Author Archives: Jan Tolman

About Jan Tolman

Jan Tolman is a wife, mother of six, and grandmother of seven. She is a writer, as well as speaker, on the history of the Relief Society at www.ldswomenofgod.com. Several articles, written by her on Relief Society history, have been published in the Deseret News. She has taught Institute and served as a docent at the Church History Museum. She urges everyone to learn something new about Church History, and especially about the incredible women of LDS faith.

Celebrating Relief Society’s 175 Years Renews Our Conviction

Relief Society

 

 

 

 

It’s true! Celebrating our Relief Society’s 175 years renews our conviction. We are all daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. As Julie B. Beck said, the Lord is counting on His daughters to

“… do our part as women under the Lord’s plan, we must stand strong and immovable in faith, strong and immovable in family, and strong and immovable in relief. We must excel in these three important areas which set us apart as the Lord’s disciples. Through Relief Society we practice being disciples of Christ. We learn what He would have us learn, we do what He would have us do, and we become what He would have us become. When we gather with this focus, the work of Relief Society is relevant whatever your circumstance—whether you are 18 or 88, single or married, have children or not, or whether you live in Bountiful, Utah, or Bangalore, India.” [1]

We are God’s Female Army. So,

   If

Russell M. Nelson really means that “the kingdom of God is not … complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them. [2]

And if

Sheri Dew really feels that by “unleash[ing] the full influence of covenant-keeping women, the kingdom of God would change overnight.” [3]

And if

Jeffrey R. Holland really believes that “something is going to be asked of this dispensation that’s never been asked before.” [4]

Then

Relief Society sisters need to step it up. As Sister Dew put it eighteen years ago,

“This is a call to arms, it’s a call to action, a call to arise. A call to arm ourselves with power and with righteousness. A call to rely on the arm of the Lord rather than the arm of flesh. A call to ‘arise and shine forth, that [our] light may be a standard for the nations’ (D&C 115:5). A call to live as women of God so that we and our families may return safely home.” [5]

Sisters, our power comes from priesthood power. Our early sisters understood it, lived it, and set the standard for it. Now, it’s our turn to understand how the priesthood works through us. Consider these suggestions made by President Linda K. Burton:

“Two sections have been especially revelatory to me. I recommend them to you for your careful and prayerful consideration. First, the oath and covenant of the priesthood, which can be found in D&C 84:33–40. I invite you to memorize those eight verses, sisters. By doing so, I promise you that the Holy Ghost will expand your priesthood understanding and inspire and uplift you in wonderful ways. 

Secondly, I would invite you to ponder Doctrine and Covenants 121:34–46 [the doctrine of the priesthood]. Look for the principles in these verses that govern the righteous exercise of priesthood power. Look for warnings and promises from the Lord, and apply them to yourself.” [6]

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Women Have the Power to …

queen-esther-old-testament-792485-tabletWomen have the power to do–what?–you ask? Elder David A. Bednar says we all have the power to act. We have the power to do whatever is necessary to bring ourselves to the feet of our Savior. It doesn’t work the other way around–Jesus may look in on us from time to time, but He is really waiting for us to come unto Him. Yes, taking that walk, lifting that finger, moving our lips, and even plucking that fruit off the tree.

When it comes to Relief Society, we sisters can do a whole lot more than what we’re doing. We have a destiny that is greater than any sharp-tongued detractor can wield. We have God on our side because we have stepped up to stand next to Him. Let me show you what I mean.

Women Have the Power to Act in Our Communities

Jesus Christ needs women who will stand up for moral values and for truth. Too often we’ll hear only the voices who whine and complain while those of us who have testimonies cower in the corner. Not anymore! Elder Bednar points out, “We often testify of what we know to be true, butUtah Stand for Marriage Rally perhaps the more relevant question for each of us is whether we believe what we know.”(1) If we believe it, we can’t be afraid to show it in our communities, in the blog world, or whenever truth is challenged.

That means we have to study things out and be ready to share the truth we have studied and are prepared to testify of. As women in the gospel, we need to be “courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. … Attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.” (2) Continue reading

Our Special Responsibility

Pacific LDS WomenI was sitting in Relief Society when the teacher asked us a fairly simple question: Why are we special? A few generic answers were given, but one of those generic answers (which we’ve heard a million times) suddenly didn’t sit well with me. The answer given was: Because we have the gospel.

 

I continued to sit quietly in class, but suddenly my mind was on fire. I had complete clarity with new understanding. We are NOT special because we have the gospel. EVERYONE is special because they exist on this earth. The reason why we are special is because we have a SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY placed upon us to live, share, and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ. Love will be our catalyst, and if we learn to watch, we can have wonderful opportunities.

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Filling Our Hearts and Minds With Their Words

general-conference-april-2011-826795-mobileWe are all anxiously awaiting what the Brethren will tell us this weekend, but I have the great fortune of filling my heart and mind already with their words. We should always be most concerned with the latest messages our leaders give us, but we cannot forget the great messages we have heard over the years. They are still of great value and most definitely filled with the spirit of edification, warning, and love. I have taken on the challenge to read and write about General Conferences of the past. As a writer for the General Conference Odyssey, I am overwhelmed with what the Brethren have been telling us–for years.

 

The General Conference Odyssey is a group of writers who write, each week, on a past session of conference, starting with April 1971. At this point, we have reached the Friday morning session of April 1974. And I repeat, I am overwhelmed with the doctrine, advice, warnings, love, and spirit of those early talks. Continue reading

Fortifying Families the Lord’s Way

happy marriagge

Families are under attack like never before. But we can learn how to fortify our families, in the Lord’s way with help from the doctrine of the Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  Did you know:

  • “1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.” [Link]
  • “Males exposed to domestic violence as children are more likely to engage in domestic violence as adults, and females are more likely to be victims as adults.” [Link]    
  • “Couples who report feeling high levels of financial strain are three and a half times more likely to be involved in domestic violence compared to couples who report feeling low levels of financial strain.”  [Link]  

We are not left to figure life out on our own. Understanding church doctrine will help us to fortify our families in the Lord’s way, starting all the way back with Adam and Eve.

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Lovely Emma

Emma-800x1078We invite LDS women from all around to remember Emma Hale Smith on this, her birthday, July 10, 1804. Her life was one of great turbulence and difficulty. It’s hard to imagine there was a time when many of the women of the church didn’t like Emma, and never discussed her in Relief Society meetings. To our shame, we must renounce this mistaken belief.

Emma had to live through what many of us may not have been able to. She remains an example of dedication, strength, and grace.

 

Called to be our first Relief Society president on March 17, 1842, Emma unified the sisters as a powerful force for good. When rumors of polygamy abounded, it became such an emotional strain on her, among the other many trials she was experiencing, she couldn’t stand in front of her sisters any longer.

One thing you may not know is this mark of genuine love and forgiveness. While Emma stayed behind in Nauvoo, and Eliza R. Snow became the well-known mover and shaker of Relief Society, Eliza appears to have respected and honored Emma’s position as Relief Society President.  Continue reading

Where Does Political Genius Come From?

constitution-scroll-flagWhere does our political genius come from?

  1.  From good people who take the time to study the United States government.
  2.  From God-fearing people who accept and act on the will of God.
  3.  From you and from me.

Our country is still a great country, and we should honor its rightful place as the Promised Land, but it has lost its footing and balances precariously along its mountaintop stance. Please read the attached post of ways we can honor our dear country. The writer lists simple, and not so simple, things we should know and do in the political realm. Each of us has the ability. Each of us has the calling. Each one of us loves our country enough to Continue reading

Perchance to Fall, Never to Fall Off

Christus copMy desire to live the gospel of Jesus Christ fluctuates drastically from overzealous, to moderately passive, to shutting down to nurture a bruised ego. How do I expect to live up to promises made, capture my divine nature, or simply comment in a class setting when often I find myself barely holding it together? The ultimate answer of truth is that Jesus Christ never leaves us alone to wallow for long. He knows. He understands. He has felt as we do. And He has promised to heal us completely. We can accept or reject this truth, but by the multiple testimonies I have heard, and the experiences I have had, I can share with you my testimony that I know we can continually walk down the path, perchance to fall, never to fall off, ultimately reaching the arms of our beloved Savior.

I’ve been taking college courses for eight years, trying to get my Bachelor of Arts degree. Because I didn’t take school seriously, back in my college-age days, I had to take some pretty tough courses. And because I’m just this side of old and feeble-minded, I take all my classes online, because I don’t feel comfortable sitting in a class full of young, bright students. And never being an A student, all I’ve been focusing on is passing my classes, check-marking them off my list, and getting through one class at a time, day-in-day-out, trudging along toward my goal of graduation. Continue reading

Provo City Center Temple

completeWhen the Provo City Center Temple was announced, by Pres. Monson, on Oct 1, 2011, a gasp could be heard in the Conference Center. A fire had destroyed this beautiful, and beloved building and to turn it into a temple was a merciful revelation from the Lord.

 

I sang in Christmas concerts many times in that building, and even attended stake conference there, as a married student at BYU. This building was most certainly beloved by all who knew Original towerfirsthand of the beauty, and history, within its walls.

 

There is a sweet history that goes along with this building. Richard O. Cowan (retired professor of Religion at BYU) has been a member of the stake presidency, as this building has been renovated, and has had the privilege of watching it be born again. He gave a presentation on the remarkable circumstances that surround the rebirth.

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Fighting Against Evil to Preserve the Laws of God

council-in-heaven-mormon-doctrineThere is a battle going on all around us. The fight is against Good and Evil. Where Evil is trying to convince us there is no evil, only “honesty within one’s self”, Good is trying to defend, protect, and honor the God of all goodness.

 

God has taught us that there are eternal laws, that are absolute, that even He must obey. “There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated–” (D&C 130:20). “If they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit–and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink–Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook” (D&C 19:18-19) Continue reading