always hungry in the middle of the night. While the hospital food was amazing (seriously), the cafeteria isn't open in the middle of the night. I wasn't allowed to eat during labor (which lasted at least 12 hours), and right after you don't always feel like eating a lot either. I was starving by the time my first breakfast arrived. Your husband will probably be hungry too. Our hospital had a snack bar in the hallway stocked full of yummy snacks. However, sometimes the snacks were all gone because all the other couples grabbed some too. Make sure you bring snacks.

Other Advice. You don't need to bring diapers and wipes for your little one, as they usually provide those while you are in the hospital. Our hospital will leave the child with the parents unless otherwise requested, then they'll bring the child in for feedings. While some mothers want to be near their newborn 24/7, I personally recommend you request for the nurses to take your child at night. Not during the day, just at night. They will still wake you up and bring your child in to eat every 2 hours. But you're in the hospital to recover as much as you possibly can, in my opinion, that means actual sleep rather than being woken up from a restless baby who doesn't actually need to be feed yet, but you aren't sure. The more you're able to recover, the more you will be able to be there for your child when you are the only one there. You can trust the nurses, they know how to take care of newborns; it is their job, so you can rest easy. Check your hospital's website for any other advice they have on to what to bring or not bring to make your stay comfortable for all of you.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mourning with Those that Mourn
Life is naturally full of death.
It's a unavoidable part of life.

And even when you understand and really know the truth of the Plan of Salvation, it doesn't make it much easier when a loved one dies.

Yes, having the knowledge of the promises of eternal relationships, knowing you will see your loved one again helps. But it's a promise that will be fulfilled in the future. At the moment, death hurts. You miss them. For the rest of your mortal life, you won't see them again. You won't be able to make new memories with them. Past memories can be both a comfort and a pain.

Elder Russell M. Nelson said:
Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of pure love. It is a natural response in complete accord with divine commandment: “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die” (D&C 42:45).
Part of our baptismal covenant says we "are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:8-10).

It can be awkward knowing how to comfort those that need it. Sometimes it's just important to mourn with them. Some ideas for us to mourn and comfort with others are as follows:
  • Enter the world of the grieving.
  • Be sure to visit.
  • Tell me that she loved me.
  • Let me talk. Listen.
  • Tell me I look great and I'm doing great.
  • Understand that I don't feel normal in social situations.
  • Compliment me if you believe that I am a stronger person for having endured this trial.
  • Love us.
  • Visit frequently (not just around the funeral).
  • Extend a helpful hand.
However, sometimes the ways we try to comfort can be insensitive. Here is a list of things we should really avoid:
  • Don't tell me how to feel.
  • Don't tell me to be strong.
  • Don't expect me to "get over it."
  • Don't tell me you understand.
  • Don't give me a time limit on when I should be "better."
  • Don't tell me to get married.
  • Don't make me do anything.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Dear Mothers of Angels

I have a healthy 14 month old boy. I'm 27 weeks pregnant with another healthy little boy. Most of my life revolves around these two. I'm one of those mothers who is always posting pictures and videos of my son so that our distant family can follow along with their grandson's or nephew's life.

The Child Who Was Never Born
But, dear mothers of angels, I am always thinking of you every time I look at my little boy or feel my younger son kicking. I'll go on a walk watching my son play with rocks, bugs and puddles and think of you and how you're doing. Going through the trials of a first trimester and then the waking in the middle of the night because your child is a wanna-be acrobat, I think of you and your child.

I have learned from you. I have learned how to better express my love toward my children. I have learned you can't compare or fully understand another's suffering, but you can mourn together. I have learned you can still be joyful with others even while you are experiencing trials. I have learned to take more joy from my children, even when sleep is deprived and energy lacking. I am still learning from you.

I just want you to know that you really are a mother of an angel. Eve was named mother of all living before she ever had children or gave birth (Genesis 3:20; Moses 4:26). I don't have answers as to why some of us struggle to have children and others don't seem to. In this last General Conference, I heard Sister Linda S. Reeves speak and thought of us all who suffer and struggle in one way or another:
Understandably, many have expressed that our Father’s promised blessings are just “way too far away,” particularly when our lives are overflowing with challenges. But Amulek taught that “this life is the time … to prepare to meet God.” It is not the time to receive all of our blessings. President Packer explained, “‘And they all lived happily ever after’ is never written into the second act. That line belongs in the third act, when the mysteries are solved and everything is put right.”
I love you. I care for you. I'm not perfect. Sometimes I'm awkward in trying to mourn with you and comfort those who need it while at the same time taking joy in my sons. I'm working on it. You are filled with so much love for those around you. You are a great example to me as you play with my son when he'd be near the same age as your's, or helping me through the difficulties of pregnancy. I desire to be more like you. I thank you for being joyful with me about my children. Thank you for being a mother to your own angel child as well as every child that comes your way.

I simply want you to know you aren't alone. I'm awkward in expressing how much I love you and do mourn with you, but please know there is hardly a day that goes by that I don't think of you and send up a prayer.

Your Sister, Your Friend,
Another Mother.

P.S. A couple of years ago I studied the topic of "The Doctrine of the Salvation of Little Children" and wrote a blog post of some of the things I had learned. It has been a comfort to me when I worry about my own and other's children. I hope that it could bring some comfort to you as well.

Monday, September 14, 2015


I've always defined gossip as talking negatively about an individual who isn't there. What if it's the truth though? Or what if it's to make sure someone gets the help they need because they're taking drugs or something? Would it still be gossip?

I've learned to examine conversation with four questions to help me define whether it is gossip or not:
  1. Would it be better left unsaid? (If yes, it's gossip).
  2. Is it personal information about another that you don't have permission to share? (If yes, it's gossip).
  3. Does it harm the reputation of the subject of conversation? (If yes, it's gossip).
  4. Is your intention to help the individual and are you informing someone who is in a position to help? (Answer has to be yes for both halves of this question for it not to be considered gossip).
It doesn't matter if want you say is true and factual; if it can cause harm, it causes harm. There is no positive to gossip. It destroys. It never builds.

Harms of Gossip
There are three individuals gossip ravages: the gossiper, the listener and the victim.

Elder Gene R. Cook mentioned that before the Savior arrived in the Americas that “Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually; yea, he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might harden the hearts of the people against that which was good and against that which should come” (Hel. 16:22). Gossip is an effective weapon against good. It really does harm everyone it comes into contact with.

One writer said, "Cooperation and good feelings among those who work together in Church callings are also iced over when gossip occurs." That's within the relationships between members of the Church. Imagine how destructive it could be in friendships and family relationships.
Why does the gossiper gossip? There are a few reasons. Sometimes when we feel insecure about ourselves, we pick, poke, and prod at others because if they are worse than we are, we must be better. Other times individuals have been gossiped about, so they gossip too. In some cases, gossip has just become a habit of conversation. Gossiping may feel like a great way to bond with others, but it's not.

Gossiping actually makes the gossiper more and more isolated. Gossiping makes people feel uncomfortable. It also causes them to not trust the gossiper with any personal revelations. Relationships cannot be built or strengthened if you can't trust one party to retain information given in confidence. The same writer mentioned earlier also said, "When we refrain from repeating cruel or careless words, we not only are able to serve more effectively but we also build a foundation for closeness and friendship." If the gossiper is talking about someone else in such a manner, you can't trust that anything they learn about you won't be shared too. People start to withdraw from the gossiper. The gossiper may sense this and so try to strengthen then relationship by gossiping about others. In the short term it may feel as if bonds are strengthening, but in reality it only worsens. Gossiping hardens your hearts towards people.
Our relationships are again affected as we alienate ourselves from others. We feel a cold, hollow hypocrisy as we greet or deal with people we have talked about negatively. Our own feelings of worth and our outlook on life are affected as we expect others to talk about us with the same lack of regard. We become nervous about appearing less than perfect because others might talk about us. After all, how can we expect others to act more nobly than we ourselves are acting? Worse, we pull ourselves away from Heavenly Father and cannot feel the warmth of his approval when we are being unkind to his other children. We alienate ourselves spiritually and thus feel even more shut out. "The Frigid Wind of Gossip."
The listener becomes an injured party too. Generally you don't want to hear gossip. It can be uncomfortable to listen to and you might learn things about others you just didn't want to learn. It skews your perception and judgment. It will harm the relationship you have with both the victim of the gossip and the gossiper. You start to avoid the gossiper and you have no idea how to communicate to the victim now that you know "things."

Obviously the victim is harmed. Gossip harms the relationships the individual has with others. Those that hear the gossip treat the individual differently, even if they know it's not true. Gossip isn't something that can be taken back. It's also not something easily confronted as it's said almost in whispers and behind hands. It cuts that people would participate in gossip. Gossip is only focusing on the victims faults. Knowing that people are poking at real or imagined faults causes the victim to become insecure and to focus so much on their own faults they might overlook what is wonderful about themselves. When people are insecure it harms their mental well-being and their confidence which overflows in all aspects of their lives. No one should want to cause this kind of harm in others.

Gossip can destroy friendships. It can destroy families. Gossip is not something you ever want. It only destroys.

Stopping the Gossip
Gossip is sneaky. You don't always realize it is gossip when arrives in conversation (thus the questions to ask yourself mentioned earlier). Gossip can be difficult to stop once it starts. Each individual involved in the gossip can do their part.

Gossiper. If gossip is a habit of conversation, it's important to learn new conversation topics and habits. If you find you're gossiping because it makes you feel better about yourself in comparison, you need to find confidence in who you are without involving any comparison. You should learn to look at yourself and realize how good you are as you. Don't involve anyone else other than Heavenly Father in gaining self-esteem. If you have been told things in confidence, keep them confidences. Sometimes people need to have someone to talk to about personal issues, but it doesn't mean you share what they shared with others. 

Listener. Gossip can surprise the listener. You don't plan to hear it. But there are three things you can do to not be a participant. For every negative quality being mentioned about an individual, you should start listing two positive qualities. It's important to recognize faults are not all that people are. When positive qualities are listed, you find yourself not wanting to focus on their faults. If that doesn't work, you could just ask them to stop. Tell them you're uncomfortable. That can be difficult to do. It may even feel rude, but it would be worse to let such conversation to continue. If gossip still continues, physically leave the conversation. If you let gossip continue then you are allowing harm to come to everyone involved, especially the victim and yourself.

Victim. How can you stop gossip when you aren't even present for the conversation? There really isn't much you can do. Being in such a situation would be a true refiner's fire. It's far from an ideal situation. What you can do is focus on yourself and your own responses. Gossiping in retaliation only worsens the entire situation. You have to really learn to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). Such a tough challenge that will definitely strengthen your character. The other thing you will have to do is recognize your divine worth. Recognize you are a child of God. Recognize your great qualities. Recognize your faults and where you can be better, but don't ever let it get you down. Always strive to be better, but recognize who you are today is a child of God. You will create a strong character that can be a foundation for others.

Create a Safe Haven
Become one of those individuals that people know would never reveal confidences. Become one of those people no one will gossip around because they know you won't accept it. Become the warm, safe, caring shelter for those who need it. Especially the most important people in your life: your spouse, your children, your relatives, your friends.

"For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). If that's what our Heavenly Father's and Jesus Christ's goal is for all of us, then we should desire to be a part of it. Gossiping about others is a sure way to work against God's goals. We should be helping each other up, not tearing them down. "Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings" (D&C 108:7).


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Meaningful Prayer

Prayer is a beautiful form of communication. It's a way for me, as a daughter of God, to speak to my Father in Heaven.

The other week in Relief Society, we were studying a lesson entitled "Pray Always." I loved when we were discussing how to make our prayers more meaningful. The lesson mentioned five ways:
  1. We should pray frequently.
  2. We should find an appropriate place where we can meditate and pray.
  3. We should prepare ourselves for prayer.
  4. Our prayers should be meaningful and pertinent.
  5. After making a request through prayer, we have a responsibility to assist in its being granted.
In addition to the listen, Elder J. Devn Cornish mentioned, "An essential and sometimes forgotten part of personal prayer is repentance. For repentance to work, it must be specific, profound, and lasting" ("The Privilege of Prayer").

Elder David A. Bednar also listed principles that help prayers become more meaningful ("Pray Always"):
  1. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we counsel with the Lord in all our doings.
  2. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we express heartfelt gratitude.
  3. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we pray for others with real intent and a sincere heart.
There are times when we regularly pray: mealtimes, morning, night. But there are times when prayer is frequent: times of illness, times of stress, times of worry, times of fear, etc. There are other times we should be praying: times of gratitude, times of happiness, times of joy, times of excitement, etc. It's important to always keep a prayer in your heart.

What does "keep a prayer in your heart" mean? Personally, I think one meaning is to keep the channels of communication open with our Father in Heaven. To keep your Father in mind as you go through each day.

I loved what someone mentioned in the Relief Society lesson: the best way for prayers to becoming meaningful and not repetitive or vain is to actually share your emotions.

We frequently say prayers saying, "I'm grateful for this. I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful for this too. Please, bless us this. Please bless us with that." But since the lesson, I've been thinking of how I can better express to my Father in Heaven what I'm feeling. Perhaps along with mentioning gratitude, I can say how else things have made me feel. Like, I'm grateful for our meals and how wonderful it is to be able to eat filling meals as a family. Then when asking for blessings, I can say please bless us with a good night's sleep because we are stressed and would like a reprieve from waking up for our baby boy.

During the lesson, there was one more comment made that changed how I thought of prayer. She was from South Korea and was wondering why in English we pray addressing God with "Thee, Thou, Thine, Thy." It sounds much more formal. She wondered, Why do we talk to our Father in Heaven more formally? Why don't we just use 'you and your'? In her language and others there is an informal more intimate way of addressing individuals close to you. But not in English. It triggered something I've learned before in my English classes. In older English we used to have a such a form.

These were the English pronouns during the standardizing of the King James Bible and Shakespeares' time.
This is why we have prayer language as we speak to our Father in Heaven. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:
The special language of prayer follows different forms in different languages, but the principle is always the same. We should address prayers to our Heavenly Father in words which speakers of that language associate with love and respect and reverence and closeness. The application of this principle will, of course, vary according to the nature of a particular language, including the forms that were used when the scriptures were translated into that language. Some languages have intimate or familiar pronouns and verbs used only in addressing family and very close friends. Other languages have honorific forms of address that signify great respect, such as words used only when speaking to a king or other person of high rank. Both of these kinds of special words are appropriately used in offering prayers in other languages because they communicate the desired feelings of love, respect, reverence, or closeness.
Modern English has no special verbs or pronouns that are intimate, familiar, or honorific. When we address prayers to our Heavenly Father in English, our only available alternatives are the common words of speech like you and your or the dignified but uncommon words like thee, thou, and thy which were used in the King James Version of the Bible almost five hundred years ago. Latter-day Saints, of course, prefer the latter. In our prayers we use language that is dignified and different, even archaic. ("The Language of Prayer")
The words thou, thee, thy, and thine were once the more intimate form, but in today's age it has also come to show great respect to people as well. Prayers will become more meaningful as we use a language of prayer and follow the principles mentioned to make our prayers more meaningful
Notice how the entire 2nd person singular row has been replace with the plural version. Along with the 2nd person plural subjective.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

When I think of having courage, I think of men and women who overcome fear and do something noteworthy; soldiers defending their nation, victims of crime prevailing over those who caused them harm, firefighters and the ordinary individuals who save someone at the risk of their own lives. Those are the types of people I think of when I think of people having courage.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines courage as that quality of mind which shows itself in facing danger without fear or shrinking; bravery, boldness, valour. I would also say courage has qualities of determination, firmness, dedication, selflessness, and conviction.

However, as Charles Swindoll has wrote, "Courage is not limited to the battlefield … or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are inner tests, like remaining faithful when no one’s looking, … like standing alone when you’re misunderstood."

We live in a day and age where religion is once again being attacked and belittled. Many respect others religions, but others say that when individuals practice and are firm in their beliefs they are bigots and prejudiced. I'm an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons. I believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman. That children have the right to be born within matrimony and have both their mother and father. I believe life to be sacred and that children not even born yet have a right their bodies. I believe all bodies should be respected and cared for. I believe men and women to be equal, but fundamentally different. I don't approve of behaviors and choices that contradict these believes, but I still care for and love those that believe opposing views. Yet, for these beliefs I am mocked, ridiculed, condemned, and thought of as prejudiced, hateful, judgmental, and backwards. 

President Thomas S. Monson said, "This inner courage also includes doing the right thing even though we may be afraid, defending our beliefs at the risk of being ridiculed, and maintaining those beliefs even when threatened with a loss of friends or of social status."

It's hard to publicly stand for what you believe knowing you have friends and those you care about ready to call you names and say you're an idiot for your beliefs. It's really hard. I just want to stand back, knowing what I believe, being respectful to others, and not cause waves.

President J. Reuben Clark Jr. said, “Not unknown are cases where [those] of presumed faith … have felt that, since by affirming their full faith they might call down upon themselves the ridicule of their unbelieving colleagues, they must either modify or explain away their faith, or destructively dilute it, or even pretend to cast it away. Such are hypocrites."

President Monson goes further and says, "None of us would wish to wear such a label, and yet are we reluctant to declare our faith in some circumstances?"

I know that I am frequently reluctant to declare my faith and what I know to be truth when I know that I'll be ridiculed and mocked. I've realized that in this way I am a hypocrite sometimes. How awful! I take great pride and comfort in knowing that I live my beliefs, yet here am I reluctant to declare them and thus making myself a hypocrite.

I realized that I ran the risk of being one of the individuals in Lehi's dream (1 Nephi 8) that reached the Tree of Life and tasted of its fruit, but then was ashamed and fell away. It reads:
And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost (1 Nephi 8:28).
The question I ask myself is how do I become courageous rather than ashamed?

President Monson said, "We can help ourselves in our desire to do what is right if we put ourselves in places and participate in activities where our thoughts are influenced for good and where the Spirit of the Lord will be comfortable. ...  As we move forward, striving to live as we should, we will surely receive help from the Lord and can find comfort in His words."

As we do what God would have us do, he will help us and comfort us. For as Nephi declared, "I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them" (1 Nephi 3:7).

Again, as I think of someone with courage, I think of a soldier, or even the classic knight of medieval times, fighting to protect their nation, families, and beliefs. In the scriptures we have been told of how we can protect ourselves from the fiery darts of the wicked by putting on the whole armor of God.
Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand. 
Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, which I have sent mine angels to commit unto you; 
Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; 
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also. Amen. (D&C 27:17-18; also 1 Ephesians 6:11-20).
We can be comforted and protected by knowing the truth, being righteous, being prepared with the knowledge of the gospel and with peace, having faith, making and keeping covenants for salvation, and having the spirit as a companion. If I am fully armored by God, then I cannot be harmed by mockery or ridicule. I'll have peace and comfort in knowing what I'm doing to be right and true. That I'll be okay as long as God is on my side.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Mormon Women: Women's Divine Gifts

I love being a woman. I love knowing I am a daughter of God. I love being a wife to a wonderful husband. I love knowing I will be a mother to our son. I love knowing that my husband and I compliment each other with our strengths and weaknesses, but they we help each other become even better.

I've briefly mentioned how priesthood authority works in the home; how men and women are to be different but equal partners. Spencer W. Kimball has said:
In his wisdom and mercy, our Father made men and women dependent on each other for the full flowering of their potential. Because their natures are somewhat different, they can complement each other; because they are in many ways alike, they can understand each other. Let neither envy the other for their differences; let both discern what is superficial and what is beautifully basic in those differences, and act accordingly.
We had full equality as his spirit children. We have equality as recipients of God’s perfected love for each of us. …
Within those great assurances, however, our roles and assignments differ. These are eternal differences—with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood.
I like seeing the progress that women have made in the work force to be considered equal as men if they can meet the same standards. However, I have a great dislike for women who demand equality but then through their own actions become less feminine and more masculine. They are losing a sense of who they inherently are. "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" states, "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." Men and women have been given divine gifts. I love what Ezra Taft Benson said:
You [women] were not created to be the same as men. Your natural attributes, affections, and personalities are entirely different from a man’s. They consist of faithfulness, benevolence, kindness, and charity. They give you the personality of a woman. They also balance the more aggressive and competitive nature of a man.
The business world is competitive and sometimes ruthless. We do not doubt that women have both the brainpower and skills—and in some instances superior abilities—to compete with men. But by competing they must, of necessity, become aggressive and competitive. Thus their godly attributes are diminished and they acquire a quality of sameness with man.
Women have been given the responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood. We have natural gifts of faithfulness, benevolence, kindness, and charity. We are natural nurturers. Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, "Women bring with them into the world a certain virtue, a divine gift that makes them adept at instilling such qualities as faith, courage, empathy, and refinement in relationships and in cultures." Is it any wonder we can be so influential in the lives around us?

Source: Hometown Pasadena
The most significant influence is felt in the home. Elder Christofferson also said, "A woman’s moral influence is nowhere more powerfully felt or more beneficially employed than in the home. ... In all events, a mother can exert an influence unequaled by any other person in any other relationship." Family is the building block of society and governments. Family is where lessons are taught of how to be a citizen, what values are important, how to work with others, and many other lessons both purposefully and accidentally taught. Elder Neal A. Maxwell stated:
When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses?
I know my own mother has been a great influence on me. Greater than anything happening in government. Greater than any peer or school influence. The values she has instilled in me in turn cause me to be a citizen, friend, and student she'd approve of. As David O. McKay said, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” If mothers (and fathers) fail to use their influence at home to teach their children morals, good values, and how to prioritize, the rising generation is left without them as they become join the work force and begin to run the country. Then things start to fall apart.

David O. McKay also taught:
The home is the first and most effective place for children to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self-control; the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.
Women have a tremendous influence. President Boyd K. Packer said: “The tender hand of the sister gives a gentle touch of healing and encouragement which the hand of a man, however well intentioned, can never quite duplicate.” We are blessed with divine gifts that only we as women naturally have. Men can work and develop such a talent, but for women it is part of who we are.

We frequently here how we women need to support and encourage our husbands, fathers, brothers, sons to fulfill their priesthood responsibilities. We hear how we need to support them as they work to provide for their families. It's all true. However, I heard a story that changed my perspective:
One evening, a man and his wife go to a business dinner of his. At this dinner, people asked the companions what they did. This wife said she was a stay-at-home mother and supported her husband in his job. After saying such a statement, people would lose interest and move on in the conversation. She felt ashamed. She felt like she should say she was college graduate and was working at some prestigious company; then she felt ashamed that she was ashamed of simply being a stay-at-home mother. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and recognize how important such a job is. But she was self-conscious of simply stating that. On the way home from the dinner, her husband was thinking of how his wife does support him in his career and how much she does for him. Then he had an epiphany. Yes, she supports him, but the reason he goes to work every day was so that he could support her in her most important calling of nurturing and raising their children. He supports her so that she could stay home with the children; so that she could be there for them.
Women are just as important as men. Families and societies are greatly blessed to have both men and women. We compliment and complete each other. We are greatly blessed to have the masculine natures of men and the feminine natures of women. As Elder Richard G. Scott said:
In the Lord’s plan, it takes two—a man and a woman—to form a whole. Indeed, a husband and wife are not two identical halves, but a wondrous, divinely determined combination of complementary capacities and characteristics.
Marriage allows these different characteristics to come together in oneness—in unity—to bless a husband and wife, their children and grandchildren. For the greatest happiness and productivity in life, both husband and wife are needed. Their efforts interlock and are complementary. Each has individual traits that best fit the role the Lord has defined for happiness as a man or woman. When used as the Lord intends, those capacities allow a married couple to think, act, and rejoice as one—to face challenges together and overcome them as one, to grow in love and understanding, and through temple ordinances to be bound together as one whole, eternally. That is the plan.
I am so grateful for the knowledge that I am a daughter of God who loves me. I am grateful to be sealed for time and eternity to a wonderful worthy priesthood holder who can bless our children and help them reach for and obtain saving ordinances that will help them become the best individuals they can be. I'm grateful to know that I am just as important and influential in the lives of my children and helping them learn to develop admirable qualities and attributes for the beneficial of themselves, their future family, friends, and society.

Other Resources:
Ballard, M. Russell. "Mothers and Daughters."
Benson, Ezra Taft. "Strengthening the Family."
Christofferson, D. Todd. "The Moral Force of Women."
Holland, Jeffrey R. “Because She is a Mother.”
Howard, F. Burton. "Eternal Marriage."
Hudson, Valerie M. and Richard B. Miller. “Equal Partnership in Marriage.”
Maxwell, Neal A. "The Women of God."
Nadauld, Margaret D. "The Joy of Womanhood."
Thackeray, Rosemary. “Celebrate Nurturing.”

Mormon Women Series:
Ask Questions
The Administration and Membership of the Church
What is the Priesthood?
Priesthood and Women
Women's Divine Gifts

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mormon Women: Priesthood and Women

I hope in the last few posts, you've been able to recognize how women and the priesthood interact. In this particular post, I hoped to be able to go into greater detail. However, for you to really gain a knowledge of this interaction, I've put together a few activities for you to do by yourself or with others. They're adapted from the Young Women Sunday lesson for June 2014: Priesthood and Priesthood Keys.

If you really wish to understand more about how the priesthood and women interact you should study through these activities and seek for understanding and inspiration. There is just so much that can be learned through your own studies when you seek sincerely as I mentioned in "Ask Questions." I wish for you to be able to really appreciate and comprehend how important the Priesthood is and how the priesthood is beneficial to men and women. Women are not insignificant or lesser because they are not ordained the priesthood.

In fact, the First Presidency has recently released a statement saying:
In God’s plan for the happiness and eternal progression of his children, the blessings of his priesthood are equally available to men and women. Only men are ordained to serve in priesthood offices. All service in the church has equal merit in the eyes of God. We express profound gratitude for the millions of Latter-day Saint women and men who willingly and effectively serve God and his children. Because of their faith and service, they have discovered that the church is a place of spiritual nourishment and growth. 
We understand from time to time church members will have questions about church doctrine, history or practice. Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding. We feel special concern, however, for members who distance themselves from church doctrine or practice and, by advocacy, encourage others to follow them. 
Simply asking questions has never constituted apostasy. Apostasy is repeatedly acting in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the church or its faithful leaders, or persisting, after receiving counsel, in teaching false doctrine.
Take the time to study. Take the time to search. Be faithful and understand God loves His sons and His daughters and the blessings of the priesthood are equally available to all.

Activity #1: Focus on Priesthood Keys and Blessings.
Read the first three paragraphs and the story about visiting a church in Denmark from President Boyd K. Packer's talk "The Twelve." Teach each other what you've learned about priesthood keys from these talks. What blessings have come to you through the service of those who hold priesthood keys? What are some of the blessings we receive from the priesthood? Can also read: Daughters in My Kingdom Chapter 8 from the introduction up through "Temple Blessings."

Activity #2: Focus on Priesthood Quorums and Relief Society (and other auxiliaries) and their similarities and differences.
Read the section titled "Priesthood Quorums" of True to the Faith. What are the similarities between how Priesthood quorums and auxiliaries are organized? What are the differences? Help the women see that the women of the Church are organized after the pattern of the priesthood (see Daughters in My Kingdom Chapter 8 "Serving in the Church" and Chapter 2 from the introduction through "Early Excitement about Relief Society.")

Activity #3: Focus on the similarities and differences of the duties and responsibilities of priesthood holders and Relief Society sisters.
Write on a piece of paper, "What are the duties of priesthood holders?" on one side and, "What are the duties of Relief Society sisters?" on the other. List as many duties as you can think of an then add to your list the duties you find in D&C 20:46-60, True to the Faith "Relief Society," and "Relief Society: A Restoration of an Ancient Pattern" Chapter 1 and "'Hand in Hand with the Priesthood': Inspired Counsel from Latter-day Prophets" in Chapter 8 from Daughters in My Kingdom. Consider which of these responsibilities you share with men. How have and do the women of ancient times and today participate in the work of the priesthood? How do you see yourselves in the work of the priesthood?

Activity #4: Focus on Priesthood Power and personal righteousness.
List ways in which people in the world gain power (money, education, popularity, good looks, and so on). Read together D&C 121:36-46 and list the principles upon which priesthood power is based. Contrast the world's way of obtaining power and the Lord's way. How does knowing about these principles affect the way you view the priesthood? In what ways can we be righteous to access this power ourselves? Can also read: Daughters in My Kingdom Chapter 2 "Increase Faith and Personal Righteousness" and Chapter 3 the introduction through "Exodus: Sustained by Covenants."

Other great resources:

Mormon Women Series:
Ask Questions
The Administration and Membership of the Church
What is the Priesthood?
Priesthood and Women
Women's Divine Gifts

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mormon Women: What is the Priesthood?

The Priesthood really is a wonderful gift we have. I don't fully understand it. I'm still learning. But what I do know and have learned has really strengthened my faith and testimony and relationship with God. I mentioned in the "Ask Questions" post of this series that I wasn't ever that concerned about learning more about the Priesthood. I just accepted that God was perfect; He loves us perfectly; He guides, directs, and organized this Church. That was good enough for me.

Or so I thought.

About a month ago, I was asked to teach a Relief Society lesson based off of Elder Dallin H. Oak's April 2014 General Conference address entitled "The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood." I really struggled trying to learn from God what it was He wanted me to teach to my fellow Relief Society sisters; the majority of whom are college students, young, newlywed, new mothers, and/or expecting. I felt strongly that the goals of this lesson should be:
  1. The sisters learn something new about the Priesthood.
  2. The sisters understand more of how the Priesthood applies to them.
  3. The sisters gain a desire to learn more themselves.
  4. The sisters feel and are inspired by the Spirit.
  5. The sisters are involved in their own learning.
You may recognized that these goals are similar to the ones I have for this Mormon Women blogpost series. In this particular post, I hope to focus on the first goal: learn something new about the priesthood. Or even be reminded about things you already knew.

What is the Priesthood?
Priesthood is the power and authority of God. The priesthood is also the power and authority that God gives to man to act in all things necessary for the salvation of God’s children ("Priesthood"). Elder Oaks said:
President Joseph F. Smith described the priesthood as “the power of God delegated to man by which man can act in the earth for the salvation of the human family.” Other leaders have taught us that the priesthood “is the consummate power on this earth. It is the power by which the earth was created.” The scriptures teach that “this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also” (Moses 6:7). Thus, the priesthood is the power by which we will be resurrected and proceed to eternal life ("The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood").
It's the power that created the world, the galaxy, and us. It's the power by which we are healed and given ordinances whether living or dead to gain eternal life. It's the power and authority o God. It is amazing.

Priesthood Keys
Keys are the rights of presidency, or the power given to man by God to direct, control, and govern God’s priesthood on earth ("Keys of the Priesthood").

One of the girls explained what keys are in a great analogy. You probably have a set of keys: a key to the car, a key to your home, a key to the mailbox. You can't use a key to your home to unlock anyone else's home nor to open your mailbox. A key to your home only unlocks and allows you to open your home. It doesn't unlock office doors, or file cabinets, or cars. It unlocks your home. Now you are probably careful with your set of keys. You don't just let anyone have a copy of the key to your home. You give them to certain individuals you trust and have proven worthy like a close friend or family member. You trust this friend not to make more copies of your house key without your permission and handing them out. They would need your permission to make copies and permission of who to give the copies too.

This is the same way priesthood keys work. They each have a different job. They each 'unlock' something to allow individuals to choose whether they will open the door or not. The May 2012 New Era states:
Priesthood keys are the right to preside over and direct the Church within a jurisdiction. Keys usually apply to a geographic area, like a ward, stake, or mission. They also usually include authority over specific ordinances and activities (for instance, baptism, the sacrament, missionary work, and temple work).
All the priesthood keys come from Heavenly Father through His son, Jesus Christ. The keys belong to them. To give someone a certain priesthood key, they must obtain permission from God Himself. Our modern day prophet, Thomas S. Monson, currently holds and can exercise all the priesthood keys for this dispensation. Others who hold specific keys are Stake Presidents, Temple Presidents, Mission Presidents, Patriarchs, Elder's Quorum Presidents, Bishops, Teacher's Quorum President, and Deacon's Quorum Presidents.

Priesthood Authority
This is where individuals who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and those who are not can become confused. The reason for this is because the priesthood authority functions differently in the home and the Church. One very worthwhile talk to read on this matter is another address by Elder Dallin H. Oaks entitled "Priesthood Authority in the Family and in the Church."

In the Church
You receive authority from those who hold priesthood keys. You can be a man or a woman to receive this authority, but not all men or women have it. When you are extended and receive a call, and are set apart, you are given priesthood authority for that calling. For example, I was extended a call to be a Relief Society Teacher. I accepted the call. I was sustained in Sacrament meeting by the ward. I was then set apart in my calling as a Relief Society Teacher. As such, I have priesthood authority to teach Relief Society and as such I will be blessed and inspired for that calling. When I am released, I will no longer have that authority to be a Relief Society Teacher. Same goes for Relief Society Presidents, Primary Presidents, Quorum Presidents, and all other callings. President Boyd K. Packer said,
The Relief Society works under the direction of the Melchizedek Priesthood, for "all other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood." It was organized "after the pattern of the priesthood" (Daughters in My Kingdom).
This is where the world gets so confused! Even our own members! While sisters are not ordained the priesthood, we enjoy all the blessings and powers of the priesthood and even the authority of the priesthood in our callings! Just like the men! The world thinks that in order for women to have a say and participate in a church, you have to be part of the "clergy" or be ordained the priesthood. Other churches have done so. But in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we do not have a paid clergy. I've talked more about this in my "Administration and Membership of the Church" post.

This is how it has always been since Relief Society was formed under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood on 17 March 1842. How do women think themselves as less? How could they think that God or the Prophet feels thusly? We sisters are more involved in our Church than the world realizes. As I was telling this to my husband, he said, "The world knows just enough about the matter to know nothing at all." I agree. They only realize we women aren't ordained the priesthood. But we still can be given its authority, and receive its power and blessings.

In the Home
"A most important difference in the functioning of priesthood authority in the family and in the Church results from the fact that the government of the family is patriarchal, whereas the government of the Church is hierarchical. The concept of partnership functions differently in the family than in the Church" ("Priesthood Authority in the Family and in the Church").
A man and a women are sealed in the temple. This is when the husband receives the things mentioned in D&C 131. He can enter into the highest degree in the celestial kingdom. Same to the wife. Elder Oaks also said,
The greatest power God has given to His sons cannot be exercised without the companionship of one of His daughters, because only to His daughters has God given the power 'to be a creator of bodies ... so that God's design and the Great Plan might meet fruition ("The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood").
Men and women are meant to be together. Before I married my husband I really did not feel complete. Yes, I made my life full, but it wasn't complete. Then we married. and it just felt right. It was just good. Remember Moses 3:24? It reads, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh" (emphasis added). I loved what Elder Ballard said,
Men and women have different gifts, different strengths, and different points of view and inclinations. That is one of the fundamental reasons why we need each other. It takes a man and a woman to create a family, and it takes men and women to carry out the work of the Lord in the Church. A husband and wife righteously working together complete each other ("'Let Us Think Straight'").
A man and a woman complete each other when they are righteously working together. That's how I feel with my husband. I don't feel lesser. President Spencer W. Kimball once said,
When we speak of marriage as a partnership, let us speak of marriage as a full partnership. We do not want our LDS women to be silent partners or limited partners in that eternal assignment! Please be a contributing and full partner ("Privileges and Responsibilities of Sisters").
Now what does this have to do with priesthood authority in the home? Well, realize that when a couple is married we have certain responsibilities.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World states many responsibilities of a couple in regards to their family. In addition it says,
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners (emphasis added).
The father who is sealed in the temple is a Melchizedek priesthood holder. As such, he holds priesthood authority in the home to be a husband and father and preside in righteousness, provide and protect his family. The wife, through the sealing, is given priesthood authority to be a wife and mother to nurture children. Elder Oaks states, "This family authority includes directing of the activities of the family, family meetings like family home evenings, family prayer, teaching the gospel, and counseling and disciplining family members. It also includes ordained fathers giving priesthood blessings" ("Priesthood Authority in the Family and in the Church").

The following is an example of how priesthood authority works in the home when the father is not present. Elder Oaks told this story:
My father died when I was seven. I was the oldest of three small children our widowed mother struggled to raise. When I was ordained a deacon, she said how pleased she was to have a priesthood holder in the home. But Mother continued to direct the family, including calling on which one of us would pray when we knelt together each morning. ...When my father died, my mother presided over our family. She had no priesthood office, but as the surviving parent in her marriage she had become the governing officer in her family. At the same time, she was always totally respectful of the priesthood authority of our bishop and other Church leaders. She presided over her family, but they presided over the Church. ...The faithful widowed mother who raised us had no confusion about the eternal nature of the family. She always honored the position of our deceased father. She made him a presence in our home. She spoke of the eternal duration of their temple marriage. She often reminded us of what our father would like us to do so we could realize the Savior's promise that we could be a family forever (Daughters in My Kingdom).
Do you see? A husband and wife have primary responsibilities. Yet we are obligated to help each other as equal partners. We are together. We are complete. We are "one flesh." As long as we are working righteously together. This is how the priesthood authority works in the home.

Priesthood Power and Blessings
Sister Elaine L. Jack said in Daughters in My Kingdom, "When we receive the blessings of the priesthood, we are drawing on the power and grace of God." We already have mentioned how priesthood literally is the power of God. Through this power, which is accessible by everyone, we can receive ordinances, make covenants, receive priesthood blessings (healing, comfort and counsel, baby blessing, father's blessings). But there are even more blessings we receive from the priesthood that aren't technically called priesthood blessings via laying on of hands. For example, all the blessings we receive because of covenants and ordinances we made are priesthood blessings. Sister Sheri Dew said,
"We may all receive the Holy Ghost, obtain personal revelation, and be endowed in the temple, from which we emerge 'armed' with power. The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates all of the righteous against the powers of darkness. Most significantly, the fulness of the priesthood contained in the highest ordinances of the house of the Lord can be received only by a man and woman together" (Daughters in My Kingdom).
The blessings also include the many gifts of the Spirit (Daughters in My Kingdom). It pretty much is every blessing we receive from God, I think. We must all try to be worthy of this power by doing what we read in D&C 121:36-46. We must all be righteous.

Mormon Women Series:
Ask Questions
The Administration and Membership of the Church
What is the Priesthood?
Priesthood and Women
Women's Divine Gifts