What is the Relief Society?

Sorry I haven’t written on the blog for a couple of weeks. We’ve had spring break, and I’ve actually started teaching for the Pathway program, so I feel like I’m on the computer all the time. ANYWAY…

I’ve been thinking a lot about Mormon Women lately. Here is a list of reasons why:

  • The Ordain Women group has been gaining traction in the media. While I don’t agree with their movement, they have been making me think about being a woman in the LDS church including my roles, rights, and blessings.
  • In what seems to be a reaction to the Ordain Women movement, another Movement has sprung up – Mormon Women Stand
  • I often get overwhelmed by my duties and the challenges of this world. I crave a sisterhood with like-minded women who are noble, nurturing, and strong.

As these three things swirl in my brain, I find that there is one common solution to them, and that is The Relief Society.

What is the Relief Society?

First of all, it is important to understand what the Relief Society is. According to mormon.org, the Relief Society is defined as follows:

“The Relief Society is the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world. Relief Society was established in 1842 for women 18 years of age and older. Its purpose is to build faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need.”

Now – onto how the Relief Society has been able to be the solution to the mind-swirling I’ve been having lately.

The Ordain Women Movement

According to the Ordain Women Group, their purpose is:

“Ordain Women aspires to create a space for Mormons to articulate issues of gender inequality they may be hesitant to raise alone. As a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood.”

First, and foremost, I don’t necessarily agree with the assertion made by the Ordain Women group. I don’t agree that there is an issue of gender inequality in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Neither do I think that the Family Proclamation perpetuates antiquated ideas or inequality between men and women.

This being said, I don’t deny the fact that some women might feel marginalized in the Church. I understand this. I have experienced being in counsels with men who won’t listen. I don’t personally believe that if I held the Priesthood I would have been seen as any kind of authority. I just think that some dudes are like that a little chauvinistic and kind of jerky – even if they don’t mean to be.

For some reason, this kind of attitude has prevailed over the millennia. I think that men have a hard time understanding why the women think that the way they do. Straight away, I think of Peter and Mary Magdalene:

“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.” – Mark 16:9-11

To be fair: these apostles didn’t believe the disciples who saw Christ on the Road to Emmaus. And Thomas didn’t believe all of the apostles that had seen the resurrected Lord.

But I’ve always found this striking: Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene. She didn’t hold any kind of Priesthood authority, but He came to her and revealed himself to her. And the apostles didn’t believe her.

Sometimes I think that all of this misunderstanding between men and women comes only because men have a hard time understanding women, and it may seem that they tend to belittle and downplay women. I hate making this blanket statement because I have met and known many open minded men. But let’s just say that I have had discussions with men about women and emotions.

Really quickly – so – some men seem to downplay women because we can be a little more emotional or intuitive. Some men seem to only be able to respond to logic and reason. I totally understand this. And I say, It is totally illogical and unreasonable to ignore our intuition, emotions, and spirits! We are people, we aren’t robots. We have emotions and unique Spirits how would it be logical to discount this side of who we are when making any kind of decision in life???

(Oh, and I have also found that men have an especially hard time with women who react emotionally. I, too, find that it is best to not react, but this isn’t because I want to deny my woman-ness. Instead, it is because I want to make a wise decision. AND BESIDES, sometimes I think that men forget that anger is an emotion, and reacting in anger is often more illogical than a woman’s weeping…Interestingly enough, in the General Relief Society Broadcasts, I have experienced listening to prophets compliment and comfort the women. My opinion – it just takes some men, even good men, about 80 years to really understand the value of a woman’s emotions, opinions, and intuitive nature).

anyway!!!

I just want to say that while I don’t necessarily agree with the Ordain Women women, I don’t doubt that they honestly feel the way that they do. Additionally, I don’t think that it is necessarily wrong to feel confused, belittled, or unequal. That happens sometimes! And sometimes that happens for a good reason.

However, there is one thing that I do disagree with – and that is the way that the Ordain Women group has gone about their purposes. I believe that the best way to take an issue up with God is by taking it up with Himand praying! I know that God answers our prayers. I know that He listens to us. I know that He will influence our prophet and apostles if it is the right thing to do/pray about.

I mean, think about it this way – when members of the church desire to have a temple built in an area we are taught to pray, we are taught to pay our tithing, we are taught to attend the temple. We are not taught to write a letter Salt Lake and petition the prophet to have a temple. He isn’t in charge of the Church, the Lord is. Priesthood or not, every woman, every man, every child has access to our Heavenly Father. We just have to get on our knees. Heck, we don’t even have to get on our knees! Just Pray!

And now – to the Relief Society, I think that the Relief Society is the answer to this problem. When we understand our role in the church and in our family, and when we understand the blessing and honor it is to be a member of the Relief Society, we will understand what we need to do in order to have our concerns addressed.

The motto of the Relief Society is charity never faileth. Can you come up with anything more inspired, more enabling, more beautiful, more Christlike? As members of the Relief Society, we will seek to understand Charity more. We will be cognizant of the fact that Charity is a lot more than quilt tying and giving service. And as members of the Relief Society that understand the meaning of charity, we will also remember that Christ’s love never fails. Mormon teaches us about Charity:

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” – Moroni 7:45-47

It just seems to me that if we, members of the Relief Society, understand what Charity is, then, when we have questions about the church – legitimate questions, when we have qualms, when we are wronged, when we have issues that come from our hearts, then we will address them with faith and with charity.

Relief Society can help us when we struggle.

Mormon Women Stand

I was invited to be a part of Mormon Women Stand. This is a group that seems to have sprung up in reaction to the Ordain Women movement. Here is their mission:

“Mormon Women Stand is a collaborative online effort to join like-minded female members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who share a desire to make a public stand as witnesses of Jesus Christ and in support of ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’. We believe standing together will reflect the divine nature and power that LDS women are endowed with to influence others for good. We unequivocally sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—commissioned by God and sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators. We support how the Lord has delegated priesthood authority to organize and administer the gospel among all of His children.” – Mormon Women Stand

Like the Ordain Women movement, I believe that this group is thoughtful. They want to stand up for their beliefs at a time when they believe that their beliefs are being assailed.

Initially, I went ahead and “liked” the Facebook group. I, essentially, agree with them. I believe in standing as a witness of Jesus Christ. I have promised to do so …in all times, and in all things, and in all places [I am in] even unto death.” (See Mosiah 18:10.)

But I started to think about this group. And I wondered, Why isn’t my membership in the Relief Society and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints enough. As I just mentioned, because I’ve been baptized and have covenanted with Christ, then I have already committed myself to being His witness.

Additionally, as a member of the Relief Society, I have also decided to live up to it’s motto – that Charity never faileth, which means that I wouldn’t really be provoked or threatened by other groups or adversity – whether it comes from an external or internal source.

My membership in the Church and in the Relief Society is enough, and instead of singling myself out (whether with the Ordain Women group or with Mormon Women Stand), I ought to simply seek sisterhood with all saints in the gospel. I feel like Satan is trying to destroy us by dividing us, and even if our intentions are good, if we aren’t careful, then we might stop being charitable. And if we aren’t charitable, then we will fail.

I Crave Sisterhood

This leads me to my last point, and why I love the Relief Society, and why I need the Relief Society.

Yesterday, I read an article about Peter Lanza and Sandy Hook in the New Yorker. It was sad, terrifying, horrible, depressing, you name it. I also read An article about the rising generation and problems with p*rnography. It was sad, terrifying, horrible, depressing, you name it.

Both of these articles, read within hours of one another, had me wondering, how do I do it? I have four little children. I have three beautiful girls, and one delightful son. I see the good in them, and I want that to shine throughout their lives. I want them to know the good in themselves. I want them to know God, and to know the truth.

But there are so many lies. So many difficulties. What do I do???

And, I realized, the answer is The Relief Society.

Through the Relief Society, I have been able to meet like-minded sisters who also are striving. Some of the sisters are young, married mothers; some of these sisters are women who have never married; some sisters are women in the middle of their lives like me. Some are old, some are divorced, some are tall, some are short, some are thin, some are blonde, some are white, some are black, some are from Mexico, some are from Croatia, some are just like me, some are nothing like me. but we are all sisters, and we are all striving to obtain charity – that pure love of Christ which never fails.

This Saturday evening at 6PM MDT, the General Women’s Broadcast will be aired. We will be meeting as women – as sisters – ages 8 and up – to be taught by our leaders, the apostles, and prophets. We will be able to attend this meeting, for the first time, with our mothers and young daughters. All together!!! We will be reminded of our work, we will be edified, and we will be able to leave the meeting resolved to keep striving and overcome the sad, terrifying, horrible things that the world is trying to throw at us.

***

Moi, Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints and the Relief Society.

Moi, Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints and the Relief Society.

I am so grateful for my membership in the Relief Society. Ironically, the longest I’ve ever been in Relief Society was when I was a teacher for about three or four months. Otherwise, I have served with the children or youth. But this doesn’t nullify my membership in this divine group of women. I love knowing that anywhere I go, I will find women that I can call my sisters. I’m convinced that we, members of the Relief Society, can change the world – little by little. I don’t think my claim is outrageous, either. After all, the Relief Society claims that Charity never faileth, and we have the opportunity to live up to this standard.

Through my membership in the Relief Society, I have become a better woman. I have come closer to my Heavenly Father. I have been able to better understand the meaning and purpose of my life, personally. At Relief Society, I have felt camaraderie, I have laughed, I have cried, and I have been elevated.

***
Are you a member of the Relief Society? How do you feel about being a member of this sisterhood? What can you do to commit yourself to it’s motto – that Charity never faileth? What are your feelings of Relief Society and being a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

If you are not Mormon, what are the questions that you have about the Relief Society and about women in the LDS church. I am open to a kind and honest dialogue, so ask away!

R.S. Dinners and Feeling God’s Love

As a member of the relief society, I have had many chances to serve. A lot of women who have been members of the Relief Society have made (and even received) a dinner or two when another family finds themselves in a time of need.

yummm….dinner

In the past, I have been tempted to think, “I don’t want to do the same old thing, and just make a meal for someone. I need to do something that is more special.” Of course, I have yet to find something more universally appreciated than a meal – cooked with love – brought to a family that is grieving, healing, or struggling through a hard time.

Not only that, but I have been the recipient of many meals. There is no dinner that tastes better than the dinner someone brings you on the night you return home from the hospital! It is such a relief to have something hot and ready to eat – without the fuss of preparation and clean-up.

Okay, so these are practical reasons why meals are great. But that’s not really what this post is all about.

I have had a few great experiences with bringing people meals lately, and I want to share a few insights from each experience.

One
A few months ago, I took a meal to a woman who had undergone surgery that week. My in-laws were visiting, but I knew that I could make some pasta, red-sauce, a salad, and some cream-cheese brownies relatively quickly. It is especially fun to involve the kids in cooking and bringing the meal.

We made the meal and delivered it. When I brought it over, I was able to meet the woman who had the surgery. As I set the meal on her counter, she was brimming with gratitude. She complimented me on my generosity, and I insisted that it was nothing, it was the least I could do, and I hoped that she was feeling okay.

I set the food on the counter, and looked at her, and I could see her – I didn’t know her, but I knew that Heavenly Father loved her. I felt it as soon as I looked her in the eye. I could immediately see that she had gone through a lot of pain and physical suffering. Her life had been in danger (the reason for her surgery). I felt so much sympathy and love for her in those few moments. I realized that making a dinner for her not only helped by giving her something she needed, but it was helping me by cluing me into the love that Heavenly Father has for all of us. I felt happy, knowing that in a simple way, I was easing her burden.

I wished that I could do more for her at that moment, yet there wasn’t much to do other than comfort her, hug her, and care. I asked her how her surgery went. I asked her if she was feeling better. She explained to me, in great detail, the cause of her surgery and the pain that she was still suffering. I realized that she only needed a listening ear. I could relate – I have been in pain. Sometimes, the best service someone can provide is a validation of that pain and hurt. I guess that what I’m saying is that sometimes, we can mourn with those that mourn. Sometimes, that’s just what we need – what will comfort us.

I was deeply touched by her – testimony, hope, but most of all – for the intense love that I knew the Lord has for her.

Two
Another woman in my ward recently had a baby, and I signed up to bring her a meal. I was fortunate to be bringing her the first meal that she had back at home.

What a joyous moment! Even though I didn’t know this woman or anyone in her family, I could feel a bit of the joy that they were sharing – that inexplicable joy that accompanies the birth of every new child. They were still in the haze of becoming new parents. They were proud of their tiny daughter. They were tired. They were spent.

We brought a home-made pizza. It wasn’t much, but I knew what it was like to be in her shoes: thanks to a simple meal, she could stay on the couch, holding her little one, with dad at the wings and without worrying about cooking, cleaning, and everything in between.

They brimmed with gratitude and that sleepy-eyed-pride of parenthood.

And I was blessed – I saw the little girl, amazed that my own kids were once this small. In an instant, I recalled each time I came home with my own children – overwhelmed with emotions, happiness, and exhaustion. I remembered the way that they cried, and how quickly all of that changed. I didn’t long for another child (we’re done with that for now!), but I was happy for them. I was so happy for them, and grateful to get a little glimpse in on the happiness of another family along with the reminder of my own blessed experiences.

Three
A few weeks ago, a woman was thrown from a horse. She needed to have a lot of medical treatment. I don’t remember the extent of her injuries, I just know that they were bad!

I signed up to bring her a meal. We were planning on making enchiladas, guacamole, salsa, and some brownies, but we would need to go to the store. When we got to the supermarket, I had a thought to make lemon bars instead of brownies. I figured it was just because I hadn’t made them in a long time, and it would be fun to make something different.

I bought the things I needed for lemon bars, and I also found this really cute plate – with lemons on it. Perfect for her dessert! Plus, she wouldn’t have to remember to return any dishes. So, we bought the lemons and the lemon plate, and we went home to make the dinner and dessert.

When I dropped the food off to her, she was delighted to see the lemon bars. My oldest daughter was with me. Before I had even set the food down on the counter, the woman had taken a lemon bar. She excused herself for being so impatient, explaining, lemon bars are my favorite! I didn’t tell her this, but at that moment, I was overcome with a realization – of course they were her favorite, Heavenly Father knew this, and that He not only wanted to bless her, but that He was happy with me for listening to what seemed like a pretty inconsequential impression.

My daughter – Tiger – was also able to be there for this experience. When we got in the car, she said, “It was cool how excited she was for the lemon bars.” What a perfect teaching experience. I was able to tell Tiger that I had been prompted to make lemon bars, and now we knew why. Heavenly Father loves us, and knows us individually. He loves blessing us – even with something as simple as our favorite dessert.

Four
Today, I delivered a plate of brownies to a family for their upcoming funeral. I didn’t know who had died until only a few minutes before I left to deliver the brownies. The brownies ended up being for the funeral of this woman’s two-week-old grandson who died of SIDS.

I read the email containing this information, and was comletely heartbroken. As I drove the brownies over, it didn’t seem fair to me that my children have all been born healthy. It didn’t seem fair that this woman’s daughter was experiencing all of the after-effects of giving birth to a child: Hormonal changes, more body changes, healing, and pain – all without the benefit of the child. No child, yet constant reminders of the baby who had come and left so quickly. I’m not sure if I’d be able to bear a challenge like this.

I dropped off the brownies. The woman I delivered them to knew me – she remembered my records being read into my ward, but I had no idea who this woman was. I brought her the brownies, and expressed my condolences on her front porch.

She was sweet, hopeful, and grateful. I was flooded with the emotions as I thought of the grief that this sweet family had to endure. I was also overwhelmed by the love I knew that Heavenly Father had for her. I hugged her. She kept insisting that she wouldn’t cry. She was busy, so I let her go.

I wonder if she could feel the love that Heavenly Father has for her. I know that I felt it so strongly.

And I realized something – service helps us develop charity – not only because we learn to put others before ourselves, but because we learn to see how God sees others. In each of these instances I shared today, I had a feeling, Heavenly Father really loves these people (family, etc). I knew that it wasn’t my own feeling towards anyone – I didn’t know a single person. I was reminded – these are God’s children he loves them so much. He loves all of us so much.

All of this because of a silly little dinner.

What do you do to find opportunities to serve others. What have you learned from giving service?

Using Journaling to Magnify your Calling

In the Church, not only are we asked to serve in callings, but the Lord also expects us to magnify them.

I don’t really think that this is a hard thing to want to do. I love my Heavenly Father. I’m always happy to serve Him in various ways. However, sometimes it is hard to know how to magnify our callings. I’ve found that we can effectively magnify our callings when we are keeping a journal.

Here’s a quick background to how journaling came about for me…

A little while ago, I was serving in a Young Women’s Presidency. I loved the calling, I loved the young women, and I felt like I always magnified my calling. Our Bishop gave us a charge to be sure that we were always inviting the Spirit into every activity. I knew that he was right, but I also knew that I was working with 14 and 15 year old young women. I remember being that age. I was a little…fun! I was a vibrant young woman. Maybe some would say I was a little talkative. After a day of early morning seminary and school, I would come to Young Women’s ready to see my friends and be active. I wanted to chat, play, and be a 15-year-old-girl. I loved the gospel, and never minded doing spiritual things, but often, during the mid-week activity, I didn’t want to sit around and listen to a talk. I couldn’t help it. I was just not able to sit still after a long day.

When the Bishop gave us the charge to make our meetings more spiritual, I couldn’t help but think of the challenge I faced. It wouldn’t be as simple as he suggested. I knew how I would have acted as a youth, and I knew that I needed to fulfill his charge in a way that was still engaging and fun.

Sometimes, it was hard to defend my choice of activity, and I didn’t want to get in trouble. We had one activity – in particular – that the girls loved, but I knew didn’t fit into the advice I had just received: We made tie-dye tee shirts.

The activity was crazy. It was colorful. We had fun, talked, and made cute clothes. We had an opening song and prayer, but that was it as far as a Spiritual experience was concerned. I went home that evening, worried that I hadn’t magnified my calling.

That’s when I got the idea to start a journal – I found a notebook and dedicated it to recording and evaluating each activity (and later lesson).

My Young Women’s Activities Journal

It was nothing fancy – just some $.20 journal from my local box store. I proceeded to write in the journal, and evaluate the tie-dye activity. Something miraculous happened – the spirit confirmed to me that what we did was a good activity: I didn’t need to worry. I also learned the lesson of the activity. I had the tie-dye shirts – the girls hadn’t seen them yet, and wouldn’t get them until Sunday. Because I unwrapped them and washed them, I was able to see how amazing the shirts turned out. It was an act of faith on Wednesday night – to make the shirt, hoping it would be cute.

On Sunday, when I gave the shirts to the young women, I also gave a quick Spiritual thought – reminding them of how they hadn’t tie-dyed shirts, yet they trusted me because I had. Because they had listened and trusted, they were now the owners of really great tie-dye shirts! Our activity indeed had spiritual application!

The point of this post isn’t to talk about the tie-dye shirts (even though I’ve spent a lot of time talking about them), but is to explain journaling in regards to callings. As I started using this journal to record my experiences with activities, I became more aware of the needs of the youth I was serving. I was able to be more forward thinking, too. I was filled with confidence to know that many of the things that I was doing was good, even if we didn’t always get feedback. Keeping the journal was my way of being accountable to myself (and the Lord) on how I was magnifying my calling. I began to use this journal – not only for activities, but also lessons and other meetings associated with my calling at that time.

So – here’s how you do it!

Making a “Callings” Journal
One: Get a notebook. Anything will do. Make sure you set it aside, specifically for your calling.
Two: On the top of the page, write the date and the title of the activity, lesson, or whatever you are reporting and evaluating.

Describe the activity and Evaluate.


Three: First, describe the activity. The more details, the better. If you write it out, you will have this as a reference in the future – if you decide to do the activity again (which could easily happen). This step also helps in future planning, as you’re better able to recall details that sometimes are overlooked but have a big impact.
Four: Write the evaluation of the activity. Was the purpose of the activity achieved? Did it run well? Was it organized? How could it improve? What went well? Make sure that you not only take time to notice where you need to improve, but what worked. When you take time to really think about the positive points of your activity (lesson, talk, whatever), then you will feel the happiness and accomplishment that comes from serving the Lord as well as you can.

Even though this example is for a youth calling, I have also started a journal for my current calling of Primary Chorister. Having a Journal to help me review and evaluate my calling is kind of like “returning and reporting.” I’m able to really think about what happened, and hold myself accountable for the kind of offering I gave to the Lord and to those whom I have been called to serve.

Do you keep track of your activities/lessons/meetings in a journal? What do you include? If you decide to try this out, let me know how it goes!

April 2012 Visiting Teaching Message

This month is a little different for me. I’ve just moved, and I’m not a visiting teacher! Nor do I have a visiting teacher. Maybe I will receive an assignment before the end of the month, but for now, I thought I’d read through the visiting teaching message since I have no idea if I’ll be able to discuss it other sisters or not.

This month, the visiting teaching message is on visiting teaching.

I love how it starts:

“We know we are successful in our ministering as visiting teachers when our sisters can say: (1) my visiting teacher helps me grow spiritually; (2) I know my visiting teacher cares deeply about me and my family; and (3) if I have problems, I know my visiting teacher will take action without waiting to be asked.” – Visiting Teaching Message, April 2012

I have to admit that I’m not sure if the women I’ve visit taught in the past would say that about me. I know that I need to commit to being a better visiting teacher.

I’ve been reading the Biography of Thomas S. Monson – To the Rescue. I’m inspired by his love and service. He truly has a charitable heart. I’ve also been reading in Mosiah 4 where we are exhorted to love and serve one another. I want to be a better woman. I want to serve others. I want to serve the Lord. I want to be a helper, a builder.

Right now, I have two young kids in the home. It is hard to get out and do much. However, I realize that I’ve forgotten that I don’t have to do anything complicated. I have the opportunity to serve God through visiting teaching.

This is a part of the story of Mary and Martha that I don’t usually pay attention to, but we can learn about visiting teaching from it.

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.” – Luke 10:38-39

Christ entered into a village, and Martha received him into her house. What a good example for visiting teaching? Do I show this kind of love and care for my sisters? Even though I’m the one visiting the women in their houses, really, I need to be like Martha – open, loving, and receptive. If I will really reach out to those I visit teach and receive them into my heart, I think that it will go better. I will find ways to serve. They will know I love them, and, above all, they will know that God loves them.

Not only does Martha give a good example, but so does Mary. She sat and heard His word. As a visiting teacher, I need to be sure that I’m listening.

Mary and Martha are also great examples on how to be visit taught. Not only do we need to serve others, but we need to be willing to receive those who are willing to serve us. We need to listen to them – their words can strengthen and teach us. Visiting teaching works both ways.

Finally, we get the best example about visiting teaching from Christ. He went into the home of another, and He brought the Spirit. He was aware of the needs of these women – what was needful, and he taught them accordingly. It is good to remember His example as I go into the houses of other women.

So…what do we do?
How can I know what my sisters need?
This is a great question. I often find myself asking this. And the answer, I guess, is simple. I can pray for them – that the Spirit will guide me to be perceptive to the needs of the women I visit teach. I can also listen to them and be their friend – phone calls, play-dates, etc. I think that if they feel like they have a friend in me – that they can trust me – then there is a better likelihood that they will ask me for help – or, at the very least, admit to me that they have a need when I ask.

How will my sisters know that I care deeply about them?
I hope that they will know I care for them by the way that I know them and serve them. Otherwise, it won’t be very obvious, I suppose.

This is such an inspirational message. It makes me excited for the chance to visit teach. I hope I get an assignment soon!

March 2012 Visiting Teaching Message

I loved the visiting teaching message for this March. Obviously, I haven’t given it yet, but I hope to be able to meet with my visiting teaching sisters soon.

This month, the message is Daughters in my Kingdom.

It begins,

“We are daughters of our Father in Heaven. He knows us, loves us, and has a plan for us.”

Don’t you love that?

Currently, I’m serving in the Young Women’s in my ward. The beginning of the Young Women’s theme is “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him.” And, as I serve, I’ve often thought that if there is one thing that the young women can learn I hope that it is a knowledge that they are daughters of God.

It’s funny because even though I know that the Young Women need to know and be mindful of this fact, I find that I often forget it. Many women forget that we are beloved daughters of God. It is so powerful. Even though I’m an adult, I still yearn for the love of my parents – I yearn for the love of my father. I’m grateful to have a father, a biological father, and even a step-father who all have shown so much love to me. And it humbles me even more to know that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me perfectly.

Because I know and have felt this love, I want to serve Him. I know that as one of His daughters – and especially as one who is a mother – I have a strict responsibility to my husband, my family, and, above all, my Heavenly Father.

I love the quote given by Elder Uchtdorf:

“By patiently walking in the path of discipleship, we demonstrate to ourselves the measure of our faith and our willingness to accept God’s will rather than ours.”

This totally goes with my theme for this year. I love it. Yet, this quote may cause us to ask, why accept God’s will? The answer is in the Doctrine and Covenants.

“And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.” – Doctrine and Covenants 25:10

God’s will is not always easy to do, but we will find that it can take us to a better world.

I’m reminded that what we look forward to may not always be experienced here. Of course, we can be happy now. Our lives are meant to be happy. Yet there will be times when we must give up our natural wills to do something for the Lord. And the awesome thing is: His way is always better.

February 2012 Visiting Teaching Message

This month, the visiting teaching message is Guardians of the Hearth.

I am not the kind of woman to remember to make cute little visiting teaching handouts. I used to do that. Maybe I will again. I feel excited when I go out to do it, let alone make a hand-out! However, I do try to prayerfully consider the message before going into the homes of the sisters I visit teach.

When I read the visiting teaching message, I was touched by the quote by President Hinckley:

“You are the guardians of the hearth,… You are the bearers of the children. You are they who nurture them and establish within them the habits of their lives. No other work reaches so close to divinity as does the nurturing of the sons and daughters of God.” – Gordon B. Hinckley

I love getting these reminders.

I am a mother of four. Two are in school. The other two are still at home and are very young. Between the two sets of kids, I was divorced and remarried. While I was divorced, I worked and juggled the role of mother. It was hard.

I remember that a woman I worked with (a superior) was kind of trying to help “mentor” me. I was very flattered. It gave me confidence. In a life where everything seemed to be going wrong, there was something I was doing right. She kept pushing me to be more ambitious, and I wanted to accept, but I couldn’t. She finally said to me, “I have to admit, I thought you were more ambitious. If you were, you’d really go places.” I’m not sure what that was supposed to do for me, I just felt defeated.

That declaration she made to me has haunted me for years. It hasn’t stopped me from doing what I know is right, but it has made me question myself as I’ve proceeded, especially when I got married and chose to stay at home with my children.

Finally, I came to realize that I’m not a lazy woman. I’m not hopeless without ambition. I am not “wasting” my college education. In fact, I’m a dreamer – big time. I have ambitions: eternal ambitions. I believe that what I’m doing now, including what I’m giving up now is helping Heavenly Father in His work. I believe President Hinkcley when he says that, “No other work reaches so close to divinity as does the nurturing of the sons and daughters of God.”

So – I loved this message. It is a good reminder.

I also noticed something – in the history of the church – how a part of the function of Relief Society is to help teach and strengthen women in the ways that they are weak. I don’t know that I’ve ever thought of that before. It kind of gives new meaning to Relief Society activities. I am currently serving in the Young Women, so I don’t have much of a say in what the Relief Society does. We meet monthly for activities. And it is interesting to note that we should be feeling educated in ways that we are lacking. I love that idea.

I’m also aware of the fact that I should probably do more to help educate and seek education from my sisters in the Relief Society. We are the guardians of the hearth. This is important work. Especially now, as we raise our children in “enemy-occupied territory,” (Russell M. Nelson) we need to be educated and strong.

What did you like about this month’s message? What are you doing to strengthen your family? How are you helping to strengthen your sisters?

Priesthood: Empowering men and Women

As a woman and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I enjoy the blessings and power of the priesthood on a daily basis. Yet, I’m not a priesthood holder. For some reason, there are some women who are frustrated, or feel less important because they don’t hold the priesthood. I’ve never really felt that way – but that’s because I feel like the Priesthood blesses me regardless of who holds it. The Priesthood is God’s Power. No where does this idea limit men or women. It is the power of the priesthood that created the earth. Priesthood = Power, and all people can be blessed by the Priesthood power – as God loves all of His children.

Sister Julie B. Beck puts it really well in this video…Watch it here.

“We need never confuse the idea of those who hold the priesthood in trust with the priesthood. The Priesthood is God’s power to create, bless, lead, and serve as He does.”

October 2010 Visiting Teaching Message

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

“In the house of the Lord, we feel the influence of the Holy Ghost and draw nearer to God, our Eternal Father, and to His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.”

This month, there is not a specific Visiting Teaching message. Instead, this issue of the Ensign is about the temple. As a visiting teacher, you can select which talk you would like to discuss with those whom you visit. The issue is full of good quotes, articles, and beautiful pictures of the temple.

Of course, you should prayerfully consider the needs of those whom you visit teach. I decided to share the message given by the Prophet – President Monson.

President Monson’s Talk – Blessings of the Temple

  • In the temple we can feel close to the Lord.
    • The temple is a sacred place. I have felt the Lord’s peace, guidance, correction, and revelation in the temple.
    • I don’t think that the temple has been a “singular” experience. There have only been a few occasions in which I have received a specific revelation or insight.

      Instead, for me, temple attendance has been a series of small feelings and experiences. I can see how regularly attending the temple for the last 10+ years of my life have changed me over time. Temple worship is a cumulative experience. The more I go, the more I understand. The more I feel His love. The more I know that the temple is the House of the Lord.

    • How has going to the temple brought you closer to the Lord?
  • The temple lifts and exalts us.
    • I have a personal testimony that the temple has lifted me in my life. When I was married to my first husband, I was unaware of some of the issues in our marriage. Yet, I made the committment to attend the temple often. When I discovered the truth of my marriage and my life, it was the strength of the temple, that had been instilled through routine attendance, that helped me to get through one of the toughest times in my life.
    • Think of a way that the temple has exalted and/or lifted you – you may want to consider sharing this experience with those you teach.
  • The temple brings peace to our souls.
    • As a mother, I have been riddled with the overwhelming thought of raising children in these times. I feel like it is almost impossible to navigate this life correctly – and happily. However, it was in the temple, that I was filled with the realization that the Lord set aside this time, specifically, for temples to dot the earth. Even when people call good evil and evil good, even when so many sins seem so rampant, we have temples available to us. We have a great deal of work to do. The responsibility to our ancestors – to perform their ordinances – will not only bless them, but will bless us with the strength we need to overcome the trials in our lives. The peace that we feel in the temples can be brought into our own homes to save and uplift our families. The peace we bring home, the blessing of temple attendance, is the way that the hearts of our fathers are turned to us. The Spirit of Elijah can bless our families now.
    • Think of ways that the temple has brought you peace. Again – share this thought. Even the temple grounds can be places of peace. And what a blessing -to find real peace in this noisy and busy world.
  • A miracle occured.
    • I know that miracles accompany consistent temple work. I have seen it in my life. Time and time again. Most of these miracles seem to have to do with either my testimony or my family. It was through temple work that I experienced the miracle of understanding my identity – and why I was adopted. I know that, even though I’m not blood-related to much of my family, I’m a part of them and their family – a crucial part. I know that I needed to do their work. There was research and work I performed that couldn’t have been done by anyone else.

      In all of this, I was blessed with an understanding of my identity, the love I have for my kindred dead, and the love they have for me. Also – I’ve experienced more miralces (finding my birth father), and I expect many miracles to follow. Heavenly Father loves his children. This church is all about family. The temple really drives that home to us – and often, the miracles we experience – in relationship to the temple – bless our families – past, present, and future.

    • You may want to consider the example of the miracle related by President Monson in this article. It is really good. You can also share your own experiences or ask your sisters if they would like to share theirs. I just love the idea that temple miracles are usually family oriented…
  • “We’ll see you in the temple!”
    • President Monson tells a story of a family in the temple. It is really beautiful. I’m thinking of my own experience, and I suppose I’ll relate a part of it.

      About a month after my separation from my first husband, I went to the temple. It was an incredibly difficult temple trip. It was my first time to the temple since I had been separated. I was filled with so many emotions. The strongest being the feeling that I had come alone.

      Yet, I felt the overwhelming comfort of God as I attended the temple that day. I saw many of my friends. I knew that Heavenly Father recognized my “sacrifice” in coming to the temple afraid and alone. I had emptiness in my heart, but the spirit was still gently comforting me.

      There was no denying that this was a sad point in my life. I’m grateful that I wasn’t given a false sense of hope. I knew that for the time being, my life would be difficult and challenging, but as I scanned my eyes across the endowment room, I was also filled with a sense of hope. One day, I’d look across, and I’d see a man – my husband – who would be true, faithful, worthy, and able to go to the temple with me. I didn’t know when that day would be. I didn’t know who would fill that seat. But the Spirit comforted my heart by reassuring me that my efforts – to go to the temple – would be blessed with what I desired.

      After years of trials and loneliness, I have received this blessing. I have been able to see my spouse in the temple! And I look forward to the time when I see my children there. What a blessing to go to such a holy place with those we love.

    • You may want to emphasize going to the temple – here…attendance…seeing one’s self at the temple.

Good luck with visiting teaching this month! Share this exciting issue. You may even consider purchasing a copy for those you teach. I hope this post helps.

September 2010 Visiting Teaching Message

Our Responsibility to Nurture the Rising Generation
Click above link to see full text of the Visiting Teaching Message

I love this message. I think that it’s because I’m a mom. That’s part of it, I’m sure. I always love any message that speaks to my role and duty as a mother. It is good to be reminded how important this is.

I like this also because it isn’t inclusive to mothers. There are many of us who help to nurture the rising generation in many ways – whether or not we have children in our homes. Many of us serve in primaries or serve in Young Women’s organizations. Many of us are aunts, sisters, or grandparents. We all have a duty to the rising generation.

What Can I Do?
1 – I can help my sisters use, The Family: A Proclamation to the World by discussing it with them – we can talk about some of the passages in the proclamation and discuss the principles outlined. We can ask how this proclamation has already affected their families. We can also challenge them to read the proclamation on their own, and see how they can integrate it into their families.

I also think that it is important to actually use this proclamation in our own families before we are preaching to other people about it. I have an especially strong testimony of the following passage:

“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities”

A while ago, I typed this section up, printed it, and hung it up on our refrigerator. It was a good reminder for me – as to what I needed to do in my family in order to be “successful.”

In this passage, there is no mention of toys, money, or “accomplishments” as measuring the success of a family. Instead, we need to focus on faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome activities. I love the balance given in this list. And there is nothing I could think of adding. I can see that if I implement all of these qualities into what I’m doing as a mother, then I will have a better family and marriage.

When we read of the Stripling warriors, we learn that they were true in all things that they were entrusted, and that they, “were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before Him.” Even though their parents didn’t have the family proclamation, I have a feeling that they were taught the principles of faith, prayer, and repentance.

Helaman also tells the following about the stripling warriors:

“Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” Alma 56:47

Obviously, they were taught of respect, love and compassion. I cannot imagine any young person being so courageous against death and so focused on the liberty of their fathers without having a compassionate, respectful, and loving heart. Our hearts don’t get that way through magic. And we see that the warriors’ hearts weren’t magically made this way. This verse mentions that they had been taught by their mothers. This makes me reflect on what kind of mother I’m being…

We can use the principles listed in the family proclamation to strengthen our home and marriage. It’s really simple, and has great results. 🙂

2I can nurture the rising generation by looking outward. I have a family. I have children. I need to spend more time listening to them and loving them. I need to strengthen my own resolve and testimony so that I have something I can actually teach them!

I can also do more to magnify my own callings. I’m currently serving in the Young Women’s. I have a great opportunity to do what I can to strengthen them. I feel like I can apply some of the principles given in the family proclamation. I can help serve them by being faithful and encouraging them to develop faith. I can pray for them. I can utilize repentance and forgiveness in my own life, as I try to overcome the weakness and mistakes I have – even as I do my calling. I can also be an example of this by being forgiving. It is impossible to teach love if my heart is full of guilt or anger. I can be a better youth leader by respecting the young women, the YW president, bishop, etc. Obviously, love and compassion will play a part in my ability to nurture the young women. I can work hard to be organized and useful. And finally, we have the opportunity to have weekly activities. I can participate. I can help make sure they are wholesome. I can apply the principles taught in the family proclamation to my service as a Young Women’s leader.

***
I do really care about the rising generation. I don’t know when Christ will come, but I know that the world seems to be getting to be a more difficult place to raise little kids. There are many distractions. There are many temptations. But I don’t want to forget the great blessing it is to live now. We have more operating temples now than at any other time. This is such a strength to our families – and not just our families that have passed on! The promise of Elijah is that the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers. (See Malachi 4:6.) When we attend the temple, our hearts are all turned to one another – both looking back at our ancestry, and forward to our posterity. We are then armed with the Spirit and a better ability to nurture and provide for our children.

I’m grateful to live in these latter-days. And I’m grateful to have the opportunity to raise children now.

August 2010 Visiting Teaching Message

Our Responsibility to Be Worthy of Temple Worship
(click above link to see full text of the Visiting Teaching Message)

This month’s message really hit home to me. I want to start, actually, by bearing my testimony of the Temple.

I know that the Temple is the House of the Lord. I’ve felt his power there. I first received my endowment when I was 19 – 12 years ago. I didn’t understand as much about the gospel, but I was about to be married in the temple, so I was as ready as possible to make this covenant.

Of course, there was much I didn’t understand during that specific temple trip. But I remember being overwhelmed by the niceness of the little ladies helping me. I felt peace. I knew I was doing the right thing.

While I was married, I lived in Utah. I had many opportunities to go to the temple. I sincerely tried to make temple attendance a priority in my life. I found that if I was attending the temple often, I was 1. Remembering my covenant 2. Filled with His Spirit. Even though there was still so much I didn’t understand about the temple, I still felt peace and I knew I was doing the right thing.

Throughout that time, I also had many opportunities to do the work for my kindred dead. It was a wonderful experience. I was adopted by my father when I was four. Even though I’ve always felt a part of the family, and I know my dad loves me, there was still a disconnect I felt – with my ancestry and roots. It wasn’t until I began to do temple work that I knew I was a part of this family. I knew that I was the only one able to do the work for them. I knew that many of my family members accepted the gospel, and that someday I’d come to know them.

After moving away from Utah, I was divorced. This was a hard trial for me; however, the peace and strength that comes from the temple helped me to navigate the turbulent times in my life.

Mesa, Arizona Temple – Painted by me!

I have to admit – going to the temple by myself was hard! It is hard to go – when you’ve been married and then you find yourself alone. But that feeling was fleeting. The first time I went to the temple after separating from my husband, I felt assured that at some point, I’d be able to look across the room and see a husband that would be true to me and true to our covenant. I just needed to be faithful and wait.

Because of consistent temple attendance, I had the peace of mind necessary for my life as a single, working mother. I remember talking to someone about dating. They were trying to match me up with someone who was not a member. I said, “You know, I only want to date Mormons. I have no intention of marrying someone who is not a member. And I don’t have the patience or time to do the converting. I need to date someone who is already a member and strong.”
To this, my friend said, and I believe she said this honestly, “You were married in the temple before. What good did it do you that time?” It was an interesting question, but I answered her honestly: “It wasn’t the temple that failed me. My (ex)husband did. In fact, it’s the temple that saved me. My covenants are still good. I will not give that up. If I marry again, it will be in the temple.”

I have been blessed enough to see this happen. I have been married again – in the temple. And for a while, my husband and I lived in close proximity to a temple. We went as a couple at least once a month. We were able to go separately more often. It has been a strength to us as a couple and as individuals.

And now…here I am…4 hours away from the temple. Last year, we had a discussion with our bishop – where he encouraged us to attend the temple once a quarter. My husband and I agreed – that’s doable.

Then, we got a message from our Stake Presidency – which included a challenge to go Once a Month…! I feel ashamed to admit, I wasn’t quick to follow this advice. I murmured. I stuck to my old resolution of once a quarter.

Things in life got hard. I realized I missed the peace of the temple. I missed the effect it had on my soul. I began to realize that my refusal to go monthly was not acting in faith. I spoke to my husband, and we repented, and have started going once a month instead. I feel bad that it took me 6 months to get on board – especially when I really knew better.

Sister Allred, in the Visiting Teaching message said, “Let us enjoy the spiritual strength and the revelation we receive as we attend the temple regularly.” (Sylvia H. Allred). We must exercise faith, but the blessing we receive in return far outweighs any sacrifice.

What We Can Do
1. As sisters, we can support one another. We can help our sisters prepare for the temple. This is done as we live righteous and faithful lives. We can serve one another. We can lift one another up. We can teach one another. If we want to help our sisters, then probably the best thing to do is pray, and have faith that Heavenly Father will direct our paths.

Perhaps we will be prompted to serve someone. Maybe we’ll be prompted to give someone a call and be their friend. We can talk about the temple. We might be prompted to offer babysitting – to make it possible for our sisters to attend the temple. The Lord will direct our paths if we let him. And we can be a blessing to our sisters if we go to Him for guidance.

2. We can exemplify the heritage of the early sisters who sacrificed so much for the temple by doing the same. Our sacrifices, of course, will be of a different nature, but we are still required to give sacrifice – this is an expression of our faith. Perhaps we must sacrifice money and time (and wear and tear on our cars) to get to a temple that is far away. We should make the sacrifice of doing the work for our own kindred dead – so that we can perform work in the temple. We can also make sacrifices by paying our tithing and doing that which helps to have new temples built. Finally, I think that we can be like the early sisters of the church by expressing faith through our prayers. We can express gratitude and pray for more temples to be built. These women are examples of faith, and there are many ways we can follow suit.

3. We can claim the blessings of the temple by going. You know – I feel like temple attendance is rarely a “singular” experience. There have been a few times in my life where I’ve had specific temple experiences. However, I’ve noticed that the blessings of the temple are cumulative in nature. I need to go often – as often as possible. Then, I feel the peace of the temple: I’m reminded of the covenants; I expose myself to a higher standard of spiritual learning.

In addition to going to the temple, I feel very strongly that our temple worship should be coupled with sincere scripture study. The scriptures will help us understand our temple covenants better. They will give everything meaning. I find that there are times when I’m in the temple, and a scripture comes to mind – Illuminating something either about the ordinance or a general revelation I need in my life. There are also times when I’m at home, studying the scriptures, and I think, “This is just like the temple…” Making my future temple attendance more meaningful as I’ve gained more insight and knowledge.

***
I hope that you can experience the wonderful blessing of the temple. I hope you get excited about visiting teaching. I have a new assignment. I’m excited to get out and meet my new sisters! So – yeah…That’s all…

  • "But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." - Luke 10:42.
  • Mo

    I'm a Mormon.
  • Find Out More

  • New Testament Study Companion – Free eBooks



  • Check out my Free Scripture Study Book

  • That Good Part on Facebook

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 261 other followers

  • Follow on Bloglovin
  • Subscribe

  • Study the Atonement

  • Homey and Me (HaM) – A Love Story

  • Favorites

  • Top Posts

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Photobucket blogosphere logo MMB
  • Listen to Mormon Radio

    mormon-channel-sash-icon for mormon channel